Q & A With Dr. Boardman: How To Dress the Part

Q: I once heard you should dress for the job you want, not the one you have. Does this really work in getting a promotion?

People make snap judgments about us based on our appearance, especially when it comes to what we are wearing. But what we wear has meaning beyond what others see; it also affects the way we perceive ourselves.The symbolic power of clothing became crystal clear to me when I put on a white coat for the first time in medical school. Like magic, I became a doctor before my own eyes. I stood taller, held my head higher, and felt more confident. Whenever impostor syndrome would rear its ugly head, the white coat was a reminder that I belonged.I learned that dressing the part can help us rise to the occasion. In fact, there is scientific evidence suggesting that clothing can influence your posture, body language, motivation, and even mood. When you wear something that makes you feel great, the effects may be subtle—the way you tilt your head, your facial expressions—but they matter.If you are looking for a promotion, wear clothes that make you feel strong. The right outfit may even enhance creativity, focus, and negotiation skills. Related research highlights how getting dressed up promotes abstract thinking and provides perspective. Yes, a power suit can be literally empowering. This may be particularly helpful when things aren’t going your way or you have a tough day ahead. When you look your best, it’s easier to see the big picture and not take criticism too personally. The right outfit can help you feel more confident when you need it most—it can serve as both armor and inspiration. Studies have found that people say they feel friendlier and more competent in business attire than in T-shirts and jeans. Of course, it depends on the work that needs to be done and on personal preferences. Whatever you do, choose clothes that bring out the best in you, that elevate you, and that make you feel strong and beautiful.This article originally appeared in Marie Claire. 

Realistic Resolutions That Will Actually Stick

Full disclosure: New Year's resolutions are the bane of my January-February existence. In theory, they are a wonderfully positive chance to turn over a new leaf — to try to get more sleep, exercise more, spend more time with the family and less time plugged into work. In reality, for many, they are something we do for a few weeks and then can't maintain for various reasons, legitimate or not. Either we set too many goals at once or we set unrealistic goals.But resolutions don't need to be wishful thinking (nor do they need to be relegated to just the January time slot, either). Here are some truly easy ways to make and keep those resolutions:

Set S.M.A.R.T Goals

There's an art to setting goals that will make achieving them much easier. Remember this equation: Specific Measurable Align with values Realistic Time-based. So don't just say you want to lose weight. Rather, you want to get healthier by losing 5 pounds in one month so you check your weight every morning before eating oatmeal for breakfast and walking to work.

Focus, Don't Fix

How many of our resolutions are about changing something we don't like about ourselves? Here's a twist that will help maintain that goal: focus on the positive and choose a resolution around something that you're good at. For instance, if you love art, resolve to go to the museum once a month or paint more. If you love playing tennis, commit to a doubles group.

To Fail is Human (and Good For You)

There's no reason to scrap an entire goal because you missed a few workouts, ate a donut or smoked a cigarette. Put it in perspective — did you ace every test in school? Figure out what you did wrong and "fail better," learn from your mistakes and come up with a new strategy that will serve you all year long. And maybe allow yourself a little leeway so you're less likely to completely give up.

The Little Engine That Could Was Right

Saying "I think I can, I think I can" translates into a deep-seeded belief in one's capabilities and ultimately, one's well-being. It's the self-efficacy theory. Believing you can accomplish what you want is more than just a mindset. It's a path to success.

Time Check

It's time to spend more time doing things that we value doing — it'll be healthy for us. (And no, watching tv, playing video games and working are not on that list. Most people say they feel unsatisfied after doing them.) Time well spent can be anything from spending time outdoors, in charitable activities, socializing with friends and family and yes, relaxing or just daydreaming. Write down the three most important things in your life — and then do them.

What Sacrifices Would You Make To Save Face?

