As 2016 comes to a close, set aside some time for personal contemplation about the past year to help yourself prepare for the new year. Here are several areas to focus on.

Personal Goal Setting

Take a look at the 2016 goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the new year (goals, not resolutions – we all know those get tossed aside by February! Read more about the difference.).

Did you write them down? (Can you even find them?) What did you accomplish? What didn’t you, and why not? Is there still an opportunity this month to take steps to realize a goal?

What was unrealistic, and should it be broken down into smaller, more manageable goals? Otherwise, take a little time to reflect on what you should carry forward in 2017.

Identify Your Successes

Write a list of your special accomplishments done throughout the year. Share it with your boss, marketing partner or management committee to explain the significant achievements you managed and finalized. Next year, commit to compiling your list of successes each month, and review the list whenever you feel frustrated as a reminder that your job and your efforts bring value.

Be More Organized

If your organizational abilities remain a challenge, start a new planning system. After years of trying new organizers and planning systems, both digital and print, I finally found one that works. I’ve stuck with it now for two years, so I know this is what works best for me. I don’t like the limits of a pre-lined and boxed, printed calendar, nor am I able to rely solely on a digital method. I’ve always liked putting pen to paper, and I love the flexibility of the bullet journal; it is exactly my cup of tea. Apparently, it’s also the personal organization solution du jour for millions of others, since the planner craze is evident on Pinterest, discussed and shared at length in many Facebook groups, and shown by example via Instagram – not to mention the expanded sections for planner supplies found in Michael’s and Joann’s.

My bullet journal, or bujo as it’s popularly called, allows me to take as much or as little space as I need for activities that range from personal appointments to a week’s tasks to daily meetings. I also use it to track my water intake and how much I’m (not) exercising. While more women may seem to use their planners as creative outlets in addition to their intended purpose, men have jumped on board the bujo trend equally for its individualized approach.

I’ve finally discovered that writing in my planner, with a colored pen or two, helps keep me sane and organized. Find your zen with your own system, or try something new.

Accept Your Limitations

Ask yourself what’s a major stressor you can seek to reduce. I know I will never be a person with an empty inbox. I just don’t have the time to delete or file long chains of conversations. I used to fret over it and get anxious as I saw the number of unread messages jump higher every day. However, I’ve come to realize that I only need to know how to find what I am looking for, so I rely on the email program’s global search function to help me locate needed information. Now, I no longer stress over extreme volumes of emails.

(I actually do empty my inbox every January by archiving all the prior year’s emails and starting the new year fresh with an empty inbox. It lasts approximately 36 seconds. And that’s okay.)

Once you’ve done your December reflections, raise a glass of eggnog – you are ready to face 2017 with success! For further contemplation about how to make 2017 your best year yet in legal marketing, email me, Vivian Hood, at