The start of a new year offers a great opportunity to start fresh and make some positive changes in your life. Lots of people call these resolutions, but they’re really just a wish list of things you’d like to accomplish. Don’t include too many or you may feel paralyzed and overwhelmed. Make them things that are actually achievable.

Here’s some great advice for how to become a better version of yourself in 2020. I would add be kind and do kind acts for others often to the list, as well as don’t focus on feeling bad about your failures and instead use them to propel you to better things ahead. Little daily actions can add up to have a strong positive impact on your life.

Let’s make 2020 a year filled with professional and personal successes. Happy New Year!

As we approach 2020, it’s a great time to take stock of your marketing and business development activities over the past year, including your successes and failures, and plan for the year ahead.

Each of us has room for improvement and growth, and while you have some down time during the holidays and in January, thoughtfully examine this list and also make a list of personal and professional goals you’d like to accomplish before the end of 2020.

Don’t be over encompassing and ambitious with your list of goals or you can set yourself up for failure and unnecessary stress. Instead, jot down no more than five specific, measurable and actionable goals and hold yourself accountable to actually achieving them with a timeline to which you commit sticking.

Why only five goals? Well, a recent Forbes article noted, “Doing less accomplishes more. When your goals are so spread out into different areas of your life, you simply do not have enough time or energy to reach them all. You halfheartedly accomplish a few, but the momentum doesn’t pick up because you’re not making real progress.”

Make a detailed action plan outlining the tasks needed to accomplish each goal – this will help break each of them into actionable steps for those who may feel paralyzed on how to successfully complete a big objective.

When choosing goals, push yourself out of your comfort zone at least for some of them. Maybe you’ve never written an article, chaired a committee or spoken on a panel in your industry – there’s no time like the present to do it! We often learn and grow the most from those situations where we feel uncomfortable and that push us to new limits. And once you accomplish the first of these goals, you’ll feel empowered to take on a new challenge.

So, for example, let’s say that you want to be a published author. You can start off by creating an outline that includes the topics you plan to write about, the publications or blogs that may publish it (and the people you know there or know through connections on LinkedIn), look at other articles on the topic for ideas and inspiration, and prepare a reverse timeline for completing each article with dates to which you really do hold yourself accountable.

If you have a friend, colleague or someone in your professional network who has accomplished the goals you have set for yourself, ask them for advice on how they did it. Learning from others is a great way to gain valuable perspective and build stronger relationships. You can of course reach out to me too!

Don’t think of these as new year’s resolutions (which are often abandoned by February ) – but instead think of them as goals.

You can really do anything if you set your mind to it and carve out the time to do it. We’re all busy individuals, but you can maximize your day and utilize little pockets of time by using your commute to write the article, for example.

Remember the acronym SMART – your goals should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

To be successful at personal branding and business development, you simply must make the time for it – I promise it’s worth the effort.

2020 is your year!

One of the most important ways you can enhance your social media efforts, see real ROI and increase engagement is to always include an image with your social posts.

You should never post anything to social media without an accompanying image. Why? Images greatly increase engagement on your posts, they help to capture the attention of your audience as they scroll through their feeds and they can bring your content – especially dry content – to life. Statistics show that posts with images get noticed more than those without them and this translates to more powerful branding and often leads.  

That being said, the images should be relevant to your content, include your branding and use photos or other visually arresting elements, such as icons, big numbers/callouts and stock images, which are often available for free or at a low cost. 

Canva.com is my go-to online resource when it comes to easily and inexpensively creating social media images – the best part is that you don’t need to be a graphic designer to use the site – it’s for non-designers who want to take their creative to the next level. You can add your logo and branding to each post.

Try it and let me know what you think! 

I have been seeing countless social media posts on things to do in the new year to achieve a more positive mindset and fulfilling life, and they’ve resonated with me as 2019 was a year of major change for me, much of it beyond my control.

They say the only constant in life is change, and if you are someone like me who doesn’t like change, unexpected change can be quite jolting and upsetting, whether it’s in your personal or professional life, or both.

One important lesson I’ve learned this year is that I only have control over myself and my own actions, so I no longer waste my energy on things I can’t control. You can’t make anyone do what you want – you can only be the best person you can be and trust the universe. I’ve learned some hard lessons in resiliency this year as well that have forever changed who I am. Life throws you curveballs all the time and the lows and adversity in your life can help you become a stronger more enlightened person if you choose to see them as growth opportunities and learn from them.