Who cares about what other people think? Despite the contemporary mantra that it doesn’t matter, most of us care a great deal about how others see us. People will go to extraordinary lengths to protect their reputation. In fact, many are willing to sacrifice life and limb to save face. In a survey, 40 percent of respondents said they would choose a year in jail and a clean reputation over no jail time and a criminal reputation. In another, over half said they would rather die than have a lifetime reputation as a child molester. Seventy percent said they would rather lose a hand than be thought of as a Nazi sympathizer. Of note, these surveys were conducted online and were, by definition, hypothetical.Do the findings hold up in the real world? To find out, researchers asked volunteer college students to take a test that assesses racism. The researchers gave a number of the students falsely high scores and then presented them with a choice—either an email with the results of the racism test would be sent out to the campus at large or they could submerge their hand in a bucket filled with disgusting writhing worms. Thirty percent chose the worms (think Survivor). Over 60% held their hands in ice cold water to prevent the incriminating email from being sent out. As you can imagine, many of the students doubted the email threat, so it is likely that the number would have been much higher if the students truly believed their reputations were at risk. Why does reputation matter so much? The answer lies beyond the individual. If you have a reputation as a cheat, nobody wants to do business with you. If you have a reputation as a liar, nobody trusts you. Our very existence and survival depends on being accepted by the communities in which we live. No wonder blackmailers manage to extort exorbitant sums from their victims. Over time, a tarnished reputation may be repaired, but, as Joseph Hall observed, the damage is rarely forgotten:  

“A reputation once broken may possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep their eyes on the spot where the crack was.”

For the most part, the desire to maintain a good reputation promotes moral behavior. But it’s a double-edged sword. The threat of exposure or losing one’s honor can take a dark turn and lead to immoral behavior.Even children are not immune to the pressure to maintain a certain reputation. As a recent study demonstrates, children who were praised for being smart ( i.e. “You are so smart!”) were more likely to cheat than children who were praised for their performance on a specific task (i.e. “You did very well this time.”).Professor Li Zhao of Hangzhou Normal University in China, explains that if children are told they are smart, they feel pressure to live up to these expectations and are willing to cheat in order to maintain a reputation for being smart. Instead of complementing your child’s brilliance, comment on the behavior instead. They are more likely to repeat it. It is important to point out that there is a different between reputation and character.  As Abraham Lincoln observed, “Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow. The shadow is what we think it is and the tree is the real thing.”   Yes, character is the real thing.  Never sacrifice your character in an attempt to save your reputation.

Happiness Does Not Come From Within

“Happiness comes from within.” We hear this phrase all the time. It is predicated on the belief that if you dig deep enough into yourself, you will figure out who you are and everything else will fall into place. While I agree with the overall message in that you are responsible for your choices, it has become increasingly apparent to me that happiness comes from “with” as much as it comes from “within.”The problem with the relentless quest for self-knowledge and inward focus is that it can become an excuse for self-interest and even narcissism. Don’t get me wrong--it is important to take care of ourselves. Eating well, getting enough rest, being mindful and exercise are valuable pursuits. Mastering a breathing technique to help us relax and taking a hot bath are good stress relievers, and can certainly help us stay strong within your daily stress, but too much emphasis on the self can lead us astray.  When the focus is exclusively on me, myself, and I, we risk missing out on what is most valuable about being a member of the human race--that which lies beyond us.  New York Times columnist, David Brooks, laments how today we live in a culture of “the Big Me” that glorifies personal happiness at the expense of community and relationships. The irony is that studies show that focusing on the “Big Me” actually undermines happiness and wellbeing.  Research shows that the happiest people have close ties to friends and family. Social interaction beyond one’s immediate circle is important too. Studies show that people who connect with other human beings, even strangers on a train or in the checkout line, report brighter moods. Behavioral scientists call this “social snacking.” It may be the healthiest snack in the world. Happiness is not a solo enterprise, and well-being doesn’t occur in a vacuum. We are social creatures and our wellbeing—both physical and mental—depends on our social relationships. It is well known that having a shoulder to lean on can help us navigate our way through a difficult time.  Less well known is the research that shows how doing things for others helps buffer against stress. In a research article entitled “Prosocial Behavior Helps Mitigate the Negative Effects of Stress in Everyday Life,” participants who engaged in “other-focused” behavior, such as holding a door, asking someone if they needed help, and lending a hand, reported better moods and lower daily stress levels than those who didn’t engage in helping behavior. The key is to actively seek pathways that will help us transcend ourselves and escape the echo-chamber of our minds.  As tempting as it is to dive inward, make it a priority to connect, to interact, and to add value.  This article originally appeared on Mind Body Green
Axios Evan Ryan

Evan Ryan

Informed, smart, keeping her head purposely just above water, public servant and EVP of Axios, Evan Ryan, is helping change the way you digest news, and believes anything is possible.

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