Updated: Jul 10, 2021
I worked as an independent (freelance) graphic designer throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s. It served me well; I was the primary income earner in my first marriage, and then the sole income during my years as a divorced mom. I earned over six figures annually which during the 90’s, was a fantastic living providing us with a custom-built home, new cars, and vacations. And the freedom of working for myself allowed me to make my own schedule as I raised my three kids.
However, it was not without its challenges; one in particular that I will describe today.
When you work independently as a freelancer, you work alone. There is no one else to cover the multiple tasks associated with running a business. In a single day, I would cover the roles of receptionist, sales, design, copywriting, bookkeeping, and more in between. As a natural multi-tasker, I excelled at it.
However, there were some roles that did not come as easily for me. I don’t consider myself very extroverted. Yet “people skills” were especially important in sales and in collecting overdue invoices. Both necessitated skillsets that I felt weak in.
Before I learned this trick the process of making phone calls to chase payments was emotionally debilitating. For some reason, I took it as a personal insult; that after all of the energy and effort I put into their project, the companies did not value it enough to pay their bills (in reality one had nothing to do with the other) however it would psyche me out badly. But, as the primary income earner, I had to get paid regularly!
So, I developed a trick that made a huge difference in how I presented myself during those difficult tasks:
the HAT TRICK.
Actually, its more like a full outfit trick but that’s not nearly as catchy a phrase.
On the days that I knew I needed to be more powerful, I would dress the part. I would put on a suit, fix my hair and makeup, and complete the look with dress shoes even if I was completing the tasks over the phone in my home office.
I would tell myself; “Today I am a powerful boss lady.”
It was amazing what a difference it would make in how I thought and presented myself. I realized how connected our mindset is to how we dress! What I learned from this has impacted the success of my business and permeated my entire life:
We become what we FEEL we are!
We can intentionally build up parts of our personality by playing the HAT TRICK.
When we look the part, we feel the part.
We act the part and people see that part in us.
Dressing for my day has become a routine activity. Now, I dress based on the tasks I need to complete; some days I am a casual creative, other days I am more buttoned up and businesslike.
I approach my “to do” list with different parts of my personality, and segment my day based on what kind of energy – ie “hat” is needed for that task.
Often that means different outfits in the same day. Business clothes in the morning and creative outfit in the afternoon, for example.
In a variation of the Hat Trick, I’ve learned how to split my job responsibilities, for example; being the free-thinking artist but also the strategic art director. Sometimes I will sit in a different chair or location in my studio to intentionally shift my energy. In this way, I can see the project from a fresh perspective.
Just because I prefer to be the easy –going, dreamy creative type, doesn’t mean that I am not a strong, strategic business woman! When necessary, I am much stronger and in control than what my introverted self thinks. By accessing that part of my personality intentionally,
I can take care of my own success.
Because I developed this ability, I have been able to accomplish so much more than I ever imagined. I see more potential in life and in other people! It has taught me that we are all much more versatile and capable if we believe in our ability to morph and change.
We are infinitely more powerful when we believe!
Determine what you need to accomplish and the roles required for each task.
Imagine what a successful person in each role would look and act like.
Make sure you have appropriate outfits for each role. Collect images for inspiration and put them on your vision board (I actually use a binder for this purpose)
Practice in the mirror. Make pretend phone calls, presentations, etc. Watch yourself BE that role.
Then, go out and get it done!