What Does It Take to Change Your Image?

Many, if not most of us, go through our entire personal and professional lives with image problems that could be improved by simply changing our approach to something. Ever wonder if there was something you could do better to improve a relationship, a lifestyle habit, or a business approach with your team and customers? The image we project to others is critical in achieving our personal and professional success. Start thinking about how you might change your approach to improve your image and increase your success.

For anyone who has tried to change your behavior such as getting fit, improving your eating habits, putting more effort into your appearance, losing weight, change seems difficult, and yet people do succeed at these things, even long term. The starting point is to imagine and visualize a change in your image, a rebranding of yourself for the purpose of being a better, more successful you.  

Some twenty years ago, the Stages of Change by Prochaska and DiClemente was first published, and this model has dominated thinking on behavioral change ever since. The Prochaska and DiClemente process takes five stages:

Precontemplation. First, before you can change anything, you have to be aware that there is a problem. You might give little thought to how you look and act and maybe you are fine this way. Or, perhaps you do not pay much attention to your appearance, your hygiene, your fitness, and health, or any other bad habits. Whatever your enduring bad habit, if someone made a suggestion for you to consider changing something, you might tell them that you don’t have an issue (in other words it is their problem or perception), not yours.

Such a response would mean you are in denial, and therefore, you are certainly in no position to change anything. If on the other hand, you have had an awakening on how your current image may be sabotaging you, you are closer to crossing the threshold that will lead to positive change. Fortunately, with widespread Google access and the information age upon us, outright denial on most issues is less common than ever. Which leads us to the second stage:

Contemplation. This is where most of us are, most of the time, and on most things. Most people do at least think about what they are going to wear on a given day, or how they are going to groom themselves, or how professional they want to appear for a given meeting. And many will admit that on the one hand, they could be doing better at something, while simultaneously seeing the value of not doing much to change things.

When we contemplate changing behaviors, we often weigh out pros and cons and often find there are equally strong arguments for changing a habit or not changing one. The sure sign of contemplation is ambivalence, a word that implies equal power on both sides; unfortunately, when most of us are ambivalent about something, we will do nothing to change anything, and remain stuck in a contemplative state.

The good news is that even contemplators change their minds. They are more inclined to do so when something inspiring happens, or they develop a new perspective that helps tip the balance to eliminate their indecision and the ambivalence. For example, an unfit person may be inspired by the fitness pursuits of someone with more challenges than they have. When someone changes their perspective, they shed their ambivalence, and they become more willing to change their behavior, and may even "test the waters" of a new direction. The third stage of change is called:

Preparation. The hallmark of this stage is a growing clarity of your vision to head in a new direction, a progressive abandonment of old ideals, and a new willingness or openness to change something for the better. The preparation stage is accompanied by preliminary affirmations that these early steps are worth taking, and your effort will be the reward. You are ready to take action!

Action. In this stage, you have an increasing determination to both shed a strategy that was in some ways life-limiting, and adopt a better way of doing things. And while relapses often occur in the process of changing behaviors, revisiting the values of the new or inspiring perspective can get people back on track to change things deemed important in their lives.

Maintenance. No matter how good you feel with the changes you have pre-contemplated, contemplated, prepared for and taken action on, you cannot be fully successful without adding in a maintenance component. Continuing to get to the gym, continuing to take control of your diet, continuing to put effort into your appearance and demeanor will help you take control of your new way of life. It is proven without a doubt that maintaining a new behavior is the most challenging part of any behavior change. When changing a strongly entrenched habit requires changing our belief about that habit that penetrates deeply into our lives, continually manifesting that wisdom (and therefore that habit) requires that we maintain a high life-condition.

So, what about you? Is there something in yourself, your approach at work or in life that doesn't work particularly well for you? Could your image stand a makeover? Are there examples and people around you that clearly demonstrate other paths that are more successful than yours? If so, you may be ready for some sweeping changes that may recharge your life, whether in business or in your personal life. And if it is your image that may be in need of a review, contact us - we are here to help - and we guarantee success if you are ready for the change!

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