One objective for a Christian observance of Lent is to get closer to God, That looks different for everyone, as perhaps it should since we're individuals.
Whether you wear ashes on your forehead all day long or nor is not what defines Lent. I like the symbolism, and so the Ash Wednesday service is something I look forward to, but what about the next 46 days (40 if you don't count the Sundays) leading up to Easter?
I encourage people to give up something. Preferably something that will be difficult to go without. It might be a meal, or a favorite soap-opera, something that is meaningful to the individual. But there's more. If you give up something and in doing so save some time, devote that time to serving the people in your community who need help. If it saves money, donate it to a church or a charity. Its just that simple.
And if your at a loss for where to donate, you can go to this site http://water.cc/karldumas and donate to my efforts to raise funds to provide clean water in India. Lack of clean drinking water results in way too many unnecessary deaths each year.
I decided to drink only (tap)water during Lent. For me the hard part will be going without coffee but it can be done