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Trying to improve your work life, relationships, or attitude? Yana wants to help

Posted by Scott Kirsner  March 25, 2010 11:00 AM

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Existing social networks don't necessarily lead you to a happier life; more likely, they make you jealous about your college roommate's three-week vacation to the South Pacific, or upset about your would-be boyfriend's decision to keep his relationship status set to "single."

But a new Boston-based site called Yana is designed to promote setting goals that lead to contentedness and good health. (The name stands for "you are not alone.") Users can lay out goals like "stop procrastinating," "save money," or "live in gratitude," and communicate with others who share those objectives. The site also makes it easy to recommend books (like "The Happiness Project") or share tips ("find an exercise buddy.") 

Co-founder Rebecca Xiong observes that "people spend a lot of money on self improvement $11 billion in DVDs, books, and counseling sessions but most of that is happening off-line now. We're trying to build a community, and help move some of the spending online." (Xiong counted the self-improvement books on her own shelf: 32.) She says the Yana site that's live now is "still a prototype." A more official launch will happen this summer.

Xiong had been a founder of the nightlife listing site Going.com, which was bought by AOL last year. She left AOL on January 1st to start focusing on Yana full-time. (Last month, I wrote about former Going.com CEO Evan Schumacher's new start-up.) Her co-founder, Jason Toy, is based in San Francisco.

The company doesn't yet have offices, and Xiong hasn't raised outside funding. "It's too early for VC," she says, "and doing consumer Web stuff these days doesn't require a lot of capital." 

That's one more good tip on achieving happiness: don't put yourself in a position where you need to beseech investors for money.

(The photo of Xiong above is by Mark Doerschlag.)

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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