Improve Yourself! 2010: Your Goals, Your Actions, Your Results

Improve Yourself!

  • Would you like to start the new year with a purpose and accomplish some concrete goals quickly?

  • Would you like to jump-start your success in 2010 and do more than pay lip-service to your New Year’s Resolutions?

  • Are your ready to make a real commitment to yourself and your family and be held accountable for your progress?

  • Are you ready for some fun and great prizes?

I am excited to announce a little friendly competition that I’ll be holding here at Engaged Marriage as we welcome 2010.  As I looked at some of the goals I want to will accomplish in the new year, I was reminded of how easy it is to resolve to improve ourselves on New Year’s Eve and then slowly (or quickly) abandon our plans a couple weeks later.  I knew what I needed was some accountability and some encouragement from others who hold themselves to a high standard.

Why Here?

And then it hit me.  We have built an incredibly supportive and inspired community here at Engaged Marriage, and I know that many of you face the same “buzzkills” as I do when it comes to sticking with a plan for personal improvement.

Want A Happier Marriage?

Great! Grab our 7 simple steps to improve communication in your marriage (in less than 15 minutes):

We are all insanely busy with a lot of pressing demands for our time and energy.  We know we need to take care of ourselves, but we inevitably put our needs last as we focus on taking care of our family, helping others and advancing our career.  Those things are obviously important, but the truth is that we can accomplish more in all areas of life when we improve ourselves…and we have to quit using those outside influences as our crutch or excuse.

If you’ve been around this site very long, you know that I believe strongly in a holistic approach to marriage.  There is a reason I write about topics like individual fulfillmentspirituality, and finances & careersA healthy life feeds a healthy marriage, and vice-versa.

OK, so now you know where this little idea came from, and I’m sure you can see why this is so relevant to achieving the extraordinary in marriage.  So, what exactly are we talking about here?

What is “Improve Yourself! 2010”?

  1. You will choose one area of your life to improve over the first 8 weeks of 2010 (January 3rd through February 27th).  This is completely open based on your desires, but some suggestions would include the areas of fitness, personal finances, spirituality, communication with your spouse, parenting, career, education, romance, etc.
  2. You will set your own goals for what you intend to accomplish over the course of eight weeks.  Goal-setting is incredibly important, so I will publish a post soon to help you establish specific and effective goals.
  3. Each week, I will publish a post that focuses on self-improvement and motivation, and I’ll report on my own personal progress toward my goals.  You must comment on each weekly post to report your progress and remain accountable.
  4. At the end of eights weeks, I will choose the top three finishers based on who I feel made the most meaningful progress in self-improvement.  At this time, I will also “call out” all those who did NOT finish all eight weeks (to add a little more accountability)!
  5. The final three contestants will summarize their progress in a short write-up, and you (their fellow competitors) will vote to choose the best overall success story.

Why Should You Participate?

  1. It will be fun!
  2. You’ll have the opportunity to both give and receive motivation/accountability from high-quality, proactive people who are striving to reach their own goals.
  3. You will improve yourself and, in turn, improve your marriage and family life.
  4. It builds our community here at Engaged Marriage and makes you an active part of it.
  5. PRIZES!  Please see the Prize Announcement post for the awesome details!

If you, your website, your company or someone you know would like to support this contest by providing prizes, I would be both thrilled and extremely thankful.  And I would be more than happy to promote (appropriate and useful) products in return for your generosity.  Please contact me if you can help!

UPDATE: We have our first sponsorship via the generous Carrie from Make Mine Happen.  Please send Carrie a tweet @thegirlburgan and tell her how great she is!

ANOTHER UPDATE: We have another great sponsor for one week of the competition!  Thank you to Kristin from My Hands are Clean, Are Yours? Please share your appreciation with her on Twitter @mydoodlebop !

AND MORE:  I am pleased to announce that Brad from Enemy of Debt and Patrenia from Personal Finance Notebook have joined as partial sponsors of the challenge as well!  Please let them know we greatly appreciate their support by showing them some love at @enemyofdebt and @patreniaspears

EVEN MORE: Incredibly, we have two more major sponsors to add to the ranks.  Please give props to J. Money from Budgets are Sexy and Louise from MomStart.  And tell them they rule on Twitter at @budgetsaresexy and @momstart

WOW!  Michelle from has also donated a gift certificate for free attendance to one of her awesome workshops.  This is a $420 value!  Thank her on Twitter at @DrMichellexo

If you would like LOTS of attention and link-love throughout this challenge, please contact me about a sponsorship opportunity!

What Do You Need to Do?

  1. Join in the fun by leaving a comment to this post before January 5th at 11:59 p.m. Central time.  Your comment should simply say that you are committed to participate, and it should state what area of life you will be focusing on for Improve Yourself! 2010.
  2. Comment on the Week 1 goal setting post, and include your specific goals for the 8-week contest (also by January 5th).
  3. Comment on each week’s post with a quick report on your progress.
  4. Subscribe to Engaged Marriage via either RSS or Email.  By subscribing, you’ll ensure that you don’t miss any posts and the accountability that they bring.  You can participate even if you choose not to subscribe, though I’m not sure why you wouldn’t want free updates sent to you to read at your convenience.  However, as an incentive to fully participate, I will limit the prize giveaways to those that are subscribed.
  5. Become a “fan” on the Engaged Marriage Facebook page.  The “discussion” area of this page will serve as our private forums for the contest.  Within the discussion area, we’ll be able to share information, gives tips and motivation, and socialize with others striving to meet their goals.

I think that covers it!  I am really looking forward to meeting my own goals for the New Year alongside an awesome community of high-quality friends.  Please leave your comment below stating the area of life you plan to focus on.

