About this project
Update: Let's Push Past the Goal!
Hi my friends ... this is an update that we've hit our first goal, which is amazing! I'm so grateful, humbled, floored.
But if you are still able to help out, I would love to push past this goal so that we can start on the phone app as soon as possible. So whatever you can do, I will give you a deep thank you. :)
Habit Zen: An App to Help You Create Change That Sticks
This app is starting its life as a habit tracker web app, but that's nothing special. There are probably a couple dozen of those.
Habit Zen is going to be the first habit app that learns how to best overcome resistance.
The truth is that the mechanics of creating habits is easy. But people fail to create habits because they don't know how to overcome the resistance that comes up after a week or two of trying to stick to a habit.
So we're going to learn how to overcome resistance, through Habit Zen.
- By creating massive habit experiments (see section below) and learning what actually works, in the real world.
- By figuring out the most effective ways to overcome resistance, and stick to a habit.
- By helping people create their own personal habit formula (see section below) that will adapt over time to figure out what works best for you.
- By offering habit coaching tips from what we've learned to be effective.
I'm creating this app because I know how powerful habit change can be, and I want to help thousands of others overcome resistance and change their lives too.
I'm Leo Babauta, creator of the Zen Habits blog. Many of you know that in 2005, I started a habit journey that continues to this day. I changed nearly every habit in my life:
- quit smoking
- started eating healthier
- started running (completed a few marathons & an ultramarathon)
- began working out
- decluttered and simplified
- got out of debt and started saving
- stopped procrastinating so much, learned to be more focused and productive
- learned about mindfulness and started meditating
- and more
I started Zen Habits in January 2007 and it became a fairly well-read blog, I've written numerous books and ebooks to help people live better lives, and I created the Sea Change program to help people change one habit at a time.
Now I want to take my learning to another level, and see how I can help people in a new way.
Massive Habit Experiments
We're going to use this app to run a bunch of fascinating experiments with habits. By using the app, you'll be helping us learn how to help people best stick to the habits they're trying to form.
For example, this app will allow us to test:
- How long you should do your habit to start with
- How many habits you can optimally form at once
- Whether it helps to be in a group, and how big of a group is best
- The effectiveness of reminders, accountability, rewards, and fun consequences
- Whether you'll keep going if we threaten to email your mom if you don't check in :)
And much more! By testing these out, we'll be able to help create an optimal habit formula, and help you stick to things longer.
Personal Habit Formula
But the habit formula won't just be a general formula ... in the premium version of this app (not developed yet), we want to create your own personalized formula. If all goes well, we'll create a way for the app to learn from you, how you work best, and make suggestions for altering your habit formula as it learns.
In this way, any habit failures will just be more information for making your formula better!
We'll also share what formulas help the most successful users stick to their habits.
Finally, the premium version will be a kind of habit coach, creating a plan, giving you advice, helping you create your formula, and giving you feedback and encouragement to keep going.
Here's a demo of where the app is at already:
The App Development Plan
Right now, we have a working beta version of Habit Zen. It's a web app only (no phone app), and it's just a simple habit tracker. Check in, see some stats, get an email reminder.
But we're going to take it beyond that. Here's the general plan at the moment (subject to change):
Phase 1: Build a testing platform and run numerous habit tests, learning as we go. The app will get better as we test, and will start offering tips and features based on the tests. (6 months)
Phase 2: Create a premium version that will become a habit coach, with personalized tips, plans, and a personalized habit formula. We'll continue to run experiments as well. Note: the premium version will pay for future development, it's not for my personal profit. (3 months)
Phase 3: Create iPhone and Android versions of the app. And continue to run experiments and improve the premium version. (3 months)
Overall, my hope is to get this all done in about a year. However, delays and adjustments to the plan are possible.
Where the Money Will Go
I just need enough money to pay my developers and designer (along with some server costs) until we get a premium version of the app to start paying for development costs.
So I'm hoping to fund this project for the next 6-9 months.
As a stretch goal (see next section), I'd like you to help me fund the first mobile version of the app.
Here are my costs for the $50,000 goal:
- Developers: I'm working with a front-end developer and a back-end developer. $36,200
- Designer: $5,000
- Server & services costs: to fund Heroku and other services - $800
- Reimburse Leo: I've spent about $20,000 on this project from my personal funds. They're now depleted. I'll take $8,000 as a reimbursement for what I've spent so far.
That's $50,000 total. If there are extra funds (beyond stretch goal below), I'll put much of it towards the developers so we can work faster, and take a little more for myself as reimbursement.
Stretch Funding Goal: iPhone App
If we get beyond the $50K goal, I'd like to try to get to $75,000 total as a stretch goal, to fund the iPhone app.
Actually I'd ideally like to do both an iPhone and Android app ... but I can't fund both. So I'm going to fund an iPhone app first, then learn from that and do an Android app second.
So if you get the funding of this campaign to the stretch goal of $75K, I'll hire someone to build an iPhone app, and my hope is that it will make enough money from the premium version to fund the Android version as well.
Why Call It Habit Zen?
