To My Dearest Flower Girls

 

IMG_0083To my dearest flower girls,

This is not a goodbye but a ‘see ya later’! I just wanted to take a second and let you know how much joy you both bring to my life! When we met in 2017 you both were so tiny and could basically only brush your teeth and crawl in bed by yourself! Even though you both were so small you were so hardworking and brave.

Since 2017 I have seen both of you be beautiful flower girls, learn so much at school, work so hard at different sports and befriend everyone that you meet. You both have such a heart of love and are always ready to help someone else before yourself. I have loved watching you two grow into such amazing kids!

I am so sad to leave Valdosta where I won’t be able to pick you up from school or hang out on the weekends, but I want you to know that we will always be just one FaceTime away. As you continue to get older and face new challenges that life brings please always remember the joy that each day brings. Please remember that at your very core, you two have such a strong sister bond that no one can break. Remember that you can focus and complete any task or obstacle that is in front of you! Know that you have no limits! You can dream as big as you want, then the next day, wake up and dream bigger. Never forget that everyone is your brother and sister in Christ, and they need the kindness and love that God has given you, no matter their size, shape, color or ability. Remember that you are strong! Strong enough to stand up against those who are mean or hurtful. Know that your mind is powerful and the things you put in your brain and the thoughts you have will build you into a wise pre-teen! Remember the more you create and how often you create will keep your imagination alive. Never forget that you are so loved and created to be exactly who you are and that you are a beautiful Child of God! And God has given you the world at your fingertips, all you have to do is play!

Thank you for letting me play and make so many wonderful memories with you the past few years. I know that God has big plans for each of you and I will watch and pray as you grow into those plans!

Much love, Mrs. Colleen.

 

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Adams Last Day of Work

Today, Thursday May 28th, I watched as Adam loaded up in his 2003 F-150 for his last day of work. After working at Valdosta Orthopedic Associates (VOA) for four years, today is the day he says goodbye.

I remember his first day at VOA! He was a Senior in college and had a semester rotation to shadow a sports medicine clinical setting. At this point in his education he was just a few months away from graduating Valdosta State University with an Athletic Training degree. His plan was to graduate and take a position as an Athletic Trainer. Even though this was a good plan, VOA helped Adam open his opportunities for other options he could pursue.

During his shadowing semester, he use to get dressed up in business casual clothes and be so excited for what he would be able to learn each day. On Tuesdays Adam would get up super early and watch surgeries. I got in the habit of knowing that every Tuesday during this time I would need to listen and nod while he recapped every detail of the surgery he watched!

After graduation, VOA hired him to work with Dr. Sanderlin and gave him all the inspiration, opportunity, resources and encouragement to set a goal of becoming a doctor himself. VOA set the ground floor for Adam to dream bigger than what he originally knew. Even though a job is just a job, Adam was able to work for four years at an incredible  practice, with people that love, support and deeply care for him. It gave him the opportunity to care for the broken and hurting in Valdosta and the surrounding areas. It gave him the knowledge to learn so much about medicine. VOA has done so much more than provide a paycheck. VOA became family!

As we say “see ya later” to our VOA family, we smile with excitement as just a few months away Adam will start his first day of medical school. It is crazy to think that his next day of work, he will be the doctor!

Love,

Colleen Howard

P.s. Thank you to everyone at VOA for helping Adam pursue his dream. Thank you for encouraging him every step of the way!

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19 Books in 2019

Below is a list of the books I read in order during 2019!

Below I will review my favorite books.

  1. 100 Days by Annie F. Downs
  2. If You Only Knew: My Unlikely, Unavoidable Story of Becoming Free by Jamie Ivey
  3. Switch on Your Brain: The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health by Caroline Leaf
  4. The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work and Team with Positive Energy by Jon Gordon
  5.  Unglued- Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lysa Terkeurst
  6. Changing Normal: How I Helped My Husband Beat Cancer by Marilu Henner
  7. You Can Too: How an Aflac Rookie Built the Business in a Year by Jonny Burgess
  8. Northern Lights: One Woman, Two Teams, and the Football Field That Changed Their Lives by Cathy Parker
  9. How I raised myself from failure to success in selling by Frank Betcher
  10. You Win in the Locker Room First: The 7 C’s to Build a Winning Team in Business, Sports, and Life by Jon Gordon and Mike Smith
  11. Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less by Tiffany Dufu
  12. Hooked: The Brain Science on How Casual Sex Affects Human Development by Freda McKissic Bush and Joe McIlhaney
  13. “At Least You’ll Be Married to a Doctor” by Jordyn Paradis Hagar
  14. The Rock, the Road, and the Rabbi: My Journey Into the Heart of Scriptural Faith and the Land Where It All Began by Kathie Lee Gifford
  15. Let Food Be Your Medicine: Dietary Changes Proven to Prevent or Reverse Disease by Don Colbert
  16. Born to Wander: Recovering the Value of Our Pilgrim Identity by Michelle Van Loon
  17. The Red Bandanna by Tom Rinaldi
  18. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  19. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