*And please don’t forget to state your specific goals in the Week 1 post!*

Finally, please tell your family and friends about “Improve Yourself! 2010”!  Tweet this post to your followers on Twitter and share it on your Facebook page (using the “Sharing is Sexy” buttons below).  The more folks we can get to participate, the better this contest will be for all of us.  And the more people we can get to join us as part of the Engaged Marriage community, the better we can advance our collective mission of achieving the extraordinary in marriage…and in life!

Don’t miss the other Improve Yourself posts…here is a running list:

  1. Improve Yourself! 2010 Announcement.  This is the place to start and sign-up by leaving a comment with your area of focus.
  2. The Prize List.  This is where you’ll get the details about the awesome prizes and learn about our generous sponsors.
  3. Week 1: Set SMART Goals.  Learn about smart goal-setting and leave your specific goals for the challenge in the comments.
  4. Week 2: Baby Step Your Way to Success.  Learn how you can achieve any goal by breaking it down into small, easier-to-handle tasks.
  5. Week 3: Prioritize Your Time for Progress. Learn the importance of focusing on important, but not urgent, tasks to improve your life and achieve long-term effectiveness.
  6. Week 4: YOU are Responsible for Your Progress. Quit making excuses, take ownership for your results and do the work necessary to make your goals a reality.
  7. Week 5: Don’t Be Perfect, Be Remarkable! You do not need to be perfect, you simply need to be remarkable in what you do. Don’t you think you can be remarkable in the way your handle your finances?  In your approach to fitness?  In your marriage?
  8. Week 6: Stick With It! I applaud you for sticking with your commitment to yourself and your fellow challenge participants. You are now in the minority as we close in on the finish line. Don’t Quit!
  9. Week 7: Communicate for Success Communication is a certain key to success in nearly all aspects of life.
  10. Week 8: Don’t Accept Mediocrity! Always get better even if it’s only in small increments.  Life is just too short to do otherwise.


About the author 


Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.

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  1. Let me start things off! I am definitely in for the contest, and I will be focusing on the area of fitness/weight loss.

    OK, your turn…

  2. I love it!!! I totally am all for this and need to really think about what exactly I’m going to be focusing on.

    Thanks, Dustin!! I’m glad you changed it up a bit so I can be a part of it 🙂
    .-= Amanda (Garibay Soup)´s last blog ..Just a Motivating Monday – Personal Development =-.

  3. I am definitely on board with this Dustin and I plan to focus on my biggest trouble area in my life…my health and fitness. That has been an issue with me for some time now, but especially since I quit smoking cigarettes a while back.

    I look forward to this starting up man!
    .-= Brad´s last blog ..Bankruptcy – A Solution, A Cop-out, Or An Enabler? =-.

    1. I’m looking forward to being your virtual workout buddy, Brad! I’m disappointed in myself after having a great year on the fitness front…getting down to my high school football weight, riding 100 miles on my bike in one day (a Century)…only to let myself slide back toward chubbiness and not feeling very good about my health.

      I’m ready for some accountability!

  4. I’m always in for self-improvement. It’s easy to say “improve fitness” or “lose weight.” I did that a lot in 2009 by completing my first ever triathlon (then doing 4 more), running my first 1/2 marathon and currently letting P90X kick my butt every day.

    However, in the past year I have lost the love of my current profession and I’m ready for something new. So in the the first 8 weeks of 2010, my goals will revolve around finding a new career path.

    I’m ready to accept new challenges!

    1. Sweet! Thanks for joining up, Troy. It sounds like you had an awesome 2009 on the fitness front. I also let Tony Horton kick my rear with P90X for most of the spring before I turned my attention to cycling over the summer. And then to eating a lot and being lazy. 🙂

      I definitely admire you for being proactive and taking a fresh look at your career. It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut in that area of life, which can effect everything you do. If you haven’t already, please be sure to check out Dan Miller’s career materials here:

      Thanks for being part of our community here and participating in the challenge!

  5. I am on board! I am very excited to start out the new year and I as well as others, will be focusing on the area of improving health. Therefore I am going to focus on fitness/weight loss, however you’d like to put it. I know my husband and I eventually would like to have children, so I want to make sure I am healthy so when the time comes to EVENTUALLY have kids, I’ll be ready.

    I’m excited to share the journey!

  6. I’m in! I really, really, really, REALLY want to stay at home with my son (now 8.5 mos old). When I was pregnant I asked my husband “what if he gets here & I realize I want to stay home?” He said “well, I guess we’ll be glad we bought the cheaper house”.

    Son is here. I want to stay home. He doesn’t want me to. Says we’ll be living in a box. Says he’d love to stay home, too, so why should I get to when he doesn’t? (Um, because I’ll clean, do laundry, get up before noon, & our insurance is through his job).

    Ugh, putting bitterness & disappointment aside, I REALLY want to quit my job & be at home with our son. In order to do that I guess I’m going to have to prove to my husband that we can live on his income alone. So, my goal? To get our finances in (better) shape!

    1. Thanks for joining us, Ellyn! It sounds like you and your husband really need to sit down and discuss your mutual goals and plan your lifestyle around that. It sounds like there may be some resentment and even bitterness at the idea of you staying home with your son, which probably stems from some underlying issues. It could be purely a financial issue, but I read a bit more into your comments.

      Regardless, it will certainly be worthwhile to improve your financial status (and I hope you guys are able to work on this TOGETHER). I can’t wait to hear your specific goals as part of the next post about the challenge!

  7. I’m on the financial end of things too. I’m going to make a budget AND follow it. I’m the chief of spending at our house, so in order for us to save more money, I have to save more money. Guess this means Alexandria and I won’t be getting as many new shoes this year, but I think we can all live with that!

