Many of us will have started this New Year with a host of resolutions about how to improve many aspects of our life in an attempt to make ourselves look and feel better.
We will join gyms and start diets, brush up our CVs or maybe learn a language and book an exotic holiday. All in the spirit of making a fresh start and a difference.
Depending on where you live, what your goal is and how committed you are to reaching it, your efforts may set you back a considerable amount of money. However, given the number of January's good intentions which fall by the wayside before February has begun, the price could be just as great for your self-esteem as your wallet.
So, how would you feel if I promised to be able to make a lasting change to your life for little or no money in the space of just two minutes? You'd probably regard me with a degree of suspicion and mild amusement.
However, it is true. I believe that in just two minutes we can all make ourselves look more attractive, stylish and confident regardless of our respective wealth - or lack of it - or circumstances.
All such a process requires is a little bit of thought. I asked the same of an audience at the TEDx Danubia event in Budapest last March. They too were sceptical at the start. Even so, they gradually understood not only how style doesn't have to mean relying on designer labels and guidance from glossy fashion magazines but can have far more significant consequences than for your wardrobe.
Whether in a professional or social context, it is possible to make the right - or very wrong - impression in milliseconds. Scientists far more knowledgeable about biology or psychology than I will ever be have produced a wealth of evidence to show how the brain is conditioned to respond in certain positive or negative fashions when presented with particular stimuli.
Regardless of what someone might do or say thereafter, the tone of their relationship with a new acquaintance can be determined by that initial meeting. Yes, first impressions really do count.
Therefore, a little bit of preparation can get you off on the correct footing. Considering where you're going, who you're meeting, the perception that you want to create and even what the weather is can quickly guide you to the right outfit.
If you know that you're wearing the right clothes for the occasion, so it follows that you'll be more relaxed and, if you're more relaxed, you'll help put the other person at ease too, creating the right atmosphere for a productive meeting, whatever your objective is.
Of course, to truly develop a personal style means applying a bit more thought - opening up your imagination, in fact - and even confronting insecurities about the way you see yourself as well as your likes and dislikes.
Having taken such an important step, though, armed with your new-found ability to make quick, considered judgements to benefit your appearance, you are more capable of moving forward and curating a 'look' which is an authentic representation of who you are and how you want to be perceived.
Rather than "making the best of a bad job", you realise the "job" - you - isn't so bad after all. It is a subtle shift but one which can feed into facets of your life outside the sartorial. Cuisine, culture, choreography even - all can be affected by your applying just a little thought, a process which starts with that initial two minutes.
Instead of starting 2012 with hope and resolutions, it is far better, in my opinion, to begin the New Year with firm resolve, confidence and the awareness that the ability to make the changes you really want is within your grasp and your timeframe.
And if you really want more ideas about what to do exactly in order to stimulate your imagination and your wardrobe, why not watch my TEDx talk in full (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfEUwTxPQWE).
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