Personal Reflection: Gratitude, Accomplishments, Takeaways


As the new year opens in front of us, it’s time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished and give thanks for all that’s come from last year. It’s also time to consider what we’ve learned and what we should carry forward into the new year as we seek to improve our lives. This guide will walk you through a self-assessment of your accomplishments, takeaways, and gratitude for the year.

Break Out the Pen and Paper

Self-reflection takes a lot of work. The best way to get through this process and gather real insight is to take thorough notes as you examine every aspect of your life. You can refer back to these notes throughout the year to stay on track. This is also a great time to bring together work you’ve completed during the past year. If you’ve kept a personal journal, or have projects you’ve finished, include them for closer examination as well.

Commit to Honesty

Personal reflections are only beneficial if they’re honest. Commit to being honest with yourself, about the good and the bad. Yes, you can admit you hit some speed bumps during the year, but try not to be overly hard on yourself. Being honest takes a certain amount of courage, but it’s always a worthwhile endeavor. Whether you’re performing a self-evaluation for your boss or your own benefit, honesty is the most critical factor.

Categorize Your Thoughts

As you go through your self-appraisal, start by creating categories you want to focus on. For instance, your accomplishments, challenges, and gratitude. Fill in each category with details of things you’ve done well, things you have struggled with, and things you’ve learned to be thankful for. You may add other categories as you see fit, but once you’re done, create a separate category for key takeaways. Look at the big picture and think about the biggest, most important lessons of the year that you’ll carry forward in your life.

Take Your Time

Perhaps the most important thing is to take your time going through your assessment. Work methodically through each category and the timeline of last year. Don’t rush or skip over the hard parts, and definitely don’t leave anything out, especially if it was a challenge.

These are the moments you learn from the most, so make sure to pay attention to them. Most people can’t complete a full self-appraisal in one sitting. It usually requires several days or weeks of contemplation, note-taking and a-ha moments to gain a thorough understanding of what your year really looked like.

With these 4 tips, you are on your way to a better understanding of yourself and your strengths. Make sure to take your time and gather all of the relevant materials to examine your year and learn from it. Stay organized as you work, and take time to look over your notes with a 30,000-foot view to understanding the entire picture.

Reflecting on your Business: Gratitude, Accomplishments, Takeaways


If you’re not in the habit of conducting a business evaluation at the end of every year, you should be! Sitting down to reflect on your business accomplishments and lessons learned is a great way to determine your path for the new year. It can be a crucial part of setting better goals and overcoming future challenges.

It’s also a way to organize and restructure your business if needed. When you recognize your victories, you can create more of them. When you acknowledge your challenges and failures, you can learn how to improve and change what has held your business from success in those areas.

Celebrate Your Big Wins

Doing an evaluation can be daunting, so the best thing to do is to start from the highest point. Pick 3 to 5 moments where your business really customer, outperformed your projections or otherwise shone like a star.

Don’t just think in terms of your whole business either. Make sure you give credit to specific teams who knocked the ball out of the park and praise them for carrying the company forward.

Assess Your Weaknesses

Once you’ve handed out praise for all the great work of the year, it’s time to get honest about areas where you may still be struggling. Which projects didn’t go as planned? Which teams were unable to hit their benchmarks?

It’s also a great chance to get down on the floor and meet with your staff to discuss their concerns. Were there any factors that hindered their progress through the year? Put this information in writing and brainstorm some solutions to be addressed in the new year.

Your team members can be an excellent agent for positive change if you take the time to listen to their thoughts and open the floor to creative solutions.

Set Fresh Goals

The best goals are those that push you just beyond your comfort zone but are totally achievable if you just go the extra mile. Now that you’ve assessed your strengths and weaknesses from the previous year settle on a goal for the new year that builds upon your successes.

Your new goal may require you to address some of the issues that previously popped up before you can achieve it. While you may choose one goal as a singular focus or theme for the new year, it’s also helpful to set milestones and smaller short-term goals that address things like budgets, staffing and other issues you need to overcome along the way.

An end of year assessment is a great way for businesses to slow down and determine whether they’re on the right path.

Instead of forging ahead into the new year blindly, take the time to meet with your team members and get a strong sense of what is working and not working.

Use this information as a tool to help guide you to make productive changes and improvements throughout your company.

Happy New Year from United Western Insurance Brokers. We’re happy to help you access your insurance needs for the upcoming year.

Personal Goal Setting: How to Set Goals for the New Year

Personal Goal Setting_ How to Set Goals for the New Year-315

Planning for the New Year ahead includes making resolutions for many, many people. But setting goals is an even more powerful way to set your course for the future.