    1. Welcome, Kelly! I love being part of the process when families decide to take charge of their finances and achieve success in that area of life. Our journey out of debt was definitely a challenging but very unifying time in our marriage.

  8. Love this idea. I’m on board. I would like to focus on re-charging my spiritual life. I’ve been so busy taking care of work and staying fit that spirituality has fallen by the wayside. I know that if I re-focus on that, I will find myself more content in every other aspect of my life!

    1. This great, Samantha! I love it that you are focusing on spirituality, and I can’t wait to hear your specific goals in this area next week.

  9. I am on board! It would be easy for me to say fitness and health because I love to work out, but I think for many reasons the best thing for me to focus on is communication with my husband! Sometimes (ok a lot of the time) we grate on each other. I would like to focus on changing how I react to him rather than changing him. Why is communicating with the person I love the most sometimes the most difficult thing I do?

    1. Thanks for joining in, Jen! Your question is one that many of have found ourselves asking from time-to-time. I am thrilled that you are choosing to be proactive in addressing communication as part of the challenge!

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  11. Woo-Hoo! I’m in! Lot’s of goals for me; I have about 15-20 lbs of baby weight still hanging on after a little more than a year (Sadie was born 10/5), so that’s big. I also suffer from depression and it’s straining my marriage. So I need to work on that. I got “5 Love Languages” for Christmas so I’m going to start there. I’m also starting my own business (while working full time) and really want to make that successful ( We’ve invested almost $1000 now and I need to make that back and turn a profit! Did I mention I have 2 kids under the age of 4 to take care of too? 🙂 Oh, one more thing; I want at least 200 FB fans on my FanPage (I’m somewhere between 50-60 right now).

    SO looking forward to the accountability part of this challenge, which is absolutely necessary to be successful! Thanks Dustin!
    .-= Kristin Gentry´s last blog ..STU GRAY is Doin’ It Right in Nashville! =-.

    1. Kristin – The 5 Love Languages is the best books out there when it comes to understanding your love language and your spouses. My wife Alisa and I have both read the book and have applied our love language to each other over the years. We even lead a small group this past fall at our church. The results were amazing. Couples who were struggling when they first walked through the doors were smiling and engaging each other by the end.

      Best to you in this upcoming year.
      .-= Tony´s last blog ..It Takes Two =-.

    2. Welcome, Kristin! You certainly have a lot going on, and I hope you are getting the medical treatment you need for your depression. I have not had to deal with depression before, but it seems that lifestyle improvement would help as well.

      I would encourage you to focus on ONE area in particular for the challenge. I know you have a lot going on, but I believe in Dave Ramsey’s idea that focused intensity is the best approach toward solving any problem. Try to pick one area and share your specific goals in that area when I post about it next week.

      Merry Christmas!

    1. Awesome, Esteban. I’ll look forward to pushing each other to success in the fitness area over the first 8 weeks of the New Year!

  12. I write down my goals in a 2010 goals booklet. It is always in my wallet and I review it regularly. It keeps me focused on what really matters to me.

    Enjoy and share,

  13. I’m on board for Improving Myself in 2010. There are a couple of things I would like accomplish this year.
    1. Help someone reach their fitness goals through cycling. If you are interested let me know. I’ve been riding for 10+ years and do anywhere from 4000-6000+ miles per year. This past year I completed 10+ centuries and 3 double centuries. But, I still remember the early days on my bike.
    2. I’ve been talking about doing a 5 day, 500 mile Tour of Utah. I need to get this going. Plan the route, secure the hotels, and get a group of folks and ride. September/October time frame.
    3. My wife Alisa and I have started ONE this year. Continue to work on the business and materials. Many ideas out there, just need to implement. Listen to Gods guidance more and less of my own. Attend a speakers boot camp and marriage education convention.
    4. Pray for my wife and kids daily.
    5. Enjoy life, laugh more, and love without strings attached.
    .-= Tony´s last blog ..It Takes Two =-.

    1. You rock, Tony! Like I mentioned to Kristin above, I love that you have so many passions and goals for the New Year (I do also, actually). However, for this challenge, I’d prefer if you chose just one area to focus on and write your specific goals, which we’ll be doing next week, for that one area. I think it would be too hard to keep track of everything if many people start tracking several large goals.

      Thanks for being part of Improve Yourself! 2010, and thanks for your awesome blog as well.

      1. My bad Dustin. I really want to focus on developing ONE this year. Continue to work on the business and materials. Many ideas out there, just need to implement. Listen to Gods guidance more and less of my own. Attend a speakers boot camp and marriage education convention.
        .-= Tony´s last blog ..It Takes Two =-.

  14. Yeah Buddy! I’m all about it. I most likely will be focusing on health/fitness goals…but that could change!!
    .-= Stu Gray´s last blog ..How to be a Proverbs 31 Husband =-.

  15. OK, I have a goal. At first I wasn’t going to share but then I decided it would be productive to tell other people my plan.

    My plan is to improve time-management. Specifically, I want to get more out of my day by purchasing and then using a timer to keep me on track. I get distracted really easily, especially being home every day, and so I need to impose some more structure on my days.

    For example, I plan to limit my blog-reading to half an hour a day (Maybe an hour). I will sit down, set my timer, and read until it goes off; then I will have to move on. After that, I will unplug my modem so I can’t go online any more. I tried it today and it worked great. I want to do this every day from now on.

    Thanks for encouraging me to set and then share my goals, Dustin!
    .-= Kathleen Quiring´s last blog ..The Weeks Ahead for Project M =-.

