I started shaving regularly.
For serious. I started wearing a beard in 2007 when my body finaly decided it would produce an even beard rather than Tufts of Annoyance (TM). It helped me look older but it also helped me look like a maniac as I tended to keep it pretty scruffy. (Because I was never taught anything about fashion).
So... Older: Good. Maniac: Bad. Which is what my stylist told me around the time I started seeing her in 2009-ish.
"Just trust me. Square it off and you'll look less like a wookie."
"What's wrong with wookies?"
"They don't cut their beards."
These were about 6 months apart. It had to, maybe, double my confidence. No longer the scruffy nerf herder, I would galavant about the city feeling more confident and self-assured. Women wanted me, men wanted to be me etc etc.
I did not, however, correlate the two. You see, back then I didn't do crazy thigs like write down my experiences to help me reflect. So, it didn't last.
I was in a pretty bad spot four years ago when I started my Virtue Project. I was pretty firmly in the "who cares, everything is terrible" state after a 10 year relationship ended and my job was starting to feel like a dead end. I was unhappy, depressed, and not really moving anywhere in particular. Who cared about shaving? Not me; bring on the nerfs.
Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
Enter Big B Franklin and his Ideas About Moral Perfection and I slowly started getting my life back in order. I had been tolerating a lackadaisical routine for some time, 5 years give or take, and figured I needed to get my hygiene hyper drive realigned. I heard my stylist's words echoing in my head "you look like a wookie.... Can I give you an uuuunder cuuuuuut.... Use the foooorceeeee, Willllll..."
I mapped out the things I'd tried over the previous years surrounding morning bathing routines, shaving, perfumes, even which shamppos and conditioners seemed to do the best for me- both in hair health as well as pleasant scents and textures - and started building a new hygiene routine. I could remember that I did these thinfs before but not really if they made any real difference- against, you gotta write your shit down.
Add a little lustre.
Have you ever had a massage or a cool shower after a long, sweaty day? That's how I started to feel every morning heading into my day. I was cleansed, organized, and smelling pretty darn good. Feeling good helped me look good adn that exterior helped me work my interior. It put a little but of lustre in everything. Like, normal people exercise in the morning to feel that in control for the day. Just give me a hot towel and a nice after shave balm. The new hygiene routine very, very quickly became just that- an every day routine.
I hold no illusions that it single handedly fixed everything. But, that little extra polosh? The pleasant scents? The better cropped beard? It all certainly help me fake it until I made it.
It doesn't have to be the beard.
It doesn't take megabighuge changes to start you on your way to betterment. Don't wrestle with a full sized Franklin. Maybe start with his right thigh? Find somethig small you can do in the morning that makes you feel good. Maybe get up 15 minutes earlier to have a cup of coffee in silence. Or run a mile. Or read the newspaper... or something lighter given current news...
Just one, small thing.