Worried that low standards might be dragging you down?
Your standards are what you allow to happen or continue in life. What you’ll accept, and what you won’t. Where you draw the line in the sand, in all areas of your life.
Your standards are how you allow other people to treat you. They are linked to your self-esteem and what you think you deserve.
It’s important to take a look at what you’re allowing in your life, and think about whether these things are positives, or whether they’re hindering you. Are you setting the bar too low in general?
If you’re here, then you’ve probably decided that your standards need raising. It’s time to take positive action and make that happen.
It’s time to relinquish certain things or find a new way of approaching them. It’s time to rid your life of the toxic elements that are only doing you damage, and that you’d be better off without.
This isn’t an easy thing to do, but it can be life changing. Here are some tips on raising your standards up to where they deserve to be.
11 Ways To Raise Your Standards
1. Think about the alternatives.
If you’re struggling to motivate yourself to raise your standards, then a good way to get into the right mindset is to think about what the alternative is.
If you don’t change the way you approach life, what toll could that take on your future?
Would it impact your health? Relationships? Financial security?
Will your dreams ever become a reality if you don’t make this change?
Think about that carefully – your answers could be all the motivation you need to change your life.
2. Be more assertive.
If you want to raise your standards, you have to learn to stand your ground and assert yourself.
If you have low standards, you probably don’t defend yourself. You probably just accept what you’re given and never complain about anything.
Raising your standards means learning when to speak up, defend your point of view, and be honest with other people about your wants and needs. It means knowing when to say that enough is enough.
If you’re being treated unfairly at work, speak up. If your partner isn’t pulling their weight in your relationship, be honest with them and make your needs clear.
If a friend of yours expects you to be there for them but never returns the favor, talk to them about it.
Let people know they can’t just walk all over you.
3. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep.
If you’re not feeling rested and your batteries aren’t fully charged, then you probably won’t be in the right mindset to make positive choices and keep your standards high.
You’ll accept less from yourself and expect less from other people, and you won’t be motivated to make healthy food choices or exercise consistently, for example.
Find the right sleep routine for you, and stick to it. Set yourself a strict bedtime, and make sure you wind down beforehand by putting all your screens away and doing things that calm your mind and get you ready for a restful night’s sleep.
4. Treat your body with respect.
Many of us let ourselves down when it comes to our standards in the way we treat our bodies.
If we don’t have high standards for our own bodies and minds, then we’re getting off to a terrible start. It’s a cliché, but your body really should be your temple.
Think about what’s going into your body, what you’re putting on your body, and what you’re doing with your body.
Raise your standards in terms of food. You should try to add as many natural, unprocessed foods to your diet as you think you can, and keep adding more gradually over time.
Remember, better quality food doesn’t have to be more expensive food. You just have to learn how to get creative in the kitchen, buy intelligently, and eat well on a budget.
Raise your standards in terms of drink. Don’t overwhelm your body with large quantities of alcohol. Enjoy good quality alcohol in moderation, if that’s what you want to do, but don’t overdo it.
Raise your standards in terms of cosmetics. Use products made of natural ingredients that nourish the biggest organ you have: your skin. Choose your products carefully, or even start making your own so you know exactly what you’re putting on your body.
Raise your standards in terms of exercise. Make sure you’re keeping your body strong and supple. You owe it to your future self. Make daily exercise non-negotiable rather than letting it sink to the bottom of your priority list. Set yourself ambitious but reasonable goals that you’ll know you’ll actually meet.
5. Spend on the things that really matter.
You don’t have to earn more to raise your spending standards. It’s all about changing the way you think about money. Take control of your spending, track your expenses, and make sure you’re saving for your future.
Think about the things you spend your money on – is that expensive car or piece of designer clothing really going to enrich your life? If it’s not, then it’s not worth it.
Use your money to live unforgettable experiences and make memories with the people you love.