While making resolutions and establishing goals may seem like the same side of the coin, there are differences. While a goal determines a course of action that you follow over time, resolutions represent a great intent – but one which often fades quickly when the results aren’t instantaneous.

Moreover, by taking baby steps along the way as you work toward your goal you experience the sense of accomplishment that comes with successfully making each step.

Here’s a look at how to set goals now that will provide focus and a path to follow in 2018.

1. Take a personal inventory

Before you decide where you want to go in the future, it’s essential to determine how you feel in the present. What’s your current satisfaction level with your life? Take a few hours to evaluate and reflect while developing the foundation for where you want to start.

2. Think about what you’d like to add to your life

It’s helpful to change your focus from the behaviors and habits you want to get rid of to the healthy, productive actions you want to add. For example, instead of saying you want to stop eating unhealthy food, focus on eating more healthy food instead.

3.  Define dreams and goals

Once you’ve done a personal inventory, take some time to write down your dreams and goals. And it’s not about what you already have or what you have done, but what you truly want. Everyone has dreams, and your task is to uncover those that mean the most to you. Write down all of your dreams, no matter how outlandish they may seem. What thoughts and dreams excite you the most? Once you’ve written them all down, prioritize them by order of importance.

4. Make S.M.A.R.T goals

You may have heard of the acronym S.M.A.R.T. before, but it stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-sensitive. Once you’ve dreamed big and prioritized your goals, make sure that they fall into all of the categories:

• Specific – Be specific about your goals. Incomplete goals produce incomplete futures.

• Measurable – Make sure that your goals are specifically measurable.

• Attainable – Don’t set your goals so high that they’re unattainable.

• Realistic – Your goals have to be real in your current life situation. There’s nothing wrong with setting big goals, but they need to be realistic, too.

• Time – You should always attach a timeframe to every goal. One of the great things about goals is that they have an end and you’re working toward accomplishing them in a specific period. There’s nothing wrong with breaking bigger goals down into smaller goals with different timeframes.

5. Always keep your goals where you can see them

Once you’ve written down your goals, make sure they’re somewhere you can easily see them – whether they’re in a notebook, a part of your screen saver, or on post-it notes that you place around your house.

Most of us have made New Year’s resolution at some time in our lives. Setting goals, however, often have more impact and define your journey ahead. And now’s the time to establish your goals for 2018.

Goal Setting for Businesses: How to Set Goals for the New Year

Goal Setting for Businesses_ How to Set Goals for the New Year-315

For many people, setting goals is as much of a part of the holiday season as family gatherings and giving thanks. The same is true of businesses, who have an eye on the future while putting the finishing touches on 2017.

While holiday goal-setting often is associated with resolutions, it can run deeper than a desire to lose weight or start a fitness program – especially when it comes to running a business. For one, resolutions may fade quickly, while business goals should involve a detailed plan that’s actionable and trackable.

The following are suggestions for ways to set next year’s goals now for your business or enterprise.

1. Start by eliminating the “shoulds”

Instead of feeling sorry for things you haven’t done this year, focus on what you want to accomplish in the coming year instead. Goals fueled by guilt are less likely to be successful. They’re also more likely to trigger emotional reactions that prompt you to make decisions you normally wouldn’t.

2. Dream it

A great place to begin goal-setting is to consider everything you dream of accomplishing. It doesn’t even have to be overly-realistic, but it is essential to consider every possibility. Write down where you want to be in the future – one year from now, five years, ten years, etc. – and don’t exclude any idea, big or small.

3. Brainstorm

Once you’ve written down your dreams, it’s time for a brainstorming session to further flesh out your plans while also accessing others that may lurk in your sub-conscious.

4. Opt for guidelines

Setting hard and fast rules when setting action steps for your goals is sometimes counter-productive because business owners and individuals often abandon goals when they break the rules early in the process. Instead, set guidelines or policies that may be adjusted if you modify your goal.

5. Focus on today while planning ahead

Break down your goals into smaller chunks so that they don’t seem too overwhelming. You don’t want to lose sight of the big picture. However, taking each goal a step at a time enables you to build momentum and confidence.

6. Possible goals for your business

Here are some goals you can set for your business in the New Year:

Improving your social media and digital presence

If your website is outdated or your web presence isn’t mobile-friendly, or if you don’t have a content strategy, now’s the time to get started.

• Managing and improving your cash flow more effectively

This is a great goal if you’re a small business owner who experiences dramatic ebbs and flows in your cash flow, or who hasn’t created enough capital to invest back into the business.

