I served as an ambassador throughout the second year of my MBA studies. While I had a number of responsibilities, some of the most rewarding centered around reviewing new applicants and interviewing any potential candidates. This might seem rather straightforward, but this single job was one of the most important of my career. It taught me how important posture, movement, and tone are in conveying confidence and the ways in which these factors impacted my perceptions of candidates. Let me give you an example.
Working in this position gave me access to student applications from years past. One day, I encountered a profile for Mr. Smith. At the time that I happened across his application, Mr. Smith was pretty much the epitome of “success”. He was charismatic, attractive, well-groomed, eloquent, and charming, and served as the president of our class. My classmates and I all knew Mr. Smith and fully expected that he would be the first to find a job and would probably end up with the highest salary, too. But I was surprised to find Mr. Smith’s application to the program was fairly lackluster. In fact, his undergraduate GPA, his GMAT score, and his essay were all, at best, average.
What does this mean for you? Well, it shows that academic achievements and industry experience are but small portions of the overall “package” that defines our success. Equally important, if not moreso, is the way that you present yourself. Every time you walk into a room, you’re projecting a specific image of yourself. That image – your grooming, your tone, your confidence, and your charisma – dramatically impact the way you are viewed by others. Mr. Smith knew that, and it changed his entire trajectory.
With all of the above in mind, let’s make 2019 your best year ever by focusing on self-care! Improve your confidence levels, reduce your stress levels, and build stronger connections using these four tips.
1. Sleep more
For most busy adults, a good night’s sleep is a luxury that we too often forgo in favor of getting more work done during the day (or, of course, tossing and turning at night). Unfortunately, a lack of sleep has been shown to make us more emotional as well as quicker to feel anger and irritation. These kinds of emotions can have a significant impact upon our interactions and connections with family, friends, and colleagues.
Do you think Mr. Smith, student extraordinaire, walked around in a stupor from too little sleep? Of course not! He strode confidently and alertly through his day, able to react to last-minute requests and questions with alacrity. It’s part of what made him seem so successful. And you can do that, too.
In order to keep yourself healthy, aid in establishing stronger connections with others and improve your wellbeing next year, eliminate tasks that aren’t conducive to a good night’s rest, whether they be projects that keep you up at night or activities that leave you too anxious or excited to easily fall asleep. Here are some things you can do to catch more sleep: spend less time watching TV, pay for a maid, or prepare your meals for the week ahead of time.
2. Focus on grooming
Sitting on the other side of interviews really opened my eyes to the importance of grooming. Chipped nail polish, greasy hair, yellow teeth, body odor, and dirty or messy clothing tell a story about you – one that says you simply don’t care. You don’t believe your body is a temple and you don’t care about preserving it. When you come to interviews like this, your interviewer probably wonders why they should care about what you have to offer when you so clearly don’t.
Mr. Smith’s grooming told the story of the value he saw in himself. He put care into his appearance specifically because he knew he was worth it. He knew that he should be projecting the self-confidence he felt to the world. As I’ve mentioned before, this had a major impact on the way he was perceived by students and potential employers alike.
Make the story your appearance tells a great one. A solid grooming routine can significantly boost your confidence level and make a positive impression on interviewers and loved ones alike. One recent survey, for example, indicated that respondents who rated themselves as being “extremely confident” were those who had the most steps in their grooming process.
To make grooming a higher priority in 2019, consider investing in yourself. Look into braces or teeth whitening, go for the occasional facial, and splurge on some high-quality clothing. Not only will all of these activities make you feel more confident, but they’ll also help you build a more polished and professional appearance.
3. Find a hobby
You can’t spend all of your time thinking about nothing but work. Identify one hobby that is entirely unrelated to your job and requires your full attention – something that relaxes you and gives you pleasure. Walking, for example, can be a great hobby that is incredibly underrated. A walking routine can help you decompress from any and all stressors, requires no monetary contribution, and improves your overall health.
Not a walker? That’s okay! There are many options out there. You could do anything that captures your interest. You could even learn to sew and use your skills to create beautiful clothing. You might also learn to bake and ensure that you never attend another party empty-handed. Start your baking adventure with an easy recipe like a birthday number cookie cake.
Now, you might be wondering how baking birthday cakes fits in with Mr. Smith. Let me explain. The successful Mr. Smith worked hard and gave his studies his all, but he also had effective mechanisms to help him cope with the stress of being a graduate student at the top of his class. You simply cannot reliably maintain success without this – the stress will eventually make you crumble. So pick a hobby you love and devote yourself to it in your spare time, whatever that hobby may be.
4. Opt for fewer tasks with better focus
Whether you’re running your own business or are a busy professional in the corporate world, life can become pretty hectic between work and personal commitments. You might find yourself rushing through these tasks as quickly as possible simply because there just isn’t enough time in the day to give them all your full attention.
The solution? Cut down on your to-do list! Stop and think about the next invitation you receive, be it professional or personal in nature, and decide whether you’re saying “yes” because you want to attend or because you feel obligated to attend. Stop saying “yes” to everything that comes your way. Mr. Smith knew when to say yes and when to say no, and it improved his performance as well as his relationships. Limit your time to a few tasks that you see as particularly important and spend more time focusing on them. This will help decrease your stress levels while giving you the satisfaction of a job well done.
If you’re starting a business, define your goals as well as the process and path you’ll use to achieve them before taking action. First-time entrepreneurs often make the mistake of hassling more than they hustle. Eliminate activities that do not contribute to the growth of your business and outsource tasks whenever possible. Outsourcing activities has multiple positive results in and of itself, including a reduced likelihood for mistakes and increased input from field experts.
Are you ready to make 2019 a great year? Get ready to increase your self-care and simultaneously strengthen professional and personal connections to help you thrive professionally. You, too, can become a Mr. Smith story. It just takes a bit of time and dedication.