Some say it takes 21 days to form a habit. Other research suggests it takes 18 to 254. The Lift App says it takes only three. Greatist tried out the goal tracker to see if it really works.

Lift, which debuted this past summer, is a simple way to set goals and track progress with the support of friends and the Lift community. There are three steps to the lifehacking app: Identify good habits, track performance, and make progress. Users log in via an iPhone, newer versions of the iPod touch, or the iPad.

How It Works

Once a username is created, users browse popular habits — like take vitamins, run X miles, floss, log weight, meditate — or create new ones. Each habit shows how many other participants with that goal are checked in, and when they checked in. There’s no limit to how many habits you can choose, and you can add or delete them at any time.

Once users have jogged around the block or taken out the trash, they open the app and tap a checkbox to record their completed task. (There’s an option to add a note to each, called a “check-in,” for comments like “jogged for three miles instead of four because it started to downpour.”) Users can check the progress of tasks with the “frequency per week” and “frequency per month” charts: The bar graphs show which habits users check into most and which ones are falling by the wayside.

The company website says, “You’re not alone on Lift,” and the app makes community interaction a big priority. Once a user checks in, it’s shared with friends. There’s a little thumbs up (much like the “like” button on facebook) to give others “props” for check-ins. There’s also a function for inviting friends to use the app yet another way to fuel motivation. (As of right now, Lift doesn’t have the ability to hide habit information from other users, but they plan on adding this function in the future.)

Hands-On with Lift

I decided on 10 habits to track for one week: call Mom and Dad, unclutter, get to sleep by midnight, log my nutrition on MyFitnessPal, practice good posture, compliment someone, don’t eat after 9pm, drink three cups of tea a day, sleep at least eight hours a night, and drink more water. Since they were fairly simple, I figured 10 goals would be reasonable.

I finally had a reason to log my sleep and be accountable for sitting up straight in my desk chair. Before I left work I was sure to clean up my area, and I had more impetus for reorganizing my room before I went to sleep. And every morning I made my bed (my version of uncluttering).

When I had called my parents three days in a row, I received an email that read, “Hi Nicole, You made progress on the following 1 habit yesterday!” It highlighted that I was on a three-day streak. There was even a quote at the very top: “Every human being is the author of his own health or disease.”

After a week using Lift, I checked into each task at least once (some more than others). Drinking more water was a challenge, but it might have been more effective if I had set a specific amount. According to Lift’s three-day rule, I made three habits in a week’s time — call the ’rents, log my food, and unclutter. Admittedly, the last one is pretty vague (uncluttering could mean taking out the trash or a full-on overhaul of my apartment).


Receiving emails from the Lift peeps was like a little pat on the back for simple tasks that I generally tend to perform on a daily basis anyway. Would I stop calling my parents if I didn’t check into the app every morning? Unlikely. But being held accountable for drinking more water or keeping track of my meals made me more aware of what I was taking into my body. While I could have tracked these actions in other ways (pencil and paper, for one) it was nice to have an automatic reminder once a day.

I also didn’t take advantage of the app’s social aspect so much. I didn’t encourage others by giving them props (that’s the little thumbs-up icon) or invite friends for support.

The Takeaway

For now, I think I’ll take a break from checking into the app. But Lift is free, easy to use, and harmless. It’s definitely worth it to give the app a try.

Ready to give it a go? Download Lift from the iTunes store.

Do you use the Lift app? What do you like to track? Let us know in the comments section below, or tweet the author @nicmcdermott.