Here are some tips on how to be a stronger, better, more positive and resilient you for the new year and beyond.

  1. Move on – don’t feel sorry for yourself or wallow in negativity. Use a bad situation and misfortune to propel you to greater success.
  2. Embrace change and welcome challenges.
  3. Think of rejection as redirection towards something better – it just wasn’t meant to be if it didn’t work out or turn out the way you had hoped it would.
  4. Sometimes you have to choose to be happy – it won’t always come easy.
  5. Be kind, fair and stand up for yourself when you need to.
  6. Be kind to yourself and don’t put yourself down or speak negatively about yourself.
  7. Let go of what you can’t control.
  8. Stay away from drama and negativity.
  9. Be willing to take risks. Without risk there is no reward.
  10. Celebrate the successes of others in your life.
  11. Be careful who you trust.
  12. Positive thoughts create positive actions.
  13. Smiling can instantly uplift your mood.
  14. Believe in the power of karma – what goes around really does come around.
  15. Don’t overthink – it often leads to stress and decision paralysis.
  16. Don’t worry so much about the future or ruminate about the past. Instead try to enjoy the here and now.
  17. Don’t be a mean girl or guy (and don’t gossip).
  18. Kill your enemies with kindness.
  19. Trust your intuition. It often kicks into high gear to protect you.
  20. Let go of things you can’t control.
  21. Avoid comparing yourself to others.
  22. Speak kindly to yourself (and others).
  23. Do good things for others without expecting anything in return.
  24. Say no when you really don’t want to do something or don’t have the time for it.
  25. Stay away from people who drain your energy or make you feel badly about yourself.
  26. The quicker you choose to move forward, the quicker your suffering will end.
  27. Time really does heal everything.
  28. Assume good intent with others – unless proven otherwise.
  29. Do the worst first – and don’t procrastinate in general.
  30. Give to charity – help others who are in need.
  31. Commit to making new friends both professionally and personally.
  32. Don’t be afraid to say yes.
  33. Don’t be afraid to say no.
  34. Never give up.
  35. Everything really does happen for a reason.

Today, social media success is so much more than measuring your likes, comments and shares. It’s about looking at the real return on investment of your strategy and tactics over the long- and short-term.

Social media is a great way to build your brand, enhance your professional network and hopefully bring in new business and leads (the ultimate goal of social media marketing). Social media enables you to become a thought leader, add extra personality to your professional brand and work and to make connections who are engaged and will often in time, trust what you say and will listen when you share information.

With the new year fast approaching, take the time during the quieter days of December to map out a social media marketing plan for 2020 with a list of tactics and goals that are actually attainable. Here are some tips ffon my latest JD Supra article for how to create a successful social media plan for the new year.

Let me know how it goes and happy almost new year!

Here’s a social media tip for this Monday: Share your successes on social media but don’t overshare (and spread the love to your top clients/contacts).

What I mean by this is to always use the “humblebrag” approach when you post items about yourself – don’t seem overly self-congratulatory about your successes or your network can be turned off and may even unsubscribe from your posts. Instead talk about how the item at hand is beneficial/helpful to them. Downplay your success while being helpful. Mention others who perhaps also won an award that you did or helped you write an article or helped you to get where you are.

Always think show versus tell in all of your posts, meaning how can I demonstrate that I am the very best lawyer or we are the very best firm versus telling your audience this information.

In addition, dedicate some of your posts to the successes of your clients and important contacts – this will strengthen your relationships with these individuals and they will likely return the favor down the line to you when you have an accomplishment.

Personal branding is a great way to set yourself apart from your competitors and will help you establish yourself as a thought leader and expert in your field. Having a strong personal brand can lead to many opportunities and the opening of new doors.

Without a strong personal brand it’s easy to become part of the crowd. Personal branding helps you to differentiate yourself and whether or not you want to, you’re already branding yourself every day thanks to Google and every interaction you have online and in person.

Here are some ideas on how to build a strong personal brand:

Identify your personal brand – self reflect, think about your career goals and brand attributes. Your personal brand should reflect who you are and your unique qualities. Build your brand story by asking the following questions:

  • What excites you most about what you do?
  • Where do you want your business to go in the next 1-5 years?

Do your research

  • Develop a social media strategy and a strong LinkedIn profile
  • Know what your online persona looks like and regularly audit it (regularly Google yourself)
  • Make a list of contacts to follow up with – former colleagues, referral sources, friends and family, classmates from law school, former clients

Say YES! Say yes to most opportunities that come your way that interest you, even those things that make you a bit uncomfortable, and even when you don’t have the time for them.

