Whether it is in your job, your relationships, your appearance, your health or your finances: If there is any area in your life that you’re unhappy with, I would start asking myself what my standards are and what I am tolerating that doesn’t serve me. If you want to change anything in your life, you need to raise your standards first.
What Does Standard Mean?
A standard is basically a minimum baseline of acceptance. It is what you tolerate on a day to day basis, from yourself, your boss, your spouse, your money, yourself.
If you are not happy with your status quo, your standard in that area is probably too low.
When you raise your standards and turn “should” into “must,” you are making an inner shift to take control over the quality of your life. Any area you are not getting what you want is because you haven’t raised your standards. – Tony Robbins
A standard is a non-negotiable. You can make the decision to not accept anything below that.
How is that different from setting goals?
It is so much better than just setting a goal. A goal is something temporary. It is just a measurement system for your growth. We set it, we achieve it, done. Next. But if you set a higher standard for yourself, you become that person, and this new identity stays with you forever.
Better Standards, Better Results
In school, I was a C student. Why? It was not my lack of skill or intelligence. I was just lazy. I just had no higher standards for myself of becoming an A student. My parents did not expect me to be an A student, as long as I pass my exams. But I remember my mom always quoting John Paul II: “You must demand of yourselves, even if others would not demand of you!” And that sticked with me somehow, to this day.
People with low standards for themselves never thrive. Not because they are not capable but because they tolerate having/doing/being less than they are capable of, both with their own habits and behaviors as well as what they tolerate from other people.
C standards will result in C efforts and C results. If you want something in your life to change, it is time to bring on your A game.
Examples of Better Standards
- Put on proper pants when leaving the house
- Putting at least 1 healthy thing in my body a day
- Don’t answer the phone when working/journaling etc.
- Go to church every Sunday
- Always be 10 min early
- Pay bills on time
- Make time for friends and family at least one day a week
- Always make the first step in resolving conflict
- Don’t work on Sundays
- Call mom at least once a week
- Don’t check my social media when I am out with friends
- Do what’s on my calendar
- Don’t drink and drive
It can be big or small. Brushing your teeth in the morning is a standard. You do that because you care enough for your health and appearance. Cleaning your home regularly is a reflection of the standards you hold for your living space. Some we are aware of, others have become so engrained in our habits and identity, that we don’t think about them anymore.
Why Your Standards Matter
Your life is a direct result of the standards you hold – both for yourself and others.
Raising your standards will set off a compound effect of increasing your awareness, developing good habits and achieving better results in all areas of your life.
If you want more, you need to stop settling for less.
This why it is so important to surround yourself with people who hold higher standards, as you will strive to match them. Same will happen to the people in your life.
Accepting a life with low standards is a slow death of your true self.
You Get What You Tolerate
What you tolerate and what you don’t is completely up to you. There is no such a thing as asking for too much. You probably just believe you don’t deserve it. You get what you allow.
The standard you set determines the life you get.
So ask yourself: How much are you tolerating that does not serve you or is not in alignment with you, your identity, your goals and dreams?
Some people need to hit rock bottom, be treated really badly until they realize that their results in fact are in their own hands. They just decide that they are done, not accepting this anymore. You don’t have to let it get so far before you decide you want something better for yourself.
Standards Define Who You Are
Your current standards are probably from decades ago. Maybe they are back from childhood. Your standards are probably set unconsciously and you might think this is just the way life is. Or you think this is just who you are. My guess is, your standards are lower than what you are capable of.
Having lower standards feels safe and familiar, we like to stay in our comfort zone.
Who you are today is the average (sum) of your beliefs to date. Raising your standards means raising above your own average. So you need to ask yourself who you are vs. who you want to be. Anything you wanna be, do and have – you have to become it in your mind first.
Who Do You Want to Become?
Raising your standards is a shift in identity. You can decide today that you become a person who saves money. Period.
Once you set higher standards for yourself, you will become that person. You will be the person who is always on time and saves 20% of their income.
By upgrading your standards, you upgrade your beliefs and thus your behavior and actions which leads to better results.
It means showing up as your best self and being the example of what your standards are. This will eliminate any excuses and help you take responsibility for your life. This is so empowering! By not accepting certain things, you take ownership of your life. You prove to yourself that you are in charge.
Standards Save Time and Energy
If you set a standard for yourself that is unnegotiable, you eliminate all mind chatter and doubt about it. You stop second-guessing your decisions and will thus become more efficient and productive.
A standard is a form of constraint. Putting certain constraints on ourselves frees up loads of mental space. Why? Because making decisions over whether to do or not to do XYZ consumes a lot of energy. This is called decision fatigue.
I never realized how much time and energy I was wasting on making these decisions every day and negotiating with myself. Should I buy it or not? What should I eat? The energy you set free by not having to focus on whether to do something or not is mind-blowing.
