whack a moleIf you’ve ever tried to work on a few different elements of your life at once (say, exercise, eating well and learning a new language) you’ve probably found that it’s a delicate balancing act.

Some days you’re really rocking one category while the other takes a backseat. Some days all are making incremental progress. And some amazing days, you make big strides in all your areas of change.

Self-improvement can be like one big game of Whack-a-Mole that way.

As you read over our improvements week after week, you’ll find that we’re often working on strengthening old habits that have gotten weaker, getting back our focus on a previously forgotten improvement or trying to balance a few different changes.

Sometimes we fail, and that’s OK. But sharing with one another—and all of you–every week helps us go farther than we ever could alone.

Here’s what we’re working on this week. How about you? It’s so inspiring when you share your great improvements with us in the comments! Keep ’em coming.


(Psst: We love chatting about each other’s improvements, too. See all of our comments here.)

Niel – After taking the previous week a little slower with the running, I’m aiming for another three runs this week: 2 x 8km and one 10km. As for my language learning, I’ve taken a note out of the Power of Habit and replaced a similar activity with another. Usually when I eat lunch, I watch videos on reddit/youtube etc. I’ve decided to replace this with watching a Chinese TV series instead. I try and watch during lunch and a little more after that. To make the activity less of a challenge (& more entertaining), I usually read the episode synopsis in English before watching it all in Chinese.

Rodolphe – Flying back to from Casablanca on Tuesday, had a great surfing session & published my article on Medium over the weekend :) Looking forward to more reading (done with Quiet – The Power of Introverts a nice read, now reading Winning without Losing (about entrepreneurship and balance). Looking at a 10km run tonight (Monday) – might regret it :D – and 4 meditation sessions (8-12min after lunch). Also trying to schedule my summer travels this week (Amsterdam, Barcelona, sailing, home & Copenhagen + maybe Hamburg) and think about September.

Octavio – This week the main focus will be towards productivity and picking up the daily reading habit, which I neglected a bit in the last two weeks. So the idea, is to be able to achieve the three main routines (body, mind, spirit) on a daily basis while having a high productivity level. I have set the goal of reading for at least 30 minutes per day, take a reflection and gratitude moment for a minimum of 20 minutes per day, lastly I’m doing the 10-Day FitStar World Cup Workout Challenge (I love challenges, I’m currently on day 4) to have a fun new experience and stay healthy :)

Dave – After two piano lessons I realised that I enjoyed the challenge and the new experience, and yet financially the lessons were a little too much and it was tricky time wise. In Manchester I was talking about our self improvements and was challenged to have another push at this. So I’ve bought an electric keyboard and begun using the lessons built in to Garageband, having a 20 minute session every evening :) I’m continuing to work on my sleep goals and am aiming for another 3 day streak of 8hrs, I’d like to find out what improves the amount of time I get deep sleep, too. :zzz: As a mini-project, my iPhone has become a little overloaded (I have 136 apps), as something I use and rely on in so many situations, I’ve decided to make sure that it’s as well organised as possible! And with 10 days until I go to Paris, improving my French with podcasts, duo lingo and some background French talk radio is more important than ever!

Mary – Headed to Maui this week for another change of scenery. I’m excited to be in a new timezone too, I think this will be a good one. :) Whenever I head somewhere new, the three things I like to hold on to are running 3x a week (half marathon might be in the future), reading each night before bed and drinking lots and lots of water. I’m also holding on to the send 1 letter/week improvement to keep letting my friends/family know I’m thinking of them and lucky to have them in my life!

Colin – With the upturn in the weather of late, something I want to do is to try and spend more time outside each day. It’s all too easy to stay indoors, but there’s really no need nor excuse since I work exclusively from a laptop. Just need to get out of my comfort zone and find a good spot (that isn’t the pub!). Also, I’ve stopped writing a list of things I want to look into for each day, so I plan to bring that back, in electronic form.

Courtney – My “30 Days of Minimalism” challenge is getting a bit tougher in Week 3 now that I’ve cleared out a lot of the obvious stuff. It’s going to be a neat challenge to dig deeper these next two weeks. I hope my life will truly begin to feel a bit leaner. I’ve been straying a bit from my morning routine of plants/yoga/meditation so this week I want to get that sort of re-cemented into my everyday. Finally, I’m itching to try another coworking space one day this week as I continue to experiment with my best work environment.

Leo – This week, my focus is with eating healthier food. My goal is to have 2 home cooked lunches that I bring to the office instead of going out for lunch. I’ve also bought scales so I can measure my food intake a bit better, which I think will be a big improvement. I’m also keen to keep on with my meditation habit which was fantastic last week at 5 sessions. Hoping to do the same again in the office this week.

