At the beginning of February, I invited my social media followers to use the 28 days of February to really start living their personal brand. If you didn’t catch the posts on the @DrCindy platforms, I’m inviting you to join the challenge now. It’s the day after Valentine’s Day, so show yourself some love and join me in living the life you want to live. It’s time to leave the legacy you want to leave!

For the next 28 days straight, I challenge you to live your most powerful personal brand. In January, we worked on the plan for your brand, and you have now created the brand you want the world to know. Now, let’s put it into action.

My word for 2023 is “opportunity,” and I think 28 days is a great amount of time to take the opportunity to break old habits and create new ones – ones that are authentic, beneficial and take you in a forward motion. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg says it takes consistent steps to create a new habit, so let’s start now. If you want to live your most powerful personal brand, then you have to be consistent. Part of that is being your true self – allowing your personal brand to show up and work for you.

You can do anything for 28 days

Whenever I need to do something that really needs to get done but isn’t a quick fix, I start by thinking about things I’ve done in the past that took the same amount of time or effort to give myself a baseline. Looking back, I realize that project, that trip, that new habit turned out just fine – so I know I can do it. And so can you.

I know someone who challenged herself to run a marathon. She trained over the course of a year. When the big day came, instead of being daunted by 26 miles, she kept telling herself, “You’ve run more than this in the last four weeks. You can do anything for one day.” I have another friend who, when faced with something hard or painful, says to himself, “I’ve been through tougher times than this; I have made it through. This is temporary. I can totally do this.” Self-talk is an important part of being able to keep going. Remember, you are changing habits here, so be kind to yourself. Your thoughts and your words should follow the mantra: Treat yourself as if you would treat a friend.

How a carpenter built his brand from scratch

I have another friend who turned 28 days into a new career. Justin had a steady city government job but felt complacent and bored, and he didn’t feel that he was living up to his potential. He has a wife and three small children to support. Also, he’s an introvert. Sales is NOT his passion. But he left that comfortable job to follow his dream. He began with a plan for how he would start his business. Justin looked for opportunities to network and get referrals. He built trust with his clients by completing the jobs on time, on budget and with a smile. He asked, shyly at first, for referrals and more work. And he continued to stay in touch with his past clients, thanking them for their business (Does this process sound familiar?)

When he set out on this new venture, he took small steps at first. He knew he needed to get at least three jobs to pay the bills each month. So, he consistently looked for opportunities to find work. He was diligent about making sure his network and neighbors knew of his new venture. And every single day, he committed to making at least one new connection. He needed to build his personal brand as an entrepreneur and business owner – not a shy city worker who happens to be good with tools!

In his business plan, he gave himself 365 days to put every possible effort forward to make his company successful. He thought, “I can do anything for a year.” The first few weeks (28 days?) were the hardest and scariest. Now, four years later, he’s so sought after that people are on a waiting list to have staircases, decks, and cabinetry built by him. It all started with his plan to meet one new person per day and to talk about his business with them.

My point? If you do something for 28 days, you can do anything after that.

Where to start? Right here, right now.

Getting clear on who you are

Your personal brand affects everything in your life – personal and professional. That’s a big deal. It’s time to evaluate the patterns you use to present yourself to the world. Be honest with yourself. What is stopping you from getting what you want? Do you have a pattern of embracing the “flavor of the month”? How is that serving you? What happens when the next shiny thing comes along? Staying on track is key to living a true, consistent YOU.

What motivates you? Some people are motivated by incentives like money, vacation time, bonuses, marking stuff off of a list, or hitting milestones. Others are motivated by achievements, like promotions or awards. Others are motivated by fear – of not reaching their goals or hitting a timeline. Understanding your motivation goes a long way toward creating, living, then selling your most powerful personal brand.

Time to create

I’ve said it 100 times, and I’ll keep saying it until the end – you need a plan. You need a goal (make it a SMART one) with milestones, a schedule (hey, 28 days sounds good, right?), to-do lists and time management boundaries. Your brand is what the world thinks of you. It’s that important.

Another component of this 28-day challenge is accountability. The best way to see big change through is to tell someone you’re doing it. Make sure it’s someone who will check in on you and actually hold you to your goals.

I have a friend that does a January cleanse every year. And she cuts out a lot: wine, caffeine, sugar, carbs, oils, and more. She does it… Wait for it… for 28 days. Why? It resets her physical being as well as her mental clarity. It also helps set new habits for the rest of the year. She’s creating – different goals to focus on health. For her, those 28 days probably feel endless. But every year, she says to herself, you can do anything for 28 days. And she does.

Living up to your hype

The best part of having a goal for 28 days is that you’re creating hype for your new you. You’ll find your new brand isn’t nearly as elusive as it was 28 days ago. Now, it’s just time to live it. Will you stumble along the way? Probably. We all step outside of ourselves from time to time, but now you’ll have the practical skills and tools to get back on track – and it won’t take 28 days.

And you know what happens when you’re living your most authentic self? You will build trust in your personal brand. People will be able to speak about your personal brand, advocate for you and be raving fans for you.

Remember the carpenter? He still doesn’t talk much. But he doesn’t have to. When he meets with a client and listens to what they want for their home, he actually HEARS them, offers suggestions, and talks thoughtfully about the project. He shares his vision, how the process works, how he works, and additional ideas (hello, upselling!) to make the vision come alive. They can tell he’s invested in their project. That’s his new brand: thoughtful, skilled, caring and creative.

Selling yourself

Living your personal brand, after spending 28 intentional days on it, will start to come more naturally – especially if you’re choosing parts of your personality that are already there; they just need some fine-tuning. My personal brand emphasizes traits I already have and hold in high regard. Sure, I’d love to be a concert pianist famous for creative, original scores. That’s just not me. That would never “sell” because it’s not authentic. Instead, I “sell” myself – my personal brand as a listener and a kind and thankful person.

And being me works every time.