It’s a new year, and I think I’m safe in saying that we’re all hoping for a better one than the one we left behind. Which, at least in my opinion, makes 2021 New Year’s resolutions a bit more meaningful than they’ve been in the past.
Unfortunately, this annual tradition is infamously hard to stick to. People tend to keep their motivations up for the first few weeks of January, and then they suddenly fall off. This can be demoralizing as well as detrimental, as New Year’s resolutions are often tied to your health.
In this post, I’m going to walk you through some ways you can use your Apple Watch and iPhone to set your New Year’s resolutions. This is not only convenient but means that your resolutions will be in your pocket or on your wrist every day of the year. It makes resolutions much easier to adhere to.
After that, I’ll give some quick tips on creating and maintaining resolutions that have less to do with your devices and more to do with your mindset. Hopefully, by the end of this post, you’ll have a much better time of sticking to your goals.
Let’s get started.
- How to set New Year’s resolutions on Apple Watch and iPhone
- Set New Year’s resolutions you can stick to
- Make this year your best one yet
How to set New Year’s resolutions on Apple Watch and iPhone
1. Set a fitness goal
While fitness goals can be the toughest to stick to, they’re generally the easiest to set with your devices. That’s thanks to an entire genre of iPhone apps dedicated to this purpose, as well as the Apple Watch being built for this mission.
If you have an Apple Watch, then it’s safe to assume that most of your fitness tracking will take place there. However, there are tons of fitness tracking apps on the iPhone that anyone can make use of. Some apps track your runs, bike rides, and steps, as well as allow you to manually enter your workouts.
Activity Rings on Apple Watch
By far the best way to start a habit of fitness on Apple Watch is by closing your Activity Rings each day. If this year is your first time giving the rings a shot, here’s how they work:
- The red ring is the Move ring. It tracks your active calories burned during that day. Active calories are calories you burn while moving (walking, washing dishes, exercising, etc.) as opposed to calories you burn while sitting or sleeping.
- The blue ring is the Stand ring. It adds a point every time you stand and move around for one minute each hour. Moving is key; standing in place usually won’t register as a point.
- The green ring is the Exercise ring. It closes for every minute that your heart rate is well above resting. Apple defines this as performing any activity that is at least as intense as a brisk walk.
Make sure you have notifications enabled for these rings and set reasonable goals for each. For the Move ring, I recommend starting at 400 calories each day and increasing it as necessary. You want it to be a goal that you can hit on your worst day.
Getting a thirty-minute workout in each day will also make this much easier, as it closes your Exercise and Move rings at the same time.
Fitness+ on iPhone, iPad, and Mac
Speaking of getting your thirty-minute workout in each day, let’s talk about Fitness+. I recently wrote a review for Fitness+, where you can get an idea of what it’s all about and whether or not it’s right for you.
For those who don’t know, Fitness+ is Apple’s new streaming service for working out. It has all different types of workouts that require minimal or no equipment. You can watch it on most Apple devices, including iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV.
I’ve been using it for the last month-ish and have been enjoying it. The workouts are just intense enough to challenge without being so intense that they’ll turn newcomers off. Not to mention that you can use a free trial before subscribing.
For these reasons, I recommend this to those new to working out. Going to the gym can be a bit of a hassle, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, it can be downright overwhelming. Fitness+ makes it easy to stay in shape at home. For $10/month, you can greatly improve your chances of sticking to your resolution.
2. Set a reading goal on the iPhone and iPad
Another popular New Year’s resolution is reading more often. I know this always a big one for me. And, honestly, it’s usually the hardest for me to stick to. I find myself procrastinating on it, taking breaks that last weeks, and all-around not reading as much as I should.
Finally, though, I’ve started sticking to this goal thanks to iPad and (sometimes) iPhone. As you probably know, the iPhone and iPad both come with a built-in eReading app called Apple Books. It’s a simple and easy-to-use app with a great selection of books to choose from.
More importantly, Apple Books has a feature that allows you to set reading goals for yourself. To do this, open the Books app, scroll down near the bottom of the Reading Now tab, and you should see a section labelled Reading Goals.
If you tap this, you’ll see an option to adjust this daily goal. Set it to a comfortable amount of time (even ten minutes is better than none!) and start building your reading streak.
If you scroll a little farther, you can even choose how many books you’d like to read this year. Again, choose a number that sounds right to you. I recommend twelve books if you’re already a reader, and six if you’re brand new.
