Personal values and your image
One thing most of us have done more of during the past year is taking time to think – or, perhaps, just taking some me-time.
Reflection, based around our values, has taken centre stage and, as societies gradually emerge into the new light, acquired learning from recent events becomes even more valuable.
No textbook or treatise can do this for us as ‘image’ is about everyone’s values – usually something we communicate loud and clear through what we wear.
Taking the time and effort to become aware of what image means to you is the absolute number one fundamental.
Personal image is your most personal asset, so, for a start, think of it as if you were building a home. What would you like your dream house to be? To have it made of stone, brick or wood? How would you go about building it? The difference is that you can go and buy any such materials to build the house of your desire, but you need to tap into your likes, dislikes, memories, aesthetics, dreams, and taste for your home.
The same is true for your image – you need to know what ‘materials’ you have got to start with, your own qualities. This is the difference between building a house and a home. Your image and style are your home.
Once you internalise this fundamental difference between your image’s inside (‘home’) and the outside (‘house’), you can start improving. For example, if you value status, you need to be dressed for display and armoured against the judgement of others.
If you value family most, but you are in a highly stressful job, and away from home, guilt is likely to be chipping away at your confidence as you walk a daily tight-rope.
Or you may be highly competitive but have ended up in an administrative role that doesn’t match your energy? On the other hand, the promise of simplicity in a new job may help ‘bake’ your next escape, which you can calibrate against your growing family priorities.
Your personal image goes hand-in-hand with the type of work you want to do, and by simply answering this question – What life do I want(?), you already have the toolkit to design it for yourself and then live it one step at a time.
Inevitably, ‘image’ means different things to different people, as everyone values things in different priorities. So, even if image is timeless, its make-up is very personal as we each achieve our balance in our own personal ways.
Has your definition of success changed during the past year? Do you have new priorities? What is important to you?
Some of the things which worked in the past may not work any longer – but they are valuable learning. Whether you have thought about it or not, the truth is that defining your success in the ‘new normal’ goes hand-in-hand with your image and style.
- When are you happiest?
Which are your happiest clothes? What were you doing when you wore them? Were there any other people around?
Happy clothes abound in my wardrobe as I am an eternal optimist who can only see the half-full part of the glass. I enjoy my life, my work, and I treasure quality time with my family. Wearing fresh linen in vibrant colours during hot summers is my definition of bliss.
In other words, for me, ‘happy’ means: goodness, curiosity, creativity, elegance, enthusiasm, uniqueness, vision.
2. When were you proudest? What did you wear on your proudest occasion? What was the occasion? Who was there with you to share your pride?
I admit I still have a silk jacket worn when I signed my first big contract. I fainted with emotion when I returned to my car, and luckily I had colleagues who picked me up.
My proudest outfits carry my story of challenge, excellence, freedom, professionalism, dynamism, trustworthiness and success.
3. When did you most recently feel you were at your best?
What were you wearing? Remember the need you fulfilled then? Why did the experience work for you?
I am fortunate as I am a natural ‘full part of the glass, so those times of less-than-best are few are far apart! Natural fabrics, colours and colours again, quirky frills and quality tailoring fulfil my needs for an authentic and relevant image; they never fail me.
Feeling best is for every day, and, for me, it is about cheerfulness, quality, expressiveness, growth and strength.
Now it is your turn:
Aim for five words as answers to each of the three questions above. Then, I encourage you to play by wearing what you were wearing to feel happiest, proudest and fulfilled. In this way, you have just taken your first step in learning how your image communicates your values.
Note what you feel as these communicate your identity – not only your image or style. These are the very start in crafting your personal image statement. Re-affirming it will give you support and direction in all that you wish to achieve.