Happy New Year, Guys!
As we enter 2016, I hope you're all preparing, just as I am, to get to work.
Work on yourself.
Work on your life.
Work on your head, your heart, your body, your spirit, your relationships.
Too often, we are caught up in the daily minutia. Our plans of bettering ourselves get put on hold so we can handle the unimportant tasks of today.
But there are a few dates each year that are different from the rest.
These dates have a kind of power. They give us the opportunity to make big changes. They bring the promise of second chances and rebirth and transformation.
The pivotal date can be a birthday, the first day of school, or, of course, the dawn of the new year.
Something about this milestone makes us prime for change. Cliche as it may be, we can't allow these opportunities to pass us by.
Why I focus on aesthetics
I know people have this perception that caring about your appearance makes you vain, narcissistic, and pretentious.
And for some, that may be true.
But for the rest of us, taking care of our appearance can be one of the most powerful self-improvement tools at our disposal.
When you look good, you feel good.
It's as simple as that.
So below, I'm going to detail how caring for your personal aesthetic and the habits that facilitate that care will contribute to success in every aspect of your life.
No matter what you do, you live in your body 24 hours a day.
You might as well make it a comfortable and functional place to live.
Ever wonder why nearly every self-improvement website and book contains an element of physical fitness?
Physical changes aside, going through the process of transforming your body will have tremendous carryover to other areas of life.
No one in the history of the world has ever built a great physique with a single epic workout.
The truth is, for most, it takes years to create the ideal lean and muscular physique.
And for this long-term plan to work, you have to follow the guiding principle of weightlifting – progressive overload.
If you fail to increase your performance in the gym, you fail to improve your physique.
But when pushing the human body to its limits, complications and setbacks are bound to arise.
So when things look bleak, you have to take a step back, learn to plan ahead, and develop strategies to overcome obstacles.
Heading into the gym, day after day, striving for incremental improvements will teach you the difference between exercising and training.
And knowing this difference is what leads to long-term progress.
What weightlifting teaches you about success
This method of clever adaptation learned in the gym can be transferred to every other aspect of life.
Whether it's your finances, relationships, or your performance at school or work, we can shape our lives every day just as we can our bodies in the gym.
Start applying the principle of progressive overload to business or any other obstacle in your path.
Rather than expecting to achieve massive success on the first day and then petering out when the going gets tough, apply what you've learned in the gym and make a small push forward each and every day toward your goals.
Every day you should be closer to where you want to be.
Bottom Line: Lifting weights teaches you to be patient, to take minor set backs in stride, and to restructure your plan of attack to avoid stagnation.
Yeah, eating junk food feels good in the moment.
Food producers spend a fortune in research and development to ensure that their products are as appetizing (and addictive) as possible.
But the “food high” is very short lived.
Crushing a whole pizza will make you feel awesome for an hour or so, but you'll soon be left with a stomach ache and a nagging sense of regret.
When you make the conscious decision to choose healthy foods, however, you have the mental upshift of knowing that you're making good choices for your body.
And it's a synergistic habit.
The more healthy food you eat, the better you feel, and the more likely you are to choose more healthy food.
Flip that little switch in your mind and find the strength and motivation to eat what you know you should be eating.
What diet teaches you about success
Selecting healthy food teaches you how to make consistent decisions that may not be the most fun now, but add up to huge results in the future.
Think of how this applies to other aspects of your life.
You could work on your side business this weekend, or waste two days sleeping off Friday and Saturday's raging hangover.
You could spend time strengthening relationships with your friends, spouse, and kids, or lose every evening sitting on the couch and watching TV.
Just like junk food, the easy way will feel good in the moment but derail your long-term plans.
Once you start consistently making good decisions, you'll be riding a tidal wave of success that only gets bigger and bigger the more you feed it with beneficial choices.
Bottom Line: Adhering to a diet teaches you to delay gratification and illustrates the power of a positive feedback loop.
I've written about how improving your style can have a tremendous impact on your life.
And to build upon that, here are the things that developing your personal style and grooming can teach you.
Evolution has allowed our brains to develop a huge time-saving system.
We make snap judgements about others based on their visual presentation.
We instantly formulate ideas about someone's occupation, level of financial success, home life, and place within the community based on their clothes.
Every day you're faced with the decision of what to wear and every day you have the opportunity to send any message you want.
People will treat you according to what you choose, so make this decision count.
If you're feeling groggy on Monday morning, you could pull on Sunday's rumpled, discarded clothes from the foot of the bed, but what message would that send?
How would this communication shape the course of your day, week, or year?
A much better choice would be to dress as if you were eager to tackle the week ahead.