    1. Oops, that was more than you wanted to know right now. Sometimes I wish you could delete/edit comments after you’ve posted them.

      1. No problem at all, Kathleen! I like how you explained what you are going for with the time management idea. It sounds like something I could really improve in my life, too!

        Thanks so much for being part of this challenge!

    1. Welcome, Jackie! You know I love a good personal finance story, and I look forward to watching yours unfold here as part of the challenge.

  16. I’m in and working on amping up my marriage during the challenge.
    .-= Corey – Simple Marriage´s last blog ..Blessings To You =-.

    1. Thanks so much for joining us, Corey! I know you are planning to follow your own awesome advice by working through your e-book (available by clicking on the logo in the sidebar, by the way 🙂 ) to kick off the New Year. I’m really looking forward to following your journey as you “amp up” your marriage.

      And I may be offering your e-book as a prize for one of our lucky winners! 😉

  17. I almost forgot to reply!

    I have already begun my physical transformation and so this year is about moving past the “getting started” phase, ramping up, and getting fit for me, God, my husband, and to eventually have a healthy pregnancy (when we get there). Can’t wait to get those goals all “SMART”-ed up!
    .-= Carrie @ Make Mine Happen´s last blog ..Making Christmas Happen, Simply =-.

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  20. For those of you who are attacking fitness for the new year I would suggest checking out Plus 3 Network, Plus 3 makes the world a healthier and better place by helping its members lead healthier better lives. Plus 3 Network will count millions of daily rides, runs, walks, or swims as mileage-rewarded fundraising. We are the social network that actively manages, motivates, validates, and rewards our members for participating in fitness activities. Plus 3 links our members with corporate sponsors and non-profits in a shared goal of worthwhile giving. Making It Count is our phrase for this process of bringing people, causes, and sponsors together for the good of everyone.

    I’ve been raising funds through cycling for this past year and as of today I’ve raised over $210 for my non-profit organization, Project Rwanda. It is cool to stay fit and at the same time be able to raise funds for a great cause. If you join Plus 3 make sure to Friend me, Tony DiLorenzo.

    Best to all of you Improve Yourself 2010!!!
    .-= Tony´s last blog ..It Takes Two =-.

  21. I have quite a few ways that I want to improve myself for the new year. I hope to participate in this, not for the rewards but for the accountability you community is going to provide. Thanks for doing this. I also have to thank Carrie from Make Mine Happen for letting me know about this wonderful blog you have.
    .-= Louise´s last blog ..Making New Years Resolutions and setting goals for next year =-.

    1. Welcome, Louise! I just checked out your blog, and I’m really happy I found it (thanks Carrie). I know you will be a committed member of our community, and I look forward to sharing in your accomplishments.

      For the contest, I’d prefer if we each chose just one of the areas we want to improve and focus on that. Please give some thought to which area you want to feature for the contest, and we’ll be defining our goals within the week and getting started a week from today.

      I’m ready!

  22. Me and my lovely wife are going to do it. 2 goals – fitness and finances. We want to accomplish these two goals before we have kids!
    .-= Toby Hartman´s last blog ..Christmas =-.

    1. Welcome, Toby! That’s awesome that you and your wife are teaming up to meet your goals!

      For the contest, please focus on one area (each) and please post your results individually. That will help keep everything straight, and if you post separately you’ll improve your chances of winning great prizes! 🙂

  23. I’m going to work to improve in the area of health and fitness. I want to work on my eating and exercise habits. I’m looking forward to being accountable to the group, as a motivation.

    1. My pleasure, Hailey! Fitness and intimacy are two great areas to work on and, in my mind at least, one helps the other. For the contest, please pick one area to focus and report in on so we can keep everything running as smoothly as possible. Thanks so much for joining!

  24. Thanks for the reminder to post my goals Dustin! Things tend to get lost in the flurry of life with an 8-week old. 🙂 As typical and potentially lame as it is, my goal is weight loss. I have managed to lose 20 lbs of the 30 I gained with Eliot, but I would like to lose at least those final 10, preferrably 15. I am not sure if all of that is reasonable in 8 weeks, but I am going to do the best I can, with a target of 8 lbs – one per week. Hopefully, when the time is up, I will have established good habits that will make the remaining 7 easier to lose. I have crashed weight off before and know I could lose 15 lbs if I wanted to, but as evidence by the weight I lost before my wedding, it all comes back faster than you crashed it off (of course, eggs benedict every morning for breakfast on my honeymoon didn’t help :). My commmittment to weight loss is strongest in my refusal to buy new clothes, since none of my pre-matnerity clothes really fit yet. So I will not purchase new pants and force myself to get back into them – saves money, too!
    Thanks for this motivation!

  25. Ok, I’m in! This is a great idea Dustin! I’m working toward a number of goals this year (financial, spiritual, fitness), but changing my personal finances is my biggest goal (that is, after my faith, which I prefer to keep more private). I feel like once I get that out of the way, I can better focus my energy to other areas.

    Already have some goals written down for 2010, but I’ll share them later!

    1. Thanks for joining in the challenge, Sam! I’m really interested to hear about your financial goals for the New Year. We have some big goals to meet on the financial side as well, but I have to follow my own rules, so I’ll only be reporting on my fitness goals/progress as part of this challenge.

  26. I have lots of goals! But they are realistic and attainable in my opinion.

    #1. Fitness: At least four workouts a week. Right now that’s easy to do because I’m off work but once I go back it’s going to get a lot harder to make time. But making time is important! I was very fit before baby and if I did it once I can do it again.

    #2. Spiritual: Make it to church at least 2 Sundays a month. We joined at Grace Lutheran Chapel and after several years of not going at all we went back to church about a month ago. With Hudson being such a little guy and us being SO out of the routine of going, I think that 2x/month is an attainable goal for us at this point. We’ll work our way back in.

