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Sites to make New Year's resolutions stick

Resolutions may be made to be broken, but these Web sites help you get granular with goals, and then nag if you fall short.

My New Year's resolutions for 2007were largely a flop, although I did frame and hang some vintage 1930s cruise ship menus as promised.

Joe's Goals' simple set up can manage a massive matrix of resolutions.
Joe's Goals' simple setup can manage a massive matrix of resolutions.

But if you're dead set on changing your life in 2008, many Web sites can assist with tallying and tracking resolutions. Some will continue to ping you with reminders, or even enlist other folks to pester you over the next 12 months. Facebook users can pick from various third-party widgets for setting and sharing goals, but other sites offer more customization.

Sweet and simple, Joe's Goals help you log progress on to-do items within a simple calendar. Just add a check mark to stuff that's done. You can show off your score card to others with badges for MySpace or your blog.

LifeTango's brainstorm wizard steps you through the goal-setting process, nicely leaving each item private by default. You can also send items on your list to friends, family, or the general public. The site functions well, but its orange and blue tones could use a makeover, and there's not much to do off the site.

43Things makes it quick to get started by typing in a goal and seeing, for instance, that 3,885 other people have pledged to "exercise more." You can post 43Things items to or from a blog. The site has removed its groups, which had become a target for spammers. But users can cheer each other, or pay $1 for a SuperCheer.

To pass the buck and the blame, 43Things' Should Do This tool lets you make suggestions about what the rest of the world, anyone or anything from Al Gore to poor people to Fox News, should do.

Remember the Milk beta makes your to-do items and reminders available in Gmail, via SMS, the iPhone, Windows Mobile devices, Skype, and popular IM clients. Integration with Google Calendar and contacts would let you connect to, say, a co-worker for an instant chat at an appointed time. Remember the Milk also can pinpoint tasks on a map and export your lists as Atom and iCal-ready feeds.

I find that Remember the Milk is the most portable goal-setting service of the bunch; you can take it with you instead of repeatedly returning to its Web site. Still, it would be nice to see such services import to-do items from software such as Microsoft Outlook.

For even less complication, Hassle Me simply sends you a nagging e-mail or IM nudge for any goal and time interval you pick.

Work that body
In poll after poll, Americans name eating less and exercising more as top goals for the new year. But who wants to count calories? Just tell Fit Day or The Daily Plate what you're eating, and they'll do the work, drawing charts of the nutrition you're getting or should be.

DietTelevision beta (more here) does the same, adding motivational videos alongside personal recipes suggestions with shopping lists. You can track food and water intake by texting the site from a mobile phone.

Um, drink too much? FitDay's pie charts can show so in a snap.
Um, drink too much? FitDay's pie charts can show so in a snap.

Traineo also helps you track a diet and workout plan, joining groups or calling upon four personal "motivators" to keep you on track. I like that you can rate your daily diet from poor to great if you're in a hurry and don't want to log every bite. However, some groups seem to be sponsored by diet products.

The Revolution Health portal (more here) launched Resolution 2.0, a tool for setting goals with a group that include working out more, being a better parent, and complaining less. Professionals, including personal trainers and doctors, lead the groups.

Like the general goal-making services, these fitness sites offer plenty of tools, but I'd like them to do a better job taking you off of their pages by integrating with more third-party calendars, e-mail services, and mobile devices.

Overall, I prefer FitDay's tight interface and quick setup. Daily Plate made me first skip an offer for a paid subscription, and then sent my password in a clear text e-mail. I just wish that FitDay listed more common consumables, like pad thai, so I don't have to look up peanuts and noodles separately. Daily Plate lists pad thai and other takeout staples of my diet.

If you need extra help with becoming well, more than 500 online support groups at DailyStrength aim to tackle tough problems such as substance abuse and disease.

Cutting carbons
If going green is on your wish list, Make Me Sustainable (more here), and Yahoo Green (more here) help to set goals, such as swapping out old light bulbs and toting reusable bags to the grocery store. Carbon Rally (more here) adds peer pressure to the mix by encouraging teams of users to compete.