Note: This is a guest post by Mike King of Learn This.
I've written on a few topics before about presenting with passion, finding your passions in life and also looking at your online portfolio as each of these things reveal important things about you in your life. They are just portions of what makes you up however and the image you present to others as a whole package is also known as your personal brand.
Many people talk about branding yourself for a specific purpose or for work, but I believe people should ONLY brand themselves from the perspective they want to portray for their entire life. Work is really just a portion of our lives since working for 40 hours a week and 50 weeks a year for up to 40 years (about 80,000 hours) is actually only about 11.4% of our entire lives (700,000 hours) if you expect to live to an age of 80 years old.
Even if you took 1/3 of your life away to account for sleeping, you still only work about 17% of your waking hours in a lifetime. Think about that for a minute. Is work really that important in the whole scheme of things if it is such a small portion of our lives from birth to death? I'd say not.
Whether that work centric focus is most important to you or not, this article is a guide to brand yourself in your life in a way that is consistent and congruent with how you live, what you believe in and it is intended for all areas of your life, not just your work life. Happiness is up for grabs when you can live with consistent values and be true to yourself in all aspects of your life which massively reinforces and demonstrates your life brand! So, here are 10 ways that can specifically help you to actually be the brand you want in life.
1. Know Your Own Brand
Obviously if you want to be the brand you want in life, you also need to know what you want that to be. Take time to think about this. What are the things that are important to you? What would you want to leave as a lasting impression on others when you meet them, know them well and part ways from them? Exploring this and really understanding yourself is important here to start this process off.
If you need help to do this, the best advice is to get out on your own, in complete solitude and think about what you live for. What is your purpose in life and do you want others to know that purpose about you? What are the things you are living for now? Are they different than the things you want them to be?
This is one of the hardest steps in the process if you don't already know this about yourself because it takes a lot of time to realize. Take all the time you need, talk to close friends and family about the things that are meaningful to you. Examine yourself to know your own brand that you want to live. The items you want in your brand should be long term and stand the test of time. A brand should not be changing all the time!
2. Eliminate Any Ego Based Perception
Egos unfortunately get in the way with branding far too easily. Everything around us trains us to live a materialistic life where ego drives it all. We chase status, money, power and fame without really having any reason or determination for things that are more lasting in our souls. To kill this you must truly kill the ego driven branding that is so easily reinforced in life. Ignore those temporary things in life and focus on the areas that have real lasting impact:
- Values and Morals
Create a sense of self without having to advertise to the world the temporary things you acquire. Show the importance for areas in the list above and work to overcome any bad habits you have where you currently present a selfish or egocentric attitude. Simple comments and attitudes can make a big difference to other people's perspective of you and so small changes can also make a vast improvement in this area. Its important to not simply suppress those ego builders from others, but to really change the thinking behind it to eliminate it in your own mind. If you don't believe it yourself, you will certainly not present to others.
3. Hold True Your Background
Your background is often a large part of who you are. This could be where you grew up, what kind of schooling or childhood you had, your family, your heritage, your religious beliefs, whatever the things are that have been a big part of your life, don't abandon them.
Take the things from your background that makes you who you are and who you want to be and hold true to those learned things. Continue to value them and don't hide from your past. Embrace it and take life lessons from it. You can't change your past so you might as well gain by it and be honest about it with yourself and others. Your background can often be an important part of branding who you are today and who you want to be.
4. Live and Reinforce Your Morals
Do you have and know your morals? Do you live by them and make decisions by them? Everyone does, it's just that the decisions and choices in life are not always in line with the morals we think we have! If you want to be the brand you want in life, you need to live your life according to your morals and have the integrity to stick to them. Don't shift towards and away from them depending on who you are with, or what situation you are in. Knowing your morals and living by them are an important part of knowing yourself and your brand.
5. Make Your Core Values Known
Core values are also an important area of life to use, to learn about yourself and to understand your brand in life. There are many advantages of truly understanding your core values and sharing them and when it comes to branding, they are a strong part of a person's makeup and living by them should help you align yourself with the brand you want.
Of course, your core values need to align with the brand you want as well so taking the time to examine your core values is a great way to create and understand your brand. Validating that to ensure it's in line with what you want it to be is then the next step. Sharing those values with others is a way to describe yourself and a powerful set of attributes to stick to. This can really help to build your brand let alone live by it.
6. Practice What You Preach
If you want to have a brand that others can believe, you have to make it believable. You do this by demonstrating and showing that you are true to the brand you portray and that you actually do practice what you preach. If you say one thing about yourself, yet go and do the opposite, that brand is nothing but words and will likely never hold true.
