How I Failed 12 Times In January And Became A Better Person

Towards the end of last year, I gave you an inside look into my journey to be a better person, helping more people, and living the life that I desire, fulfilling my promise.

I didn’t do an update in December, and instead of doing my normal personal journey update for January, I want to change things up a bit.

At the beginning of 2015, I wrote down my 12 personal development goals for 2015.  Now, I don’t consider these resolutions, but rather things I want to add to my life to be a better person, have more fun and bring more joy and happiness not only to my life, but to others.

I haven’t been perfect with these, and neither do you have to be, if you’re working on your own personal development goals for this year.  But I did want to give you an update on where I stand and what’s working well and what isn’t working so well.

Let’s Review My 12 Personal Development Goals For 2015

1) Daily Gratitude Note and Gratitude Walk – I’ll be writing a note each day expressing thanks to someone and also taking a daily walk and express 3 things or people that I am grateful for.

gratitude walk

2) Inbox Zero – At the end of each day, I’ll have 0 emails in my inbox

3) Priority One – Each morning, I’ll pick the highest priority task and get it done.

4) Practice Harmonica – When I was in Guatemala last summer, I was hanging out at a backpackers hostel with a bunch of other travelers.  All of the sudden, a couple of them pulled out guitars and started jamming.  It was a great time.  I thought to myself, I want to be a part of that and jam with them, except I want to be able to easily travel with an instrument.  So I got a harmonica for Christmas and my goal is to practice 7 minutes a day, 3 days per week.

Check out the good time we had jamming in Guatemala.

5) Clean Desk – At the end of each work day, I will clean off my desk (usually it’s cluttered).

6) I Love You – I will tell my girlfriend Lori “I love you” before going to bed each night, even if I’m in a cranky mood. 🙂

7) No Screens After 9 pm.  This means I won’t use my phone or computer after 9 pm.  I don’t own a TV, but will allow myself to watch a movie on my Amazon Kindle with Lori after 9 pm.

8) Practice Spanish – I plan on going back to Guatemala this summer to build another school.  One of my regrets last time was not knowing Spanish, so I will practice Spanish at least 10 minutes a day, 3 days per week.

9) Floss 3 days per week.  I know, I know, I should be doing this daily.  But it’s been a tough habit for me to crack.  I’m going to have to use the power of “habit stacking” and floss immediately after brushing my teeth (an easy habit).

10) No Emails Before Breakfast – I need to take time to enjoy my mornings.  You should too!

11) Read 10 Pages A Day – This should be easy.  I have about 50 books on my bookshelf that I haven’t read.

12) Meditate At Least 5 Minutes A Day, 3 Days Per Week.  I like the app Calm for this, which offers guided meditation.

Good News And Bad News:

In looking at this list, I’ve got some good news and bad news.

The good news is that I’ve done all of these 12 personal development goals.  The bad news is that I haven’t done any of them consistently for any length of time beyond a couple of weeks.

Let’s take a quick look at how I’m doing at each personal development goal individually, and then I’ll comment on why I haven’t stuck to them and some lessons learned.

Daily Gratitude Note and Walk – I actually did great on the note, writing and sending a thank you card about 15 days in a row to kick off January.  I was never consistent with the gratitude walk.  I think where I got stuck with the cards is that I sometimes didn’t know who to send the card to.  Or it was a bit of work to obtain the mailing address.

gratitude note

Inbox Zero – This I did great for about a week!  I ended 2014 by deleting every email in my inbox.  I had thousands of them.  I didn’t care if there was an email I needed.  I needed to start with a clean slate.  I ended my days deleting all my emails from my inbox or moving them to an appropriate folder.  But I haven’t stuck with this.

Priority One – As far as sitting down and thinking about my main priority for the day and writing it down, I did this for about 3 days.  Mentally I do go through my major priorities for the day and get them done.  But I don’t always pick the main one and don’t always do that one first.

Practice Harmonica.  Well, I signed up for video lessons online where I can go through it in a self paced manner.  The video lessons are about 7 minutes long and I’ve gone through 3 of them.  But haven’t done 3 in a week.  As soon as I can play a tune, I will post a YouTube video of it. 😉

I also want to play songs during our Unplug and Reboot Weekend Retreat  in the mountains of Colorado.

Clean Desk – Surprisingly I’ve been pretty good at this one.  Not 100%, but for the most part, I’ve been leaving each day with a clean work space.  Much better than I had been doing.

I Love You – OK, as shameful as it is for me to say so, I haven’t always said “I love you” to Lori before bed.  A few times I’ve fallen asleep and it wasn’t intentional (as in I drifted off to sleep before I wanted to).  Then there have been times where I’ve been cranky after a disagreement and haven’t said it.  It’s the stubbornness in me and it’s something I really need to work on more.

