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Jax Daily Record Monday, Feb. 4, 201312:00 PM EST

Five powerful lessons to help you refresh your business - and your life - in 2013

by: The JBA Board of Governors member Giselle Carson

How are you doing with your 2013 goals?

At the beginning of each year, I set professional and personal goals for myself. I would like to continue the growth of my immigration practice, make more time for family and friends, exercise, travel, read, write and, yes, to sleep at least seven hours a day!

I am sharing some of the powerful lessons I have learned and continue to fine-tune to accomplish my goals this year. I hope these lessons will help you make the most and best of your year.

Lesson No. 1: Be focused

"The key to success is to focus our conscious mind on things we desire, not things we fear," according to Brian Tracy, author and motivational speaker.

Focus your mind and time on positive and interesting activities that will aid you in fulfilling your goals and start.

Most of the time, we know what we need to do in order to accomplish our goals but are afraid to do it. We may be afraid to fail or are easily distracted and continue accomplishing items that are familiar and remain in our comfort zone.

To grow, release the familiar and focus on your goal. Begin with envisioning the steps to accomplish your goal. Once you have a plan, take the first small steps to accomplish it. After you begin, you are on your path to success.

This year, I decided not to check or respond to emails immediately in the morning. Instead, I drink a glass of water, enjoy a cup of coffee, exercise or practice yoga and plan my day. I am starting the day more relaxed and accomplishing more.

Lesson No. 2: Be visible

It is easy to become caught up with our work in the office. but it is critical to your professional growth and your health to contribute outside of the office.

Think about becoming more active in the Bar association and your community and build relationships outside of the office.

Become involved with organizations and participate in activities you find of interest. As an active member of The Jacksonville Bar Association and the JAX Chamber, I have not only gained new clients — I also have made great

professional and personal relationships as well as had fun participating in local events.

Currently, I am part of a team helping update our JBA website. The new website will be more resourceful and increase the visibility of our members. I hope that you take the opportunity to use this upcoming visibility resource.

Other ways I stay visible, up-to-date and engaged is by publishing articles, participating in public speaking opportunities, connecting in-person with clients and continually adding and helping others add connections to our network.

Lesson No. 3: Be unique!

In "The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career," Reid Hoffman, author and co-founder of LinkedIn, urges us to balance our strengths and goals and to develop a brand that sets us apart from our competitors.

Give it some thought and then answer the following question: Why should someone retain you rather than your competition? You may respond by answering, "because I am competent or work hard." However, many attorneys have those qualities. Think about the attributes that make you stand apart from the competition.

For example, in my case, I believe that one characteristic that makes me distinct and closer to my clients is that I have personally experienced the complexities and frustrations of acquiring immigration status in two countries.

Develop a list of key differences that add value to your services and you are on your way to a stronger practice.

Lesson No. 4: Be persistent

One of the most-read American inspirational authors, Og Mandino, wrote, "Obstacles are necessary for success because in selling, as in all careers of importance, victory comes only after many struggles and countless defeats."

There always will be challenges. It will typically take several significant contacts and contributions before a target client becomes a loyal client.

Make a plan to keep communication open with a potential client and stay motivated to overcome the obstacles you will face. My immigration team celebrates big and small victories. Find your motivation and use it.

Lesson No. 5: Be healthy

I believe the holy grail of productivity is health. Look at successful and inspiring people like our current and former presidents and entrepreneurs like Tim Ferriss, Steven Covey and Jim Rohn. How do they accomplish so much? A common denominator is that health is a key focus for them.

Moderate physical activity increases confidence, mental power and concentration. For me, being healthy includes exercising, laughing, spending time with friends, staying close to my family, slowing down — and enjoying a piece of dark chocolate and a glass of red wine.

Make health a priority and your business will grow.

I hope you are inspired and start (or continue at a faster rate) the path to fulfilling your goals in 2013.

To health and success!

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