2015 was a huge year in my life. I decided to pack in the 9-to-5 day job and become a home-based, full-time writer. Was I excited? Absolutely. Elated. My own boss—what’s not to like?
I had been writing at home on a bit-part basis here and there for extra income prior to leaving my full-time office job.
Getting clients and plenty of projects to work on was becoming gradually easier with experience, so I knew the ins and outs of throwing together a draft, blog post, search engine optimization product description, and resume. That was about it.
Working my own hours in my pajamas sounded, in theory, extremely appealing at the beginning, but actually that’s where it all went wrong for me. It would become my Achilles’ heel; my kryptonite, so to speak.
I got lazy, unmotivated, and stuck in bad habits from lying around.
Right from the off, I’d wake up at 11:30 a.m., throw on my “house clothes,” heat up some leftover pizza from the night before, brew some coffee, and switch on the television.
No routine. No discipline. No direction.
Before I knew it, it was 2.30 p.m., and I was still moping around on the sofa watching episodes of Breaking Bad, 24, and The Sopranos feeling somewhat detached from professionalism in those God darned house rags.
By then, my work ethic sucked. It was in fact nonexistent. I was too easily distracted by other things that prevented me from doing some proper grafting (writing).
Admittedly, I wasn’t dealing with the adversity too well. The routine of the outgoing office worker, suited and booted, was completely different from that of the home-based writer—consisting of lying around in my pajamas, looking like I’d just been dragged through a thorn bush, backward.
I thought to myself right there and then, “Jesus Christ, is this what I’ve become, a sloven?” because, basically, that’s what I was at this point.
Slacking around in my undergarments in front of the television was not what I envisioned when I handed in my two-weeks’ notice.
I had accomplished nothing up until that point. Diddly Squat. I needed to tweak something, fast.
That’s when I thought to myself: “Let’s start from the beginning—what is the first thing most professional businesspeople would do every morning the moment they wake up?”
The first step: Get dressed. Look smart, feel fresh, and be ready. Go to work. Simple as that.
It was time for a change in attitude, work ethic, and … yes, clothes.
Right, where’s my shirt and tie then?
By doing some research, I learned that just looking the part can have a positive effect on your psyche. It can automatically make you feel more confident, motivated, and an overall happier person.
The whole nonuniform thing I felt certainly didn’t have the traits of a winner. So, nowhere better to start than with a change of clothes.
I pulled myself together and dusted myself down. It was time to ditch the friggin’ pajamas once and for all.
In order to feel like a full-time business writer, I felt that I needed to look like a professional entrepreneur, first and foremost. I didn’t want to impress anyone, only myself at this point; only my own conscience. That was my priority.
I ravaged through my wardrobe, swiftly picked out a checkered shirt, blue tie, and the old work trousers from my previous office job and neatly set them aside for the following morning (fashion police, go easy on me.)
Getting myself smartly dressed felt like a mental starting point: preparation for business. Like a soldier going to war.
I felt that my pride, my dignity, and my self-worth were all imperative if I wanted to turn full-time writing into work. This felt like the right first step.
I instantly felt reinvigorated the following morning; disciplined and purposeful. A legit full-time writer. I meant business now. The world was ready for me, and I was ready for the world.
Here is how: Just by taking that first step of wearing a specific uniform of a shirt, tie, and black trousers (my preference) every morning benefited me, short and long term:
I know what you’re thinking: How can all this come from just wearing a uniform each morning? Well, think of it as a chain reaction. Momentum grew and confidence rocketed, day by day.
OK, there was a lot more work to put in than just getting up and throwing on some smart clothes … I still had to actually sit down and do vasts amount of research, write up blogs, write transcripts, sound out clients, etc.
And no, It didn’t exactly have the same effect Clark Kent’s or Peter Parker’s uniform had, but I truly believe that this is one of the most important steps I took in my full-time writing career. It was the start of my rebuilding process. A small, but extremely significant one.
Chances are that without it, I’d still be sprawled out on my sofa, eating ice-cream, broke as a joke, looking like a member of ZZ Top, and probably halfway through season seven of Gilmore Girls (shivers up spine).
I apologize if I offended Gilmore Girls fans, but it’s not for me. Apologies to ZZ Top band members, also. You look great, honest. Super band, too.
“What we wear has a real impact on how we feel about ourselves. And that, in turn, influences our work—our confidence, creativity, ability to focus and collaborate.”
Speaking on the launch of her new section, The Psychology of What We Wear to Work, the HuffPost founder then went on to say,
“We bring our whole selves to work.”
“But whether we’re able to access all of our talents, skills, creativity, wisdom and intuition depends on many factors, including how comfortable and confident we’ll feel about what we’re wearing.”
Wearing a specific uniform every workday can give you a sense of responsibility, confidence, and a self-portrayed outlook on how you see and value yourself as a business writer; a dignified disciplinary work-ethic to consistently churn out content every day without any distractions or feeling down on yourself. You’ll feel and look like a million dollars.
How you look can be a reflection of how you feel, and in turn, will become a mirror image of your work ethic, your work, and your writing.
You won’t go back to that sofa again. I promise.
If this all sounds like you, and you’re stuck in a bit of a rut like I was, don’t be afraid to make small changes and tweaks. Implement different techniques that will give you a steppingstone to aid your writing career. They can make all the difference.
I used the uniform technique to make myself feel valuable and confident again as a business writer/entrepreneur.
What can I say, it worked a treat for me, and I’d recommend it to any full-time content writers who have or want to go full-time.
Make yourself feel as professional as you possibly can. Always. If that means dressing like a winner, by all means, dress like a winner.
“You have to dress for the job you want, not for the job you have, and you have to start doing the work you want to be doing.”
Michael Bradley is an entrepreneurial writer currently based in Ireland who lends his services to various brands, SEO agencies, and magazines through his own website: www.freelancemichael.com, or directly through his personal email: [email protected]. When he isn't attending to his clients, Michael is a passionate Liverpool FC supporter and his dream is to one day see Liverpool win the Premier League. Follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.