10/12/2012 10:59 am ET Updated Dec 12, 2012

Keep the Change: 30 Days to a Better You

Have you ever had the feeling there's a better version of you hiding somewhere deep inside, like a bird in a cage, just waiting to be set free? Maybe your personal metaphor is the same as mine. I've always thought of myself as a diamond in the rough. Though there is no doubt I am a genuine gem on the inside, I can be a little sharp around the edges. My life's journey has, and always will be, chipping away at my rocky exterior to reveal my true inner self, and once that "best me" is set free, to polish and hone that jewel until it shines. That sounds all fine and well -- as a Cinderella fairytale, perhaps. But how the heck does that work in the real world, where I barely have enough time to sleep, let alone find and refine my inner self?

Recently, I embarked upon a guided self-improvement program. Initially, this personal growth tool sat on my desk untouched for months on end. Without any apparent need or desire for growth, I was perfectly content (read: complacent) with my life "as is." I even contemplated throwing the whole kit away -- but that seemed like a waste. So then I considered donating it, but that seemed almost worse. Who's going to want to pick up a self-improvement pack at the second-hand store? Talk about sloppy seconds! "This program didn't work for me, and now it can not work for you too!" So, with nothing better to do with my self-help kit, I just let it sit on my desk and take up space.

Sadly, it wasn't until I had one of those days (or weeks, rather) when I felt life was spiraling out of control that I finally found time to dig up the little packet and start reading. The program starts with a DVD video. I'm always really annoyed by those "starter" discs that come with every new product I buy, and I generally never, ever view them, but this time the instructions insisted the video was "Step 1." So over the course of the next week, I dutifully watched the introductory video, logged on to the website, created a profile and took an assessment. This assessment concisely detailed my learning style, personality type, and even my strengths and weaknesses.

I practically cheered as I read my strengths aloud: You are disciplined, strong, responsible, wise, organized and discerning. "Yes! Yes!" I shouted, in ardent agreement with each one. My personal summary went on. "Wow," I thought to myself, "this is the most accurate assessment I've ever taken." Then came "The Other Side of You," the bit about my weaknesses. A modern-day Mary Poppins, my vices are the part of me that I am less than enthusiastic to embrace or even acknowledge. But there they were, staring at me in black and white, and I realized (as any perfectionist would) that I must do something to conquer them -- or at least minimize them. Self-improvement, here I come! And I was hooked on Monvee.

After my initial assessment, the Monvee online program led me through a personalized plan to target my weaknesses and achieve personal growth. It made recommendations based on my personality and learning style and allowed me to determine the duration of my program. More skeptical of my ability to stick with it than the plan itself, I selected the shortest interval, one month, reasoning anyone can do something for 30 days, right? (I'm obviously a commitment-phobe.) Then, the online tool prompted me to choose from a variety of activities I had actually been thinking about doing anyway, like volunteering, journaling, etc. It even recommended several books pertaining to areas in which I needed the most growth. I read through the entire list, but the number one recommendation provided for me also happened to be the book I was most interested in reading.

I was impressed -- and a little surprised. I thought growth was supposed to be painful, so surely any activity designed to promote growth must, by definition, be absolute drudgery, but the best part of the plan was I got to choose! Not only did I get to choose what activities I would add to my life for the next 30 days, I could also select the amount of time I would spend on specific activities daily. Who knew? This plan was so practical, so doable, and so... me. After designing my personalized program, I then had the option to submit the names and email addresses of friends who could follow up with me on my progress. Uh, oh! I thought. Now I'm really going to have to follow through. I don't want my closest pals to think I'm a personal-growth slacker!

Well, that was several weeks ago, and I'm still steadily working through my personal plan for growth. Friends are checking up on me, and I'm happy to report that I've learned a lot about myself and even faced some of my biggest fears (another apt program suggestion) in the process.

Start Now

Don't wait until life starts to stink before cleaning up your act. Far too often, people wait until they've hit rock bottom before considering change. Change is not a four-letter word. Change is possible. Change is doable. Change is life. Think about it. To grow and change is healthy and normal. To stop growing and changing is to wither and die. The good news is there are practical, concrete steps you can take to become the best version of yourself. In the words of Monvee's creators, you won't just become better, you'll become "you-ier." And isn't that what we all really want anyway? Sure, I admire my friends; I aspire to attain many of their characteristics, but what I really want to be is me -- the best version of me. And you can be the best you, too!

Here's How

If you're not ready to jump into the full "change" curriculum, start with one of these free resources from the creators of the program: get the eBook The Me I Want to Be by John Ortberg or download Change by Eric Parks. To learn more about Monvee, the assessment and personality profiles, check out Parks' Frequency .

For more by Christie Carmelle Lopez, click here.

For more on success and motivation, click here.