General Topic: > Be Better Now

Summary: Here's what's going on at Be Better Now including the next charity update and Posts of the Month

Each month, I give readers a sneak peak of some of the details that goes on behind the scenes at Be Better Now.

My life at the end of March is typically chaos... and this last month was no different.

There was an annual pharmacy convention (my wife's a large part of it) which is a week of travel. In the past, I would go with my wife and there would be little done (when am I going to get another chance to see the San Diego Zoo). In the future, I'll probably stay home with the kids (though an argument could be made they'd want to go to the zoo too). Either way, there's not going to be much work done.

In addition, I have a birthday at the end of March. Birthdays should be wonderful things, but they aren't when you are already a week behind. Finally, there's the looming April 15th tax deadline. As much work as I do in February, and it's dozens of hours, there's always more in March to do.

Enough kvetching (and enough Yiddish). Now you know why there haven't been many articles in March.

What's New at Be Better Now?

Usually, I have a few site enhancements to share. This month, I have nothing.

Why even mention it? I want to guilt myself into getting some enhancements for next month.

Overall, I'm happy with the look and feel of the website. I'd rather focus on increasing traffic. Which brings us to:

Be Better Now Traffic

I wrote a guest post over at Personal Income. It was a quick guide on how to become a millionaire.

Last month, Be Better Now had 346 visits for 568 page views according to Sitemeter. That's a drop off from February. However, the guest post on Personal Income came on March 31st, and brought 85 people on April 1st. People kept coming after that. So despite not publishing a post in April, traffic is already almost half-way to the February high.

Charity Update

Each month, Be Better Now gives money to charity. Last month, I gave money to the APhA foundation.

The amount that I donate is based on traffic to this website on a formula. That formula would have resulted in a 70 cent donation due to the small traffic. Instead of donating 70 cents, I donate $25 and they go back on the list for when traffic is more meaningful.

Next Month's Charity is...

Jimmy Fund

Baseball season is here. As a fan of Boston sports, my attention is on the Red Sox. If there is one charity people associate with the Red Sox, it is The Jimmy Fund. The Jimmy Fund is well-known in the Boston area, but for those of you who might not know of it here's a description from their "About Us" page:

"The Jimmy Fund solely supports Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, raising funds for adult and pediatric cancer care and research to improve the chances of survival for cancer patients around the world."

It seems the focus is on the pediatric cancer and if there's one thing I can get behind, it's helping kids with cancer.

In Case You Missed It...

Of course all the articles on Be Better Now are awesome. Some are just a little more awesome than others. For that reason I thought I'd use this space to highlight a few of the articles that you might have missed last month. And since I didn't I publish that many articles, it's going to be a short list:

As always, I am flying by the seat of my pants with this. Your feedback in the comments below is always tremendously appreciated.

This post involves:

Be Better Now, Monthly Goals, Monthly Review

... and focuses on:

Every month, I set and review goals that I set for myself. At beginning of the year, I explained how I'm setting goals in 2015. The biggest focus was on setting goals on a monthly basis rather than have new years resolutions.

As I explained in the Monthly Review for February, it was a short month, not just in terms of calendar days. Things got started a little slow due to my hometown Patriots winning the Super Bowl and the aftermath of that. It was also a very busy month with feet and feet of snow that canceled our child card leaving me the duties of my day job, caring for children, and shoveling feet of snow.

That combination isn't conducive to getting any extra work done. It's hard to swim forward when the current is pushing you back with such tremendous force.

Nonetheless, it is important to keep oneself accountable so here are the <a href="goals I set for February.

I set two personal goals and one business goal for this website. Let's see how I did:

February 2015 Goals

Goals - Baby, Funny
  1. Personal 1: Lose 1% of body fat

    The Goal:

    "I averaged the last 7 days of January and had 20.81% fat according to my Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi smart scale. So the plan is to average 19.81% (or lower over the last 7 days of February). It's aggressive. February is a short month and I'm making the goal a week in."