    #3. Financial: We’ve been on a budget for several years now but it needs some fine tuning. My “miscellaneous” column is just way too big of a catch all and I’ve gotten too lax with it. I need to fine tune my expenses and work on turning that “misc” column into genuine line items. Now that daycare has become part of the budget I want to work to minimize wasteful spending.

    #4. Romantic: Since the kiddo got here we can’t just pick up and go out like we used to. I want to make sure that we get at least one Date Night per month. We’re foodies and movie lovers so Dinner & a Movie dates have always been our favorite. I want to make sure we don’t lose that! I have plenty of good babysitters…I just need to not be afraid to ask.

    1. I know I was only supposed to pick one but too bad! I’m trying for all four. I’m an overachiever and I can’t help it! You can pick whichever you like best but I’m holding myself accountable for all of them.

    2. You are an overachiever, Kate! Don’t worry, I am working on a LOT of different goals in different areas of my life, including this blog.

      However, to keep things organized and fair for the contest, you can only report ONE here! I think your date night (while totally awesome) and spiritual (super sweet) goals are a bit too infrequent for the weekly updates required. I’d say you should report on either financial or fitness. They’re both great, but if you make me pick I’ll say financial since it’s a little less common among the other participants.


      1. No problem! All 4 are good goals but I will make “financial” my contest goal. I will track variance from budget as my measure of success.

  27. Count me in! I will be focusing sort of on fitness and also on intimacy. I was in a car accident a few days before thanksgiving and I am still not full recovered, in fact I seem to be much farther than I wanted to be at this point. So fitness for me will not be so much about getting in shape as staying on top of my physical therapy and making a point to really do it all when and how I should so that I can hopefully start to my recover progress a bit better than it has been. Since the injuries have affected my marriage to some extent I am also going to work on recovering my relationship with my husband from the bit of damage this has caused it.
    .-= Cassidy´s last blog ..Happy Birthday Princesa! =-.

    1. Hi Cassidy! I’m really sorry to hear about your car accident and the problems it has been causing you. I hope you can use the challenge as a springboard toward getting things back in line. We’re thrilled to have you join us!

  28. My goal is weight loss!!

    One pound per week for eight weeks, so that I will have healthier cycles in prep. for preg. #2!!

  29. Ok I am in. The areas I want to focus on are finances – paying off all debts except our house. Fatherhood – starting my website, putting together some focus groups, starting a book and working through a manual on becoming a man that I created for my son and then having an Initiation Ceremony for him later in the year.
    Health/fitness – eating better exercising
    Becoming a better person over all.
    .-= Chris Goforth´s last blog ..Lessons Learned =-.

    1. Awesome, Chris! You are certainly a go-getter, which I love. For the contest, please pick one area to focus and report on. I’m looking forward to working alongside you.

  30. Please count me in…like most people I will probably be doing a trifecta sort of thing, but for the first 8 weeks I will focus on intimacy with my spouse 🙂

  31. I am in Dustin! I think I will focus on fitness but maybe I will make this a multi-focused goal… looking forward to the journey!

  32. I will participate. My one area to improve upon will be determined by tomorrow. Thanks for doing this Dustin! You ROCK!

  33. Hi Dustin- I found you via J Money over @ BudgetsAreSexy! I love this idea and would love to be a part of the challenge! (where are his comments, anyways?!)

    I also have several areas to focus on, including Exercise/Fitness, Financial, Career, Time Management, Planning a Wedding within a small Budget (!), Intimacy w/my Fiance, etc… This makes it very hard to choose just one to focus on! Although I get the point of focusing so….

    I will choose the Time Management area since it’s a scarce one here and I feel like it will really impact the rest of my goals in a positive way if I can get this one under control! Thanks for starting this, and I’ve subscribed through email- going to FB now to become a fan! 🙂

    1. Welcome, NorCalRN! I think J Money will be joining up soon, and he signed on as a sponsor (Thanks J!).

      Time management is huge, and I will be following your methods closely hoping to learn from you. Thanks so much for joining up, subscribing and being a Facebook fan!

    2. By the way, NorCalRN, it looks like your email subscription didn’t get finalized. I tried to send you an email about it, but it could be that all of my stuff is going to junk mail. If you see this, please shoot me a message through the Contact form at the top of the page. I want to be sure you are subscribed so you don’t miss out of the great prizes for the challenge!

  34. Okay, I thought about it and prayed about it and am definitely a bit scared about it (…Sam, I am), but I would like to join too and work on my creative writing. I’ve always wanted to make a living off of my writing and lately, I’ve been receiving many pushes from family, friends, even God it sometimes seems, and I need to go after it! In 2010, I want to polish up the novel I completed this year, have my good friend – and an exceptional editor in journalism – edit it, and look into publishing houses to possibly have it sent off somewhere. I also have several other novels-in-process that I want to work on in 2010. Who knows!? I’m excited, but it’s also a bit intimidating, especially when there’d be people in my life and on this website that would be asking me “So, how’s it going?” but that could just be what I need. 🙂

    1. I am so excited to have you join us, Kathryn! No pressure, but I am REALLY looking forward to hearing about your specific goals and tracking your progress in your writing. What a cool area to focus on for improvement!

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  37. What a great idea! I can’t wait.
    I have a bunch of areas that I need to focus on improving, but when I thought about it further, my issues in most of the areas of my life stem from a lack of organization and time management. I figure if I can fix that, most of the other issues that I have with finance, education, work/life balance, etc should take care of themselves.

    PS – Enemy of Debt sent me!