Eliminating all the thought drama and mind chatter about whether you should do X or Y. I have the standard that I get up no later than 6 am. This way, I don’t negotiate with my mind in the morning when I don’t feel like it. I have that self-discipline without having to use any willpower. Because I have decided that ahead of time. I eliminate all other options. My standard determines my result.
Your standard determines your day-to-day decisions ahead of time. This gives you so much more mindspace and energy to focus on anything you want to focus on.
Upgrade Your Life by Raising Your Standards First
Whether it is eating better, working out more, looking better, saving more money… Anything you want to upgrade in your life, you need to raise your standards here first.
It is important though to you meet yourself where you are.
You don’t have to turn around your entire life at once. These incremental steps of raising the bar just a little bit higher in one area will improve your overall quality of life and help you achieve the life you want. You can apply it to any area of your life. People start diets instead of focusing on becoming that person who makes their health and fitness a priority. Consequently, they will make healthier food choices and take the stairs, walk or meditate during their lunch break etc. All this compounds into the results they want.
You set a standard, it becomes a habit or lifestyle and then you become a new You.
How to Raise Your Standards with Money
You cannot become better with money If you don’t raise your standards regarding your money or anything else in your life for that matter. It is essential that you have to become that person who is good with money ahead of time. This in turn means you have to set certain standards for yourself. Once you create this new identity, the results will follow. You have level up before you see the evidence for it, exactly like with losing weight.
I have seen so many people who wanted more money, then made more money and still they never got ahead because they still saw themselves as not being good with money or never having enough. They had poor standards and thus a poor person’s identity. They sabotaged themselves into having no money – back to square one – because they haven’t changed their identity to someone who has money and is good with it.
Examples of raising your standards in regards to money:
- I never have less than a $100 in my checking account.
- I save 10% of my income every month, no matter what.
- I pay myself first.
- I categorically say No to things/events I don’t want to spend money on.
- I don’t have debt.
- I check my account daily.
- I commit to my budget.
- I work on my money mindset.
You can raise your standards regardless of how much money you make. It’s not about money, it’s about mindset.
If you decide you want to live a debt-free life, having that standard will set in motion all the actions and beliefs you need to actually be debt-free. All your future decisions will be based on what you defined standard is.
The magic behind it is that once you prove to yourself that you can do it by deciding for yourself and following up on it, you create a compound effect. Not only on the money you save but on how you treat yourself. You will prove to yourself that you can do it. The confidence you gain will inspire more change.
Don’t Be Afraid of Putting Other People Off
Honoring your own commitments and taking care of your own priorities is the most important thing in the world.
Having higher standards for yourself ultimately is an act of self-love and self-respect. Nothing bad ever comes from that place. You will not be respected if you don’t respect yourself. Others will not respect your time, if you don’t respect your time.
We have such low self-esteem that we allow being treated badly by other people and then complain about it. It has nothing to do with them. You are allowing it because you don’t respect yourself enough. The world sees what you put out there.
You decide ahead of time what your tolerance minimum is. It might be difficult at first and you might be afraid of making others uncomfortable. Most often it just you who is not confident in your new ‘role’ yet. People will usually level up to meet you there. Everybody wins.
Same applies to lowering your standards for others who are not willing to raise theirs. It is not useful to you or the other person. This is not arrogance. It is a healthy dose of self-respect.
“Let your actions prove that you’re committed to living life on a new level. Get rid of the people and thoughts that confine you to an average existence. Raise your standards and aim for greatness.” — Tony Robbins
Expecting More is Receiving More
Having a standard in any area of your life serves as a mental upgrade of your life before it manifests into your reality.
Raising your standards creates an important shift. You will set your mind to expecting more, which in turn puts you in an energy of expecting, and thus receiving.
Set higher standards and the universe will meet you there. It works like a 401k. What you put in yourself first, will be matched by your employer.
“We only get what we believe that we deserve. Raise the bar, raise your standards and you will receive a better outcome.” – Joel Brown
How It Works in Practice
There are a few ways you can define new standards for yourself.
You can ask yourself the following questions:
What annoys me? Make a ‘no go’ list and then select the things from that list that are in your power to change.
Who do I want to be? Define what you want to be/do/have and then draw an image in your mind describing what this person is and does on a daily basis. This should serve as your new standard.
What area in my life can I improve by 1% every day? Getting big results happens in a million tiny steps. E.g. you can lose weight by setting the standard of skipping dessert or having sweets just once a week. The weight loss and better energy will be a direct (if not immediate) results of your commitment to yourself phrased as a standard.
Making a list of go’s and no go’s is a powerful tool to define your scope of tolerance and transform into the person who has the result you want. It is a list of non-negotiables and ‘musts’ that will serve as the framework of your life and your habits, and ultimately, your results.
What standards do you have? Which area in your life would like to raise your standards? What are you tolerating that doesn’t serve you?