• Become a better communicator

A lack of communication is often the reason for misunderstandings among employees, low employee morale, or time wasted in repeating the same message.

• Learn to delegate more

Shifting some of your workload and letting others pick up the slack is crucial if you have so much on your plate that you can’t focus on growing your business.

The bottom line is that now is the best time to set goals for the coming year. By following a plan that’s actionable and includes all of your dreams – big or small – you’ll have a better chance of helping your business become what you’ve always envisioned.

Silica Dust Takes On A Whole New Meaning

Silica Dust Takes On A Whole New Meaning

Caution to our Friends in the Construction Industry

“Silicon dioxide (or silica) is a known hazard to the occupants of a facility and surrounding properties,” disclosure of its presence is now necessary, before renovation or purchase.

According to OSHA, Silica can come in either non-crystalline or crystalline form. It’s found in many construction materials – drywall, asphalt, plaster, and other materials that are associated with construction and manufacturing facilities.

Workers in different trades are at risk of silica exposure. When materials containing silica are cut or crushed, particles become airborne and can create a health threat to anyone that comes in contact with the dust.

To minimize risks, OSHA changed the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for silica in 2016. The change is a first in over 40 years. The old PEL was 250 µg/m3, while the new PEL is only 50 µg/m3. On top of that, the new “action level” can be only 25 µg/m3 for a typical shift.

The updated rule, 29 CFDR 1926.1153, was enforced by OSHA on Sept. 23, 2017, and the entire construction industry is now required to comply.

There is a big reduction from the old PEL to the new PEL, so current processes must be changed to remain compliant. All stakeholders will have to make adjustments.

Contractors can either take care of their own dust control processes or work with specially trained consulting firms to help them meet the new requirements:

Here are some of the new requirements that impact the construction and trades industries;

1. Provide water sprays that produce a continuous water feed to facilitate wet cutting or sawing. This decreases the amount of airborne silica dust, thus reducing the risk of exposure. For dust not watered down, a HEPA vacuum should be used to collect all particles in a sealed container. If water and dust controls aren’t enough, provide respirators.

2. Write an exposure control plan which lists duties that involve silica, as well as strategies to minimize exposure when said duties are performed. OSHA requires clear descriptions of procedures to make them easy to follow. And more importantly, hire someone capable to execute the plan.

3. Train staff on the risks of silica and strategies for exposure limitation. They should be taught how to properly use equipment and controls, and how to perform medical procedures for medical surveillance.

Contractors may have to buy new tools, machines, and equipment to fulfill the requirements above. Other costs include training, education, record-keeping, and surveillance – all recurring costs which are to be factored into proposals.

Contractors who fail to implement and abide are subject to huge fines, which are assessed at $12,675 per violation per day, beyond the specified abatement date. Repeated offenses are reported to be assessed at $126,749 per violation.

OSHA estimates the annual cost of compliance to be $1 billion, though some industry groups place it somewhere between $4 billion and $5 billion. Nevertheless, OSHA is confident that the health and safety benefits to working-class Americans will significantly outweigh the costs.

The latest ruling will force major changes across an array of impacted industries, prompting experts to call it disruptive. For example, companies now have big reasons to adopt new technologies such as digital filing, to help with required compliance and record-keeping.

The new OSHA regulations are expected to have a challenging impact on manufacturing facilities and construction industry owners. Under the new laws, business owners will be required to take on a more proactive role – or face potentially financially crippling governmental fines and governmental restrictions.

UWIB can assist our clients to connect with consultants that are trained to help business owners address OSHA compliance requirements of all sorts, including these. For a cost-free consultation, please contact us and type OSHA Consulting in the subject line.

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Introducing our New Easy to Use CLIENTportal for our Home, Auto and Family Clients

Introducing our New Easy to Use CLIENTportal for our Home, Auto and Family Clients

At UWIB, it’s our passion to work for you and your family. To remain relevant and to improve our service to those of you who like technology, we’ve integrated some new technology. With the tools in our Digital Toolbox, you can elect to have greater control over your insurance.

Want access to your policies, even if our office is closed, no problem. Using CLIENTportal or our mobile app your policies are accessible 24/7. Get acquainted with UWIB’s new CLIENTportal!


Receive the support you need, when you need it. The prompt service you expect from us has gotten even faster. No more waiting until business hours for access to your insurance. We’ve placed the power in your hands. Here are a few of features we hear our clients telling us they love:

View, Email, Fax or Print Your Auto ID Cards

Had an accident and need proof of coverage? Your auto ID card is available instantly on CLIENTportal or if you save it to your smartphone app.

