Technology Enabled Resolutions

It’s the start of a new year and, inevitably we’re all thinking about how to do things differently in the new year.  Whether or not you’re someone who believes in or can commit to New Year’s Resolutions, you have to admit there is something about the turning of the new year that allows for a fresh start, a new lease on life, a renewed commitment to something.  The New Year is hopeful, and most people I talk to seem to think that 2008 needs a good kick in the behind.  What better way to kick it than with a bright, shiny new outlook in 2009.  Resolutions look like a lot of things, and generally we keep them in our heads, or our diaries, and we commit for as long as we’re able.  Perhaps though, we could get a helpful boost from the Internet when our new year’s resolve is waning.  Here’s a few (free or inexpensive) web-based tools I found that might make your New Year’s Resolutions stick, at least until February.

  • is a free, web-based weight loss management and journaling tool.  We might as well admit it, we all have the best of intentions when it comes to shedding those extra pounds.  And those intentions are especially bright around the 1st of the year.  Who knows, it may be the extra garbage we consumed over the holidays, or the anxiety over an upcoming beach vacation.  I am not one to commit to or encourage weight loss resolutions because I think they are so easily broken.  But I do think that its a good idea to manage your health through awareness of your caloric intake and your activities.  In my opinion (and I’ll get lambasted for this I’m sure) its better for you to commit to healthful food choices and some kind of physical activity than it is to make pointless resolutions about dramatic weight loss.  Whatever the case, you can take advantage of FitDay’s free tools for setting your weight goal, logging your food intake, monitoring your caloric intake, calling out the nutritional value of the foods you eat, breaking out the carbs, fats and proteins and then checking it all against your physical activity. You can log your moods and see what sorts of correlating foods might be the cause for your headache or lethargy.  It’s all about data, people.  And there are pretty graphs that display that data for quick consumption. Be careful with this one – there’s an option to make your profile information public.  If you want your world policing what you eat, go for it.  I don’t share your desire to go public with every peanut butter cup.  But that’s just me.
  • is another free service that will let you upload a photo of yourself that will then automagically show you how you might look sans those extra pounds.  I know, why torture yourself, right?  But some people might just need the inspiration (or kick in the tush) to get moving on their healthful lifestyle resolution, and seeing themselves skinny might just do the trick.
  • Not all resolutions are about weight though.  Nor should they be.  I just had to get the obvious resolution material out of the way.  A few years back I made and kept what turned out to be one of the best resolutions of my life.  I resolved to be a better friend – to reach out, make and foster richer relationships with the people in my life. I, like so many people do, got caught up in my career and my professional interests and was horribly neglectful of my friends.  As a result, I found myself on the career path I wanted, but really lacking in the kinds of intimate, meaningful friendships that enrich one’s life in unexpected ways.  That was the year I actually made new friends, which, if you’re a woman over 30 with a career and a family, you know how hard that is to do.  I mean REALLY making new friends.  Not like the people you just have lunch with at work.  I made a conscientious effort to reach out and engage with a handful of people that are now so significant in my life I cannot imagine it without them.  You’re going to think I’m crazy, but you shouldn’t because if you’ve been reading this blog at all, you’ve heard me say this before, social networks like Facebook and Twitter actually make me a better friend.  That is why the 3rd item on my list of resolution enablers is Facebook.  You laugh, but really, a small investment in using Facebook well means you’ll always see the latest photos of your friends’ kids, you’ll never forget their birthdays, you can quickly and easily offer words of encouragement, or even be reminded to pick up the phone and just call for a spontaneous lunch or cup of coffee.  If you’re still looking for a good resolution that will really have an impact – I highly recommend this one.  Be a better friend.  It changed my life.  
  • Weight and money are two resounding themes this time of year.  I hear so many people talk about getting a handle on their budgets, their savings, their spending, their debt.  This makes for very good resolution fodder.  There are so many helpful applications floating around on the web to help you gain insight and control around your spending behaviors.  My cohort and fellow geek girl, Meghan, reviewed what might be one of the best web-based financial management tools out there in November –  And now there’s even more minty goodness with the recent launch of an iphone application.  I can’t really speak from personal experience as the service claims to be available for my credit union, but the added level of security my bank requires for it’s web banking has made that interaction impossible.  The thing is I WANT to be a user.  I salivate when I see the interface, the features, the brilliant reporting examples.  It’s this geek girl’s fantasy to track my spending habits on  I live for the day when that can happen.  But until that happens for me, perhaps I can live vicariously through you?
  • I am a crazy list maker.  I am constantly making, revising and widdling away at ‘to-do’ lists.  If I’m honest with myself I have to admit that my lists of things ‘to-do’ are really goals I set for myself from day to day.  I feel a great sense of accomplishment when I’m able to make significant progress on items on my lists.  Turns out there’s this other guy, named Joe, who also makes lists of goals, schedules them out, and then tracks his progress from day to day.  Joe made a web application that’s free for you to use, and it’s pretty darn cool — it’s called Joe’s Goals.   If you’re resolved to getting more organized or being more productive then a simple little application like Joe’s Goal’s is ideal.  You can establish your tasks, or goals; schedule your goals and then track your progress toward those goals, all via this simple user interface. 
  • Maybe you’re reading this blog because you’ve resolved to ramp up your technology knowledge.  That’s great!  You might need a simple, web-based resource to look up terms with which you are unfamiliar.  I recommend Webopedia to folks for exactly this purpose all the time.  It’s a great stop in the middle of your day for the ‘term of the day’ – today it’s ‘geotagging’ and I’m not going to tell you what that is.  I am going to encourage you to look it up yourself and then bookmark Webopedia—because you know you’re going to be in a meeting and someone’s going to say something and you are going to think ‘huh?’  Well, now you know where to turn when no one is watching to get educated on all things web/internet/tech related.  Or at least to get better at speaking the language. 

This is just a short list of helpful resources for making successful New Year’s resolutions.  I’d love it if readers would contribute their suggestions to the list.  Leave some hints, URLs, tools, etc in the comments and share with the Geek Girl community.  We have to help each other stay on track.  And Happy New Year!