The most influential books of 2019 were: Switch on Your Brain, Changing Normal and Let Food be Your Medicine. These books really opened my mind and helped me pivot my choices to be a better and healthier human.

Tear jerkers- The Red Bandanna and When Breath Becomes Air are both real stories that WILL MAKE YOU CRY!!! Like real tears falling from your face! So worth the read.

Elevate leadership- The Energy Bus, How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Sales and You Win in the Locker Room First! Great books to make leadership fun.

Reading 19 books in one year was hard for me. Like really hard. I am NOT a reader. I use to HATE reading. But I grew up knowing that leaders are readers and I always dreamed of being a strong leader. At the start of 2019 I felt like 19 books would be reasonable. I started reading but when I fell behind I knew I needed to do something to encourage me. I decided to start a book club where book lovers could join and encourage each other to read! This group was a great encouragement to keep me reading.

As always,

Keep your head up high and your words filled with love!

❤ Colleen Howard

 

TWO Lessons I Learned from my 2nd Year with Aflac!

March 7th, 2020 marks two years in my journey with Aflac! When I started with Aflac in March of 2018, I constantly heard veteran agents say that it takes three years to grow a good sized book of business. Even though I wanted to fast forward my career to be a third-year agent, all I could do was take it one day, one week, one quarter, one year at a time.  After my first official year with Aflac I knew that I was fully committed to making Aflac my career. I was dedicated to making my second year better than my first and to set myself up for a great third year.

Looking back at my second year there are two lessons that I learned through the process. Two lessons that I will take with me as I dive headfirst into my third year with Aflac.

  1. Building Strong Business Relationships

I remember preparing my work goals for 2019 and saying that I want to build my Aflac business on relationships. I had spent a whole year building my business on cold calls and I didn’t want to rely on that again. A few days later I got a phone call about a networking group that was starting in Valdosta, GA called Business Network International. After I attended the interest meeting, I was a member!

The group was focused on making referrals but also taught a whole lot about building strong business relationships. Being a part of this group really helped me direct all my focus on what strong business relationships look like. This was able to help me pivot my business from selling insurance to strangers to being confident in asking for referrals. I was able turn to people who liked me, people who knew me and people who trusted me to ask them for introductions to people who could be my potential customers.

This new mindset of relationships not only helped me get new clients but also helped me elevate my level of customer service. I started taking my relationships with my clients very seriously. I would save their cell and policy numbers to my phone so when they called, I knew exactly who it was. I kept a strict calendar to make sure I checked in with each one of my accounts every quarter to see if there was anything they needed. I even took the time to send my new clients a thank you card to let them know how much I appreciated being their Aflac agent.

  1. Owning the role of an Aflac agent

For whatever reason, my first year and some months with Aflac I was kind of embarrassed to say that I sell insurance. It honestly took me a while to get in my groove and to believe in the ‘Aflac dream’. It wasn’t until:

  1. I was able to help a few people with their Aflac claims
  2. Understand what 40 hours in the insurance world looks like on a weekly basis, and
  3. Have consistent income coming in every month from work that was put in the year before

that I was really proud to be an Aflac agent!

Once I was able to see these three things happen was when I really understood what it means to be an Aflac agent. I look back and don’t understand why it took me so long to be proud of what I do every day, but I think it is all a part of the journey.

Now when people ask what I do I am so proud to say I am an Aflac agent. When they ask what that consist of, I get to say that I help people file their claim when they have a sickness or accident. I have answered phone calls when a client is in the face of cancer and they haven’t told their significant other, they called me, their Aflac agent first. I have sat through meetings with the death certificate in my hand of a policyholder who passed away from cancer, and I get to be the agent who files their last year of cancer claims. I get to be the agent who sees small business grow, watches employees get promotions and see families who struggle with infertility bring their miracle babies home.

