A few years ago, I never would have thought I’d have been considering self-image seriously. I wore simple clothes, whatever allowed for me to blend in, or whatever it was that my parents happened to have picked up for me at some point in the past. I wasn’t big on shopping. I wasn’t much into anything that I thought people cared about.
More recently, that stopped mattering. I settled on my own idea of an image. I wore nerdy t-shirts with designs based on computer games or television shows or movies, and the oddest thing happened: those t-shirts became a talking point when there was a lull in the conversation.
Self-image is all about how we look, and how we act. Clothing is just part of it, of course, but making a conscious decision to wear something that (a) suits the role you’re looking for or (b) makes you feel comfortable and happy in your own skin – or (c) all of the above – is the first step towards living life in a particular way.
When you aim yourself towards a particular role, the other thing you need to do is focus on upskilling. Writers should write more often, seek feedback, attend workshops; musicians should play as much as possible; marketers should learn the theory, but also develop the practical skills towards implementing the theory; athletes should train regularly, seek assistance, join a team or find a trainer. The goal is the same no matter the field of interest: when you’re dressing for the part, you also need to prepare for it.
What you need to understand here is that dressing for the part is down to your own self-image. Niall Harbison, author of Get Sh*t Done, doesn’t wear typical business attire when having a meeting with clients. His idea of a self-image isn’t of a man who wears a suit; we wears whatever sort of clothing he likes – if memory serves, quirky t-shirts and a hat.
An added bonus to all of this is that by adapting a different mindset for each area of your life is that you don’t necessarily have to focus on them when you’re not working. When I write, my vocabulary and freedom with language is different to when I’m recording videos. I don’t stutter over words when I write, and I can edit what I’m going to say a lot more easily. Then, when I’m out with friends, I can live in that moment, away from the laptop or the camera; I can become a different sort of person.
Rita Carter wrote about the phenomena of multiplicity a few years ago, with one of the key ideas in the early parts of the book being that the sort of personality we display varies according to the people we’re around. We’re not the same person to our parents as we are to our friends, the same way we’re not the same people when we’re producing videos as when we’re talking about them or writing about.
Even when I use the same source material for a blog post and a video, my mindset is different, because my image as a writer – even if the clothing is the same – isn’t based around getting the words out and audible; it isn’t about being seen or heard. It’s more about getting the words out, and the faster I type, the easier it is for me – as opposed to when I’m talking, and the faster the words come out, the more likely I am to stumble over them, and the less likely it’ll be that anyone actually understands me.
Finding your own self-image is a process, rather than a decision, but as you work on it, changing between two different mindsets becomes easier, and productivity levels can increase.