    1. Thanks for joining us Kams! Brad is such a generous guy for encouraging his readers to join up…and putting $100 into the mix as incentive!

      I love your goal…organization and time management is something I struggle with as well.

  38. I really want to be more organized this year preferably before the baby arrives in April, but I’ll need to work on it after then as well. I’m good with keeping a fitness routine, remembering appts and deadlines and am on top of our finances, but I can’t ever seem to “keep house.” I’m not dirty – no crusted food growing things in the kitchen, overflowing trash cans, dust bunnies hiding under beds or anything like that – I’m just untidy. I don’t put clothes away where they belong after doing (and folding) the laundry, things that need to be filed sit in a pile on my desk next to the filing cabinet, books I like to read are stacked by the bed. It definitely stresses me out and I think would make my husband less stressed too if we could come home to a clean and tidy household.
    Oh, and ENEMY OF DEBT sent me!

    1. Thanks for joining us from Enemy of Debt! I look forward to seeing your specific goals in the Week 1 post (it’s up now and waiting for you 🙂 ).

  39. For those with health goals (and with Dustin’s permission), join the Improve Yourself 2010 SparkTeam at It’s free.
    .-= Carrie @ Make Mine Happen´s last blog ..ThemeWord 2010 =-.

    1. OOOPS! That link goes here 🙂 Here’s the real link:
      .-= Carrie @ Make Mine Happen´s last blog ..ThemeWord 2010 =-.

      1. I LOVE the Sparkpeople website. I am already joined up but neglected it unfortunately. I am gonna use it to help me with my goals of losing weight and becoming healthy. In 2010 I am going to reach my weight loss goals!

        Dustin I plan to post my goals in the week one post tomorrow. 🙂
        .-= Brad ´s last blog ..Are You Looking To Improve Yourself In 2010? Accept My Challenge And You Could Win $100! =-.

  40. Ok, my goal is to lose 15 lbs over these 8 weeks. I know that while doing this it will provide me with more energy to where I will be more productive and focus in on my career goals, and an overall better husband and father. Bring it!

    1. Mike, this is awesome and very similar to my own goals. Maybe we can get some workouts in together. By the way, you need to post this specific goal in the Week 1 post (it’s up now) to make it official…and you’ll be eligible for some awesome prizes this week!

      1. We should get some workouts in together. Let me know what times are good for you. I’m pretty flexible.


  41. Enemy of Debt sent me!!! We hope to build our Emergency Fund up until it is fully funded and then pay off the house…we are paying extra each month already. Murphy is visiting now in the way of a sick parent several states away so we may have to purchase a plane ticket to take care of that. Not planned for…but will pay cash and we did a cash-only Christmas!!! What fun!

  42. JUST A REMINDER: After you have entered your general area of focus in this post (thank you), you now need to read the Week 1 post(on SMART Goals) and leave a comment there with your SPECIFIC GOALS.

    That post is now up and waiting for you…and it holds three awesome books as Week 1 prize giveaways!

  43. Im here by way of Brad @ EOD!! Not sure if I want to sign up just yet gotta think of some goals i can accomplish in 8 weeks im committed to so much already I dunno if i can add anything else to my plate!

    But this is an excellent challenge hopefully by Jan 5th I can join. But I don’t wanna be a loser!! lol

    1. Welcome, Divine & Debt Free! I hope you decide to join us and Improve Yourself…and win some awesome prizes!

      By the way, I saw the work Brad did on your site header, it looks great!

  44. Thanks for the contest. Enemy of Debt sent me. I would like to improve myself in a number of areas. Financially, & Physically especially. I would like to be a better wife & mother as well. But I guess I will shoot for ALL areas. Any improvement is better than none!

    1. Welcome from EOD, Julie! I am excited to have you here! Please pick ONE area to focus on for Improve Yourself and leave your specific goals in the Week 1 post before January 5th. Best of luck to you!

  45. Man Dustin,

    You are making this really, really hard. Not only are you suggesting that I decide to improve my life, but also that I choose only one for the first period, and then you’re holding me accountable for my progress. Thank you! The first area I want more improvement in is in fitness/health. I’m already looking forward to the next phase because there are a few other areas that need major work in my life, but I figure improvement here will make me better prepared to work on the other areas later.
    .-= Milk & Honey Mommy´s last blog ..Blogging Holiday =-.

    1. Sorry to burden you, Milk & Honey Mommy! 🙂

      I can already tell from your great attitude that you are going to rock your fitness goals. Hope I can keep up!

  46. What a great idea! Yes, I’m in and focusing on weight loss and exercise. I’ve posted it as one of my goals for this year and this will help me get off to a great start.
    .-= Bucksome´s last blog ..What’s the Plan for 2010 =-.

    1. Glad to have you join, Bucksome Boomer! We have a great group of folks focusing on fitness for the New Year. I look forward to tracking your progress through the challenge!

  47. I plan on focusing on my education (currently a grad student studying for my qualifying exams) and fitness.

    Education Goals:
    I would like to study for and pass my quals at the end of January.
    I want to set aside time every day to study. First the time will be dedicated to my quals studying, but then it will be dedicated to my classes.
    I would like to get into the habit of reviewing the material for every class every day, even if I only review the material for 15 minutes.

    Fitness Goals:
    I would like to start running 5-6 times/week.
    I would like to strength train 2-3 times/week.
    I would like to bike to class at least once a week (20 miles round trip).

    1. Excellent goals, Saving Diva! If you haven’t already, please don’t forget to post your goals in the Week 1 post…and please try to stick with one area for your reports here at the challenge. It sounds like you are going to have a great 2010!

