Sleep. We all know it’s important. But, there is so much to do and no time to do it. Where do we steal the time? From our sleep, right? We tell ourselves that we can function on 6, 5, or 4 hours of sleep. We’re kidding ourselves—we can’t. Watch Matt Walker’s TedTalk and you may say YIKES as I did! When you prioritize your time, sleep will be moved to the top of the list—see why.

This article originally appeared on Forbes.com.

Life can feel totally out of control sometimes. This year has been difficult for many reasons — political turmoil, economic chaos, a global pandemic — and I know that many people are feeling helpless and out of control.

I understand this feeling. It’s been a challenging year for me, too. But it’s so important that you remember that even when you don’t have control over the “big things” like our government or the spread of a virus, you do have control over your own decisions and actions.

You have the power to thrive, no matter what is happening in the world around you. Here are four tips to help you do it:

1. Stay focused on your “North Star.”

Last year I wrote an article encouraging you to find your North Star. This is your true calling in life, your vision for the future. Hundreds of years ago, sailors used the North Star to navigate. No matter how long it took, no matter how many storms they endured, the North Star kept them moving in the right direction.

Focus on your North Star. Remember what you’re working toward. There will be storms, but if you stay focused, you’ll get there.

2. Remember that happiness is a choice you get to make.

Happiness isn’t just a result of your circumstances. In fact, happiness is something you get to choose, regardless of your circumstances. I know that it’s not always easy. (If what you are facing is not a choice to be happy but rather depression, seek help and know you are not alone.)

If you’re having a tough time finding the good, here’s a simple exercise: Take 10 minutes to make a list of everything that makes you smile, warms your heart, or gives you a feeling of contentment in your life. I bet that you will be surprised by how long that list becomes. Make an effort to focus on the gifts and opportunities in your life, not the problems and obstacles. Choose happiness.

3. Tell fear to take a hike.

It’s so easy to be paralyzed by fear — especially in a time like this. Author Judy Blume is often credited with saying, “How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.”

I love that! Are you going to experience adventure or are you going to be limited by your fears? Tell fear to take a hike and get on with the adventure.

4. Keep looking for opportunities.

Even in a difficult situation, there are opportunities all around us if we’re willing to look for them. The Great Recession in 2009 was an opportunity for me to rebuild my business into something that I truly love. Many of my clients have started or grown their businesses during challenging times. And many of the biggest companies in the world — like Microsoft, Netflix, and Airbnb — were launched during an economic recession. You can do it too if you can train your mind to look for opportunities instead of focusing on your fears.

These past two years have been challenging years for many of us, and as we look ahead, remember: We can’t control what happens, but we can control our response.

When it comes to securing leads, the follow-up email is hard to beat. One study found that a 12% response rate from two emails increases to 15%–16% with a third email. If you play your cards right, the success of your email marketing could, in large part, depend on your follow-up emails. So, how do you create ones that maximize positive responses from leads?

KNOW YOUR GOALS.

You should have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish with your email campaign. Which metrics are most important to you? The number of times recipients open your follow-up email? That they click a link in the text? That they reply? Maybe tracking total conversions resulting from follow-up emails is important to you. Whatever the case, knowing your goals is a good first step.

FIND THE IDEAL NUMBER OF FOLLOW‑UPS.

Obviously, not following up at all is a recipe for abandoning several potential leads. However, sending too many follow-ups can leave potential leads annoyed and unwilling to look into your business. According to several studies, the ideal number of follow-up emails is no less than three, but no more than seven.

TIME YOUR FOLLOW-UPS RIGHT.

You don’t want to space your emails so far apart that leads to forget about you, but you also don’t want to spam their email box so often that they get annoyed. A good rule of thumb is to wait at least 48 hours before sending a follow-up email after the initial email. After that, wait 2–4 days before sending another.

CRAFT APPEALING CONTENT.