Quick Overview Of Your Policy’s Limits

Want to check your home, auto, rental property, RV or umbrella limits? Want to request a quick change, add or remove a vehicle? The portal allows you this freedom, instantly, from anywhere you’ve got internet access.

Alert Us Of A Loss

Had an incident while on vacation or after regular business hours, no worries, you can get the process started through CLIENTportal.

What Does This Mean for You and Your Family?

With CLIENTportal, your life doesn’t have to be put on hold when it’s time to take care of business. Take back your time and enjoy the freedom and mobility of UWIB’s CLIENTportal, anytime, 24/7.

Click here and enjoy a quick 60-second clip, then sign up for access, it’s free to all UWIB clients.

It’s our business to understand that life happens. We’re empowering our clients in new and innovative ways so you’re not confined to the typical 9 to 5 structure of the world of insurance.

Whether it’s an accident, an unexpected loss, the purchase of a new car, or you just want to see what your coverages are, CLIENTportal extends UWIB’s good old fashioned service and gives you the freedom, and the tools to do things your way, and on your timeline.

Need an important document? Log in and email or print it instantly.

Concerned about sending sensitive information via e-mail? No more worries, the UWIB CLIENTportal is secure. Share and receive secure documents with confidence.

For more than 50 years we’ve worked to combine experience, dedication, and technology to provide our clients with excellent customer experiences. UWIB’s CLIENTportal is personalized and designed to fit your immediate needs.

No more waiting for a return call or email, insurance solutions are available on your terms and timeline.

So when you’re ready to take advantage of both the convenience and security of our newest digital tool, please visit the portal!  Click here and enjoy a quick 60-second clip, then sign up for access, it’s free to all UWIB clients.

Introducing our New Easy to Use CLIENTportal for our HR Benefits and Professional Liability Clients

Introducing our New Easy to Use CLIENTportal for our Home, Auto and Family Clients

At United Western Insurance Brokers (UWIB), we have been providing quality customer experiences for over 5 decades. To continually provide excellent service, we have made use of the latest technology to help our business protect yours.

By integrating readily available, high quality, personalized service with new mobile technologies, UWIB has steadily worked to assist our customers. Our newest innovation takes it a step further. Get acquainted with UWIB’s new CLIENTportal!


We are proud to present our new client portal. With this recent addition, we have added a new layer of service. The client portal gives you control and convenience. Get the information you want and need without waiting for assistance. Day or night, weekends or weekdays, our client portal offers the availability and flexibility to do business on your own terms!

You now have the power to manage your company’s insurance the way you see fit. You gain the freedom and the transparency. The electronic portal is secure and provides you with greater control over your policy.

Just like our app, you aren’t locked into accessing the portal on a desktop. Whether you or your employees are on your way to a meeting or sitting down for lunch, our portal is accessible on phone, laptop, or tablet. Our client portal offers 24/7 access to vital information. Manage insurance whenever, however, and wherever you please.

Click here and enjoy a quick 60-second clip, then sign up for access, it’s free to all UWIB clients.

Let’s take a look at some the features:

• View and Issue Certificates of Insurance

• View Important Documents

• Manage Group Benefits

• Heightened Security for Your Business

• Update Coverage Benefits

• Add People to Policies

• Submit Claims

• Check the Enrollment Status of Employees

• Increased Availability for HR

• Access Policy Information

Need a document? You no longer have to wait for a couple of weeks for something you need now. And you certainly don’t want to have to pay for overnight delivery. Don’t worry. Print out your business’ important documents right when you need it directly from the CLIENTportal. A few quick clicks and you’re done.

We recognize the importance of immediate access to important information for your business. For employees, the CLIENTportal means they can navigate the history of documents as well as review and modify business information. Print documents immediately. It’s all available when you want it.

Worried about sensitive information being sent through email? You have every right to be. Business and employee information sent through emails and phone calls can easily get into the wrong hands. Not any longer! Think of a CLIENTportal as a secure, protected website. Only authorized users can access information. If HR needs to send a document to an employee, they can do so quickly and securely.

Best of all, the CLIENTportal is available to all clients of UWIB. What are you waiting for? Ready to conveniently manage your insurance online? Click here and enjoy a quick 60-second clip, then sign up for access, it’s free to all UWIB clients.

Fine Tuning: Communicating with Others

Fine Tuning_ Communicating with Others
Effective communication is essential for every aspect of our lives – from work to family to daily encounters with others. People with strong communication skills are in demand for many jobs and often enjoy better interpersonal relationships with friends and family.