    The results? They weren't good. They were terrible.

    I'm going to blame it on the Super Bowl hangover. My body fat went from that 20.81% average to a score of 23.9% by Feb 8th, 2015. I wish I had some explanation for why it continued to go up by such a massive rate in such a short time.

    I should give myself an "F", but I'm going to cut myself the slightest of slack only because I've steadily reduced my body fat percentage back to 20.6% as of March 12th.

    Grade D- (62)

  2. Personal 2: Track my Productivity Consistently

    As a review, I'm looking to quantify several aspects of my productivity with a spreadsheet. The format is still a work in progress. My commitment to using it isn't much better.

    I didn't give myself a very good goal last month. Here's what I wrote:

    Last month, I only tracked 9 of the 31 days. It's okay to miss a few days, but I need to make missing it the exception rather the rule. Once I build the habit to track it consistently, I can focus in on what areas I need to improve on.

    That's just terrible.

    I only tracked 8 days of the 28, which is about the same percentage as last month. I'm starting to realize that this goal is simply not working. I think I need to learn more about why I'm failing.

    My feeling is that there's something to the motivation/easiness curve in the video at Baby Steps: Start Small and Keep Improving. I currently don't have much motivation for quantifying my productivity. Though it is easy, I think that's why I'm failing to put aside the time for this.

    Grade F (55)

  3. Be Better Now: Write 3 Guest Posts for Other Blogs

    I was able to accomplish this. The guest posts haven't been published yet, but I hope they are soon.

    Grade A (95)

Taking all three things into account, my average score is a 70.6... barely a C-.

While that grade is certainly disappointing, I'm going to focus on the fact that progress was made. I got those guest posts done, which I wouldn't have if I didn't have the monthly goals. I think I learned why I'm failing to complete some of my goals.

I wish I had been more successful, but I'll take the baby steps to keep improving.

This post involves:

Be Better Now, Monthly Goals

... and focuses on:

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Summary: Summary: I set my goals for March 2015. Can I ramp up my exercise, learn the guitar, and double traffic to this website? We'll find out...

Time to Set Goals

Well look at that, it's March already. I'm looking forward to not losing whole days to shoveling. In related news, I am hoping to score a bargain on an end of season snow blower.

Let's waste no further time and get right to the goals:

Personal 1: Work out 7 Times

Over the last two years, working out has been one of my biggest failings. I simply don't get to the gym and do either the amount of running or the amount of weight training I should be.

What do I do for exercise? I walk my dog, Jake. We've gone on some epic walks. Walking is good exercise, but I need to step up the intensity.

Towards the end of February, I took a few minutes in one day to do sets of push-ups. I didn't get too far, before I realized what happens when you don't use muscles in awhile. This:

So the goal this month is to ramp up the physical activity. I'm going to take baby steps and aim for 7 workouts... less than once for every four days.

Personal 2: Re-"learn" the guitar

I broke out my guitar for the first time in more than 10 years. My wife didn't know what to make of it, because she'd never seen me play. I'm sure she never expected me to pick it up either.

So why did I pick it up? My oldest son is about as musically gifted as a 2-year old can be. If he's interested in the guitar, I want to be able to help him with it.

Yes, age 2 is far too young for any kind of meaningful teaching. However, my expertise in guitar comes solely from a 10-class introduction that I took place more a long, long time ago. I'm no Joe Perry.

In March, I'd like to be good with four basic cords. As a stretch goal, I'd like to be able to play the beginning of Weezer's Undone (Sweater Song)... which was the best I could do in my training class.

Be Better Now: Double traffic

March will be the third month of Be Better Now. In February, I was able to more than double the traffic of the first month. Next week, I'll go into the gory details with the monthly review.

Doubling traffic (growing 100%) is easy when you are just starting out. It becomes a lot more difficult once you get bigger.

