What things should you do during Elul to make this month a productive and accomplishing month, so that you can look back at the end of the month and say, "Wow! I really changed!"?
The thing to focus on now is asay tov - doing good things before you focus on the sur may'ra - refraining from doing bad. This means that you should concentrate on doing all the good things you are doing each day and just add a little something to make it even better.
(From: Leket Reshimos on Elul - R' Nosson Meir Vachtfogel)
Here are some suggestions:
When it comes to davening, you can try to daven with a little bit more kavannah than usual. Look into your siddur. Say the words a drop slower than usual. Say them loud enough so that you can hear each word that you say. Sing a song that will inspire you before you start the next part.
If you are walking down the street or in the grocery store, look out for opportunities to help other people. Hold the door open for others on your way in and out. Offer to help someone find a specific item. Smile at the woman ringing up your purchases. Help someone carry their bags to the car. Put your shopping cart back where it belongs. Do these things with a smile.
Help your mother out cheerfully. Ask her what she needs before she asks you. Or better yet, do it without being asked. Be extra kind to your siblings. Speak softly even when they are getting you annoyed.
Walk into work every day for the next week (or more, if that's possible) with a smile. Say good morning with a happy tone of voice and facial expression to your coworkers. Try to be extra pleasant when talking on the phone to clients and take the extra moment to think about them and what you can do to help them in the best way possible.
Before you eat a meal, be it breakfast, lunch or supper, look at the food you are about to eat and thank Hashem in your heart for giving you so much bounty-so many choices of foods, so many colors and tastes. Then, after you thought about it for a minute, go ahead and make the proper bracha. Putting those extra seconds of thought into it just before you eat your meal can help you have real kavannah when you make a bracha.
On your way out of the bathroom, think for a minute about how lucky you are to be able to go by yourself, without the help of anyone, without needing machines hooked up to your body. The fact that your body works so well on it's own is a real, true miracle! So take those extra 20 seconds to say the words of asher yatzar slowly and carefully!!
Before you leave your house in the morning, look in the mirror and ask yourself do I look good? What does good mean? YOU and only you can define that word.
Are you neat and put together? Are you walking outside and making a kiddush Hashem with the way you dress, the way you walk and the way you talk?
Throughout your day, look out for ways to do little things - little things that will make a big difference in the lives of other people and in your own life. Now that we are in Elul, it is time for you to focus on being proactive, on doing as many positive mitzvos as possible so that you can tip the scales in your favor. Hashem is here! He is close to us! He wants to give us all the brachos and good things!
It's up to you to make it happen. By concentrating on how you can improve the things you are doing one little notch, one level higher, you can make this year a good one.