Use Tech to Help with Your Resolution

I remember back in 1999 I resolved to give up Mountain Dew for a year (which I was addicted to) and reduce the amount of caffeine I drank. I also resolved to drink more water, and switch to a diet soft drink (which I couldn’t stand to drink before that). At the beggining of the new year, I finished my last Dew and went on the change. My result was that I didn’t drink Dew all year and slowly weened myself on diet soda, starting with 5% diet – 95% cola, then slowly changing the percentages.

I also remember 2001 when I told myself I would quit smoking. That didn’t last a week.

Everybody makes resolutions. Doesn’t have to be on January 1st – it can be during a birthday, anniversary, religious holiday or a life changing event. Whether your resolution helps you with health, money or whatever, it’s something you not only feel the need to change but also want to stick with changing.

A resolution is a self check – to be able to see if you can change something about oneself. With so much pressure out there, this becomes a quest to see if adversity can be overcome. Sometimes we hear about how people stuck with their resolution and a difference is seen. We also hear time and time again when people fail. Why?

Maybe it’s because they think they have to go it alone. No support. Well I am here to tell you friend THAT is not true. There are many ways we can ‘Stay Strong’ on a resolution. And now is the time to make the resolution that you are going to stick with the resolution.

So where do you go for support? Friends? Family? Definitely. How about your computer? Your Smart phone? Simple changes can give you simple results to do what you would like. Let’s look at the top resolutions made at the beggining of the year, and how technology can help you attain the goals.  

Pre Check – Organization

Before we do this, let’s get organized. Even if this is your resolution, you have to get organized before you can get organized. Sounds silly, but it’s true.

Have you ever had to tackle cleaning an unorganized large room? I do that every time I move. Basically I start by organizing things into piles, then straightening out the piles. Same thing goes here.

So what do you have out there to help you organize? Do you have to buy stuff? Well, no. Let’s start with the simplest item – an organizer. Outlook is an organizer. It keeps your contacts and tasks, datebook and email. If you don’t have Outlook, you can download software from www.Openoffice.org and Thunderbird with Lightning from www.mozilla.org.

Don’t want to download software? Well then get a Google or Yahoo account. You can get many applications with free webware. Calendars and email is all you need.

If you have a phone, you most likely have a calendar and notepad program. That can help organize. If you can hook it up to a computer, all the better. Sync up your information and go.

Once you figure out how you are going to organize, then do that and stick to the organization. That will help with any resolution. So let’s look at how we can let technology help us keep our resolutions.

One last thing in this area – it takes 3 weeks to make a habit of something. So at least give yourself three weeks to organize and work on your resolution.

Get a Better Job – educate thyself.

This is a common resolution. Sometimes to do this, you have to make a concious effort to learn something new. That can be a challenge in itself. However it’s not impossible.

I had an oppertunity to listen to a speaker at a seminar I attended. While the speakers’ presence was not commanding, they did say one thing to get me thinking. They suggested to “Find the Passion”. Are you passionate about your job or wanting to change? Passion makes us do funny things – like write news articles on the 23rd of December even though most people won’t read this until the 26th (if they read it at all).

The passion has to be there not only for this resolution, but for all of them. Otherwise, we’ll be back to doing what we did three weeks ago. And turning around should not be an option.

Technology can help here – After organizing a schedule including learning times and job hunting times, sign up on monster.com. Maybe hotjobs. Also look at the local job websites out there. Not only will they help you with finding a new job, they will also help you with tips on writing resumes, interviewing skills and many more.

One thing I do when I look for a job is create a seperate email address and phone number. Yes, phone number. Did you know netzero.com can give you a free telephone number to recieve voicemail from? Netzero is not the only one. Do an online search for Voicemail services. You will find a few. By seperating email and voicemail, you will not miss an important message.

Get out of Debt

Credit Cards, Car Loan, Home Loan, whatever. We want to refrain from the 4 – 16% or higher rates. Some think that getting a second job is what’s needed. It may put a little more in your pocket, but I have found that it only adds stress to your life.