Don’t spend your money on things just because society tells you that’s the done thing. When you do need to buy material things, think about quality and not quantity. Look after the things you buy and make them last.
6. Make positive choices every day.
Your standards won’t raise themselves. You need to make small changes and develop new, healthy habits every single day.
Find a way to stand up for yourself at work, limit your time on social media, make a healthy choice at lunch, or try out a new interest one evening. Make sure you’re conscious of all the small steps you’re taking, and give yourself credit for them.
7. Work on your self-control.
Self-control is a huge part of raising your standards, as it means you stop being a slave to your impulses.
Try to be more conscious of your actions and think about why you’re doing things. Do you really want/need to do something, or are you just giving into temptation? Are your actions benefiting you, or are they undermining you?
Monitor how much time you’re spending on social media or answering emails. Be aware of when you eat unhealthily, spend too much time worrying, buy things you don’t need, find excuses not to exercise, etc.
You’re always going to do these things to some degree, and you’re always going to have the urges to do them. And it’s okay to give into them sometimes! Indulging now and again is so important in life. It’s about finding a healthy balance.
The important thing is to be aware of them and decide when to give into them and when acting on them wouldn’t be right for you in the long run.
Making the right decision even when you’re really tempted to make the wrong one is a true sign of high standards.
Being aware of how you spend your time is a big part of this. Your time is valuable, so don’t waste it. Don’t fritter it away on things that aren’t making a positive difference, whether to you or to others.
8. Explore the power of affirmations.
Do you have a voice in your head that talks you down and means you end up settling for less than you should? If so, affirmations could help you change that mindset and silence that voice for good.
Every morning, look yourself in the eye and tell yourself that you can do anything you want to, that you’re worthy of love, or that you won’t settle for less than you deserve in your relationships.
Come up with your own affirmations that help you tackle the root of your low standards.
9. Surround yourself with positive influences.
Never underestimate the role the people you spend most of your time with play in your life.
Do those people have high standards for themselves? If they do, then that’ll rub off on you.
If they don’t and you find they weigh you down or hold you back, think carefully about whether they’re a bad influence on you. Perhaps you need to distance yourself from them if you want to raise your standards.
If you think you’re lacking in good influences, be open to new friendships with people who are in a similar frame of mind to you. You can also look for positive influences on TV, online, or on podcasts.
10. Treat other people with respect.
If you want to improve your standards in your relationships and are fed up with accepting less than you deserve, you need to give to others what you’d like to receive back from them.
Treat other people in your life – whether personal or professional – with the respect with which you’d like to be treated. Don’t treat anyone in a way you wouldn’t put up with.
What goes around comes around, and the people who are worthy of your time will treat you with the same respect as you treat them.
11. Give yourself credit when things are going well.
When you do start living up to your new standards, make sure you give yourself the credit you deserve.
Whatever your new goals are, be conscious of all the small steps you’re taking to make them a reality.
Don’t go through life focusing on the things you’re doing wrong, as you’ll only lose your momentum and convince yourself it’s not worth it, or that you’re incapable.
Focus on all the things you’re doing right. Try making a list of all the small things you achieve every week so you don’t lose sight of them. Use that to remind yourself of the progress you’re making and to motivate yourself to keep going and keep those standards high.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why do I need to set standards?
If you don’t set standards for yourself, you won’t always treat yourself as you deserve, and you will allow others to treat you poorly too. Setting standards confirms to yourself – and informs others – how you expect to be treated.
Without standards, other people will walk all over you. Without standards, you may maintain a lifestyle that harms you rather than benefits you. Setting standards is essential.
How high should my standards be?
Your standards should be high enough that you don’t allow long term behaviors that are detrimental to you, but not so high that nobody can live up to them (including you).
Your standards should match the kind of person you wish to be and the lifestyle you wish to lead.
Take your standards for what you eat, for example. Whilst you may hear others talk about how they only eat organic or follow a strict diet regime, those things might not compliment who you are or your lifestyle preferences.
