January is upon us and with it comes the inevitable promises of self-improvement through New Year’s resolutions. Each time this month comes around we tell ourselves that this is the year we will lose weight/get fit/save money/quit smoking or improve our health and lifestyle in some way.

But with a study from the University of Hertfordshire claiming that just one in ten of us will actually achieve what we set out to do – most people give up as early as 23rd January ­– the odds are stacked against us. Is there a better way to make our goals a reality?

A new app has taken a different approach. Created by Fifth Corner in partnership with Jamie Oliver, the You app focuses on small daily ‘micro-actions’ in order to inspire and encourage everyone to live happier, healthier lives. Nelli Lähteenmäki, one of the co-founders of the You app, explains the philosophy behind it:

“You app was created to inspire people to take action for their well-being. We believe in micro-action because change rarely happens overnight. Your well-being is the sum of all those small actions you take every day, and every choice you make is significant.”

To create lasting change, researchers and neuroscientists advocate small steps, hence micro-actions. Your brain is constantly trying to save effort by making a routine into a habit. The idea is that by changing your behaviour through small activities each day, you can reprogramme your brain to trigger a virtuous cycle of more action, making any future changes easier and more likely.

You-app

Each day, the app will show a new action, which could be anything from “eat something colourful” to “take a tech timeout”. The latter may seem contradictory but the app is designed with this in mind and only asks users for one minute of their time each day. By combining well-being and social media features, it allows users to snap a photograph of their daily action and share it with friends and followers.

Other suggestions include sharing a photo of a great meal you had recently with why it was memorable – was it the ingredients, the occasion or the company?

One user commented, “Even though I was doing only that one daily action, I noticed that I became more conscious of other small things that I could do better!”

The app is currently available as a free download from the iTunes store, with an Android version becoming available later in 2015.

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