When the times are asking for change, but you don’t know where to start!
by Tsitaliya Mircheva
2020 feels for many of us like the ultimate reset year, it feels like starting from scratch again. That can be so scary and overwhelming, but also exciting and fun! It depends! We reached out to Ariane Tavakol, a Coach and Personal Reinvention Architect to tell us where to start or how to pull out from feeling lethargic and unmotivated and start a new life today!
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We live in time when we are being challenged and asked for changing most of our old habits and dare I say in a radical way. The problem is that most of us identify with our habits so much that letting them go feels like losing our identify. So who are we without our habits? Without our job and even without our circle of friends?! Who are we without our daily style uniform, we are used to wearing every day going to work?
Last year many of us have been asking this same question while staying at home wearing a pyjama all day long or perhaps a pair of slacks. No make up, no blow dry, no accessories. On one side this can feel liberating, but on the other can be quite overwhelming, because we are called to start a completely new life and to re-invent ourselves.
HOW TO REINVENT YOURSELF?
As a fashion brand we believe that clothes have a lot to say about who you are! For ages both women and men have been using clothes to communicate status, character and to tell their story. This explains why last year many people have started a wardrobe cleanse, getting rid of a lot of their old clothes and asking questions like why did I buy this jacket, how do I feel wearing such a dress and do I identify with my wardrobe at all?
As we are not Re-invention experts, nor image consultants, we met with Ariane Tavakol, an entrepreneur, a coach and a Personal Reinvention Architect, with whom we discussed all about the process of reinvention and how to recognise opportunities even in the darkest moments of our lives.
Tsitaliya: Why do you think at the moment there is this need among so many people to reinvent themselves, to start new?
Ariane Tavakol: As you so eloquently mentioned above, this year has been extraordinary for most people. I don’t think any of us had ever experienced anything like what happened in 2020 and we certainly were not prepared or equipped to deal with the consequences of social distancing and its emotional and psychological ramifications. What we knew to be true about ourselves and our lives pre-COVID are no longer true or have taken on a new shape, which we have had to get used to very quickly. So many have been feeling stuck and/or out of touch - we’ve lost touch with who we were. Dressing up has been replaced with dressing down to the point of carelessness for many - the bare minimum suffices for Zoom calls.
From the boardroom to the kitchen cutting board, the jump was fast and unintended. An entire year of cooking, cleaning, not socialising or traveling would have most people feel blah, unmotivated and uninspired. So as Spring and hopefully the end of this gruesome era is making its way, more and more people want to come out of their shell and live again, feel again and play again.
Fashion plays a major part in our well-being or lack thereof. The way we choose to show up sends a clear message about how we are perceived by the outside world.
Tsitaliya: Since you coach people how to re-invent themselves I wonder what role fashion or style play in your work?
Ariane: Fashion plays a major part in our well-being or lack thereof. The way we choose to show up sends a clear message about how we are perceived by the outside world. Just a touch of makeup, color and style is enough to make one feel unstoppable, even if only for a moment because let’s face it, good fashion without the proper mindset would be like a fish out of water - awkward, uncomfortable and unsustainable.
Tsitaliya: Do you believe that fashion can empower or disempower women? I think there are both ways around?! And do you work with women on that point - that they can use fashion for their benefit, not the other way around...feel a victim of trends and influencers?!
Ariane: I believe that fashion is like a double edge sword - it can both empower or disempower, depending on how it is being used and the why behind it.
Fashion connects us with our community as well as our identity - can be both positive or negative (if we fall prey to peer pressure - will I be judged, discarded or accepted and liked?)
Fashion is a form of non verbal communication and self expression. We dress a certain to way to convey a message which most of the time we may not even be aware of consciously. We also wear certain outfits because of how we perceive ourselves at that moment and how we want to be perceived by others- sexy, attractive, confident, in power or unseen, unimportant and unattractive.
And depending on the brand and materials we choose, we can also make a moral statement (ethical, environmental ...)
In my coaching, I work a lot with fashion as a tool for empowerment. I sometimes ask my clients to create their alter ego and pick a style or an accessory that would stand out and be easily identifiable as the Alter Ego.
Tsitaliya: I have a feeing that this spring the whole world feels disempowered! First of all it seems like we can’t still manage this whole situation with COVID 19 and then there is not much we can do about it, us as individuals I mean. And finally on top of that we can’t even dress up, which for me personally was an act of empowerment in the past?! So what do you think - do you have tips on how to “empower ourselves in small ways even at home”?
Ariane Tavakol: It all starts in the morning. How we start our day will greatly determine how the rest of the day will go.
1- No snoozing or sleeping in!
