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Improve Your Life! 7 Keys for Killer Success

By Dustin | Individual Fulfillment

Improve Your LifeIf this site or this post’s title caught your interest, I’m willing to bet that you have a desire to improve your life.  Well, you’re in luck!  I have assembled seven tips that I know from experience can help you meet your goals and achieve more personal success.

Does this sound familiar?

You feel insanely busy with a lot of pressing demands for your time and energy.  You know you need to take care of yourself, but you inevitably put your needs last as you focus on taking care of your family, helping others and advancing your 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 & careers

A healthy life feeds a healthy marriage, and vice-versa.  Improve your life…for the sake of your spouse.

I encourage you to check out the seven success principles summarized below.  In each case, I’ve suggested a book that will help you take your understanding and inspiration to a deeper level.

(By the way, if you were involved in the Improve Yourself! 2010 challenge-and you actually completed it- these tips may sound familiar.  However, I’ve condensed them to focus on the core qualities and put them all into this single post for easy reading.)

1. Set SMART Goals!

SMART Goal Setting I am a huge fan of goal-setting and believe it makes a profound difference in the level of success we achieve in our lives. Based on my own experience and lots of reading on the topic, I recommend the  SMART Goals approach to setting specific aspirations in all areas of your life, including your marriage.

What is a SMART Goal?

Specific – What are you going to do? Why are you doing it? How will you accomplish it?

Measurable – Establish concrete measures of your progress. Your goal must be quantifiable.

Attainable – Challenge yourself, but be realistic.

Relevant – Be sure your goal fits into your overall lifestyle and greater desires.

Time-Bound – Every goal needs a completion date associated with it.

Recommended Resource:

The Success Principles

The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield.  This book is not specific to SMART goals, but it is a classic best-seller on the topic of achieving what you want in life.

2. Take Baby Steps!

If you have heard of Dave Ramsey and his financial advice, you are certainly familiar with his Baby Steps for Financial Freedom.  My wife and I followed this plan to pay off $54,500 in debt, and we continue to apply these principles in our family financial planning.

The great thing about the “baby step” approach is that it is fully applicable to any area where you want to improve yourself and meet some big goals.  Taking baby steps is simply the act of breaking down your overall goal into bite-sized chunks.

Every day that you apply yourself to achieving success is another baby step in your journey of self-improvement.  If your goals are fitness-related, it could be losing one pound, exercising three times this week, or even passing on dessert one evening.  Don’t get overwhelmed and discouraged by a larger goal of losing 20 pounds.  Just keeping baby-stepping your way toward success each day!

Recommended Resource:

The Total Money Makeover

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey. This book is a personal favorite of mine and a book that changed my family’s lives.  If you want to get your finances in order, pay off debt and “change your family tree”, then you must read it.  And Dave’s entire approach is centered on his famous Baby Step system to meeting big goals.

3. It’s About Time!

If you have not read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, you owe it to yourself to check it out.  The seven habits Dr. Covey outlines are legitimately vital and practical.

My favorite principle from the book is Habit 3: Put First Things First, which is focused on personal time management.  Basically, there are four areas, or quadrants, where we can classify every task in our lives: Urgent/Important, Not Urgent/Important, Urgent/Not Important,  and Not Urgent/Not Important.  The key to success is to maximize the time you spend in “Quadrant II: Not Urgent/Important” and this is where many of us struggle.

When we manage our time effectively enough to focus on issues that do not require immediate attention (not urgent) but are in fact important to our lives, we become strategic planners and we take actions that will benefit us in the long-term.  If you are a regular reader of Engaged Marriage and/or you put the tips from post into action, you are spending at least part of your time on Quadrant II activities.  Nice work!

Except in emergency situations, there is nothing necessarily urgent about your fitness level, your financial strength, your spiritual life or even your marriage.  That’s why it’s so easy to get into a rut in all of these areas.  When we lose focus and don’t manage our time effectively, the more urgent (even though less important) tasks begin to rule our days.

By setting goals and devoting your time to meeting them, you are setting yourself up for success and becoming effective in that area of your life.  When you use your time wisely, you not only help yourself, but you are making progress in your marriage and family life as well.

Recommended Resource:

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.  If you want to learn how to be more effective with your time and efforts in all areas of life, I highly recommended that you read this best-selling book.

