New Year, New You (For Real): Reflecting On A Year Gone By- To Get Set For The Year Ahead It's a new year, and it's time to go get 2019! But before we begin, let's reflect.

By Maha Abouelenein

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It's a new year, and it's time to go get 2019! But before we begin, let's reflect: I am a huge believer in taking time to reflect on things. If you don't stop to think, look back, and think forward, you're missing a very important part of being- it's called evolving.

Every year you are meant to evolve- time moves, and you should too. Evolving doesn't mean changing. It means being more comfortable with who you are, and your purpose. More importantly, when you reflect, it allows you to use what you know now that you didn't know before, and put it to good practical use.

With a new year ahead of us, it's a good time to reflect about your intentions for the year, both personally and professionally, and think about where you want to be in three, six, nine months from now. I deliberately mention personally and professionally, because I don't believe in work-life balance, because that implies there is a trade-off between the two. I see them more as supporting one another.

Let's get down to business: here are five things I want you to think about and reflect upon for 2019.

1. Are you creating content?

Start creating content for your business, in any format, in any length- just start creating. Anyone who starts creating content for the internet will win- I have learned this oh so well from Gary Vaynerchuk, and it's true. Do you have an idea to promote, or a skill to share? Start creating. Use your brand to tell stories, and create content. Content can be in many forms- video, audio, and images. Don't forget even the fun stuff makes for clever content, so think about memes, GIFs, and motion graphics to tell your stories. The key is to start creating. The idea of having polished content that is well produced and manicured is out the door- people want to see authentic stories, and feel real things.

2. Are you learning?

I am a huge advocate of lifelong learning. If you're not learning, you're not only not growing, you aren't benefiting from all the free information out there on the internet that can help you and your business. The marketplace is so dynamic and fast-moving that you need to spend time learning about what's happening in marketing, supply chain management, finance- any touchpoint for your business. There are tons of resources online to learn. I make it a habit to spend one morning every month to take a new online course to learn something new. You can check out Udacity, Udemy, Coursera, or YouTube. There is a something for everyone, and the best part- it's free!

3. Are you focused?

There is a huge difference between being busy, and being productive. What are you focused on- where are you spending your time? Are you focusing on the things that are working well for your business? Focus on what's working all the time, instead of what's working part of the time. Conserve your bandwidth and energy for what matters. Focusing is super hard, because it means you have to let go, and discipline yourself to focus on the parts of your life and business that will mean the most on the long-term. I always try to make a list of what areas I am focusing on, and then eliminate from there. There must be things that are more important than others- focus on those. Warren Buffet is the master of focus- he says: "The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say "no' to almost everything."

4. Are you listening?

Audio is the new video! Consumers want to save time, and audio allows them to do just that. You can get through audio books during your morning commute, or whenever you have white space. You can podcast anywhere on any streaming service. With Spotify and Deezer now available in the MENA, you have more choices to listen to your favorite shows, along with iTunes, Anghami, or SoundCloud. The variety of podcasts from news and sports to comedy and crime stories is incredible. Brands are doing podcasts too- have you heard about Chompers? It's a Crest Edutainment podcast that is a two-minute episode your child listens to while brushing their teeth! Voice allows you to be super creative when it comes to brand building. If you have a business, you need to create a podcast. The other aspect of voice you should be paying attention to are the capabilities you can leverage with Google, Siri, and Alexa. (Remember, Alexa can do more than turn on the lights.) Listen up- voice is one thing I am the most passionate about in 2019. Brands who start embracing voice and podcasts will win in 2019. Glory goes to first movers in the Middle East- history tells us this time and time again.

5. Are you sleeping?

Yes, you read this correctly. Sleep makes a huge difference, not only in your brain power and productivity, but also in your quality of life, people! People used to brag about how little sleep they need to perform, and its turns out it's literally killing them. The more you work, the less efficient and productive you become. Sleep has transformative power to change our lives for the better. Science tells us sleep enriches our ability to learn, memorize, and make logical decisions. It recalibrates our emotions, restocks our immune system, fine tunes our metabolism, and regulates our appetite. All of these impact the quality of our life, and allow us to spend time doing the things we love most. That sounds pretty good to me!

So, as you think about yourself and your business in 2019, take a moment to pause and reflect. Create something, learn something, focus, sleep, and put on your headphonesa podcast awaits! Go get 2019. Stay low, keep moving.

Related: Get Set For The New Year: Refresh, Regroup, And Recharge

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Maha Abouelenein

Founder, Organizational Consultants

Maha Abouelenein is a communications expert and founder of Organizational Consultants, a communications consulting firm and Digital & Savvy, which aims to educate and coach people and brands on all things related to communications. You can follow her at @mahagaber, or check out her podcast Savvy Talk, which is available on all podcast players.

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