Before you know it, you'll be acting with the energy you're projecting with your clothing.
What clothing teaches you about success
Being conscious of the visual message you're sending will help you control other aspects of communication as well.
If you want to be seen as more experienced in your field, you can take what you've learned about dressing the part and apply it to other actions.
If you want the boss to trust you with an important task, you can't let your insecurities show through.
When you feel intimidated (and would rather be safe at home in your pajamas), fake it until you make it.
Put on that suit and it will direct you to stand tall, speak confidently, and smile as you tackle your responsibilities.
Just as you eventually become the person you dress like, you'll eventually morph into the sum of the actions and feelings you let show through.
This isn't about hiding who you are – it's about practicing to become the person you want to be.
Bottom Line: Dressing well requires self-awareness. You have to know who you are now and who you want to be, and then become an effective and selective communicator to share your message with others.
Grooming factors into your overall aesthetic just as much as your physical shape and the clothes you put on your back.
When I'm unkempt, I don't even feel like leaving my apartment.
I simply don't feel like myself.
The mental boost I get from grooming is tremendous. With a fresh haircut, moisturized skin, and a clean, soft beard, I'm ready for anything.
But you can't just live like a slob for weeks at a time and expect to clean up in a single day.
Most hairstyles take consistency to train.
Clear skin is the result of daily moisturizing and gentle cleansing.
Healthy teeth are the result of years of twice daily brushing and regular flossing.
If you only shave when it's absolutely necessary, chances are you'll walk into that big interview with fresh nicks and cuts and a nice swatch of razor burn.
Presenting a neat physical appearance signals a high level of thoroughness, dedication, and commitment.
I think we subconsciously know how much work goes into these areas and thus perceive well-groomed men as powerful, trustworthy, and successful.
Do whatever you have to do to stay sharp on a consistent basis.
What grooming teaches you about success
Impeccable grooming is all about a ritual, a routine.
The same is true for most aspects of life.
You won't fix your relationships by being nice for a single day.
You can't recover your career by working really hard…on occasion.
Businesses aren't built in a day.
Instead of working on these things only when you're up against a wall, free up mental capacity by incorporating them into a routine.
When you use routines to manage your time and ensure all areas of your life are being consistently tended, you'll be fully prepared to deal with the unavoidable curve balls.
Bottom Line: Being well-groomed teaches you the value of consistency and routine and prepares you to manage adversity.
Developing daily habits
All the planning and dreaming in the world doesn't mean a damn thing unless it translates into action.
Take some time to mull over potential life changes, determine which are most important to you, and develop a plan to make the change a lasting part of your life.
From personal experience, I find that small, frequent, and manageable habits are far more impactful on long-term success than gigantic, fleeting actions.
Whenever I devour a self-improvement book, I'm riding on a high for a couple of days.
I take big actions but start to lose steam fairly quickly.
However, if I make a habit of reading a chapter a day everyday, I find that I'm more likely to enact small, daily modifications, the overall sum of which is real, substantial change.
That's exactly why developing the daily habits of caring for your appearance are so powerful.
You don't have to think about making major sweeping changes all at once – just small, consistent habits that will make huge improvements over time.
Daily habits really work
I'd already spent years tackling these appearance-based hurdles, so my New Year's Resolution in 2015 was a little different.
I still realized the power of daily habits so I used that to make significant changes in other aspects of my life.
Despite being talented and hard working, I knew I wasn't living up to my potential, and never had been.
After much introspection, I realized it was my tendency to remain within my comfort zone that was holding me back.
So last year, my resolution was to be BOLD.
That isn't exactly the most clear and measurable goal, but to me it meant that I would say “yes” to beneficial opportunities that I might normally turn down.
Each and every day, I would do something that made me uncomfortable, nervous, or scared.
Aside from the posts you've seen here on Iron & Tweed, I:
- Made a ton of friends and business contacts by attending StyleCon 2015
- Published guest posts on established sites like Effortless Gent and Primer Magazine
- Joined Superdrive Publishing
- Became a professional Beardsmen
- Recorded podcasts on Beastly Gentleman and Masculine Style
- Launched Casual Style 101
- Began working on a supplement ambassadorship
It's amazing how consistently applying one simple habit can have such a profound effect on your life.
These are all opportunities I would've previously passed on because I “wasn't ready” or the “time wasn't right” (so I told myself).
Instead, I pushed myself to say “yes”.
2015 was my year of YES.
My year of deciding to live up to my potential for the first time.
My year of being bold.
And making a daily habit of being bold, of saying yes, of pushing myself out of my comfort zone, has been one of the best things I've ever done for my life.
So what are you going to change this year? Tell me in the comments below!
All the best,