The Life-Changing Magic of Modeling

When I take stock of the many life-changing decisions I’ve made over the years, I now see that each one was almost always preceded by a phase of “modeling.” I don’t mean modeling as in the cover of VOGUE magazine. I mean lifestyle-modeling. As if life were a toy-sized, 1000-piece propeller plane you could buy at a hobby store back in the day (Amazon’s probably killed all those by now though, right?).

I modeled a vision of my life after one I saw in front of me. I put myself in an environment that resembled the one I wanted for myself. I made friends with people who did the things I wanted to do. And slowly but surely I started living that life and doing those things, for better or for worse. Most of the time I didn’t realize what was happening until later - but now I consciously appreciate modeling as just another natural step towards achieving my goals.

  • In high school, a stacked Honors student’s schedule with a bunch of over-achieving peers influenced me in clear direction. I visited university campuses regularly and modeled my life after my older cousins who graduated from places like UCLA. Not surprisingly I, too, ended up graduating from UCLA years later.

  • In my early twenties, I played in bands and made friends with bedroom producers, picking up the skills to record my own music and upload it to the internet. Shortly after, I began hanging out with independent artists and songwriters who dropped gems of insider information about management and major labels. Years later, I would assemble my own management and marketing team to distribute my music independently.

  • In downtown Los Angeles, I was searching for a retreat from the monotone corporate offices I still worked in during the day to fund my music career. I moved into a loft to be in a more open space, and by walking the streets exploring pop-up shops and cafes, I found a community of like-minded creative entrepreneurs who seemed to be living an enviable life of freedom. Years later, I would cut the corporate umbilical cord to enter that same freelance lifestyle with all of its highs and its lows.

Now that I’m aware of the process, I don’t just envision myself in my dreams. I go and try my dreams on. Just like Japanese denim. Sometimes it takes a little breaking in. You can too:

  1. Want to move to a new neighborhood? Take the long way home and drive through that place every chance you get. Frequent the local businesses, grab a seat on the terrace, and make-believe you live there.

  2. Want to take your visual art to the next level? Scour the IG for references. Find gallery openings to go to - the small ones where people talk to strangers. Get your mood-board ready.

  3. Want to be better with money (ha!)? Experiment with a budget or a business plan and find the one friend or family member who seems to be good at it. Watch a few YouTube videos, listen to a few podcasts, or read a few articles that they might be interested in. You can avoid the dreaded act of “brainpicking” by sharing your thoughts on these content pieces first and following up with a casual question. “What’s your take on this?” An informational conversation can likely blossom from there.

What are some ways modeling has helped you achieve in the past? And how do you see it helping in the future?