4. Personal Responsibility is Everything!

Here is an incredibly simple but extremely powerful concept: it is your problem, your job and your responsibility.

Personal responsibility is key.  That’s what QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in Life is all about.

In QBQ, John Miller implores us to get away from the blame-game and our inclination for making excuses for the challenges we face in both business and our personal lives.  Instead of asking who is to blame for the situation, we should ask, “What can I do to improve the situation?” so we can take ownership of the problem and take proactive action to solve it.

Whether you make great progress toward your goals in life or you struggle, the results you see are directly related to the effort and commitment that you apply.  I often find that I get off-track from my goals and priorities, and I make a lot of excuses to myself to justify it.  However, I actually get the results I desire when I quit my pity-party and take responsibility for my actions and my results.

Recommended Resource:

QBQ Book

QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in Life by John G. Miller.  This is an awesome book that has the power to change your life.  I highly recommend that you read it and take its message to heart in your daily life.

5. Don’t Be Perfect, Be Remarkable!

When you actually set goals for your life, one of the lessons you learn quickly is that you can never meet them with the perfection that you initially intend.  I can personally think of many times that I have stumbled along, and progress is never as steady and smooth as I  hope.  However, when I stick with it and focus on success, I know that I am still on the road to be remarkable.

Seth Godin created a book that is centered around a fantastic idea that I have tried to apply to all areas of my own life.  You do not need to be perfect, you simply need to be remarkable in what you do.  That’s what The Big Moo: Stop Trying to Be Perfect and Start Being Remarkable is all about.  It’s an idea book, a manifesto for change and a call to action.  It’s awesome.

So, just what does it mean to be “remarkable”?  The back cover of the book gives some great examples:

Remarkable is being unafraid to stand out.

Remarkable is failing often and then trying again.

Remarkable is having a fire in your belly and an idea that won’t quit.

Remarkable is when you stand for something and make it happen and change the world – or your business or your life – along the way.

It is easy to see how these ideas relate to business and why being remarkable in your career leads to success.  But I don’t think this idea is limited to professional life or entrepreneurship.  Don’t you think you can be remarkable in the way you handle your finances?  In your approach to fitness?  In your marriage?

I do.  And whenever I start to feel lazy, uninspired or apathetic, I take a moment to remind myself of all I hope to achieve in my life.

I certainly fail often.  But, I always try again.  I take a moment to close my eyes and remember the fire in my belly that led me to make such bold statements about my SMART goals and aspirations.  I will change the world, if only for my wife and my family.

Recommended Resource:

 

The Big Moo

The Big Moo: Stop Trying to Be Perfect and Start Being Remarkable which is edited by Seth Godin. This is an awesome book that has the power to change your life.  The book is actually a compilation of short writings by 33 of the world’s smartest business people.  It is built upon the idea of being remarkable, which originated in Seth Godin’s bestseller Purple Cow.

6. Communicate for Success!

When I take some time to reflect on my life and identify areas where I have been successful, I can quickly see that good communication is a key to success.  In my career as a consulting engineer, it’s not math or even reason that sets apart the best engineers and companies.  Nope, it’s the ability to convey complex ideas in understandable terms both in person and in written form.

Engaged Marriage has a lot of growing to do to meet my goals for this site and its reach to married couples throughout the world.  However, I think it’s fair to say that our first 7+ months here have been quite successful.  Obviously, the content is critical for the success of any blog.

But I think the real growth of Engaged Marriage has been fueled by the sense of community that we’ve developed as well as my own efforts in reaching out through social media to colleagues and perspective readers.  I think the recent Love Everyday project provides a good example of this approach.  And it all comes down to a commitment to consistent and effective communication.

The same cause-and-effect relationship exists for most aspects of life: finances, parenting, sports, politics, sales, even war.  High-quality communication is a certain key to success.

And, oh yeah, communication plays a bit of a role in this whole marriage thing as well. :)

The book behind this success principle is centered around the idea that understanding how our spouse/significant other best communicates is a major help in achieving the extraordinary in our relationships. That’s what The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate is all about.

While working as a marriage counselor for more than 30 years, Dr. Gary Chapman identified five specific love languages:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch

I bet that even without reading the book you can immediately relate to some of these categories.  Can you already see which areas you speak best in, and which areas apply to your spouse?