Nicole – Courtney has inspired me to clean up some physical and mental space in my life. :-) I’m going to work on giving away or donating a few items each day. I also want to “quit something” each day (a la Bob Goff) – whether it is a bad habit or an obligation that I can drop to open more space in my life.

Kevan – I found traveling to be a neat way to hone my workflow. When you only have time for essential tasks, essential tasks are all you do. I’d love to see how I can bring some of those lessons into my back-home workflow this week. I’d also like to finish the book I’m into now (Stephen King On Writing); World Cup soccer is making this more difficult than I thought. :)

Joel – My focus this week is to keep going with all my habits as part of my routine (evening walk, good sleep, meditation, gym, good eating). My focus will be to zoom in on the sleep and try to be better with that this week than I was last week. I also have ear plugs as an experiment, and last night’s sleep was my best in probably a month, so early results are great! I’m accidentally on a 7 day streak of 10,000+ steps a day, so I’m going to try and keep that going this week too :-)

Dan – More than halfway through 30 days of no sweets now, still going strong. Last week was one of my best weeks as far as steps/general activity has gone, 7 straight days over 5k steps. Thats a big improvement compared to my normal steps, but I’d still like to go a bit higher, aiming at 8k a day as my goal. Inspired by Rodolphe Dutel’s post on Medium, I want to create some goals or ways to improve, big or small, over a longer term. I’m hoping I can spend some time this week getting a few down on paper. I already have some thoughts floating in my head, looking forward to creating a new personal manifesto of sorts this week!

Michael – I bought a book called Drawing on the right side of the brain a couple of weeks ago, with the intention to start learning to draw. It’s been sitting untouched on my desk for while, so this week I would like to give it a go! I’ll try to do some drawing each day. I did have some art classes at school, but I really can’t draw well! I’m hope that tapping into some right-brain skills will help boost creativity and focus in other areas of my life. I guess the biggest challenge here will be keeping up my encouragement, no matter how bad the results might be at first!

Brian – I’ve gotten into a wonderful flow last week where I totally disengage from my computer at dinner time. I put on a podcast and just totally focus on either cooking, eating food or just listening to the speakers. This has been extra relaxing, and really put me in a good mood at the end of the day. I’m going to continue this habit this week, but build in some extra time to read. I’ve compiled a big list of books I’d like to start learning from, so this will be a great place to start :)

Want to share your own improvement goals? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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Written by Courtney Seiter

Courtney writes about social media, diversity and workplace culture at Buffer. She runs Girls to the Moon on the side and pets every dog she sees.

  • Mike Coutts (@couttsdotcom)

    I’d love to hear more about the “30 days of minimalism” challenge that Courtney is participating in. Can the source be shared?

    • Courtney Seiter

      Hey Mike! I just kind of made it up after reading this post of someone who did something similar. Haven’t picked up the book yet but a few others at Buffer have. I’d love to hear how it goes for you if you give it a try! http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_eye/2014/05/26/the_minimalists_everything_that_remains_is_a_new_memoir_about_living_with.html

      • Amanda Proo

        I love this idea also! I am in the middle of a move and am aiming to minimize my physical “things” as well as myself. Maybe I’ll give this a go also! Thanks for sharing

        • Courtney Seiter

          A move is a great time to rethink all your “stuff,” I’ve found. :) Good luck!

          • Amanda Proo

            It definitely is a good time to rethink!

  • Athena Lam

    I love what Kevan & Mary said. :-) It gives me hope that there are ways to find income generation methods that match my lifestyle and moving. :D Also kudos to Nicole on giving away or donating a few items each day. :D

    Some things, like the gym or cycling every day, I see as essential maintenance and overall happiness rather than improvement. Improvement stuff is usually given a month or year. I have a target # of books, places to visit, new things to try, and levels at which I want my Chinese and Japanese to get to. The past month, I’ve been focusing a lot on books since I have a great opportunity to fish off of my various friends / hosts bookshelves and dig into the books that have always been on my to read list, and of course discover a lot more. The one that stood out for me was Coming through Slaughter by Michael Ondatjee, which is not only a very nuanced and sensitive portrayal of an era and icon, but also in breathtakingly poetic prose that really pushes the limits of the novel. :-)

  • Gabriela Radu

    Great article, thank you for the reflections and openness. My challenge so far was to talk to somebody new every day for one month. It had to be a bit more complex conversations than the weather in one sentence. It was hard, because I am introvert, but it pushed me and I’ve learned to be a bit more relaxed when chatting with a new person.

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