I get to be a small part in all these stories because I AM an Aflac agent. And now, in my second year as an agent, am proud of myself and all the other hard-working agents.

Now that my second year with Aflac has passed, I am nothing but eager and excited for what my third year has to offer. It has already taken unexpected twist and turns but I trust in the process. I can hold my head higher due to the lessons I learned in my first year and the take away from my second year. It means so much to be with such a caring company and to be a part of something bigger than myself.

Stay happy & healthy,

Colleen Howard

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How to Keep a Winning Aflac Attitude When You Always Seem to Miss the Mark

In sales, you get four quarters to prove yourself to your ‘uplines’. That is 12 months, divided into four quarters with the same or similar goals each month. The set goals aren’t easy. The ‘uplines’ who set the goals want you to work hard. Harder than the year before, quarter before, or even month before. These goals are there to encourage you, push you, and test you. Sometimes if you hit some of the goals you may win cash prizes or even free trips.

But what happens when you try your best and you are consistent…consistently missing the mark? Yeah, I know how it feels. To pour everything out. To get better and better each quarter by beating your previous self but missing the one laid out in front of you. No matter if you are a first-year agent, second year DSC, third year RSC or a MD. Missing the mark is never easy.

I have missed more marks than makes I have hit but the one thing that has kept me going is my attitude.  Below are some of the things I do to keep a winning attitude when I pour everything out in the work week but still somehow seem to miss the mark.

  • When I have officially ‘failed’ I take ONE full day to be sad.
    • One day to sulk. That is it. Not an hour here or there throughout the week. Not a bad mood every night when we are getting close to the end. Save it all, build it all up for one day. Take one day and feel it. Really let it set in that you did everything, but you still came short. It is okay to let your body feel sad. It is a normally feeling that we need to feel! Allowing yourself to sulk in sadness for one day will allow you to really enjoy what it feels like to hit your goals and be happy. One day of sadness. That is it! Let it all out so that you can get back on your feet and get ready to step up your game the next quarter or year.
  • Be OFF!
    • Take one day on the weekend and DON’T THINK ABOUT WORK! A sales job can consume you if you allow it. This was the hardest lesson for me to learn because I love working. But we mentally need one whole day each week, where we do not think about work! Pick that day and enjoy it. Live it up. Turn off all your electronic work devises and just reconnect with you who are and why you work so hard to hit your goals!
  • Reflect and Redirect
    • Each Sunday night or before the sun rises Monday morning, I reflect on my past week and if I did everything possible to take a step closer to hitting my goals. If my number are still on track or if they are a little low. I look at how my attitude was throughout the week and if I had a winning mindset. I use the previous week to be a baseboard to redirect my mindset and attitude for the upcoming week. Setting aside this time (which can be less than five minutes) helps me to focus on the current goals and to get me excited to be one week closer to the finish line.
  • Keep the main thing the main thing.
    • Once you have come across the finish line but have no fancy-free trip, no cash prize or a plaque to hang on your wall, I remind myself of why I do what I do. Even when I have missed the mark, I remember the best part of this job is #1. Being about to help people and #2. Flexibility!
    • I look back and think of the people I have been able to impact. At the amount of money, I was able to help people process for claims. Think of the times I was able to lead a listening ear or give words of wisdom. I think of the times I was able to be flexible and live life to the fullest and not be stuck clocked in at an 8-5 job. I take time to remember that, yeah, I might have missed the mark, but I was able to grow, learn and get better at my job while building who I am as a person.

These four steps have helped me redirect my attitude after missing the mark all too often. In a world where failing can get the very best of us and steal our winning attitude, we must fight to keep winning at the forefront of our mind. We must set our own personal goals to keep us moving as we strive to achieve goals other set before us. Most importantly we are not alone! Someone knows how you feel, they have been where you are and trust me, everyone wants to see you win! It starts with choosing to keep a winning mindset no matter what.

Love, Your Aflac sister who will NEVER settle for less than the best!

p.s. when you know this feeling I am talking about. When you know how deep it hurts because of how bad you wanted it, reach out to someone who missed the mark as well. Tell them at least one way that you saw them grow. Encourage them that they are not alone. Thank them for how they contributed to the team effort. Tell them that they can keep going and growing no matter what the current results say. Remind them that they are worth it, this career is worth it, and the policy holders we serve are worth it! We are all in this fight to keep a winning mind set together.