12 Apps For Self Betterment, And Why They Just May Work

Photo courtesy of Robert Huffstutter via Flickr

Can you be a better you? Some people are content with their lives, bodies, and minds as they are; others are on the search for motivation and change.

The drive for self-improvement is one that has, historically, been capitalized on by the self-help industry — one worth over $10 billion in the U.S.

[contextly_auto_sidebar id=”K0MN4JZ7a9h1hyMzVoiUSpDWzOI8RiSY”]Traditionally, this space has been occupied by authors, coaches and motivational speakers, and has had its credibility dented in past years by scams, frauds, and scandals associated with high-cost, low impact offerings.

Now, self betterment is undergoing transition into a digital world of apps that provide personalized action over broad instruction. As older self-help “gurus” retire and die, it seems increasingly likely that at least part of the future of self-help will move to mobile, gamified, transparently-rated, goal-oriented solutions.

Here are 12 highly-rated apps (which you can find on your device’s app store) that can be used for personal betterment, guaranteed to be less expensive and longer-lasting than a weekend seminar.

Fitness and Health

  • For better sleep:The Sleep Cycle alarm app from Maciek Drejak Labs monitors your sleep activity, and wakes you in your lightest cycle of sleep so you feel rested and relaxed.
  • For fitness: Fleetly tracks mileage, suggests workout routines, and rewards you with badges and medals for meeting goals.
  • For nutrition: My Fitness Pal has an enormous food database with which you can keep track of calorie, vitamin, and sodium intake, along with other nutritional information. It also syncs with fitness trackers.

Habit forming

  • To create habits: tracks how many consecutive days you perform an action that you want to become habitual, and allows the social giving of “props” for accomplishments
  • To break habits: Carrot allows for habit making and breaking by allowing you to input a goal, and then rewarding you (with kittens) for good behavior, and sending you angry messages when you screw up.
  • To enforce habits: Beeminder tracks your goals and makes you pay actual money if you fail to meet them.

For mental improvement

  • To improve brain power: Lumosity provides you with games designed to improve memory, attention, problem solving, and more.
  • To learn a new language: Duolingo is designed to help you learn a language of your choice through mobile word games.
  • To improve your mood: Designed for suicide prevention, Relief Link can also be used as a mood tracker, through which you can log anything related to mental health, perform relaxation exercises, and even find nearby psychiatrists. (You can find other apps rated by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America here).


  • Manage finances: Get better at budgeting your money with apps like Toshl Finance, which lets you set and follow custom budgets.
  • Manage tasks: Clear is a task management app that lets you organize and optimize your daily routine by setting and completing reminders and to-dos.
  • Manage time: Rescue Time helps you use your time more efficiently by sending you weekly reports on wasted “time thieves” on your devices.


  • Improve your sex life: The world’s #1 sex app is Spreadsheets — a cleverly named program for tracking the duration, performance, and frequency of your bedroom activity, through which you can also set goals for improvement.

The takeaway

If the past is any indication, it is difficult for people to change and form habits, and old models have yielded subpar results.

Digital apps that address failures head on, however, foster a consumer-based approach to self betterment — prompted not by gurus or even health professionals, but the power and allure of technology and social media.

Having mobile tools to for self-improvement is an empowering, not to mention convenient and more fun, alternative to a book or a lecture. Will such apps make us all better, healthier, smarter people? Maybe not, but it’s certainly a start.

We measure success by the understanding we deliver. If you could express it as a percentage, how much fresh understanding did we provide?

Jennifer Markert