You’re not leaving the house looking like that are you? Chances are you may have heard that question sometime in your life. Now with the pandemic and many of us staying home day in and day out, who cares what we are wearing anyway? The answer is, emphatically, YOU!
Now why does that matter? There is a link between what we are wearing and how we are performing. In a 2012 study, students were asked to don a white lab coat and perform attention-related tasks. Students who were told they wore a “doctor or scientist” coat performed at a higher level than the students who were told they wore a “painter’s” coat. The embodied cognition captures the influence that clothing has on our performance. Think about when a professional athlete, medical personnel or anyone now wearing PPE puts on the uniform. For many, it is transformational.
Yet, for some individuals putting on a uniform may not be enough to transform into the role of a higher performing self. While listening to a podcast on this topic, I resonated with the woman who needed to hear the click of her favorite bracelet to feel confident and ready for work. Like an audible talisman.
Why am I writing about this during the COVID-19 crisis? Because we are now in a time where many of us are not following the routines and habits that have led to our current roles and performance level. Many of us have experienced tremendous losses of freedom with predictable routines disrupted and our boundaries between work and home blurred if not evaporated altogether.
We are sheltering in place away from our colleagues and our typical routines. Kathy Kolbe, founder of Kolbe Corporation that provides assessments based on natural instincts, explains that success is defined as freedom to be yourself. When we are performing our tasks and following our routines without any friction, in our MO, the work and the day seem effortless. But thanks to the pandemic, we may have lost this freedom and have experienced increased friction and emotional stress.
Now ask yourself an honest question: are you wearing sweatpants every day? With the rise of Zoom and the like, Walmart has reported an increase in sales of shirts but a decrease in sales of pants. Is the comfort of sweatpants stopping you from being your best self?
Routines and habits often dictate success. So, its time to return to the rituals that once surrounded and supported your success. Set an alarm, workout, get fully dressed in whatever you once wore to be your best at work. Yes, your computer or phone camera can only see you from the waist up. However, if you normally wear a blazer for work, toss on your favorite blazer and put on some pants to not just play but “be” the part you need to be confident. And maybe before clicking the button to “join with video,” don’t forget your favorite lipstick or wristwatch to feel complete and ready to do your best.
Simply put, it is best to maintain as many rituals as possible regardless of where you are knowing when your day is over, you can slip back into whatever makes the rest of the day better. For me, it is tossing an apron around my neck to get dinner ready for my family or putting on my favorite running shoes take my puppy for a walk. Still, no sweatpants.