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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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    Last Updated on July 8, 2020

    How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

    How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

    Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

    For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

    But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

    It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

    The Importance of Saying No

    When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

    In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

    Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

    Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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    Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

    “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

    When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

    How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

    It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

    From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

    We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

    And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

    The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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    How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

    Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

    The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

    1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

    Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

    2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

    Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

    3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

    When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

    6 Ways to Start Saying No

    Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

    1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

    One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

    Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

    2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

    Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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    Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

    3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

    Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

    Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

    4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

    Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

    Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

    5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

    When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

    Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

    A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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    6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

    If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

    Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

    Final Thoughts

    Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

    Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

    Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

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    Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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