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The Pros and Cons of Using a Goal Setting App

The Pros and Cons of Using a Goal Setting App

In 2018, mobile device users downloaded around 194 billion apps according to the Business of Apps. Additionally, on an average day, most people spend roughly 3 hours interacting with these apps, with their three favorites taking a majority of that time.

While social apps such as Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram are among the most popular globally, it’s not uncommon for users to also download apps designed to help them reach a higher level in their personal or professional lives.

An app that would fall into this latter category is a goal setting app. But what are the pros and cons of using a mobile application to help you achieve your dreams?

Goal Setting App Pros

One of the biggest advantages of using a goal setting app is that the app will keep whatever it is you want most front and center in your life. Put another way, each time you actively engage with a goal setting app, you’re reminding yourself of the things you want to do or the person you want to become. This can help subconsciously stoke your motivational fire.

Using a goal setting app also helps you establish the behaviors necessary for you to reach the goals you’ve set. For instance, if you download the Productive – Habit Tracker app, it will send you reminders at various times throughout the day, compelling you to take actions that will move you one step closer to your goals. It even tracks your progress so you can easily see all of the behavioral changes you’ve made over the last week or month.

You can also download apps designed to help you reach very specific goals. One example of this is the Digit app. This app can help you curb your spending so you can save for that vacation you’ve always wanted to take or to increase your savings.

The way the Digit app works is by using an algorithm that learns your spending habits and, after analyzing them, shows you places where you can save without much effort at all. This app can also be used to help you pay off all of those credit card bills and any other outstanding debts you may have, enabling you to finally be free financially.

The Cons of Using a Goal Setting App

What are some of the cons associated with using a goal setting app? For starters, you have to actually use the app once you download it. Simply putting it on your phone or tablet and expecting to just achieve all of your goals isn’t realistic.

This entails making it a point to interact with your goal setting app often enough to make a real difference in your life. If you never set it up and/or never open it, it isn’t going to work.

Second, sometimes getting a reminder to do something multiple times throughout the day or week becomes redundant. You already know before looking at the notification what it is going to say, so it becomes super easy to disregard it as you tell yourself that you’ll get to that action the next time the app tells you to do it. Before you know it, “next time” never comes.

Another con of using a goal setting app is that it requires you to stay tied to your mobile device. Although this may not be an issue for some people, if you like to take regular breaks from your electronics, you cannot do so without also feeling like you’re abandoning your goals.

There’s also the issue of whether using a goal setting app actually helps you achieve the goals you’ve set. For example, one Stanford study looked at more than 1.4 million people using the MyFitnessPal app and found that a majority of the goals set (specifically, those that centered around weight loss) were never achieved.

So, Should You Download a Goal Setting App?

Based on these pros and cons, you may be wondering whether you should even bother to download a goal setting app. In the end, the answer to this question depends largely on whether you’ll use the app long enough to see true results. You can just download it and forget about it or it’s just going to become one more app that you’ve placed on your phone that sits idly in the background.

As far as whether using a goal setting app will help you actually achieve your goals, it’s important to note that the Stanford study found two very promising things in this regard. The first was that easier goals were more likely to be achieved.

One way to use this finding to your benefit is to take your one big goal and break it down into smaller goals that are easier to obtain. For example, if your ultimate goal is to lose 50 pounds, it may help to break it down into 5-pound increments instead.

The Stanford researchers also noted that the behaviors taken by the users within the first week of downloading the app appeared to impact whether the final goal was achieved. Specifically, the more progress made in that 7-day timeframe, the more likely the app user was to reach his or her goal.

Therefore, if you do plan to use a goal setting app, aim for a bunch of smaller goals versus one big one and work especially hard that first week to obtain stellar results. Both of these together will help improve the odds that your dream will become a reality, and that the goal setting app will be part of the process.


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by Christina DeBusk // Freelance writer, author, and small business consultant committed to helping entrepreneurs achieve higher levels of success.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.