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In a few days, 2015 will be history. It’s hard to believe 365 days have whipped by so fast. When I was in my teens, getting through a semester of school seemed like it took a century. Today, I blink my eyes and five years have passed.

2015 was a great year. I got married to an amazing guy, moved into a new home we built, and hit some big milestones in business too. These included (just this week) sending off a proposal for my third book, working on many very cool branding projects, and being featured in the news media over 20 times.

I hope your year was also fruitful; that you had lots of fun, learned some new things, and earned whatever is important to you.

I’m not a scrooge, but also not a big holiday girl either. My family refers to me as holiday-light. Other than National Entrepreneur Day, which is celebrated on the third Thursday in November, and my birthday, which I share with Abe Lincoln, the rest are all nice, but to me they’re really just another great day in the year.

I do enjoy popular occasions like Thanksgiving and Christmas because they slow things down a bit. Businesses are closed for a few days and people take time off. I use this time to reflect on the past year, to consider what t I’ve learned, and to start thinking about what’s next.

Here are three lessons I learned in 2015. (Part 1)
Next week, in Part 2, I’ll share three more.

1) Software updates can trip up things that used to work perfectly.
Monday I went to my website, Branding Diva, to find a link that I needed to share with a customer. OMG, my blog was MIA! Gone! Nowhere to be found! A big fat white space filled my page. After a few hours of sweat and talking to my new IT guy, we figured it out. When WordPress, your website theme, or any piece of your website are updated, things can get wiggy. In my case, it disconnected all of my blog posts.

LESSON –

2) Stress can make you physically sick and alter your brain function.
For the past 6 months, I’ve been working on a new book proposal. While there were moments of joy when I felt like I was in zone and cranking out solid ideas, there were many days that were painful and brutal. I let doubt, fear, and the unknown manifest into some seriously unhealthy stress. I felt like I had the flu for weeks and my memory and focus checked out for days at a time. It was scary as hell. I went to the doctor and was convinced I was getting early stages of dementia. My diagnosis: acute stress. WOW.

LESSON –

It requires discipline and making good choices. For me, this meant more exercise, better eating, and accepting what I can and can’t control.

3) Cold emails can work.
We all get them; unsolicited emails pitching products, services, and wares promising to make our lives better. Sure, many are annoying because it’s clear the sender did no homework and that your email was a part of a massive blast to thousands of email addresses. I throw out tons of these everyday. However, I do read a handful of them — the ones with good subject lines and the ones that hit my inbox more than once. This is how I found my virtual assistant, Jennie Lyon.

Over a year ago, I started to receive her emails and one day, after my current assistant took another gig, I gave her a call. This was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Jennie takes a lot of things off of my plate, she possesses skills that I’m soft on (like proofing and attention to detail), she always meets deadlines, and most importantly, she is a joy to work with. Plus, she is not a lone ranger; she has a team of pros that work with her. So if Jennie is jammed up, your projects are not.

LESSON –

You can find excellent resources via the Internet. Just do your homework. Check references, pay attention to their work and their marketing, and always figure out a way to test them before you sign up and make a large investment or time-consuming vendor change.

Till next week, happy, happy holidays and brand on!