The Five Love Languages will lead you through a fun and rewarding process of discovering the love languages in your marriage.  And with that knowledge, you can improve your relationship with your spouse.  See what I mean about the importance of great communication?

Recommended Resource:

Five Love Languages

The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Dr. Gary Chapman.  This is yet another awesome book that has the power to change your life. I highly recommend that you check out what may be the single most important book you can read for your marriage, aside from The Bible.

7. Don’t Settle for Mediocrity!

If you’ve read many posts here at Engaged Marriage, you have probably picked up on the fact that I feel strongly that we should all be proactive and give our best efforts to our marriage and family life.  One of my favorite mottoes is: “When it comes to the most important relationship in your life, don’t be normal.  Normal sucks.”

I feel the same way about all aspects of my own life: career, spirituality, finances, parenting, friendship, fitness, hobbies, writing and all the rest.  Does this mean that I don’t have bad days in all of these areas?  Does it mean that I am expending insane amounts of energy in all of them all at once to try to be the very best in the world?  Does it mean that I consider myself a failure whenever I slip up in my progress?

Of course not.  I’m a normal guy and I’m human, so I know I won’t be able to excel at all things at all times.  However, that doesn’t mean that I have to settle for mediocrity in my life either.  And I feel passionately that I don’t want to be mediocre, and I always want to be getting better even if it’s only in small increments.

I want to improve myself…life is just too short to do otherwise.

The final book recommendation is all about climbing out of the rut that you find yourself in and seeing the awesome opportunities that are all around you.  No More Mondays by Dan Miller (a fellow contributor to the Love Everyday project by the way) is an awesome book that focuses on helping you find work that you love in both traditional and non-traditional ways.

Although the book focuses on career issues, I believe its lessons and guidance will help you in many areas of your life.  It was actually one of the inspirations behind Engaged Marriage, and I hope you will take a few minutes to read my full book review of No More Mondays and the story of how it motivated me.

Recommended Resource:

No More Mondays: Fire Yourself and Other Revolutionary Ways to Discover Your True Calling at Work by Dan Miller.  I highly recommend that you read this book and take its principles to heart.  I think you’ll love it.

Do You Want Killer Success?

I hope that these seven tips have opened your mind a bit and inspired you to set and meet new goals in your life.  I truly feel that we all have the potential to achieve so much with the gifts that we’ve been given by God.  And we owe it to our spouse and family to be good stewards of the blessings given to each of us.  Be Remarkable!

What success principles have you found most helpful in your own life and marriage?  What other resources would you recommend to help others in the community here grow and achieve personal success?

Photo by Sara. Nel

Improve Yourself! 2010: The Grand Champion

By Dustin | Individual Fulfillment

Improve Yourself!

The votes are in, and the winner of Improve Yourself! 2010 is…[drumroll]…[loud cheering]…[unbridled anticipation]…

Krystal!  Congratulations Krystal on your well-deserved title of Improve Yourself Champion.  I’ll be contacting you by email to get you your $100 Amazon gift card.

By the way, Krystal wasn’t the only $100 winner in this challenge.  Through the generosity and enthusiasm of my friend Brad Chaffee of Enemy of Debt, Sherry also won $100 for being one of those that joined the challenge from Enemy of Debt and stuck it through to the end.  Congratulations Sherry, and I hope you have enjoyed yourself enough to stick around at Engaged Marriage now that the challenge is over. 🙂

And the “Non-Winners” Are…

As the weeks wore on, many of those that began the challenge with such enthusiasm at the turn of the New Year began to drop out.  As promised in my announcement post, it is now time to post the names of the lost.  This is all in good fun of course, but if you find your name here, you have some explaining to do! 😉

Amanda (Garibay Soup)

Aimee Williams

Ellyn

Kelly

Samantha

Kristin Gentry

Esteban

Mrs. Money

Tony

Stu Gray

Jackie

Corey – Simple Marriage

Carrie – Make Mine Happen

Louise

Daniele O’Toole

Hailey

Megan

Teresa

Chris Goforth

Andy Jobst

Lacey Sonderegger

NorCalRN

Cat

Golda

Divine and Debt Free

Julie

Krystle

Milk & Honey Mommy

Bucksome

SavingDiva

Jodi

Laetus

Shannon L.

Jeff

Amanda G

Kim

Michelle

Cynthia Gottfredson

Heather Silver

Cindy Taylor

FallBride

Melissa

Nick

bentwingedbird

Nina

Angie Mack

And yes…Dustin Riechmann of Engaged Marriage!