This point is worth its own article, but briefly put, your follow-up email content is incredibly important. Create a subject line that will grab readers’ attention. Then, be polite, direct, friendly, and personable in each email. As you send out more follow-ups, become more specific about the deal you’re offering and make it more enticing.

Above all, you should constantly tweak your follow-up content and overall strategy as you gain new information. As you continue to create follow-up emails, you’ll learn what works best.

You may have marketing efforts in place for your firm, but is it a cohesive strategy? Do you have ongoing systems in place to ensure a regular stream of business?

On Center Stage, Danny Decker talks about the mistakes he’s seen lawyers make with their marketing, why email is so under-utilized, and the downsides of focusing too much on SEO. Why you don’t have to rely solely on your relationships to make it rain.

Check it out here.

A few weeks ago at a company meeting, one of our employees shared a story with the team. They told us they had gotten two speeding tickets within the last year. After each ticket, our employee opened their mailbox to find dozens of mailers from different local attorneys. These attorneys were on the ball, and they were pursuing this lead hard. Our team members estimated they received around 30 pieces of physical direct mail in total. But here’s the kicker: None of those attorneys got their business.

Instead of picking a mailer out of the stack, my employee turned to their friends and family.

“Hey,” they asked, “do you know any attorneys who do traffic tickets?”

The answer was “Yes!” In fact, they ended up using two separate referrals to handle their tickets because they were pulled over in two different cities.

If you do a lot of direct mail campaigns, this probably seems like a depressing story. After all, every lawyer who sent a mailer to my team member ended up totally wasting their time and money! But look on the bright side. What can you learn from this?

This story reveals one of the biggest holes law firms leave in their marketing strategies: They don’t stay in touch with their leads, clients, and referral partners. The truth is that even today, the majority of people don’t want to find their attorney through a piece of mail or an online advertisement. They want a referral from someone they already know and trust. And you can only get those referrals by staying in touch — an opportunity many lawyers miss out on. If you’ve ever let a lead walk out the door without following up or left a networking event with a business card you never added to your mailing list, then you’re guilty of this neglect.

Now, we’re not saying doing things like sending mailers, paying for SEO, running online ads, and buying legal referral services like Lawyers.com and AVVO don’t deserve to be part of your marketing strategy. They have their time and place. But they won’t patch the biggest hole or create the same amount of opportunity as simply nurturing your network, which includes your friends, family, colleagues, and connections (basically anyone you’ve spoken with or who follows you on social media) and, by extension, their friends, family, etc.

Here at Spotlight Branding, we have a strategy to help our clients stay in touch with their networks: The Content Loop™. Once a person from your network enters the loop, we use content to consistently stay in touch with them, remind them of what you do, and keep your firm’s name in their heads. Social media posts, email newsletters, and blogs all play a role. The Content Loop™ ensures that when the topic of lawyers comes up, everyone in your network will think of you first. Using this strategy, we’ve seen clients double or even triple their referrals.

This article originally appeared on Forbes.com.

Your thoughts have the power to shape your reality, for better or for worse, whether you realize it or not. Henry Ford is often credited with saying, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.” There’s so much truth and wisdom in that statement.

As I like to tell my clients, the stories you tell yourself determine how you show up in the world. If you’re constantly telling yourself, “I can’t” or “This is too hard” or “This is impossible,” you’re creating a self-fulfilling prophecy and you probably are going to struggle in many areas of your life. On the other hand, if you believe in yourself and if you train yourself to see the opportunities in every setback, you can accomplish nearly anything.

The story you tell yourself determines your reality. The really great news is that you have the ability to change that story! Here are four ways to make that happen.

Start by assuming the best.

Whether it’s your relationships, your business opportunities, your personal life, or any other area of your life, start by assuming the best. When you approach a person or a situation with skepticism and negativity, you’re very likely to find something to be unhappy about. And many times, you’ll miss out on a golden opportunity or an exciting relationship simply because you let a minor imperfection get in the way. Start with positive assumptions!

