The Power of Putting on Your Shoes
(spoiler alert: it's life changing)
BY VERONICA VICCORA
Recently I was discussing the topic of goal setting with some friends during our latest book club meeting. (Yes, I'm in a book club. We're reading War and Peace. And by "we're reading" I mostly mean "they're reading" while I silently nod and pretend like I'm not 3 chapters behind. But I digress). We'd gotten slightly off topic and, grateful to be discussing something other than confusing Russian aristocracy, I was extremely curious to know: how was everyone was doing with their New Years Resolutions? Had anyone totally fallen off the wagon or was anyone still going strong? One of them mentioned how they often find themselves struggling with the motivation to stay consistent. And just like that, the goal setting, habit building, life optimizing monster in me was unleashed.
(In other words, I'm a Capricorn)
I admit, goal setting is like my version of porn. Opening up a brand new book about life designing is like opening up to the pages of the centerfold for me. And through this insatiable need to understand how to fulfill our wildest dreams, one of the most powerful tips I've come across (no pun intended), is something I read in dancer, Twyla Tharp's book, The Creative Habit. She mentions that one the most powerful ways she stays on track with her goals is by fixating not on the big picture, but rather on the trigger habit. Instead of telling herself she needs to wake up early and get to the gym to dance every morning, she focuses on something much simpler: putting on her shoes. Once the shoes are on, it's just about getting a cab. Once the cab is hailed, of course she's going to the gym. And suddenly, like magic, she has become the person she wants to be simply by tying those laces.
This had me thinking though, perhaps there is a much greater power in footwear than we ever previously understood. I'd argue it goes much deeper than making your goals a little more achievable. Perhaps, part of the reason why this is such an effective habit building exercise is because it's a way to take the first step towards our dreams. What we choose to wear, after all, is one of the many beautiful ways we have to cultivate our identity. The moment we put our foot into that sneaker, or that heel, or that Doc Marten, we're literally stepping into our desired life by cultivating the necessary persona to do so. We're becoming the runner who does 6 miles every morning, the style writer strutting into Vogue, the artist walking to their studio in Brooklyn (I'm actually beginning to suspect these Doc Martens are, in fact, required to live in Brooklyn).
Our current society seems to enjoy compartmentalizing the mind, body and soul. But we're not Caboodles cases people! (As much I love the 90s). The mind stuff does not fit perfectly into one tray while the body stuff fits in another tray while the soul stuff is hidden in the bottom container. In fact, take that Caboodle and shake the shit out of it and that's a much more accurate picture of what's like to be a human. Sure, there are compartments per say, but it's alllllll sorts of messy. The scrunchies are floating around with the nail polish. The lipgloss and the fake nails have fused to become one. What I'm trying to say is, what we wear has an effect on our mentality. Which is precisely why cultivating your personal style is not quite as vain or frivolous as the world might perceive it to be. Yes, there are people who use clothing to flaunt their status or force themselves to fit into one box or another. There's also people that use hammers to kill people. Doesn't mean that's what they're for.
Style, (like hammers), is a tool that we can use to build the life we want. If you're living in the same unwashed sweat pants every day because you work from home and it doesn't really matter how you look, start to ask yourself, are you dressing for you or for other people? And if your answer is the latter, why do you think that is? If you are dressing for yourself, what are you saying about who you are? Do those hole ridden leggings really make you feel like the best version of you? If so. Rock on my friend. But if the answer is no, then what would make you feel like the person you dream of becoming?
This is not about materialism, this is about mindset. I'm not suggesting that the only way to get to your dream life is by dropping a cool thousand at Gucci. When I started dancing a few years ago (which is a wholeeeeee other story), I had a beat up, 10 year old pair of ballet slippers that my teacher kindly passed down to me, not a shiny new pair of the latest and greatest pointe shoes that broke the bank (and let's be honest, likely my ankle).
But I loved those shoes, because every time I put them on, I felt like I was a dancer (despite the fact that I couldn't do a pirouette to save my life just yet), and that meant I started to do dancer things. I fixed my posture, I activated my core, I stretched every morning. There are so many ways of designing your life, and getting dressed is just one of them! But it's certainly an especially fun way and maybe even a life changing one.
So, if you want to build a better life but you're not sure where to start, start by putting on your shoes.