Whether communicating with others is one of your strengths or an area in which you need improvement, here are some strategies that will help you become better at it.

1. Stay in the moment

Most of us are guilty of sometimes thinking about our response before the other person has finished talking. Effectively communicating your thoughts means staying in the present moment. Don’t get distracted when speaking or listening.

2. Use simple words

Whether it’s your workplace or home, chances are that not everyone is on the same level when it comes to vocabulary. That’s why it’s important to use words that are easily understood by everyone. Using complicated or ambiguous words increases the chances of a misunderstanding.

3. Be a good listener

One of the most effective ways of being a skillful communicator is by developing strong listening skills. Few people enjoy communicating with someone who’s only interested in giving their opinion while not taking the time to listen to the other person.

4. Be clear and concise

A good practice is to communicate your message with just enough words and in a clear manner. That’s true whether you’re speaking to a large group, on the phone, or even via email. If you ramble on and aren’t clear, you risk losing the attention of your listener.

5. Be a strong non-verbal communicator

You can help get your message across in a variety of non-verbal ways – such as body language, eye contact, hand gestures, and tone of voice. It’s hard to over-emphasize the importance of eye contact in keeping the other person’s attention and clearly communicating your message.

6. Empathise

Empathy means seeing things from the other person’s point of view. It’s important not to be judgmental or biased by your pre-conceived beliefs or ideas if you want to be an effective communicator. It’s also important to remain patient and open-minded in your interactions with others.

7. Don’t rush it

Your message is easily lost if you’re in a rush and communicating too quickly. It’s easy to forget essential points and ideas when hurrying through any type of communication.

8. Go face-to-face when necessary

Your concept or message may not come across clearly if you’re speaking in front of a group of people, such as in a workplace environment. It’s easier for some people to understand you if you take them aside on a one-on-one basis.

9. Avoid repetition

No one likes to listen to someone who sounds like a broken record or makes the same point over and over again. Only repeat what you’ve said if it’s not clear to everyone or when someone asks you to repeat it.

10. Be trustworthy and honest

People respond better to people who come off as trustworthy and honest. In turn, they’ll be more willing to communicate with you.

Fine Tuning: How to Identify Strengths

Fine Tuning_ How to Identify Strengths
Most, if not all of us, have heard about the importance of addressing our weaknesses. Improve the areas where you lack needed expertise or skill and excellence will soon follow.

But what about your strengths?

While it’s never a bad idea to get better in your areas of weakness, identifying and leveraging your strengths will make you stronger personally and professionally.

The first step, however, is figuring out your strengths.

1. Ask for feedback

Asking for honest feedback from friends you trust and whose opinions you value is an ideal way to understand where your strengths lie. You might ask your friend to name 3 of your strengths. Or, you may solicit the opinions of many and then look for common themes among their responses.

2. What excites you the most?

One way to recognize your core strengths is to identify activities that truly excite you. In most cases, these are the things which you’re good at and those that keep you energized and motivated.

3. Take an assessment or personality test

If you’re having trouble identifying your unique abilities, you may want to take an evaluation like the Reflected Best Exercise or Gallup’s StrengthFinder. Or, you may opt to take a personality test,  like the DISC Personality Testing, which is a useful resource to help identify your strengths and weaknesses.

4. What are your values?

Knowing your core values makes it easier to identify your strengths. Your values, after all, shape how you think about yourself, others, and the world. Think about people you respect and the traits that you admire about them. Or, think about your community and the one thing you’d change about it if you had the opportunity. Moreover, consider if the life you’re leading now agrees with your values.

5. Do your own evaluation

It’s great to receive feedback from others when recognizing your strengths but it’s important to do your own honest assessment, as well. Think about the aspects of your personality that you’d call strengths, including kindness, generosity, open-mindedness, etc. Consider the innate talents or abilities that fit with your sense of self and your vision for the future.

6. What do you do differently?

If you’re truly using your strengths, chances are you’ll stand out from the crowd. What are you doing that’s unique and separates you from others during those moments?

7. Try new things

What you think may be a weakness is actually something that you’ve never tried or you lack of experience. A great way to grow – and uncover new strengths – is by pushing yourself to do things you’ve never tried before. For instance, you could take a painting or dancing class, launch your website, or try a new athletic experience, such a yoga or rock climbing.

8. Journaling

Numerous studies have shown how useful journaling is for becoming more self-aware and reflective about your strengths and desires. Whether it’s listing the memorable moments of your day, diary-style, or including more detail about your thoughts and desires, you’ll learn more about yourself and your strengths.