A Final Shout Out to Our Fantastic Sponsors

Finally, I want to take one last opportunity to thank our generous sponsors.  Without these fine folks, this challenge would not have been possible…or at least not nearly as cool.

Personal Finance Notebook is a great site created by Patrenia Spears after her family paid off an incredible $93,000 in debt! Her posts are intended to empower her readers to achieve their financial goals. Her tag line says it all: “A website that offers ideas, education and the motivation needed to create a personal finance portfolio to be proud of.

Budgets are Sexy is simply awesome. J. Money provides a site that is packed with really useful info about the world of personal finance, and he does it in his own (pimpin’) way. Entertaining and informative.

Budgets are Sexy

MomStart is a fantastic resource created by a mother of two who provides an incredible amount of reviews, giveaways and writings related to all of the new things going on in the world of parenting.
MomStart

Enemy of Debt is the place to be if you want to get out of debt or simply celebrate the goodness that your debt-freedom has brought to your life. Brad is a passionate and informative resource offering a unique perspective on the personal finance scene.

Make Mine Happen “Stop Dreaming and Start Doing” by putting the motivational and informational posts at this site to work in your life!

Until (maybe) next time, thanks again for supporting and participating in this challenge.  I hope you have learned something that will help you improve yourself and your marriage!

Blessings!

Dustin

Vote for the Winner of Improve Yourself! 2010

By Dustin | Individual Fulfillment

Vote!After an incredible eight weeks of motivation, accountability and an awesome sense of community, the Improve Yourself! 2010 challenge has come to an end.

It is now time to crown the champion of the contest and award them with a well-deserved $100 gift card to Amazon.  I had originally planned to pick the top three participants based on their achievements, but that was frankly just too tough.  Plus, I make the rules around here, so I picked five! 🙂

In case you haven’t been following the challenge closely (or you were a drop-out), I have included the “final report” from each of the five finalists.  Please read these fantastic achievements and select your favorite in the poll below.

Voting ends Sunday, March 7th at 11:59 p.m. central time so don’t hesitate!

The Final Reports From Our Five Finalists:

Jen

Wow…8 weeks went by really fast. My original goal was to work on not getting so irritated when my husband offers advice or instructions in what I call his “talking to a two year old tone.”  I can honestly say that while I may still get a little irritated I have stopped saying mean or rude things back and starting a fight.

After reading The 5 Love Languages I was reminded of how important it is to show him how much I love him in the way he wants and needs me to. That resulted in me re-discovering how much I love him making it easy to not want to fight with him and get irritated. All in all, I learned that even if we don’t have “big issues” to work on it is not ok to coast along.

All the attention I have been paying to my role in our relationship has resulted in me making our marriage a priority and that is a good thing! The bonus was Mark noticed the changes I made and read The 5 Love Languages himself and that resulted in some great conversations between us. I feel closer to him and more in love with him than ever. No more letting things just go along.

The second part of my goal was to focus on a different spiritual quality every week. I have a book that helps you focus on a different quality that promotes spiritual growth. This one was a lot harder for me and I did not get through 8 qualities…in fact I’m still working on #2. But I don’t feel like I can move on to the next until I fully embrace the 2nd quality. This is something I will continue working on and really want to work my way through the whole book. The bonus to this goal was that I had great conversations with my Dad about my struggles spiritually and found that has had has some of the same issues and he helped me work through some of them.

I’m not sure if I can pinpoint anything I should have done differently to be more successful…I’m just happy that the changes I made lead to amazing conversations with my husband and my Dad, and that I truly feel like my husband and I made what was a great relationship that much closer to an amazing relationship. I can’t wait to see how we continue to grow and change. I now know that with constant attention to our relationship in good and not so good times we will only be stronger for it!

Sam

I feel really good about the financial goals that I’ve (we’ve) met over the first eight weeks of this year. I set out with a goal to save at least $700 and pay down at least $1500 in overall debt. I really underestimated the debt repayment since we paid nearly $6k in overall debt ($5926 to be exact). It did help to receive a tax return, but we could have chosen to spend that money on junk instead of paying down debt. We paid off one auto loan and we’re well on our way to paying off a student loan in a month or so!

