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Today, Patricia Eastwood, our savvy friend who is not intimidated by the latest apps, joins us to review Habitica. If you are looking to rein in the chaos of the holidays and simultaneously get on track to meet your goals — even before a New Year’s resolution is in place — you’ll be interested in this app!

They say that our kids teach us more than we teach them — yep. A few months ago, my oldest child taught me that I can find and schedule a dermatologist appointment through an iPhone app, Zocdoc, based entirely on my availability and location and my desire for a particular appointment time (I was seen by a physician within 72 hours, and I had only invested about seven minutes on my phone making the appointment!).

So a few weeks ago, I listened intently when said brilliant and tech-savvy child told me about an open source-created app making the rounds at her college that has self-improvement as its aim. It’s called Habitica, and I am hooked. It’s a list maker, game and life coach of the highest caliber. It replaces my AnyList app and complements MyNetDiary by giving all that calorie counting a meaning (in my case, positive habit points if I stay within a certain intake range on any given day). Most importantly, it reminds me of my Dungeons and Dragons days circa 1984, and that equals fun! Like my D&D warrior, my Habitica character tries to gain levels and accoutrements as she develops into a mighty warrior fighting bad habits and procrastination on a daily basis.

The game/tool permits the user to leverage game theory in a customized fashion, and that is its highest appeal. Users set up positive and negative habits that impact character health and experience accordingly. For example, if you strive to take the stairs more often, you can set up a positive habit to promote (“I took a flight of stairs instead of an elevator”). If you do the positive habit, you record positive points that boost your gold. You can also name habits to break and, consequently, suffer losses if you fall into them (“I bit my nails”). There’s also a thing called “dailies,” which are habits and tasks that must be accomplished on a schedule to get points (and for which you take a penalty if you don’t get them done on time — think daily flossing, as an example).

A traditional to-do list rounds out the goals you create for yourself. To-dos don’t count against you, but they can earn you points, and it’s so satisfying to check them off. If you steadily add the constant to-dos that emerge in your life and set deadlines, which is optional, the list becomes a pretty good priority-weighted summary of your life chores. All categories of items for which a character strives for or hopes to avoid can be tagged relative to the area they impact in the character’s life, such as “health,” “work,” “chores” or “exercise.”

My favorite part of this whole do-it-yourself game is that the player sets up his or her available rewards and their prices. Having a bad day and craving Jeni’s Ice Cream? No problem. Set up Jeni’s as a reward, set a price and go for it. I find that by the time I get enough gold for a particular reward, I tend to be choosy about what I “buy” and sometimes it’s a health potion to keep my character’s level and not an ice cream or a TV show.

Here is an example of the rewards that you can set up for yourself.

And you’ll earn prizes along the way!

The game/tool costs nothing, but there are purchasing opportunities if you want better clothes or features for your characters. Like other character game apps (remember Toon Town or Club Penguin?), Habitica has special features that unlock when certain goals and levels are met.

There is also a social media component available. You can ask other Habitica enthusiasts to “party” or join a group. Together, group members can defeat dragons and undertake activities that encourage the strength and health of member characters. I could go on and on about this app and the ways it can help you measure self-improvement over time, but all that seems deliciously unimportant if you find yourself enjoying the game and seeking to find an Enchanted Armoire!

And now, I am off to Orangetheory in hopes of buying a Strong and Sweet Armor later this evening …

Thank you, Patricia! For more on Habitica, click here.

To read more from Patricia, check out these guest columns at Bacon on the Bookshelf.

For more breezy conversations about our favorite things, perfect to discuss on a jog or over a glass of wine, check out our “other” section right here at StyleBlueprint!

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