  • Maybe it’s writing, speaking or taking on a leadership role
  • Volunteer roles can help you build your brand and make valuable connections. Always do a good job in these roles – you don’t want to let people down, drop the ball or it can be damaging to your career.
  • Becoming a lecturer/adjunct professor is a great way to establish yourself as a subject matter expert. Often, these opportunities will come through your professional network. Take the time to promote them on social media, and go a step further by publishing a series of articles on the topics you’re teaching about.

I hope this list has given you some inspiration for how and why to build your personal brand.

Here’s a marketing idea to try: Instead of sending holiday cards, which is the tried and true holiday greeting used by professional service firms and often get lost in the mail or can seem impersonal when they come from a general firm email, make a list of VIP contacts and clients and send them personal Happy New Year emails. 

Offer to get together to catch up with the purpose to discuss their business and legal needs over the coming year. If your firm is working on any year-end or the forecast for 2020 thought leadership pieces include those as well. 

This is a great way to stay top of mind with your contacts while providing value and stand out from the sea of snowmen and other generic holiday greetings with which your clients are being bombarded in December. 

By sending out the greeting after the holidays, you’ll reach a more captive, engaged audience and cut through the clutter. I’ve seen firms be first to market on their holiday greeting by sending out a Thanksgiving card – another smart idea. 

Your goal with every client touchpoint is to be memorable, unique and helpful. Stand out from the pack by doing something different when it comes to your holiday greeting.

I’ve come across a number of memes and posts on things to quit for the new year and they’ve resonated with me as 2019 has been a year of major change for me. Here are some ideas for habits to break and resolutions to make to become a stronger, better professional you as 2020 approaches.

  • Trying to please everyone in your life. You simply can’t. Stop worrying what people think of you – you can’t control that as much as you would like to. Focus instead on becoming the best version of you.
  • Overthinking and worrying. This greatly contributes to most of our anxiety and when you fixate on something, you almost always make it worse. Allow yourself a certain amount of  imagine the worst case scenario that could happen, it will help you to put things into perspective on the fact that your actual reality is not nearly as bad! And always try to think positively – you are your thoughts and you create your reality.
  • Living in the past. You can’t change what’s happened, but you can control your present and future. Make better decisions and learn from your mistakes.
  • Being afraid to not be your unique self – embrace who you are and make no apologies for it!
  • Comparing yourself to others. This is a great way to feel bad about yourself. Instead, focus on positive steps to get where you want to go.
  • Not making enough time for the things in life that bring you joy. Everyone needs a healthy mix between their professional and personal lives – make sure to spend time with the people who mean the most to you.
  • Saying no to new opportunities that take you out of your comfort zone. Whether it’s writing an article or public speaking, do the things that will support your goals. You’ll often grow in the process.
  • Spending time with people who make you feel bad about yourself. Really try and surround yourself with people who support you and lift you up. Keep the negative Nancy’s at arms distance as much as you can.
  • Not listening to your intuition. There’s a reason why they say to trust your gut. It usually knows what you should or shouldn’t do before your head does. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s often because it’s not. Listen to your inner voice to make smarter decisions.
  • Procrastinating. Someone said to me “always do the worst first.” Procrastination causes stress and that can cause wrinkles. So just do it! You’ll feel so much better when you can cross that pesky task or project off your to-do list. Remind yourself of the incredible feeling of accomplishment on the other side of all that worrying!

Try out some of these and let me know what you think and happy almost new year!

While the holiday season is a time of joy, it also dredges up feelings of sadness for many of us who are coping with the loss of a loved one.
No matter how great the holidays are, for me they serve as a painful reminder of my mom’s permanent absence. Dealing with my mom’s death from multiple myeloma, a rather horrible cancer, has been a long painful journey for the past few years. There are simply no shortcuts when it comes to grief.
My bracelet says “You are not alone” and was given to me by my mom when her cancer came back. I wear it a lot especially when I feel sad without her around the holidays. For anyone who also feels a little sad come holiday time, or that the holidays just feel different without a certain someone there, I wanted to say that you’re NOT alone and know that these loved ones are always with us. And if you do feel lonely reach out to me, I have a very lovable French bulldog who would be happy to shower you with attention.
I also wrote an article on grief that may be helpful to those of you coping with a similar situation.