It's far too early for me to run into the Wheat and the Chessboard Problem, so I'm optimistic that I can double traffic. That will be the benchmark for at least the next couple of months.

Please check back in the first week of April to see how I did. Better yet, why not join me and set some goals for yourself for the month?

This post involves:

Monthly Goals

... and focuses on:

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Summary: I set my goals for February 2015. Can I lose some body fat, track my productivity, and grow this website? We'll find out...

time to set goals illustration design over a white background

Most months, I'll be setting my goals before the month starts. I was a little preoccupied with my favorite team preparing to win the Super Bowl. Rather than rush with some crazy goals, I decided to push it back a week.

Let's waste no further time and get right to the goals.

  • Personal 1: Lose 1% of body fat

    Last month, I successfully lost 4 pounds. I've decided to take a cue from Intel's Tick-Tock method of improvement. For those who don't know, Intel's "tick" shrinks of the technology of their previous microarchitecture typically making it more efficient. Their "tock" is a switch to a new microarchitecture altogether.

    I'm not sure if last month's weight loss represents the "tick" or the "tock", but this month's goal lose 1% of body fat.

    I averaged the last 7 days of January and had 20.81% fat according to my Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi smart scale.

    So the plan is to average 19.81% (or lower over the last 7 days of February). It's aggressive. February is a short month and I'm making the goal a week in.

  • Personal 2: Track my Productivity Consistently

    In my article earlier this week, Gamification is Your Key to Self Improvement, I wrote about how I'm trying to roughly quantify different areas of my life that are important to me. I'm doing this almost exclusively with a subjective daily rating.

    Last month, I only tracked 9 of the 31 days. It's okay to miss a few days, but I need to make missing it the exception rather the rule. Once I build the habit to track it consistently, I can focus in on what areas I need to improve on.

  • Be Better Now: Write 3 Guest Posts for Other Blogs

    Lastly, I'm going to revisit my biggest failure of last month. I wanted to write 7 guest posts for other blogs. I ended writing half of one. Instead I made a number of improvements to the website under the hood.

    I'm going to re-roll with the same goal, but make it more manageable.

    "I could spend months creating the best blog in history, but if I don't let people know about it, what good is it? It's like the tree in the woods falling... it doesn't matter if it makes a sound if no one is there to hear it.

    To get the message out, I'll write 3 guest posts. It doesn't mean that the blogs are going to like them or publish them, but I will have them written. Hopefully if one website doesn't like what I've written or thinks this website stinks another will take it.

    It will take a 2-3 weeks for blog owners to get a feel for the content here, so in the best case scenario, I can see them accepting them and publishing them early [March]."

Please check back with me on March 6. We'll see how I did. Better yet, why not join me and set some goals for yourself for the month?

This post involves:

Be Better Now, Monthly Goals

... and focuses on:


Summary: I set my goals for January 2015. At the end of the article, you can see how I did.

Yesterday I explained how I’m setting goals in 2015. Today it's time to actually set those goals.

time to set goals

Let's just dig in with two personal goals and one website goal.

  1. Personal 1: Create a Rough System to Quantify and Track "Successful" Days

    I have an idea of how this going to work. Somewhere on my computer, I have a spreadsheet that I made years ago. The idea was to rate how my day was on certain metrics such as "business", "health", etc. The ratings were completely subjective, but the end result was a "score" that I could use to track progress.

    It seems like a great idea in theory, but in practice it was terrible. I think I used it twice. I couldn't get in the habit.

    I'm now a little wiser now. I think if I simplify the spreadsheet so that it is very easy and only tracks a few data points at the beginning, I can get in the habit. I also have the accountability of setting this goal.

  2. Personal 2: Lose 4 Pounds

    I have a Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi smart scale that keeps track of my weight. I even get a nice little graph. Looking back on that graph over the last week, I averaged a weight of 175.5 pounds.

