The process of goal-setting carries a weight that can feel intimidating and overwhelming. Since the calendar flipped to 2018, I have felt pressured to create a list of things I hope to achieve by this time next year. However, as I continue to look back on my successes from 2017, one clear theme has emerged: living with intention. And it all started when I took the time to sit down and understand who I was, where I was, who I wanted to be and where I wanted to go. In summary, it meant understanding and acknowledging my personal brand.
Personal branding and goal setting, to me, go hand in hand. Personal branding is all about how you want to be perceived - and not in a superficial way, but what you’re putting out there for the world to see. How you’re presenting yourself both personally and professionally; what you stand for and believe in, what skills and experience you bring to the table, what energy you bring to the room. The most important lesson I learned going through this exercise, is all the little things that you have done in your lifetime add up; they’re the building blocks, the nuggets, the jewels that truly make you unique and different from any other human on earth. The sum of these parts is your brand.
Now, you might be wondering why you of all people need a brand. After all, if you’re an individual contributor, working at a corporation, happy checking in at nine and out at five, does it really matter? The answer is yes. And for you it might not extend to your personal style and image as it has for me, but I can tell you that developing a personal brand can help you to feel more purposeful in your personal and your professional life. It gives you an opportunity to live a more enriched life by living with intention. Not only does it help you uncover your skills and strengths, it also identifies the gaps: the experience you want to gain, the expertise you want to be known for. A personal brand is not a static one-and-done thing; it is fluid and evolves as you grow, develop and change. You are creating your story and if you find that a chapter is missing, there is nothing stopping you from writing it.
My story goes like this: I knew nothing about fashion. Period. When I launched my first blog I thought fashion blogging would be a piece of cake; how hard could it be to put on an outfit, take photos, and write about it? I look back at old photos and not only do I wonder what I was thinking but I’m disappointed by the waste; the clothes I never really wore, loved or enjoyed. But I persevered and looked everywhere for inspiration: magazines, websites, people on the street, etc. I took risks while paying attention to every detail when putting an outfit together. Sure enough, after two years of dedication, fashion and style are synonymous with my brand. It wasn’t something I was born with or inherited, but a skill that I cultivated out of my own will. I have since added other things to my brand “wish list”, such as writer, generosity, influential and mindful. In essence, I have set goals for myself that I can take clear actions to achieve. Some may take longer than others but aren’t we all just a work in progress?
When I set out to discover my personal brand, I struggled to find my purpose and how I was going to bring all facets of my personality and interests together. Too often we discredit what we have done in our lives assuming everyone else has done the same or better. But I finally learned that though my path has been a winding one, all of my experiences combined are what makes me, well, me. This is the fuel that put the wheels in motion that created a lot of momentum, energy and change in the last year. And I’m only just getting started…
Have you ever thought of your personal brand? Would you find it helpful for me to share the steps I took in developing mine? Let me know in the comments below!