  48. I’m on board – I want to improve my credit score in 2010. I dedicated a blog to it as well. Feel free to follow along at

    So for the first eight weeks of the year, I’ll be focusing on paying off one of our credit cards.

    .-= Jodi´s last blog ..OMG – I’m hosed =-.

    1. Welcome, Jodi! You have a great idea for your blog and financial goals. Debt free is definitely the way to be! I look forward to following your progress. If you haven’t already, please check out another awesome financial blog that I bet you’ll enjoy:

  49. I am in for this! I have several areas that I want to focus on, however I think my first will be with health and fitness. I am looking forward to starting this journey (:

  50. I am going to take a crack at this!! I think I have a few areas to work on which will be

    #1 making my Financial Peace university class a success

    #2 study for my cosmetology training

    #3 get organized
    .-= Enemy of Debt Sent ME´s last blog ..The Nguzo Saba # 6 & 7 Kuumba Creativity & Imani Faith =-.

    1. Welcome, Divine & Debt-Free! I’m glad you decided to sign up, and I’m glad Brad at Enemy of Debt is motivating so many folks…and giving away $100 to do it!

  51. I am pledging my participation in the 8 week challenge. I am very excited to say that I am giving up eating out in restaraunts for the entire year 2010. I plan to track the money I save and to apply it to my car loan to pay it off. I want to pay off my car this calendar year! I know it will be very difficult and some people might say it’s unrealistic to not eat out at all this year but I hope to stick to this as much as possible. I know there will be some times when I must eat out but all in all I hope that I can eat out fewer than once per month the most for a total of $120 total the entire year. That gives me $10 per month budget if need be. Please check in with me and hold me accountable as I know this is an extremely lofty goal!

    1. Shannon, you rock! That’s an incredible goal and one area that my family could definitely use some improvement. I look forward to hearing how it goes. Don’t forget to sign up with your goals in the Week 1 post.

      By the way, it looks like I could learn from you on my fitness goals. Your Team Beachbody page is great! Please tell some of your Beachbody buds to join us….I did P90X last year and got into the best shape of my life.

  52. I’ve already decided to set some goals for 2010…

    Finance is one area…I will continue to pay off debt. (goal started in 2009)
    Health is another…I plan to lose weight and lower my blood sugar.
    Fitness is the other major area…I plan to stick to a reasonable goal.

    Oh, I don’t have to be Engaged or Married do I?

    ENEMY OF DEBT sent me!


    1. Welcome, Gina! You definitely don’t have to be engaged or married to participate, and I trust you don’t have to be either to enjoy this site outside of the contest. That’s the focus of many of my posts, of course, but many of our readers are single (though most are in a relationship which makes the posts more relevant to their lives).

      Please choose ONE area to focus on for the challenge and post your specific goals in the Week 1 post. Thanks!

      1. Dustin, I’m impressed that you reply to all the posts!

        They are all actually one goal (with the exception of last years finance goal which continues).

        So to put it into focus: my ONE goal is to lower my Blood Sugar to an acceptable/healthy range.

        In order to do this I plan to lose weight and exercise more.

        1. Awesome, Gina! That’s a great goal. I love reading all of these goals and having the opportunity to respond. This site is all about community. 🙂

    1. Welcome from EOD Sherry! I look forward to hearing about your progress over the next 8 weeks and hearing whether you snag Brad’s $100!

  53. Count me in!

    I have lots of goals. I think, for this challenge, I want to focus on my parenting skills. I’m a pretty good mom but I want to be better.
    .-= Krystal´s last blog ..What’s a new year without goals? =-.

    1. Welcome, Krystal! I love your devotion to being a great mom. I just checked out your blog and saw that you are also doing Mama Note’s “Body after Baby” challenge. That’s awesome! Samantha is part of our Extraordinary Life Network of blogs, and her challenge was part of the inspiration behind Improve Yourself.

  54. Ok Dustin, I’m in.

    I will be focusing on a specific part of my career/first job not pizza. This past year I focused on my family and finances, so it’s time to get back to “work” at work.

    This looks like a very interesting challenge and I’m looking forward to reading every ones goals/stories. Great community builder.

    Oh yeah, Enemy Of Debt sent me. I spoke with Brad on the phone the other day he said I’d better take part in this challenge, otherwise he’s quit talking to me 🙂 Ok, just kidding about the not talking to me part.

    .-= Jeff´s last blog ..Net Worth – December 2009 =-.

  55. Hahaha Jeff!1 That was funny! So glad you decided to join! It’s going to be fun!

    How many total participants now Dustin?
    .-= Brad´s last blog ..My 2010 Comprehensive List Of New Years Resolutions =-.

  56. COUNT ME IN!!! I have a few things that I have already focused one—two of them being my finances and my body after baby (he’s already a year old and I STILL haven’t lost the weight!!!). I’m really eexcited about what this year will bring.

    1. Welcome Amanda, I’m thrilled to have you join us! Please pick one of your goal areas to track for the challenge, and don’t forget to post the specific goals in the Week 1 post.

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  58. I’m committed to this project and want to better nyself in several areas, but mainly my marriage and our finances.
    .-= Kim´s last blog ..December Giveaway Winners =-.

    1. Welcome to the challenge, Kim! Please state your specific goals in the Week 1 post by Tuesday and you’ll be ready to go. Thanks for joining!

  59. As of this point, I think we have 54 folks signed up for the challenge…awesome!!!

    If you haven’t already done so, please state your specific goals in the comments of the Week 1 post. You need to do so by the end of Tuesday January 5th in order to officially be part of Improve Yourself and be eligible for all of the fantastic prizes (thanks again sponsors).

