Recently, I’ve spoken at several fashion shows. It might seem an odd match: life and business coaching paired with runway models, however I’m a master at metaphor and it works rather well. Last week, I realized my message is quite relevant to anyone that wears clothes, so I want to include you in the audience:
Today is no ordinary day.
Today, we are surrounded by beauty, by the faces of happy, hopeful people, by conversation between friends and new acquaintances, and by laughter. Look for it, it is here.
Today is a gift.
The gift of today is a gift of the present, of life, of being given this day, these moments. Each of you can live this day in beauty and contentment, with aliveness and excitement.
Who is with me? Would you enjoy finding more fulfillment in today then you expected? Or would you rather let it be an ordinary day, one you waited to pass by so you could go to bed and prepare for another ordinary day? Who prefers to only come alive for celebrating big events? Not me, not you. We let ordinary happen by accident, not on purpose.
Let’s take full advantage of our moments here together, right now. When we live on purpose, we embrace life fully and feel the gift of each day.
You may wonder how fashion can be used for life change. You may not expect to use clothing to tap into the pure simple beauty of being alive. It can be done. Clothing is a structure we use for many things. It is a method of identifying ourselves, of conforming – or not – to society, of protection. It is so many things. Today, I will show you how to use clothing to be more present in your life. It’s simple, and doesn’t require the purchase of anything new, although the idea can be a little more fun if you do!
Living a life on purpose is a beautiful way to live, and all it takes is focus and some gentle reminders. We need gentle and frequent reminders to recognize the gift of today, to be purposeful in action, to stay beautiful. Clothing can be such a structure. A structure is a method for reminding yourself of what is important. There are many other ways to remind ourselves to be alive in the moment, to see the beauty present in our lives, to be grateful. Some people start their day with reflection, meditation, or prayer, but I’m going to use clothing.
Here is how it works: before you dress in the morning, consciously decide how you want to spend your time, and what you want to feel like while doing so. Let’s say you want to spend a day in the office being efficient and professional. You want to project an image of capability and strength, but not feel like a workhorse. If it were me, I would be deliberate in my clothing choices: Yoga pants for flowing movement, comfort, yet professional appearance. A blouse with a flash of turquoise to remind myself I can have fun, too. Black knit jacket to cover my shoulders and project professionalism and task efficiency. This is good for a start. It sets my intention for business and comfort for the office. While still in my closet, I can choose to set my intention for lunch as well.
Having flexibility to relax at lunch is important to me, so I choose a blouse that can be worn alone. This way I can take a walk or sit outside at lunch, feeling the warmth of the sun on my arms while slipping away from the office pace for a few minutes. When it’s time to return to work, I slip the jacket back on and return to work refreshed and ready for the afternoon. The act of putting on my jacket reminds me to refocus on business tasks, while the respite keeps the day from feeling too long or difficult. I’ve already dressed for success, but there is more.
Many times I have an event after work. I bet you often go from one place to another in your day, too. Sure, there might be time to go home and change, but why add the stress of having to run home? Besides, my plan to go home usually fails and I end up going to the event in my work outfit, feeling out-of-synch with my friends and colleagues dressed to mingle and have fun. Instead, plan an outfit for the day that can be dressed up for night by a simple addition or change. If going to a networking event, or even dinner with friends, my choice is to slip a different jacket over my work outfit, or change my office jacket to a flowing colorful evening piece.
By using a simple everyday action like dressing, you can make yourself conscious of your intention for the day. Think of the possibilities for the day and what you want from it, and bring your focus to the gift of today. By choosing clothes that match your intentions and transitions, you have physical reminders of what you want from the day. You can move freely from event to event feeling put together and beautiful and more alive in each moment. You can be purposeful from the moment you dress for your not-so-ordinary day.
Before I learned to make clothing a part of my transitions from one part of the day to another, I often felt restricted by what I was wearing. Instead of embracing a dinner out with my friends wholeheartedly, I spent time worrying and debating with myself to either rush home and change, or risk feeling a bit dull wearing my business like clothes to a social event. I noticed too, that just having a simple item to change my look also changed my attitude. I automatically went from efficient, professional businesswoman, to a friendly, outgoing businesswoman at the chamber mixers, and relaxed, festive friend at dinner.
In life and business coaching, clients are encouraged to create structures for making change. A structure helps hold you accountable for doing what you value. Wearing a favorite piece of jewelry can be a structure, leaving yourself post-it notes in your car and on your computer can be a structure. Setting appointments with yourself to focus on the gift of today, and writing it down in your calendar or making it a daily habit can be a structure.
I think you will find beautiful clothing is one of the easiest structures of all. Try it out when you choose your clothing tomorrow. Open your heart wider to the gift of life and decide what you want from your day. Then take it out and wear it.