Scott and Lori

No Screens After 9 pm – This is one of those that I haven’t really tracked.  I’ve definitely gotten better at shutting things down at night and relaxing or spending time with Lori.  But I haven’t really kept track as far as if I’ve still been on my computer or cell phone after 9.

Practice Spanish – I’ve given a pretty weak effort in this one.  I downloaded an app called Duolingo on my phone and have gone through about 4 lessons.  Knowing me as well as I do, this is one of those things where I need to work with an actual teacher and have set appointments with them.   I did look up some Spanish teachers that provide Skype lessons, but I didn’t sign on with anyone yet.

Floss 3 Days Per Week – I bought a really nice electric toothbrush and water flosser from Waterpik.  I’ve used the water flosser a few times, but not consistently.  There really isn’t an excuse on this one.  Just use the water flosser right after brushing the teeth. Lazy. 🙂

No Emails Before Breakfast – I’ve kind of amended this one to be no technology (internet, social media, cell phone, etc before 8 am, although I can use my computer for work before then.  I’ve been doing well with this.  Actually my goal has been to combine this one with the No Screens After 9 pm (and change that to no screens after 8 pm).  So the new goal is no technology from 8 pm to 8 am (this includes social media, text messages and email.  However I can work before 8 am).  And I can use technology from 8 am to 8 pm.  I like the symmetry of this goal.

Read 10 Pages A Day – This is another one that I’ve done most days, but haven’t specifically tracked.  I’ve read Essentialism and now I’m in the middle of 2 books – The One Thing and The Daily Entrepreneur

Meditate At Least 5 Minutes, 3 Days A Week.  I’ve been meditating on a random/scattered basis.  However, I’m just getting back into my morning routine and meditation is a part of it.  I still use the app Calm, and really like their guided meditation.

Some Thoughts And Lessons Learned:

First of all, I’m proud of how much I did in January.  This is an accomplishment in itself.  In the past, I would probably have beat myself up at what I didn’t do, rather than congratulating myself for what I did accomplish.  I know many people who are on a fitness journey, let’s say, and beat themselves up for not being perfect.  Instead, celebrate each improvement and step that you make towards your goals.

Why haven’t I been 100% compliant?  Well, I’ve thought about this and have come up with a few hypotheses.

1) I bit off more than I could chew.  I didn’t just try to make 1 personal development improvement.  I went for 12.  Perhaps doing 1 per month would have been more realistic. In fact, I can almost guarantee you that would have been a better strategy.  But all of these goals were things I wanted to work on immediately. Hey, sometimes I can’t wait. 🙂

2) Some goals were unrealistic.  Although I tried to make these goals doable (such as flossing 3 times per week, and saying “I love you” each night), others were a lot more challenging and perhaps unrealistic, such as sending one thank you card a day for the entire year.

3) Are these things that I enjoy?  Let’s face it, if you don’t enjoy taking action on the goals you’ve set, then you probably won’t stick to them.  Frankly, most of these goals I’m enjoying doing, although some I don’t (flossing, cleaning my email inbox, cleaning my desk).  In the case of these 3, I see immediate results when doing them, so that is a reason to actually stick to it.  But if they’re not making my life noticeably better, then maybe not.

4) No accountability or support system.  Although Lori supports me in doing all of these (especially the “I Love You” haha), I don’t have any accountability or other support.  There is no one checking on me.  There is no coach that I have to report to.  It’s just me and my goals.  And if I mess up, no one knows except me (and now you since I’m telling you).  But being a fitness coach, I know that my clients do better when they have accountability and support.  I’m sure I would too!

5) I didn’t plan well, and I didn’t develop new habits.  Having given you 4 plausible reasons above, it may have just come down to not planning and not developing new habits.  I’m kind of just winging it in the sense that I don’t have a set day/time I’m practicing the harmonica (for example).  I’m just doing it when I feel like it.  Same goes for many of the others.  This definitely isn’t the way to make personal development changes, and I know going forward that I need to plan and schedule things, until they become habit and routine.

All and all, I’m proud of myself and I think this is the big lesson learned.  It’s important to enjoy the journey and celebrate the little victories and to know that these small steps are going to lead to big time rewards!

Well as always, thanks for reading about my journey.  I’m not sure what made you sit down and read the entire post, but I’m sure grateful that you did.  Please leave your comments below or let me know if there is anything I can do to help you.

With sincere gratitude,


  • alex_mp

    Scott, it sounds like your “failures” have actually been opportunities to learn more about yourself and tweak your goals. Nice job!