However, we didn’t do so well with savings. We only saved an additional $185. But we also had about $800 in unexpected expenses over the past couple of months, so I don’t feel so bad about missing the savings goal. Although, I know we could do better here.

Dustin, I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this challenge. It really has given me some perspective and has given me a better base for getting our debt paid down. I get so overwhelmed by the amount of student loan debt we’ve acquired, but during this challenge I’ve seen so much movement in our debt reduction that I feel encouraged again.

Ambere

“My goals for the year pertain to fitness/health.

I am to lose 10 pounds by 3/1/10, in order to get back to my healthy weight from college.

Starting on Jan. 6th I’m going to start eating paleo.
I’m going to run at least 30 min 4x a week.
Go for a 1 mile walk at night.”

Looking back on the last 8 weeks, I’m proud to say that I have lost 14 lbs! That reaches my weight loss goal! :) Overall my husband and I have done really well on out paleo diet, and eating healthy. I wish I could say that my running has been going as well. I only went 3 times a week most weeks, and we only went walking probably 4 nights a week. Although this challenge is ending my husband and I are starting P90X, we did the first workout today.

This challenge has been great for our marriage as we have been supporting each others’ fitness/diet goals, and we will continue to do it in the future. It has also helped us to communicate more about our budget and track our spending better, as one of his goals was to get our credit card debt payed off. (Almost there, should finish next month!)
Thanks for sponsoring this and all of the wonderful posts for improving our marriage!

Toby

Diets take a team, and that is something this blog helped me with! I got motivated and set 3 goals: 1. loose 25 pounds, 2. pay off credit cards by June, 3. take GMAT (entrance exam for MBA programs).

Well, I meet goal 1 going from 255 to currently 227. I plan to keep pushing hard till I can reach 215 but it just takes time.

I also have been working hard to pay off the credit card. Only one more month and all $10,000 of credit card debt will be paid off! 3 months ahead of schedule! I started using wesabe.com and it is really interesting to see how the money is being spent.

As for the GMAT I have decided not to take the GMAT and instead just apply for MBA programs that didn’t require it. I know it is a little cheating but it is going to get me to the same end goal.

Thanks all for the support! I am not stopping because the challenge is over so hopefully the good progress will continue!

And my wife reminds me that I am supposed to talk about our marriage, too! Well, it definitely brought us together, let us get our goals together and really encouraged us to work together to reach them. We were more open with finances, and it really helped us pay off the credit cards way earlier then initially anticipated.

Krystal

So, I wanted to be a better mom.

Tall order, eh?

But I did it.

(Notice, I didn’t say I want to be a *perfect* mom. Why set oneself up for failure?)

My SMART goals looked like this:

I want to be a better, more engaged parent…

…By caring about ME through diet, exercise, taking my vitamins, trying to get adequate sleep and not feeling guilty about taking some necessary ME time.

DONE. I have been eating better, including a 5-day sugar kick, which made me feel so much better. I have been working together with my husband (parenting is a team effort!) to get our baby sleeping better so we sleep better. I have been exercising, taking my vitamins and, when necessary, turning the kids over to Hubby for a few if I need a little alone time.

…By taking better care of my kids’ bodies.

DONE. Again, not perfect. We haven’t gotten rid of the Kraft mac n’ cheese, but it’s only a once-a-week thing. I’m not trying to HIDE veggies in their foods, I’m working with them to get them to eat the stuff they truly like, and getting them to try new things. It’s working, slowly. I am sure if I am consistent, they will learn to like more variety.

…By stimulating my kids’ minds and spirit

DONE. We have limited TV and Wii time. I read to them more. My four-year-old is reading to ME. He is excitedly learning math. My baby now pulls books off the shelf and carries them around and will sit and listen to one. My kids are also so much happier when I stop doing housework and PLAY with them. I am thrilled with the progress that has been made on this goal and will continue to do these things.

…By stimulating my kids’ souls, making the home a more pleasant place.

DONE. I have become much better at NOT becoming irritated when they do KID things. I have been cherishing moments that once would have annoyed me. My little ones are growing up so quickly. I will CRAVE these days when they’re big, grown boys. I am trying to soak it all in. These moments are so incredibly precious.

…By managing my time more wisely, therefore allowing more of my less-stressed self to be given to my kids.

A WORK IN PROGRESS. I have been working to de-clutter my home so that it’s easier to keep clean, so I don’t have to push my kids off. Some areas are DONE. Some still need work, but every little bit that gets done takes off some of the stress.

