5 of the Best Apps for Personal Development

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“There’s an app for that” is a cliché already, but it’s strangely true, regardless of what you are talking about! Since we always have our cell phones with us, we might as well get the most out of them, and one of the best ways to do that is to use the apps that will help you do the things you’re always saying you want to do—like get organized, get in shape, learn how to make a web page, edit photos, write a blog, stop being so shy around the opposite sex … does the list ever end?

There are apps that help with all of that, but how do you know what they are, and get around to actually using them or even figuring out what to do first? I’ll tell you about a couple of ways to find them, and then give you a head start with a list of some of the best ones to give you a powered-up start.

Finding the Apps You Need

When you start to look for these kinds of apps, you’ll find that there are many versions of each type, so I find it easiest to research from my desktop, and make a decision on which one I want that way, and then download it on my phone. If you prefer researching right on your phone, that works too – you just need to do a Google search for “apps for _____” and you’ll be off and running. The advantage to this kind of search is that you will find a lot of comparison reviews that will give you more insight than you can get from the product description alone.

You can also do a search right in the App Store (for Apple devices) or Google Play Store (for Android) of course, but you won’t get the detailed reviews and usage tips that you can find online. “Personal development” is the broad term that encompasses improving your personal qualities and skills, and includes everything from increasing employability to having a better quality of life and realizing your dreams.

Top Apps

Here are five apps that will make it easy for you to take advantage of downtime to work on personal development wherever you are, as easily as loading the app on your cell phone.

Get Fit or Pay the Price with Pact

Originally called Gympact, this app uses real money to raise the commitment bar. Users set their own commitments for exercise and diet goals and determine the penalty if they don’t follow through. Failures result in a cost (deducted from your credit card) and at the end of the week, successes are rewarded with a share of the money collected from the fails.

You get to decide how much you risk, and of course the developer is making money off the process, so the amount users get back won’t equal the amount paid in, but still—the pain of losing money can be very motivating, so if you want to keep yours, you just might get off the couch and out the door a little more.

Define Your Values and Set Goals with Lifetick

There are many apps that help you track progress toward goals, but what sets Lifetick apart is that it starts with identifying your core values, then walks you through setting S.M.A.R.T. goals and tracks your progress to move you toward accomplishing them. You can lay out a workout schedule and milestones towards your goal, track weight loss and daily habits that you decide will get you there, and savings amounts towards your financial goals.

Track Goals and Habits with Strides

If you like visual cues, particularly symbols and charts, you’ll love Strides for tracking how well you are sticking to your plan. The app will send an alert to keep you accountable and track quantities for you, like how many glasses of water you drink or miles you run. There’s an app for Apple users and otherwise, you can use Strides on the Web. The app includes a journal so you can keep track of progress and dreams for the future. It’s also collaborative so you can get moral support from others. You can work together on projects and each person can check off their accomplishments towards the collective goal.

Udemy for Learning Anything through Bite-sized Videos

With over 40,000 courses available globally, Udemy is one of the top video-course programs in the world. They bill themselves as “the world’s online learning marketplace” and it’s a pretty good description since you can find a course on anything there. When you search for courses there, you don’t want the “Development” category, though—that’s all coding, software and web development. Skip down to “Personal Development” where you’ll find subcategories ranging from investing to happiness.

Udemy encourages instructors to make brief, high-quality videos so you don’t get a bunch of long lectures that put you to sleep. A course may consist of a dozen videos totaling less than an hour of actual instruction time, or may have hundreds of videos and a total viewing time of over 15 hours or more, so be sure to check the description before purchasing, just to make sure you know what you are getting.

The platform doesn’t control what teachers teach, so there are usually multiple courses on the same subject. Popular topics like online marketing and Photoshop may have a hundred different courses available, so take advantage of the preview videos available for most courses. Usually these are the introductory video and a couple of videos from later sections of the course. (Some of them are worth watching for the content, even if you don’t take the whole course!)

One of the best ways to get a feel for the site is to type “free courses” into the search bar. You’ll find there are mostly coding courses at the top of the list, but “7 Scientifically Proven Steps to Increase Your Influence” is also in the top ten.

TED Talks to Get You Thinking in New Ways

TED is a nonprofit organization with the mission of spreading ideas. The name is an acronym for technology, entertainment and design, and the phenomenon started with a conference where the intent was a convergence of the three. You can view TED talks from conferences all over the world on YouTube or with an app specifically designed to show them on your mobile device. The talks are short and well-rehearsed, and range from ways to increase your confidence to cool new angles on science like, “Baby diapers inspired this new way to study the brain,” and “Why you think you're right—even if you're wrong.”

Think about how many hours you’ve spent playing some little game like Doodle Jump or 2048 while you waited in a line or on a commute, and all the Facebook videos you’ve watched that left you wondering why you wasted your time, and you’ll see what I mean! There’s always room for improvement, so next time you have some time to kill, why not check out something that will make you smarter or better at something, or help you attain your goals?

Have you used any of these apps? We’d love to hear your experiences and your suggestions for more apps to try out!


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Stephan Aarstol is an American internet entrepreneur and author of the book The Five Hour Workday, which is based on Tower Paddle Boards' invention of the 5-hour workday in 2015 that would eventually spread the idea to over 10 million people worldwide. Since founding Tower in 2010, it has gone on to become one of America's fastest growing companies and Mark Cuban's best investment in the history of Shark Tank. Tower has diversified into a direct to consumer electric bike company called Tower Electric Bikes, a beachfront event venue called Tower Beach Club, and NoMiddleman.com, where consumers can shop all the world's finest direct to consumer brands from one easy place.