Look for possibilities in every situation.

Many people are naturally wired to look for all of the reasons why something might not work. But often, we don’t give enough thought to all of the reasons it could work — and how incredible the opportunities may be if it does. Train yourself to look for all of the possibilities in each situation, not just the potential problems.

See setbacks as opportunities.

I love how Oprah talks about failure. In 2013, during a Harvard commencement speech, she said, “Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.”

That mindset is so powerful — and it’s so important. Because the truth is, every one of us is going to experience failures and setbacks in our business and personal lives. The question is, how will we respond when that happens? Do you internalize failure and let it define you? Or do you view failure as an opportunity to learn, get better and come back stronger? I can tell you that I have experienced plenty of setbacks in my career and I can honestly tell you that I’m better off — and more successful — today as a result of those setbacks. Don’t fear failure and don’t let setbacks slow you down. Recognize the opportunity, learn from your experience and come back stronger!

Dream bigger.

I want you to think about what you really want your life to look like. Not what will you settle for or tolerate, but what do you really want your life to look like? If money wasn’t an issue and you had all the time in the world, what would you do? Where would you live? What type of work would you do? Who would you spend your time with? The answers to these questions will give you a powerful clue as to what you really want out of life, and I am giving you permission to chase those dreams. When you dream bigger, you start to see the world differently and you recognize opportunities in places you might not have seen before.

Your thoughts shape your reality. If you see the world through a negative lens, negativity will become your reality. But if you’re not afraid to dream, if you put the fear of failure behind you, if you train yourself to find opportunities instead of problems — life becomes a wonderful adventure!

Stories are one of the oldest forms of communication. For as long as there has been language, people have used words to spin yarns and convey ideas. Today, when it comes to marketing your products, stories emotionally impact your customers in a way that mere facts never could.

How do stories do this? According to behavioral economist and author Peter McGraw, memories are built on associations. When you form a habit, routine, or ritual, you’re essentially creating a new set of associations. Using stories, you can show how customers who use your product or service incorporate it into their rituals. If others see that your product has a benefit, they might be compelled to do the same.

Before sharing testimonials of customers using your products willy-nilly, however, there are a few tips that might help you curate the stories your customers share and see.

MAKE YOUR CUSTOMERS THE CENTER OF THE STORY

Many businesses make their product or their brand the hero of the story, but this isn’t the most effective way to grab your customers’ attention through storytelling. Instead, focusing on your customers, their rituals, and the success they’ve achieved can resonate a lot more powerfully. Of course, you’ll want to make it clear how your product helped them achieve success.

MEET YOUR CUSTOMERS WHERE THEY ARE

Find a way to get customer feedback on the products and services your business provides. What do they like about your product? How have those products and services helped them the most? Incorporating this information into your storytelling campaign can also ensure that those stories resonate a lot more with your customers.

DITCH THE JARGON

Always remember to keep your stories short, to the point, and accessible. No customer is going to be interested in reading an eight page white paper or listen to a testimonial that they can’t understand because it’s so full of industry jargon. That’s the beauty of good storytelling — it can impact anyone, transcending industries.

Millions of people lost their jobs in 2020, and in their search for new positions, they discovered a new-to-them social network: LinkedIn. Yes, you read that right — LinkedIn is having a moment. According to a Q3 2020 Performance Report from Microsoft, the platform grew 26% in that quarter alone, adding a whopping 15 million members.

People have started posting on LinkedIn in the same daily, scroll-addicted way they do on Facebook. And if you AND your firm aren’t already on LinkedIn taking advantage of the surge, you should be! Here are three ways to get the most out of your accounts.

1. Post the same content to your personal AND business pages

Yes, we said it. Not only is cross-posting allowed, it should be encouraged! Unlike Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn was made for business and self-promotion, so you shouldn’t be embarrassed about posting all of your firm’s content on your personal page as well. Of course, you can also post different content on each page if you’d prefer, as long as you’re posting on both consistently.