A brand must be connected to the actions, descriptions and message it delivers and the proof of that is in your actions. You have to keep the things you do within the confines of your brand and the more you do this, the more accurate your brand will be to others. Practicing what you preach delivers a powerful message to others about who you are and it makes you and your brand seem genuine and authentic!
7. Strengthen Your Unique Attributes
Identify all the things about yourself that make you unique. Is it your attitude, style, humor, work ethic, learning, motivation, energy, empathy, helpfulness, ability to focus, kindness, honesty, responsibility, cooperation, acceptance/tolerance or your perseverance! Of course there are more attributes then that but those tend to fit into the category of liked attributes in the workplace and relationships.
Identify those attributes you match and look to work to strengthen them. Make them obvious, demonstrate them, practice them and master them in your life so that you would always be describes as having them if others asked to describe you. You want these attributes to match the brand you are building and showing them often so that they stand out above other attributes will reinforce them in your brand.
Not only are your character attributes a great way to build your brand but also your life activities, beliefs, hobbies and experiences. All those things can be part of your brand attributes and the unique ones are easier to talk about and certainly easier for other people to remember you by and to remember your brand associated with it.
I just wrote an article about how engaging mountain unicycling is for me and it is an example that I use as one of my unique attributes. While that activity is very common for me as I ride every week, to others, it's an engaging activity and a great way to help people remember me and my brand. I can show massive passion and enthusiasm for that sport since I enjoy it so much. If you have your own unique attributes, use them to describe yourself and build your brand!
8. Demonstrate Your Most Wanted Traits
For similar reasons you should show the attributes you have that are your most wanted traits. Perhaps the most wanted by you or perhaps that of others. If you want your brand to demonstrate that, you need to work on them, and practice them so they are visible in many areas of your life. Spending time on mastering your skills for something you want to show will definitely improve it and often just focusing on the one or two attributes you want will allow you to develop it quickly and make it stronger than other attributes.
Look for resources here that can help you as well. Ask others who have it how they developed it and how they demonstrate it. Read about it and do research to ensure you understand all the related bits of knowledge for that attribute. Study builds interest in things which can also give motivation and momentum to master particular areas. Using examples, stories, articles and others' experiences is an easy way to learn to demonstrate it yourself.
9. Write About and Share With Others
Writing is unfortunately seen by most people as a waste of time, however, there is HUGE value in it. If you want to show and learn more yourself about any content or subject, then writing about it is an excellent way to do that.
I've written before how teaching is a great way to learn and writing is often seen as a way to teach something. Look at writing letters, articles or stories about the areas of life you've learned or are working to master and you can easily develop that yourself and convince others of your applied knowledge with those areas.
Sharing your brand, the image you want and how you are doing it is very valuable as well. Not only for building it and reinforcing it, but to also work with others to get help. Whether it's through learning from them or building connections that help you get involved where you are most effective, sharing things with others will help you stay encouraged, continually get new ideas and be challenged. This helps you see progress with your branding and that is vital to keeping yourself motivated to keep on working towards being the brand you want to be.
10. Be Consistent With Your Brand
It's important to be consistent and true to yourself when delivering your Brand. Armen Shirvanian from Timeless Information commented recently on my article about protecting your online social media profile, in that he states how important is it to be congruent with a consistent brand for yourself. He's absolutely right and this consistency with our online profiles or brand wherever it is displayed can only be done if it is consistent. Every area of this article and the brand you want to build has to be consistent from all areas of your life. You can't be a separate brand in your home life and another one in your work life. It doesn't work and even if you manage to fake them, you will never make it last or reach your full potential having two separate brands.
Another great article I read recently on the subject is from Jonathan at Illuminated mind, where he wrote Don€™t be a Sellout: A Guide to Staying Real. This is an excellent article about how to be consistent and true to yourself in the perspective you portray to others. Again, I feel this really reinforces how important it is to be consistent and real with yourself in all areas of your life. Your brand is something you should be happy to share with anyone, friends, colleagues, family or even strangers online.
So, I encourage you to take some time and follow this plan to build and be your own brand. Put your ideas down on paper and decide how and what you want in each of these steps. Look at applying them in your home life, relationships and work environment.
It will drastically improve your confidence in yourself and can really give you the boost you need to become happier, more effective and much more consistent in your life. Don't settle and be complacent with your current brand unless you can honestly be described in your life as the way you want to be and the best person you can possibly be.
Mike is the author of Learn This, a productivity blog for self learning career, leadership and life improvement tips. He's written many articles about finding your passion in life, goal setting and many other ideas around learning to have a better and more positive life. Please subscribe to his RSS feed here to read more of his articles!