How to find the right book in Apple Books
For those new to reading, there always comes the challenge of finding what you want to read. After all, not too many people read regularly, so it’s tough to find recommendations. And if you haven’t read since high school, you probably don’t know any genres other than teen fiction and required assignments.
When I first got back into reading, I tried going for genres that sounded interesting to me. Horror and sci-fi being the main attractions. However, I found that this didn’t work for me. I had a hard time deciding between books and usually didn’t enjoy what I picked out.
So, with three years of experience as an avid reader and a published writer, I’d recommend starting with the classics. Most of these are free on Apple Books because they’re so old, and as you’ll probably find, they’re classics for a reason.
Plus, you’ll be able to discuss them with people, since most people have read or heard of these books before. These discussions will lead to more book suggestions, and eventually, you’re reading wishlist will be so long you’ll never run out of options.
50 Masterpieces You Have To Read Before You Die Volume 1 is a great free book to download for new readers. It starts with Little Women, which I’m reading right now, and I think it’s great for readers of all kinds and ages. I’ve loved it so far.
3. Set a sleeping goal
Another important category of New Year’s resolutions is getting on a regular sleep schedule. Full disclosure: I have never been able to do this. I’ve had chronic sleep problems for the last seven years, so this next bit of advice is coming from research, not from personal experience. Your mileage may vary.
Apple has sleep tracking features built into iPhone and now Apple Watch, both of which have been added pretty recently. So don’t feel bad if you had no idea they existed.
On your iPhone, open the Health app and scroll down until you see Set Up Sleep. Tap this, and follow the prompts to set up your sleep routine. Ideally, you’ll be getting eight hours of sleep at a chunk of time you can stick to. Once you set this up, you can modify these settings in the Alarm section of the Clock app.
Your Apple Watch should automatically reflect these settings, though you can alter them a bit in the Sleep app on Apple Watch. And, if you wear your Apple Watch to bed with at least a 30% charge, your Apple Watch will track the quality of your sleep through the night.
Building a nighttime routine
Based on my research, as well as Apple’s on-device advice, the best way to start building a healthy sleep habit is by creating a nighttime routine that you can stick to. The problem most people have is that they don’t have “sleep hygiene”. They flop into bed at a semi-random hour, often too early or too late, sit on their phone or tablet, play games, watch videos, or watch TV.
The problem with this is that sleep takes place in the subconscious; you can’t will yourself to sleep (generally speaking). So you have to train your mind to know when it’s time to sleep. If you’re unruly about your sleep schedule, your brain will be, too.
To build a healthy nighttime routine, start by avoiding any rigorous activity two hours before bed. Don’t bring devices into bed, either, except for reading or playing background noise. Bring a cup of water or a decaffeinated drink, turn out all of your lights, and lay down intending to fall asleep in the next thirty minutes.
If you can do all of these things each night, you should start to fall asleep at consistent times. If you do all of these things and are still having trouble sleeping, however, you should consult with a health professional. More and more evidence is coming up on the importance of sleep, so don’t neglect it!
4. Track your eating
Last on our lineup of health-related New Year’s resolutions is diet tracking. This can be a bit controversial, as bad eating habits are often linked to a person’s mental health. So, as a disclaimer, if you have chronic diet problems the way I have chronic sleep problems, see a specialist before trying to tackle it on your own. It’s worth it.
Surprisingly, neither the iPhone nor the Apple Watch has any built-in features for tracking your diet. You can manually add individual nutrition specs on the iPhone’s Health app (carbs, sugars, protein, vitamins, etc.) but you can’t enter “hamburger” or “omelette”.
Luckily, you can connect pretty much every diet-tracking app on the App Store to the Health app. These apps will allow you to enter something like “hamburger”, at which point it’ll calculate your carbs, protein, etc., and copy it to the Health app for you.
Apps for healthy cooking and counting calories
You can easily find a nutrition tracking app on the App Store that’s right for you. Many are free, some are not; some include barcode scanning, while others provide recipes; and others are solely for tracking your water intake.