The better thing is to get a budget going. Open up a spreadsheet app and plan where your money is going. Quicken helps you get a buget going. If you want to go online, just check out Kiplinger. They have a webpage that can help you work out your budget. There is a lot of budget tracking software out there.

Getting a better rate on a loan or card may be as easy as switching companies or asking to refinance. Check out what is out there. You may save money simply by the better interest rate on your card. Fortunewatch has a good article that help with looking at credit card deals. Also look at this article on Motley Fool on the card tricks some companies play.

Tens of thousands of people file for bankrupcy. The rate rises every year. Try to stay away from that trend by simply organizing and understanding your money without overspending.

One last thought – take money off the pedistal. Don’t let it drive your decision. Sometimes the smell of money makes us look in the wrong direction and then we are right back in the same place we started, or worse.

Quit Drinking/smoking

This is a hard resolution. With the addictive properties of smoking and the pressure to drink in social situations, overcoming this will take willpower and understanding. Let tech help here.

Planning the schedule is probably the most important thing. I remember the old quit smoking plans that helped you out by keeping a schedule of when you should smoke. The idea was eventually it would be a long time between cigarettes to where you can just walk away. The idea still hold true. Remember – 3 weeks.

Join a group – Doesn’t have to be something on tuesdays at the VFW. It can be as easy as a chat room or discussion board. And I am not talking about a “Quit smoking / drinking” forum. Sometimes the better ones to join are groups with topics you can get into. If you like cars, then join a car forum.

Google Maps. Sounds strange, but think about it – if you plan to go somewhere else, your trends will change, too. For smoking, make the rule not to smoke in the car. Go to a place or event that doesn’t promote or suggest smoking or drinking. And connect with your friends so they can help out.

Spend more time with Family/Friends

This one is made for the internet. There is so much you can do to keep in touch and spend more time. MySpace and Facebook are good examples. Putting up your schedule to let people know where you are going to be.  

Even a family website with schedule on it is an idea. Not too detailed. We are not trying to entice theives and other, just an idea of where you are planning to be.

A Webcam might be the cheeziest way to get together with friends and family, but it definitely is the most cost efficient. Add it to your IM, and you are connecting in a whole new way.

Hands down, organization is key in this area. Plan the work and work the plan. Plan the fun and have fun with the plan.

Loose weight/get fit.

First we will schedule the workout. 3 times a week for an hour each. Also schedule the diet. Plan what you are going to eat on what days. Your own deal-a-meal. Make sure this stuff is in your phone and you are alerted when it’s time. Don’t just hit the ‘dismiss’ button.

If you join a group like Weight Watchers, there are many web and program offerings you can get to control what and when you eat. Get on other forums, like I stated with smoking / drinking to keep your mind off of food.

a Pedometer is a great little device to have and it is so cheap to procure. For some, music is important with working out, so get a light-weight MP3 player to wear while working out.

Keep a journal or blog. Take pictures of progress. Write in the journal everyday. It’s the best motivation.

Here is a good idea – check for hoax diets. Search for fad diets online, because there are a lot of them. Don’t forget the “Ab” exersicers. You may have to weed through the junk, but check out YouTube for workout videos. Anyone with a webcam can become your own personal trainer.

Bottom Line

OK, so maybe you won’t go to YouTube for workout info, but in thinking about it, we can always find something out there. The bottom line is you have a lot out there to help you keep a resolution. Organize yourself, then get the tech to help you out. You might find that you will stick with your resolution and feel better about yourself.

By the way – after that year, I started drinking Mountain Dew again. I don’t drink it as much. I drink more water and diet soda (and now, even more water than soda). I can’t stand diet Mountain Dew, though.  

About Jeffrey Powers - @geekazine

I am a podcaster and V-Caster. I love to go out and talk tech with anyone. I enjoy talking with startups because they have new and innovative technologies. You can find Geekazine at Google+ and me at my page. I also have shows at Day in Tech History, iPad365, This Week in Google Glass and a Podcast Coach at How to Record Podcasts. You can also sign up for a Helpout