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How to Get What You Want by Raising Your Standards

How to Get What You Want by Raising Your Standards

Your life is a direct reflection of the standards you hold—both for yourself and for others.

This is a nearly universal truth that applies to every aspect of your life. From your profession, to your appearance, your relationships and your finances, they’re all governed by the standards you hold them to. Most of the time these standards are set unconsciously, either adapted from the environment or indoctrinated into you by your family, and your standards are usually set far lower than what you’re able to achieve.

standards

    In the words of Tony Robbins, “If you don’t set baseline standards for what you’ll accept in your life, you’ll find it easy to slip into behaviors and attitudes and a quality of life that’s far below what you deserve.” It’s not difficult to see that this is the norm, not the exception.

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    Will you make the decision to stay in the norm, or will you decide to hold your life to higher standards and become an exception?

    Identifying Your Standards

    Finding out what your standards are for different areas of your life is a simple as taking the time to just observe that part of your life.

    The best example is personal appearance. However you look at this moment reflects your current standards for your appearance. It doesn’t matter what you look like, and there are no judgement involved here. Once you start judging you get defensive and you begin viewing reality through a protective film. There is no right or wrong at this moment: it just is.

    A sumo wrestler has strict standards for his appearance; he needs to be a certain size, and anything under that size is unacceptable. He doesn’t let his weight drop because it’s an ingrained part of his identity. It would be great to be bigger—in fact he has goals set to gain weight—but there’s a breaking point where anything smaller becomes intolerable. The same is true for rock climber, except a rock climber expects himself to weigh beneath a certain number so he can climb with ease. Lighter is better, but there’s a baseline he won’t deviate from.

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    If you’ve ever gained or lost too much weight, and immediately started taking action to reverse the process, you are experiencing the fundamental effect of your standards on your appearance. You will not let yourself deviate so much from your standards because it feels wrong and unacceptable.

    Another good example is finances. How often are you late paying your bills? Is it OK to miss a payment here or there? Again, look at it without judgement at first to prevent yourself from getting defensive, and gather objective data about your income, spending habits, and financial responsibility.

    How about your relationships? Think about how much time you spend with those you love, how others treat you and how you treat others. Is there a trend that makes you feel uneasy, defensive or the need to justify and explain?

    Raising Unacceptable Standards

    Chances are you’ve identified one or two standards that are abysmal to say the least. You may look at your finances and say “I should really save more”, but you never do because you see yourself as a person who has never been able to save.

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    If you decided instead, with 100% conviction, that you were the best money-saver in the world, you would achieve your savings goal and your standards would raise. Now you identify yourself as an awesome saving machine instead of a person with the inability to save. Because you made that fundamental identity shift, you took action to stay true to who you are (i.e. a money saving machine) and you ended up with a ton of money in your bank account.

    Unfortunately, there isn’t a quick and easy way to change your standards: this is an internal shift and it can’t be faked. You may try to fake it for a while, but you won’t create lasting change, and eventually you’ll revert back to what your core beliefs really are.

    It’s not easy, but we can facilitate this internal shift and it starts with changing what we perceive to be our identity. Let’s go with the savings example above.

    First, identify the limiting belief about your identity that is preventing you from achieving your goals, and rewrite it so it reflects what you want it to be.

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    1. Current belief: I not the kind of person that can save.
    2. Alternative belief: I’m a money-saving machine.

    Then, find all of the examples that support this belief. Both in your actions and in your emotional response to the actions of others and/or facts.

    • You have $5 in savings. You’re a money saving machine.
    • You skipped Starbucks yesterday and put that money in savings. You’re a money saving machine. 
    • You talked to a friend who’s been able to save up $20,000 and feels so free. You want that feeling so badly. That’s why you became a money saving machine. 
    • The more money you have in savings, the more you can earn in interest without doing anything. That’s another reason you’ve become the most awesome money saving machine ever.

    Make it clear what will happen to you if you don’t change this belief—make the consequences as visceral as you can.

    • I’m going to end up in a nursing home by myself.
    • I won’t be able to take care of my children in the event of an emergency.
    • I’m going to lose my house.

    Lastly, begin to act like a money saving machine in every way.

    • Talk to an adviser or do research to create a plan tailored to your individual needs. Stick to the plan like white on rice.
    • If someone asks you if you save, say that you do and you’re damn good at it.
    • Stop thinking that you ‘should’ save money and think instead that you ‘must’ and ‘do’ save money.
    • Pretend you already have $20,000 in the bank and identify all the things you’re going to do with the money you have saved up.
    • Hang a modified bank statement on your refrigerator, mirror, rear view mirror in your car.

    Pretty soon, you’ll really start to feel like a money-saving machine, and not long after that you’ll actually be a money-saving machine.

    Again, the only way to raise your standards is to have an internal breakthrough where you feel compelled to change, no matter what. This feeling of total conviction coupled with a strong emotional desire behind your reasons for raising your standards will to make it impossible for you not to do so. You’ll know when that really happens because when it does, you can’t go back without losing a part of yourself in the process.

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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