“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD.
“They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
– Jeremiah 29:11
This is it – the countdown is on to New Year’s Eve and “Happy New Year!” Are you ready to call this year history? As I finish up my “To-Do” list for this year and lay out some resolutions for next, here are 3 things I did before singing “Auld Lang Syne” and saying “Happy New Year!”:
Google yourself. Hopefully that got your attention at first glance and made you think: Do what with myself? Seriously: Before you launch the new year, pull up google.com and search every name and phrase you could be searched by to see how are you being found online. Don’t be shocked if that awkwardly weird video you pulled off YouTube found its way to page 1 of the search results if you posted it on Facebook last week (TRUE STORY – I watched this happen to someone). By all means, check yourself for anything that could get anyone any reason to scratch their virtual head as they wonder about your viability as a professional. While you’re at it, check out the privacy settings on your own social media and raise them if you’re making everything public. Is it time to make your online self a bit more private?
Get your free credit report. No, that’s not just for old people. If you have ever asked for credit, use any credit cards, or wonder if anyone has ever checked out your financial viability, it’s a good idea to check your credit once a year. How about right before the new year launches? You can do this very easily – and FREE – from each of the 3 major credit agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. A lot of websites promise credit reports for free and offer paid “memberships” you don’t need. AnnualCreditReport.com is free, quick and discrete. The information they provide doesn’t include entire account numbers or delicate information. They give just enough so you can see what accounts are open, closed, and by what agency – along with payment status and dates of service, and other important information. GOOD TO KNOW – if you have Power of Attorney for anyone, you may want to check their accounts also. The surprises you save – and the sanity – is well worth the investment of time. Keep in mind that credit scoring systems check how much of your available credit you’re using at any given time, and using less than 10 percent of your available credit is ideal.
Get organized. Seriously – if you really want a fresh start to a “Happy New Year,” at least lay a foundation to keep your life on track and easier to find. For example, there are some excellent, easy-to-use and FREE tech tools available to keep your documents, notes and files accessible no matter where you are. Check out Evernote for note-keeping on the fly and Dropbox to keep files and documents at your tech-fingertips. Take a look at your social media platforms. If you’re reading this you’re already online. But – where and how? Who do you look like to others who find you? Does your image need a facelift? If you need a professional image, are you on LinkedIn? What does your profile look like? Does it show a friendly, approachable face shot, with a clear summary of your skills? Are key words in place so those who find you know what you do well and what you like to do? Do you have recommendations and connections – or are you running a little short in any of these areas? If your LinkedIn page is looking a little sparse, brush up your profile, make sure your education and employment areas are completed, look for people that you already network with to add to your contact list, than make 2014 the year you USE LinkedIn by posting updates and getting involved in groups to reach others that you want and need to have a voice with.
A little time, a lot of peace. It’s great to start a new year without surprises lurking in the online shadows. As we close out this year and say “Hello!” to the new, here’s wishing you and yours a very blessed and a very…