    My goal for the end of January is to have an average weight over the last week of 171.5 pounds. It isn't the most grandiose of goals, but it would be a good step forward. Big change happens with many small steps.

  3. Be Better Now: Write 7 Guest Posts for Other Blogs

    I could spend months creating the best blog in history, but if I don't let people know about it, what good is it? It's like the tree in the woods falling... it doesn't matter if it makes a sound if no one is there to hear it.

    To get the message out, I'll write 7 guest posts. It doesn't mean that the blogs are going to like them or publish them, but I will have them written. Hopefully if one website doesn't like what I've written or thinks this website stinks another will take it.

    It will take a 2-3 weeks for blog owners to get a feel for the content here, so in the best case scenario, I can see them accepting them and publishing them early February.

Update: Wondering how I did? I reviewed my goals for January 2015 here.

This post involves:

Be Better Now, Monthly Goals

... and focuses on:


Summary: (Create and Set Manageable Goals) + (Keep Yourself Accountable) + (Review Often) = Success! (Tweet This)

Old Goals

For several years now, I've set annual goals at the beginning of the year. At the end of each year, I reviewed them only to conclude that I didn't accomplish what I had set out to do. Sometimes, I had a good excuse, but other times I look back think that I could have certainly done better.

It's easy to set goals in January, but when I'm knee-deep in taxes in April, the last thing I'm thinking about is what I wrote down back in January. This year, I'm going to do things a little differently. I'm going to try set them on a monthly basis. We'll see how it works for a few months and adjust from there if necessary. I think it's certainly going to be better than looking back a year later and seeing a year of failed goals.

As I came up with this idea of creating monthly rather than annual resolutions, it occurred to me that it might not be unique. Yes, like many of my ideas, some smart person laid claim to them long ago. Here's a three-minute TED talk about 30 day goals from famous Google policy czar, Matt Cutts:

If that doesn't inspire you to set monthly goals, this isn't the website for you.

Even Matt Cutts points out that his 30 day goal was inspired by Morgan Spurlock's show, 30 Days. I can't recommend the show highly enough... it is well worth your time and your money.

So my idea isn't unique. That's a bit of a bummer. Let's focus on the bright side... we now know it works!

How is This Going to Work at Be Better Now?

On the last Friday of the month, I'm going to write down a post about my goals for the next month. On the first Friday of the next month, I'll review how I did the previous month.

There will be exceptions such as when the Friday falls on the first or second of the month. In those cases, I'll push the review to the second week, because I don't want to put myself into a position of having to rush a monthly review that just completed the night before. All the data from the previous month (such as website visits or money earned) may not available right away.

Accountability Matters

I don't know if you'll care about my goals. Perhaps there's some voyeuristic appeal to them. For the most part, I don't care if you care.

My reason for putting the goals out there is to keep myself accountable. If I were to simply keep track in a spreadsheet, what happens in a month if I fail? I spend 30 seconds thinking that I'll try to do better next month and move on. With accountability, I'm going to have to publicly fess up to my failures. That's extra motivation not to fail in the first place.

The second reason for sharing my goals is so that you can share on the journey. Perhaps you'll see that I'm just an ordinary person like yourself... and if I can succeed in my goals you can succeed in yours.

I hope you'll create your goals, make them public, and share them with me and other readers. (The comment section below is a perfect place for that.) Together we'll learn what works.

Setting the Goals

I think it makes sense to set 3 goals each month: two personal and one related to Be Better Now. For example, one month I may resolve to give up soda, lose 5 pounds, and get 10,000 visitors. Another month it could be to make $100 on the side, negotiate some sale or purchase, and get 250 new people subscribed to my RSS feed.

I have no clue how these goals and reviews are going to work. I'm not going to lock a format in stone. We'll give this a shot for now, and if it doesn't work, we'll make changes to "Be Better" (yes, I couldn't resist).

Update: Check out my January 2015 Goals here.

This post involves:

Be Better Now, Monthly Goals

... and focuses on: