Keeping New Year's Resolutions With Social Media

Transparency isn't only the best disinfectant: it's also a pretty great way to ensure you’ll keep your word. The notion of the New Year's resolution may be eternally quixotic, but it’s also intriguing and hard to dismiss. If you’re taking stock of the last year and vowing to yourself that this will be the year you make a significant life change, social media may be able to help. There’s a ton of online services to track and share your progress, leveraging friends for support, encouragement, and a bit of negative incentive.

Get in shape
Aside from dropping $160 on a body scale that tweets your weight, there are a number of social media sites that allow you to share your fitness regimen and status. GAIN Fitness is a new service started by ex-Googlers that enables time-strapped users to track their workouts and suggests similar exercises based on their goals and time constraints. Runkeeper is a mobile and web app that tracks your jogs and shares that info with your contacts. For pedal pushers, Map My Ride allows you to share bike routes and status, with a slick Google Maps overlay that makes it as useful a tool for finding new bike routes as it is sharing your status.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Read More Books
Goodreads, which I wrote about earlier, is one of the most robust social media sites for readers, that shares your reading list, how far you’ve made it in a book, and allows you to catalog your library and chat with other bibliophiles. All Consuming serves a similar purpose, but extends it's scope to other media, including movies, gadgets, meals, video games and more (Wii Fit anyone?)

Get Stuff Done
There are countless cloud to-do list apps, but if you're anything like me, the top five items in the list get finished quickly while the long tail of unfinished tasks continues to extend to the bottom of the screen. Listable is an online service and iPhone app that allows you to make to-do lists, but also brings a social component into the list making process, allowing you to share unfinished tasks with family or project partners.

Travel More
43 Places offers a wealth of traveling info and support, tracking where you’ve visited, where you would like to go, and allowing users to share tips with fellow travelers. The robust question and answer section is a useful resource, and the site’s easy Facebook integration draws your social travel experience into your existing network. If you’re looking for affordable and shareable lodging, airbnb is one of Shareable’s favorite resources, an online service that connects budget-conscious travelers with places to stay.

Get Your Entire Life in Order
Experts say that more specific, focused resolutions are the most effective, but if you're life feels too hectic or completely out of control, it’s worth considering the Quantified Self movement. The Quantified Self blog examines the many online services that enable you track and share every detail of your life using the social web, from personal productivity to health. Granted, this isn't for everyone, but the self-discipline these services require and the ability to track personal data points could be a useful exercise for folks who are trying to get a handle on their life in aggregate. If nothing else, it’s a way to guarantee that on December 31, 2011, you can answer the question "where did this year go?” with some pertinent data points.

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