Based on behavioral economics, Fabulous is the slow-moving productivity and motivational app that just might succeed in helping you build long-term habits.
A little over a week into the New Year, I’m going to go ahead and say what everyone else is already thinking: Resolutions are the worst.
If you’re among the small fraction of the population that doesn’t already have one foot out the door on your promise to be your best vegan-ish, fitness-loving, budget-adhering, judgement-free self, I commend you. For everyone else *raises hand* there’s an app you should most definitely peep: Fabulous.
If you’re able to get past the early 2000s vibe of the name of the app, it could very well be the thing that helps you get more sleep, be more organized, exercise more, etc. etc. Launched in 2014, the app was developed on principals of behavioral economics at Duke University’s Center for Advanced Hindsight, overseen by behavior change scientist and New York Timesbest-selling author Dan Ariely. It’s presently used by millions of people, with over 175,000 enthusiastic reviews on Google Play.
What sets Fabulous apart from all the other motivation-based apps is its pacing: It’s slow AF. From the initial prompt that asks you to choose from four different “journeys” to get started—feel more energized, lose weight, sleep better, or focus and concentrate more—I opted to go with “feel more energized,” because, well, I pretty much never feel energized.
And after answering a few questions about what time I’d wake up and the app gently encouraging me to allow push notifications, the next prompt arrived. And it wasn’t the “OK, champ! You’re going to wake up an hour and half earlier starting tomorrow and somehow feel great about it!” vibe that I was expecting.
Instead, I was informed that my first step toward my plan was to wake up in the morning and drink a glass of water straight away. And not even every day—just three days out of the week.
I don’t want to jump the gun here, but I’m *pretty confident* this is something I can handle. And an extra cute feature built into the app? There are “letters” you can read about your particular challenge; this one in particular ruminated on the wake-up rituals of famous figures like Benjamin Franklin, who asked himself “What good shall I do this day?” every day.
And Ernest Hemingway, who started writing at dawn, even if he got obliterated the night before (props to the Fabulous team for the accuracy).
Once I knock out the first step of my “journey,” new steps are introduced, all of them relatively simple, like eating a good breakfast and dancing (yeah, yeah—I can see you raising an eyebrow from over here). Plans are based around 15-day cycles that implement slow change aimed at building long-term habits rather than one offs that yield quick results.
While there are some baseline functions that you can test out for free, the app is ultimately a highly customizable and modular platform that can cater very specifically to your goals, whether it’s related to getting more fit (hello, 1-minute exercise prompt), having more mental focus, eating healthier, or working on your self-esteem.
Subscription plans start at $12.99 a month, with discounts offered for purchasing a year at a time.