2. Make adding LinkedIn “connections” part of your networking routine

When you get back from a networking event, you probably have a contact routine. Maybe you add all of the people you met to your CRM or other project management software and update your email list to include them. To level up your networking, we’d recommend adding another step to that routine. Take an extra 15 minutes a month and add all of your new contacts as “connections” on LinkedIn. This will help you stay in touch with leads, colleagues, clients, and referrals and nurture those relationships.

3. Get involved in LinkedIn Groups

You’re probably well aware that Facebook offers groups, but did you know LinkedIn does the same? On LinkedIn, those groups are places for people in the same industry or with the same professional interests to gather and swap insights, advice, and contact information. In other words, they’re an ideal place to do some networking. Use the search bar at the top of your LinkedIn homepage to find groups that work for you, then make a point of posting there regularly to grow your referral network.

This article originally appeared on Forbes.com.

What does happiness mean to you?

Healthy relationships? A good job? Time spent with your family?

The truth is, there are as many definitions of happiness as there are stars in the night sky because happiness looks different for each of us.

But here is something we all share in common: If we’re not happy, life is unsettling and unsatisfying.

So today I want to share four tips to help you find happiness in your own life.

1. Define happiness on your terms.

Your happiness is not the same as anyone else’s happiness. What makes me happy might not make you happy. And vice versa! So the first step in finding happiness in your life is simply defining what happiness looks like for you.

Let’s dream for a moment. Imagine that money is not an obstacle and that fear can’t hold you back.

What would your life look like?

How would you spend your time?

Would you travel? Where would you go?

What would your family time look like?

What type of work would you do?

Who would you spend your time with?

Make a list of what your dream life would look like. That is a powerful clue as to what happiness looks like for you.

2. Focus on what’s going right.

It’s very easy for us to get caught up in the weeds of life: the frustrations, annoyances and challenges. But the truth is, if you really stop and think about it, you’ll probably realize that there’s a whole lot to love about your life.

Take some time right now to focus on those things. What are five things you like about your professional life? What are five things you like about your life outside of work?

Pretty great, right?

We have so much to be grateful for. And it’s so important to focus on gratitude because that helps us to find happiness in our lives today, instead of getting tripped up by the little weeds that pop up and drag us down.

3. Make you a priority.

As professionals, we are always focused on so many things — our clients, our colleagues, our bosses, our community, our family … and the list goes on and on.

That doesn’t leave much time and energy to focus on ourselves, does it?

As I tell my clients, if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of others, period.

As flight attendants across the world instruct us, in case of emergency, put on your oxygen mask first, and then help those around you.

You have to take care of yourself. Listen to your body. Stop working and take a break when you need it. Give yourself enough time to sleep (I know, easier said than done, but sleep is so important). Get serious about nutrition. Make time for the people, places, and things that energize and inspire you.

It’s hard to be happy when you’re sick, exhausted, and stressed. Take care of yourself, and then you’ll have the energy to take care of your other priorities. And you’ll be able to enjoy your life in the process!

4. Redefine failure.

Failure is a terrifying word for most of us. But it shouldn’t be. Oprah Winfrey, who I think is one of the most successful and inspiring people the world has ever known, says that “there is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.”

Oprah would know — because, for all of her success, she’s experienced plenty of failures, as well. But one of the things that makes Oprah so special is that her failures didn’t keep her from moving forward and creating her next big success. And we can all learn something from that.

The fear of failure is one of the biggest things that holds us back from pursuing true happiness in our lives. Starting today, I want you to look at this through a different lens. Failure doesn’t exist! It’s just life moving you in a different direction.

Find Your Happiness

I want you to find your happiness.

It starts by defining what happiness looks like for you. Make a conscious effort to focus on what’s going right in your life. Take care of yourself; put your own oxygen mask on first. And finally, redefine failure so that fear can’t hold you back.

Here’s to your happiness!