My blog is called Musings from Mom School. Mom School, because once you’re a mom, the learning never ends. I am constantly learning how to better myself as a parent. This challenge allowed me to focus on it, but it also has taught me that the learning and self-improvement will keep going all my life. I will continue to Improve Myself throughout 2010 and beyond. As my kids grow and change, so will my parenting.

Another positive from this challenge: Becoming a better parent makes ME happier, makes the KIDS happier, makes my HUSBAND and MARRIAGE happier and makes our home in general a more positive place.

I never really realized that me getting annoyed when my son, for example, rams his monster truck into my foot for the fiftieth time while I’m fixing dinner actually has a landslide effect on our evening. I get irritated and yell at my son, he gets upset, my husband gets upset, the baby gets upset because we’re all upset, and we’re all just crabby. It’s no way to live. By redirecting my irritation and encouraging my son to, for example, zoom his trucks down the hall instead, no one gets upset and the night is still peaceful (and after the boys go to bed, Hubby and I aren’t left scowling at each other).

I have learned that little changes like that can make a big difference, and I LOVE the improvements I’ve seen in my household throughout this challenge. I can’t wait to see what else we can do.

This has been a fantastic challenge. Thank you so much for doing it.

There you have it…five of many incredible stories that have been shared through this challenge.  Thank you to all of you for your participation and/or support!

Don’t forget to vote below.  And please note that voting is on the honor system.  Please vote based on who you think truly deserves to win for their accomplishment, and please only vote one time.  We have a great community, so I know I can trust you to treat this final vote with respect.  Thanks!

Photo by √oхέƒx™

Improve Yourself: The Final Report!

By Dustin | Individual Fulfillment

Improve Yourself!

We made it!  Today represents the official end to the Improve Yourself! 2010 challenge, but we still have a winner to select…

If you started with us back in the Announcement Post, you are eligible for the grand prize of a $100 Amazon gift card.  Of course, I know who has been reporting in each week, and I have to say that they’ll have a definite advantage in making the finals.

Regardless, I’d love to hear from everyone to see how they did with their SMART goals.  And this is your last chance to make an appearance and not be counted among those that quit!

What Do You Need to Do Now?

It’s simple.  In the comments below, please give a brief summary of what you accomplished during this 8-week challenge, how it compares to your initial goals and what it has meant to you and your marriage.

That’s all there is to it.  Just be sure to leave your comment before Tuesday, March 2nd at 11:59 p.m. central time.

How Is the Winner Selected?

I will choose the top three finalists based on their stories and my knowledge after following all of the weekly reports along the way.  I’ll post on Thursday (March 4th) to announce the finalists and share each of their stories.  That post will include a poll where the readers of Engaged Marriage will be able to vote for the winner.

And the lucky (and very deserving) final winner of Improve Yourself! 2010 will be announced the following week.

Our Sponsors Rule

I want to give one final shout-out to the awesome sponsors that we had for this challenge.  Without their support, the great prizes would not have been possible, and the contest would certainly not have reached so many people.  I look forward to working with these fine folks on many projects in the future!

Personal Finance Notebook is a great site created by Patrenia Spears after her family paid off an incredible $93,000 in debt! Her posts are intended to empower her readers to achieve their financial goals. Her tag line says it all: “A website that offers ideas, education and the motivation needed to create a personal finance portfolio to be proud of.

Budgets are Sexy is simply awesome. J. Money provides a site that is packed with really useful info about the world of personal finance, and he does it in his own (pimpin’) way. Entertaining and informative.

Budgets are Sexy

MomStart is a fantastic resource created by a mother of two who provides an incredible amount of reviews, giveaways and writings related to all of the new things going on in the world of parenting.
MomStart

Enemy of Debt is the place to be if you want to get out of debt or simply celebrate the goodness that your debt-freedom has brought to your life. Brad is a passionate and informative resource offering a unique perspective on the personal finance scene.

Make Mine Happen “Stop Dreaming and Start Doing” by putting the motivational and informational posts at this site to work in your 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.

Improve Yourself! Week 8: Don’t Accept Mediocrity!

By Dustin | Individual Fulfillment

Improve Yourself!

Wow!  We are now entering the FINAL week of the Improve Yourself! challenge.  I am excited that you are still reading this series, and I hope you are closer to reaching your goals now than you were seven weeks ago.