    And please continue to encourage your friends to join up with us. I can already feel the momentum building behind this large group of motivated and dedicated members. Congrats on taking the first step toward a remarkable 2010!

  60. I am committed to participating in this challenge and will be focusing on finding happiness through organization, personal fitness and mental health.

    1. Thanks for joining us, Michelle! I love your ultimate goal of happiness and look forward to seeing your specific goals in the Week 1 post. Welcome!

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  62. Pingback: My 2010 Comprehensive List Of New Years Resolutions | Enemy of Debt: Where Behavior Meets Reality
  63. Pingback: Setting Goals and Imroving Yourself in 2010
  64. I’ll have a go at this. My goals are to get in better shape, to be kind, patient and loving to all and to sock away 6 months worth of my husbands’ salary in case of crisis.
    “ENEMY OF DEBT sent me!”

    1. Welcome to the party, Laurie! I look forward to reading your specific goals in the Week 1 post. Please don’t forget to comment there with your goals (in one primary area) by tomorrow. 🙂

  65. Good morning. My focus are in two areas, One goal is to keep my relitive out of financial trouble. He has opened up a checking account at Chase Bank, I showed him how to budget his checking account over the holidays. I hope he continues that practice. My second goal is to reduce my Credit balance over the eight weeks which will continue the rest of the year also.

    1. Awesome, Cynthia! I’m glad to have you included as part of the challenge. Please don’t forget to comment on the Week 1 post with your specific goals (in one primary area) by tomorrow.

  66. Count me in. I will be helping my relitive in his Budgets every week, second lower my credit card balance.

  67. I am committed to this 8 week challenge. What a great idea to start off the new year! I have so many goals for this year, but to start I’d like to work on 3 major areas:
    1) Spirituality
    2) Personal Finances
    3) Fitness and Health

    1. Welcome, Heather! I just visited your blog and it looks like you have big plans for 2010, which is awesome! Please don’t forget to post your specific goals in the Week 1 post by tomorrow, and please limit your focus to one area for the challenge. Thanks!

  68. Count me in! And Dustin, as we mentioned, I would rather not win a prize (although bloglove to my Affaircare blog (at is most welcome, as are mentions! LOL 😀

    I obviously would like to boost my Facebook page fans, boost my Twitter followers, get more folks to my blog and my Portland Infidelity Examiner page–and honestly those areas are slowly but surely growing. But I want to set concrete goals not just something “pie in the sky” like “more views on my pages”… so my business goals for this contest are:
    1) Thank everyone who fans on FB or follows on Twitter–each day.
    2) Make one blog post, one post, and at least three FB/Twitter posts every day

    Also obviously I am very pro-marriage and have a Dear Hubby with whom I want to have an EXTRAORDINARY marriage! So I want to set concrete goals for my marriage too!
    1) Read the bible and do our bible study with Dear Hubby every day at dinner time.
    2) Do the thing on the Romance Calendar for him every day.

    1. I’m excited you decided to join us, Cindy! Your goals are great,and I appreciate your willingness to forgo the prizes for the benefit of the other participants.

  69. Pingback: Improve Yourself 2010 « Frugal Southern Living
  70. Count me in. I will be concentrating on heath & fitness as my goal. Hopefully this will give me the extra incentive to push myself.

  71. Hi Dustin –

    Count me in (if it’s not too late – it’s 7:49 PM PST here). Lots of things I can pick from, but I think I’ll focus on reading God’s Word daily.


    1. You are good to go, BentWingedBird! I’m glad you found your way here from Twitter. Awesome goal, and please don’t forget to state it over the Week 1 post to be eligible for this week’s great prizes!

  72. I am going to join the challenge as well! Thank you Melissa Walden for passing the info!! I am going to focus on health and fitness. I would like to increase the frequency and intensity at the gym and become a minful eater! I am excited!!!!

    1. Welcome, Nina! I’m so glad to have you join. Please try to get your specific goals stated over in the Week 1 post tonight.

  73. We have a total of 64 participants! Congratulations on taking part in what I hope is a life-changing challenge for each of you.

    I am going to get all of the sign-ups in a spreadsheet so I can track your weekly participation. Please don’t forget to report in each week between Sunday and Tuesday night with your progress. You’ll be eligible for great weekly drawings, and if you drop out I WILL CALL YOU OUT! 🙂

    Let’s do this!

  74. Week one: I’m doing much better than I hoped for!!! My goal was to lose 8 pounds in 8 weeks. So far, in about a week and a half, I’ve lost 3 pounds. I’m doing it in a good way too. Just eating healthier, with more frequent meals at smaller portions. I’m drinking more ice water and green tea through the day. I’m pumping extra breast milk to mix in my little girl’s oatmeal in addition to still breastfeeding pretty frequently. The only thing I haven’t done yet is incorporate more regular exercise. Hubby and I are planning to work out together later today. The weather has been so cold, and we’ve had snow on the ground for weeks. I prefer to go on walks outside–not much of an indoor exerciser.

  75. Pingback: Improve Yourself! Week 2: Baby Step Your Way to Success | Engaged Marriage
  76. Week 2: Baby Step…

    I lost you somehow. I thought I was on your mailing list. I’ve made a lot of progress in a lot of areas that I set goals for this year. In the area of fitness which is the goal published here I’ve dropped my average fasting blood sugar by 5 points. I have been using the rebounder almost daily. Need to step it up. I’ve done weight training 3x per week.

    It’s the start of tax season my busiest time of the year, helping clients get ready for their tax accountant so it has been a real push to keep on track with this goal.

    I hope to post a reply next week. Hopefully, I will get the email to job my memory.


  77. Pingback: Improve Yourself! Week 3: Prioritize Your Time for Progress | Engaged Marriage
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