I have a friend who is an image consultant/stylist (Karen Lowe, check her out here).

Karen is the best advertisement for her services. She always looks absolutely gorgeous, whether I see her at a casual weekend event or at a business meeting. She brings a real art to dressing. She has a wonderful eye for color, pattern, texture and proportions. Karen always looks comfortable, appropriate to the occasion and completely herself. She is total eye candy!

I struggle to get dressed, I always feel like something in my outfit is not right, not working. Somewhere I have picked up that getting dressed should be completely effortless. That I should be able to magically pull fabulous items from my closet every morning like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat.

Recently Karen and I were working on a speaking event together and we had a meeting where we presented the ideas we were going to talk about at the event.

I was listening to Karen talk about how if you want to look more stylish, there is an investment you need to make. Not necessarily a financial investment, but an investment in caring, in time and most of all, in thoughtfulness.

She has a list of totally do-able but effective ways to bring more thought to how you dress so that over time, your style reflects who you really are. Note the “over-time” part! I struggle with getting dressed. Not because I have no “style”.  I am just not putting in the time and thought required to build my closet and choose my outfits.

The researcher Brenee Brown claims that we live in a culture of “fast easy fun”. She says that we have sometimes forgotten that doing good work of any kind can take a huge investment of time and thoughtfulness. For her, there was a 15 year gap between wanting to start a national conversation about her research findings around shame and the TED talk that launched that conversation.

I have nothing against fast easy fun, in fact, in my line of work many things come more easily when we embrace that fast, easy and fun is possible.

But if you are working toward something you really care about and you are not getting your results quick, fun and easy, I want you to know, all is well!

Time, patience and good old thoughtful hard work are the other essential ingredients, and not an indication you are not doing well. When we see people excel and succeed, we only see the end product and not the years and years of blood, sweat and tears that got them there.

And the best part? When you buckle down, whether you reach your goals or not, you will enjoy the bounty of your work. Because when we commit and do the work required for anything substantial, anything that holds meaning for us,  we develop patience, focus and commitment. We deepen our understanding of ourselves and others and we grow more humble and more wise. It does not matter if these endeavours are professional, creative, athletic, spiritual,  personal or even stylish. If they are meaningful to us, they are worth our time and effort.

And if your efforts don’t lead you to exactly where you imagined or where you really wanted to be, in the process you will have built and fortified the most precious resource you have: you. And that is always a win-win situation.