A Peek Ahead

This will be the last giveaway week before we crown an overall winner who will walk away with a $100 gift card from Amazon.  So, this week you’ll just give the typical update about your progress over the past week.

Next Sunday (February 28th), you will each provide a summary of what you accomplished during the full 8-week challenge.  Based on those summaries and my own impressions throughout the competition, I will pick the top three contenders from the group and ask them to share their story in a special post a few days later.  We will all then vote for the top story and those votes will determine the overall winner.  Then comes the glory and the cash…now back to this week!

Mediocrity Sucks

If you’ve read many posts here at Engaged Marriage, you have probably picked up on the fact that I feel strongly that we should all be proactive and give our best efforts to our marriage and family life.  One of my favorite mottoes is: “When it comes to the most important relationship in your life, don’t be normal.  Normal sucks.”

I feel the same way about all aspects of my own life: career, spirituality, finances, parenting, friendship, fitness, hobbies, writing and all the rest.  Does this mean that I don’t have bad days in all of these areas?  Does it mean that I am expending insane amounts of energy in all of them all at once to try to be the very best in the world?  Does it mean that I consider myself a failure whenever I slip up in my progress?

Of course not.  I’m a normal guy and I’m human, so I know I won’t be able to excel at all things at all times.  However, that doesn’t mean that I have to settle for mediocrity in my life either.  And I feel passionately that I don’t want to be mediocre, and I always want to be getting better even if it’s only in small increments.

I want to “Improve Myself”…life is just too short to do otherwise.

This week’s book giveaway is all about climbing out of the rut that you find yourself in and seeing the awesome opportunities that are all around you.  No More Mondays by Dan Miller (a fellow contributor to the Love Everyday project by the way) is an awesome book that focuses on helping you find work that you love in both traditional and non-traditional ways.

Although the book focuses on career issues, I believe its lessons and guidance will help you in many areas of your life.  It was actually one of the inspirations behind Engaged Marriage, and I hope you will take a few minutes to read my full book review of No More Mondays and the story of how it motivated me.

This Week’s Awesome Prize

This week’s giveaway is another awesome book that has the power to change your life for the better. I highly recommend that you read No More Mondays: Fire Yourself and Other Revolutionary Ways to Discover Your True Calling at Work.   I think you’ll love it.

Just enter your weekly update in the comments below, and you’ll be eligible to win your own copy of No More Mondays. Click the link above to read more about this best-selling book and learn what it can do in your life.

Just a short perfunctory reminder: if you are a participant, you must leave a comment below giving an update on your personal progress. Please do so by Tuesday, February 23rd at 11:59 p.m. central time to be eligible for this week’s giveaway. If you are not signed up, feel free to leave a comment anyhow and give your thoughts on this week’s post or your own progress…you just won’t be winning any prizes.

And please don’t forget that you must subscribe to Engaged Marriage via either RSS or Email to be eligible for prizes. There is a secret code at the bottom of the post (just above “Related Posts”) that is only visible if you read this post via an RSS reader or in your email. If you are selected but aren’t subscribed (you don’t know the code when I email you), the prize will instead to go the next person drawn.

Last Week’s Lucky Winner

Congratulations to our lucky winner of the Week 7 drawing:

Kathleen who won The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate

Thanks to This Week’s Awesome Sponsors!

The great prizes being given away throughout the challenge are only possible through the generous support of our sponsors. Please take a few minutes to visit this week’s sponsors and check out what they have to offer.

Enemy of Debt is the place to be if you want to get out of debt or simply celebrate the goodness that your debt-freedom has brought to your life. Brad is a passionate and informative resource offering a unique perspective on the personal finance scene.

Make Mine Happen “Stop Dreaming and Start Doing” by putting the motivational and informational posts at this site to work in your life!

Budgets are Sexy is simply awesome. J. Money provides a site that is packed with really useful info about the world of personal finance, and he does it in his own (pimpin’) way. Entertaining and informative.

Budgets are Sexy

MomStart is a fantastic resource created by a mother of two who provides an incredible amount of reviews, giveaways and writings related to all of the new things going on in the world of parenting.

MomStart

That’s it from me for Week 8 of the challenge! Look for the post next Sunday where you can leave your final reports. Get your progress stated below, visit our sponsors and Be Extraordinary this week!

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.