If you want to enjoy some fast food once a week and you know that you have the willpower to keep it at just once a week, that’s a standard you can set. Or perhaps you will aim for 3 meals cooked from scratch each week because you have young children to care for and it’s unrealistic to make fresh meals every day. That’s okay. Other people’s standards might be different, but these are yours and you should feel satisfied with them. They might change in the future, but they are what they are for now.
Or consider your standards when it comes to dating. It’s good to maintain high standards in terms of who you go on a date with, who you continue to date, and who you enter into a relationship with.
But some standards are unattainable. You may be searching for some perfect man or woman who fits every one of your criteria, but that might not be possible. Everyone has flaws and nobody will have everything you want in a partner. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a great relationship with someone that lasts a lifetime.
Your standards can be flexible without having to lower them too much. Sure, if you go on a date with someone and they are rude to the wait staff, you can ditch them because they do not meet your standards for basic respect. But if you are dating someone and they have to cancel plans at the last minute, you can cut them a little slack. If they keep doing it, however, that’s when your standards should come into play.
You can tell if your standards for something are too high because nobody will be able to live up to them – you included. When you have unrealistic standards, you might find that you feel unhappy or disappointed quite a lot. If this is the case, it’s time to reevaluate where you set your standards.
What happens when you raise your standards?
The most important thing that happens when you raise your standards is that you grow your self-respect. It’s a two-way street: you need enough respect for yourself to realize that you should raise your standards, and then those higher standards make you respect yourself more.
Your standards also play a big role in the habits that you form. When your standards are low, you form bad habits that stick with you because you don’t expect more from yourself. When your standards are high, you will develop positive habits and be more likely to maintain those habits. This comes down to discipline. Low standards lead to little or no discipline and a greater likelihood that you’ll continue doing things that are not good for you. The opposite is true of high standards.
Raising your standards will help you to succeed in your goals and allow you to set more ambitious goals. You will hold yourself to account and feel more motivated to take the right actions to reach your targets.
Standards are all about the level of control you assert over your life. When you have low standards, you relinquish a great deal of control to other people, to your own impulses, and to your willingness to accept less than you deserve.
When you raise your standards, you take back control and use it to shape your life, your relationships, and your own sense of self.
An important part of control is making proactive decisions rather than making them passively or allowing others to make them for you. Maintaining high standards will help you make better decisions more quickly because you will have a clear vision of which choice best reflects those standards. You’ll have greater clarity of mind and this will give you confidence as you make your choice.
Is there anything I shouldn’t do when raising my standards?
Other than raising them too high, which we’ve already spoken about, it’s important that your standards are just that: yours.
It won’t benefit you to measure yourself against the standards of others, or to compare your standards to theirs. What you decide is right for you will be different to what another person decides is right for them. There may be a lot of overlap, but there will also be things that differ either slightly or a great deal.
Another thing that you shouldn’t do when you up your standards is to cut people out of your life without first giving them the chance to live up to those standards. If you have accepted certain treatment from someone in the past, it will take them a little while to change the way they approach you.
Make it clear to them that you have new standards and that you won’t accept certain things anymore, but do not cut them off the first time they do those things again. Simply reaffirm that you will not accept those things anymore and ask that they try to remember that. If they repeatedly cross your new line or show no effort in trying to change, then you can let them go knowing that you did all you could to maintain that relationship.
This is just one example of not being rash with decisions once you’ve decided that you need to raise your standards. Another example might be that you set a new standard for the type of work you will take on as a freelancer. That doesn’t mean cancelling existing agreements with current clients before first taking on some new clients that better reflect your new standards. Otherwise you risk leaving yourself with little or no income.
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- 21 Great Ways To Improve Your Quality Of Life
- 8 No Bullsh*t Ways To Take Control Of Your Life
- How To Teach People How To Treat You
- How To Develop A ‘Quality Over Quantity’ Mindset
- 7 Ways To Stop Making Excuses All The Time