Aside from it being similar to my blog's name (Zen Habits), I decided that this app will distinguish itself from other habit apps by using mindfulness. So, as usual, I'm stealing ideas from Zen and Buddhism.
Specifically, I'd like to help people become aware of their stories around their habit change ... and see how the stories are causing resistance. By learning to deal mindfully with resistance, we can overcome the resistance that's standing in our way.
In this way, habits become the vehicle for self-learning and development of self-trust. I've stolen this all from Zen, and so I've baked it into the title.
To encourage you to help me build this ... I'm creating some rewards that will be exclusive to this Kickstarter campaign (depending on what level you fund):
- Habit Ebook: As we speak, I'm busy writing a short ebook on habits for beginners. It'll cover all the basics, common obstacles, best techniques, and some tricks I've learned in my own experiments. This will come with a few videos as a bonus. I hope to be done with this by December.
- Habit Webinar: I'll hold a live video webinar online, talking about the basics of forming habits ... and you'll be able to ask questions that I'll answer live.
- Beta tester (early adopter): You'll get early beta access to the web app and help us with the habit experiments! It's already working at its most basic level, and your feedback will help us improve it as we add features.
- Habit Webinar Series: Similar to the above webinar, I'll hold a series of three webinars that will help you go from habit beginner to beyond, including talking about common obstacles, and some advanced skills that I've been learning.
- Lifetime pro access: Once we launch the premium edition (next year), people who fund at this level (and above) will have lifetime access to all the premium features without having to pay each month. For life. Also: when the phone app is launched, you'll have access to the phone app's premium edition as well!
- Habit Mastery Course: This is going to be a $300 course that I'm hoping to offer online early next year (either January or February). It will be 3 months long, with video lessons (about 1-2 per week) and assignments/challenges. It is designed to take you to the advanced habit level, if you do the work.
- Mindfulness seminar in San Francisco: I'll be holding a one-day seminar on mindfulness, in person, in San Francisco next spring. The date hasn't been set yet, so don't choose this if traveling to SF will be a problem. We'll work on dealing mindfully with fears, obstacles, uncertainty and more. You pay for your airfare.
- Spend a weekend with Leo: Want to spend time with me 1-on-1? Come to San Francisco and we'll hang out, talk about your personal development (if you like), meditate, eat my favorite vegan food, drink tea, hike around to my favorite spots. We'll even stay together in an Airbnb apartment (separate beds) if you like, with the Airbnb included in the cost of this funding level. You pay for your airfare though.
- Leo comes to your city: I'll fly to your city, anywhere in the world, to hang out with you! I'll even give a talk at an event or at your company, whatever you like, if you want. We could work on a personal development plan for you. Or just hang and have fun. Airfare is included up to $2,500 (USD) -- you pay for anything above that if airfare is more expensive than $2,500.
Of course, which of these you get depends on which funding level you choose. :)
Help Me Help Others
In the end, this is not about the rewards. It's not about me getting paid, nor about the developers making any money. It's not even about an app.
This project is about helping others who are struggling with changing their lives. It's as simple as that.
I've done a lot of things to try to help people change habits and create new lives for themselves — from my blog to my Sea Change program, to writing ebooks. But this is going to help me take it to the next level.
I need your help to do this. I'm out of funds, I'm broke, and I'm asking you to fund this out of the goodness of your heart.
It will help me a lot. But most importantly, it will help me help thousands of others who could sure use the help. I want to help them. Fund this project, and be a part of this.
Risks and challenges
I've never created an app before, though I am working with experienced developers. We've already created a working beta version, so I'm confident we'll keep developing it with competence, but how it will turn out is a big unknown.
I can't guarantee how this app will end up. I guarantee that I will work hard on it and do my very best.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Right now, it's just a web app, in beta testing. I hope to create a phone app next year (see my stretch funding goal).
It's going to start as a free app, but the plan is to add a premium level (with habit coaching & personal habit formulas) to fund the app development in a sustainable way. I don't plan to make any money with this.
I'll be completely transparent:
* I normally do just fine with my business, not millions of dollars a year because I don't market very hard, but more than enough to support my family.
* I did well in my last Kickstarter campaign, but 1) the project cost a lot more than I'd planned, 2) I used some of the extra funds to fund another project, and 3) I used a bit of it for a family trip last year.
* I have been paying for this app project for more than a year, without additional revenue, and it has been bleeding me dry.
* I do have some investments in a retirement account. I don't want to touch them because I'd suffer big tax penalties, and I hope to leave it all in there until I get old. So no, I'm not completely broke. But my bank account is empty.
The truth is, I'll survive without this funding. I'll have to shut down the app project, but I'll be fine. I will probably focus on increasing my revenues over the next year. But I don't want to shut down this project, I think it will help lots of people! So I think it's worth it to run this campaign and try to make this happen. I hope you'll help me, even if I'm not desperately broke.
If I back this at the "Lifetime Pro" level, will I have access to the phone app when it's developed?
Yes! The phone app, when developed, will be available to all users. And the premium level on the phone app will be available to Lifetime Pro backers as well.
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