“Everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself,” said Leo Tolstoy, the Russian novelist and philosopher.
Tolstoy may have exaggerated a little, but we understand his point: change starts from within. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
The self-improvement industry thrives on those who do think of changing themselves, and that industry is now embracing smartphone apps. Below are some of the best self-improvement apps, which can help you achieve your goals, solve your problems, relax and get happier, and sharpen your mind.
Achieve your goals
- Lift (free): With Lift, you create habits like “floss” or “hug my wife” and check them off each day you perform them. It then tracks how many consecutive days you’ve performed a habit and how many days overall. You can encourage others by commenting or giving “props.” Available on web and iOS.
- Habit Streak (free): An app with much of the same functionality as Lift – tracking habits and creating streaks – but available on Android.
- Beeminder: (free): “Reminders with a sting!” You set goals like losing weight, quitting smoking, or reducing time spent on Facebook. Beeminder gives you a financial incentive to meet those goals: if you fall off the wagon, you have to pay real money starting at $5, $10, and $30. Available on iOS and Android.
- Everest (free): A goal-setting app that lets you break down goals into steps and reminds you to complete them. You can also save photos, thoughts, and quotes around your journey; copy other users’ steps and goals; and get encouragement via comments. Available on iOS.
- Sociidot (free): A goal-setting app that lets you visualize goals and create “dots” for the steps you need to take to get there. Goals could range from losing weight to learning Chinese. Other users can agree to be your “advisors” and offer help when you’re stuck. You can also buy “roadmaps” that break down goals for you. Coming soon for iOS.
Solve your problems
- Unstuck (free): An app that helps you resolve problems, get motivated, or deal with other “stuck” moments. You get tips, advice from other users, and digital coaching. One way it works is by diagnosing your actions: are you being a tunnel visionary, waffler, or lone leader? Available for iPad.
- Happier (free): An app where you share positive moments in your day with a simple note or photo. According to research, doing this three times daily can give your overall happiness a boost. You also get support from the community, who can “smile” or comment on your updates. Available on iOS.
- MoodTune ($89.99): An app to treat depression, stress, and anxiety based on neuroscience research, which has shown that depression is related to reduced activation in certain brain regions. By doing 30 minutes of exercises per day, you can help increase activation. Available on iOS and Android.
Relax and reduce stress
- Stress Check (free): An app that measures your heart rate variation using the camera and light features on your smartphone. You can then use the Stress Doctor app to reduce stress. Available for Android.
- Headspace (free): An app with daily guided meditations to help you relax, increase creativity, reduce distraction, and more. To get more content, you can sign up for a subscription as low as $5.74 per month. Available on iOS and Android.
Exercise your mind
- Lumosity (free): Online brain training exercises that can improve your memory, attention, flexibility, problem solving, and speed. You can upgrade your membership to get more games and track your progress. Available on iOS.