A few years back now I hauled my ass off the couch to walk in the Carman’s Women’s 5km Fun Run in support of breast cancer research.

Nothing terribly special about that besides the fact that on that morning, I quite literally conquered couch to 5km in one shot by running the course, instead of walking as intended.

You heard right. One morning. One run. Couch to five, long kilometres done and dusted. And while it’s clearly no ultra-marathon effort, it was a considerable feat for someone who hadn’t run anywhere for close to 10 years prior. No build up. No weeks of hard slog, sweat and tears. No plans for shred and tapering. From go to woah in as long as it takes me to scan every store in ChadVegas and find the perfect addition to a client’s wardrobe. In other words, no time at all. Impressive on both fronts, if I do say so myself.

Was I exhilarated by this effort? Hell, to the yeah.

Were my knees utterly farked? Hell, to the yeah. Times eleventy hundred.

As I said, I had originally planned on walking the course while enjoying a leisurely chit chat with my GFs. As I eyed the start line however, my inner ‘Rocky Balboa, standing atop the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art with arms raised’ kicked in, and without warning my sole goal in life was to run that track down to the soaring sounds of ‘gonna fly now’.

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This inspiring tale could have ended happily ever after right there. But following several days of hobble slash shuffle my broken knees repaired, and I decided it would be a solid idea to tackle that 5 kms again. I hit the track so full of zest you could have mistaken me for a lemon.

What happened next was not pretty and despite a deep-seated desire to run, my body and mind simply couldn’t come at it. I hit the so called ‘marathon wall’ so completely and utterly; all before I was even out of the starting blocks.

You’d be correct in thinking that I felt like a total has-been after my stunning fun run effort. My failure sat with me for the next three months. Every morning my goal was to get up and run that frocking five kms again. Every morning I was defeated by that goal.

Because I had done it once, surrounded by a sea of inspiring women including a village of my own, with all the adrenaline in the world surging through my veins, I could not for the life of me understand why I couldn’t get myself out of bed each morning and do it again.

Did I beat myself up over this spectacular failure to recreate that run? Are Crocs the devil’s work?

Mercifully, the universe dropped James Clear’s book ‘Atomic Habits’ into my lap during our family holiday to Byron Bay that year. (Needless to say, there were no Crocs allowed on that trip. Or ever).

According to James Clear, while we’ve long been taught to set goals, what we really need to do is install systems;

‘Your goal is your desired outcome. Your system is the collection of daily habits that will get you there’.

Taking this learning and running with it (hand palm), I began to install a consistent training system over time. After 3 months of same route, same gear, same training days, same music (feeling strong now, won’t be long now) and adding incremental distance each week, I brought that 5kms to its knees. With mine intact.

Goal met and result achieved because I had put a process in place. While the goal was relevant, the system was undeniably everything.

The ‘system trumps goal’ thinking is also applicable when it comes to achieving effortless style and a wardrobe that works hard and supports you to stand out for all the right reasons (the goal).

So often women want to look stylishly put together and feel effortlessly at ease in their clothes. The conundrum with effortless style is that while it suggests ease or lack of effort, it requires a lot of heavy lifting at the back end and that heavy lifting relies on a system.

This is why many women are caught in a cycle of quick fix shopping for their wardrobe. They set their heart on the goal. But they lack the system to pull it off.

I equate my experience of being at the start line of a 5km run without a skerrick of training behind me to a woman at the threshold of a shiny shopping mecca on a desperate mission to buy an outfit for an event she will attend later that evening. All goals oriented and results focused. No system. No process. Exquisitely set up to fail.

Which ordinarily means frantically settling for a fashion fix that is bought without thought. The equivalent to bunged up knees after a spontaneous not so fun run.

When I work with clients, I use a process of Decide Define Do and it is the sartorial difference maker between knackered knees and shouts of “run, Forest, run!”.

It consists of 3 steps:

  1. deciding that your style and wardrobe matters with an understanding that not only does it affect how others perceive you but more importantly, how you experience yourself
  2. defining how you want to feel in your clothes every day and translating that into what you love to wear, what is most flattering for your shape and complexion and what works seamlessly with your lifestyle
  3. doing what’s necessary to ensure your personal style and the wardrobe supporting it is strategic, organised, balanced and seriously user friendly.

This my lovely, is my swoon-worthy system for smashing your style goals.

So to recap; if all you have are goals (stylish wardrobe that works) and you neglect the system to implement them (placing value on style, intentional style messaging, strategic shopping and outfit creation skills coupled with wardrobe composition and curation methods) you will continue to experience debilitating overwhelm or life draining underwhelm in your wardrobe and dressing experience.

If you would like support to move your style goals forward into a system for style success let’s book in a 15-minute StyleStart call today. I promise to have the Rocky theme playing in the background for you. 

Hi, I’m Nicole, and I’m a personal stylist obsessed with helping women in business and corporate roles to experience effortless, stylish dressing, allowing them to stand out for all the right reasons. I bring strategy, solutions and expertise to my clients. I fully understand the challenges women face when trying to achieve a wardrobe that actually works and I take the pain out of shopping for clothes and deciding what to wear. I transform something that feels fraught and complex into a streamlined solution expertly tailored to you.

Cover Image credit: Fi Mims Photography