Here are some to look out for:
- Lifesum: Lifesum is a great app for entering and counting your meals and calories
- MyPlate: Like Lifesum, MyPlate helps count calories and meals, with slightly different features from Lifesum
- Lose It!: Lose It! is a weight-focused calorie counting app; you’ll spend less time looking at your meals and more time looking at numbers
- Diet by GetFit: This app combines calorie tracking with meal planning. This makes it easy to find recipes and build a healthy diet
- 8fit Workouts and Meal Planner: 8fit combines meal planning with workouts, so you can bring all of your fitness goals into this single app
5. Schedule your creative milestones
And that brings us to our last type of New Year’s resolutions, which are creative resolutions. I’m leaving this a bit vague, as it will vary from one creative discipline to the next. For me, this means writing a page of fiction each day. For you, that might mean painting, sewing, singing, playing, and so on.
No matter how long you’ve been practicing a creative discipline, it’s never too late to make your practice more consistent. After all, few things are as fulfilling as pursuing a passion.
In my experience, if you’re passion isn’t your job (i.e., it doesn’t make an income) then the best way to make progress with it is to dedicate an hour or less to it each day. Any more than that, and you start to risk burning out or giving up completely.
If you have a creative passion that is also a full-time job, you’ll probably spend more than an hour on it each day.
Apps that help you build creative habits
In my experience, the most helpful apps for hitting creative milestones aren’t creative tools, but instead apps that enable you to build creative habits. That means apps centered around streaks, consistency, and motivation.
Here are some of my favorite apps for that purpose:
- Don’t Break The Chain!: This is probably the simplest app for creatives that there is. You create a calendar in the app to do something each day. Each day that you do it, you cross out that day. And you keep that chain going for as long as you can!
- Forest: Forest gamifies your focus. It’s an iPhone timer that plants a virtual tree when you set a timer. If you close the app before the timer stops, your tree dies. It’s a great way to ensure you stay focused on the task at hand.
- Habitify: As the name implies, this app is more habit-centric than the others. It’s also more feature-rich, making it a more robust, multi-purpose solution.
Set New Year’s resolutions you can stick to
And with that, I think we’ve sufficiently covered all of the major New Year’s resolutions Apple users will want to set on their iPhone and Apple Watch. Now all that’s left to do is stick to those resolutions.
However, an app can’t stick to a resolution for you. That’s something you have to do on your own. To make this easier, here are some guidelines you can follow when creating a New Year’s resolution.
Don’t try to do more than two resolutions at once
If you’re like me, you probably have ten resolutions you’d like to tackle at any given time. Maybe you read all five of the above resolutions and wanted to give them a shot.
You probably shouldn’t try this, however. For the vast majority of people, it can be incredibly difficult to change even one aspect of their life. And since most resolutions are tied to your health, they aren’t the kind of thing you want to give up on.
With that in mind, I recommend trying to achieve no more than two resolutions at once, and think one resolution at a time is best. This allows you to give your all to that one resolution, increasing the chances of your success. Pile on too many, and you’ll only increase your chances of giving up under the pressure.
Choose a reasonable amount of time to spend on your resolutions
This is another aspect of resolutions that people tend to unwittingly overwhelm themselves with. They might set just one resolution, but that resolution becomes so time-consuming that it doesn’t fit into their life. For example, you might try reading for two hours every day, or going to the gym six days a week.
This has almost the same effect as trying to accomplish too many goals at once. It simply becomes too much of an interference with the rest of your life, and too much of a challenge, and so you inevitably give up.
For this reason, I recommend aiming for a smaller, but more sustainable, goal. If working out for thirty minutes each day sounds like a lot, then start with just ten minutes. That’s the length of an average YouTube video, so it shouldn’t be hard to squeeze into your day. The same goes for reading, sleeping, working on creative projects, and so on.
Start small, grow big
Lastly, don’t think of the New Year’s resolutions you set at the beginning of the year as a permanent blueprint. Starting by exercising ten minutes each day doesn’t mean you’ll still just be working out ten minutes in December. Start with ten, increase to fifteen when you feel ready, and move up from there.
In January, your goal shouldn’t be to radically change your lifestyle. It should just be to start tweaking one small aspect of your life for the better. Then, over time, that seed you plant at the beginning of the year will have time to grow. But try too much in the beginning- well, I think you get the idea.
Make this year your best one yet
By following these tips and making use of the devices you already own, you can dramatically improve your odds of succeeding in your New Year’s resolutions. You don’t need any fancy equipment or outrageous, self-imposed standards. Just relax, focus one thing at a time, and use your Apple Watch and iPhone to get you across the finish line.
Best of luck, and Happy New Year!