2- Get out of bed swiftly and make your bed
3- Breathe a few times deeply
4- Say to yourself or outloud 3 things you are most grateful for
5- Drink a big glass of water with lemon
6- Move your body for at least 5 to 10 minutes
7- Meditate (you can start with 5 minutes)
8- Eat something healthy and nutritional
10- Put on makeup and wear comfortable but stylish clothes that will make you feel good
11- Turn on the music and dance whenever possible!
All throughout the day, take small breaks to breathe and recalibrate. Most importantly, be mindful of what you consume daily (food, T.V, podcast, books, news...) and who you surround yourself with. It is essential to create an environment where you can thrive easily.
Go out and take fresh air as much as possible.
Set clear boundaries with work and family - you need to protect yourself from being on overdrive at all time.
One tip from a stoic approach called “negative visualization” (can seem gruesome but it works): if you are frustrated with your life at the moment, start imagining having lost everything (your job, hime, health...). Give yourself a few seconds for it to sink in. What would it look like? Be as visual as you can be. Now open your eyes. There’s a good chance that you will realise how lucky you are and how wonderful it is to have a home and be healthy. You will, at least for a moment, stop taking your life for granted.
Tsitaliya: When someone comes to you asking for help and advice - it is clear you can’t just tell them here is opportunity for you, go for it! Instead you lead them through and direct them until they recognise what is available for them in their situation, so they can choose! What opportunities have you recognised for women in this pandemic, if we can generalise this? (an opportunity to start taking control of their lives for example, choosing a job they love or cutting out certain people from their network...etc.)
Ariane Tavakol: I’m a firm believer that when a door closes, another one, even bigger, is waiting to be opened, if one chooses to see it of course.
Many companies have lost invaluable assets because they couldn’t afford to keep them anymore. What is the opportunity here? There are jobs one couldn’t have applied for in the past because they were taken and now they are available. There are people companies couldn’t dream of hiring in the past who now are in desperate need for a job.
This is also a perfect time to learn something new and to improve existing skills.
But before looking for new opportunities, one has to work on their mindset and limiting beliefs which have kept them small and scared until now. Unless one works on changing their story, history will keep repeating itself. So my advice is to start at ground zero and move your way up. It can be daunting and all so exciting.
Tsitaliya: What’s your advice to all these people who are sitting at home at the moment without a job, without a partner and friends to hold their hand. How do you start pulling yourself out of this?
Ariane Tavakol: First: Join online networks to expand your horizon - Facebook groups, Zoom meetings and events. Listen to inspirational podcast and videos. Go for walks and remind yourself of all the things you can be grateful for.
Create your own tribe by reaching out to people from these groups or from your personal network. Give 100% of you hoping for 50% back.
Second: Be clear about who you want to be and why. Find someone you look up to and start modelling them.
Third and most important: Get a Coach. If you can’t afford one, there are so many free videos you can watch online. When in a dark hole, it’s so hard to see the way out on your own. Having a new perspective, from a professional, is essential to personal development.
Start with small steps - one foot in front of the other.
Give yourself small challenges every day which aren’t too difficult to achieve but challenging enough to give you a sense of accomplishment and pride. The collection of all the small wins will amount to one huge WIN!
Before looking for new opportunities, one has to work on their mindset and limiting beliefs which have kept them small and scared until now. Unless one works on changing their story, history will keep repeating itself.
Tsitaliya: Have you been through the journey of reinvention yourself?
Ariane Tavakol: Yes, so many times!!
Since the age of eight, I’ve lived in five cities in four countries on three continents. Each time I moved my life flipped upside down—everything I knew and loved was gone in a moment. I always felt like an outsider and didn’t belong anywhere. People called me French Terrorist or Persian Princess and made fun of my accent. It was a never ending battle against stereotypes. It would have been easy to become angry and bitter, but I knew one important truth early on—we take ourselves wherever we go.
I had two choices:
Spend my life complaining and being the victim of my circumstances
- Take my future into my own hands and become the victor
I PICKED B OF COURSE!
Reinvention isn’t about becoming a brand new person. It’s not about going blonde, because let’s be real, your roots will grow out. It’s about taking risks and embracing the edges of life—refusing to stay miserably comfortable. Reinvention is about saying yes to things that scare us because we know that the magic always lies on the other side of the fear.”
Tsitaliya: Finally to finish on a really positive note - tell me how do you describe your own style, what does it say about you and do you use fashion in your own daily life as a way to communicate a certain feeling? Do you do this intentionally and with purpose?
Ariane Tavakol: I would say that my style changes everyday depending on my mood and how I feel about my body. Generally I like to wear unique pieces which can be conversational starters. In the summer, lots of dresses and colours and in the winter I retrieve to black. I have a style which has become my signature style which people who know me recognise easily. The happier I feel the more vibrant and unique my clothes are and the opposite is true for my blue days.