Article #5, December 27, 2002
Raise Your Personal Standards!
Last month we talked about setting boundaries, which are about what you allow others to do to you or around you. Standards work hand-in-hand with boundaries; however, Personal Standards refer to your own behaviors and actions.
By expecting more of yourself, your self-esteem rises and you become very attractive to others. This attractiveness can benefit you in many ways – attracting potential friends and/or dating candidates, attracting job opportunities, attracting kindness. High standards spiral up and up as you take better care of yourself and stay away from problematic people and situations.
Raising your own personal standards takes time and effort, just like establishing strong boundaries. While you can emulate people whom you admire, your standards need to be about who you are and what’s important to you. It’s always good to start small.
Some good standards to start with could include:
- Floss every day
- Pay all your bills on time
- Save $10 more each week than you currently save
It’s important to keep in mind that healthy personal standards are not ‘shoulds’. When you are ready for a new standard or an increase in an existing standard, it will not feel like a "should". Much of the process is identification of what you need and how to get your needs met.
For example, many, many people have a need for acknowledgement. By recognizing this as a need for you, you can decide you will begin telling others that you need this. Try this: “Honey, I need you to acknowledge when I complete something, like doing 5 loads of laundry or hiring a maid to do it for us, or if I finish a great project at work.” Yea but – s/he should know I need this!
News Flash! People cannot read your mind! This is where standards can sometimes be challenging. If you have a need for your significant other to give you acknowledgement, and the person will not do it, you will have another, more difficult decision to make. It is your choice to stay with that person without getting your needs met – or not. The standard is about identifying and communicating your need, which you control; while the boundary is about the other person’s behavior which you cannot control.
Another common standard involves negativity. Almost everyone has negative self-talk, and many people also express their negativity toward others. Does this sound familiar – “I’m such an idiot! I can’t believe I did/said that.” By setting a higher standard for yourself regarding negative self-talk, it’s surprisingly easy to evolve this conversation.
- 1. Recognize the negative self-talk and how often it happens.
- 2. Change it to just be self-talk – instead of “I’m an idiot”, change it to “That was a really dumb thing to do” – focus on the behavior, not the person.
- 3. Let it go and forgive yourself. You are human; and humans, by design, make mistakes.
Voila! You now have established a higher standard for yourself! You will be happier; people around you will notice a difference and people close to you will be happier also.
According to Coach U (www.coachu.com), here are 10 steps to Raising Personal Standards:
- 1. Make a list of 10 people you admire: identify the qualities, natural behavior and how they handle tough situations and people. What standards could you raise that would have you be more like them, yet still fit you today?
- 2. Start being unconditionally constructive every single time you open your mouth, yet still say all you need to say.
- 3. Stop gossiping, good or bad, about anyone.
- 4. Let go of the standards you “should” have; make a list of the 10 standards you most want and are ready for today.
- 5. ‘Get’ that standards are a choice, not a requirement.
- 6. Fully respond to everything that occurs in your ‘space’; assume you had something to do with it, but don’t take the ‘blame’. Just handle it and raise your standards so it doesn’t happen again.
- 7. Always: Put people and relationships ahead of results.
- 8. Always: Put your integrity first, needs second, wants third.
- 9. ‘Get’ that others are right, and so are you.
- 10. Always: Maintain a reserve of time, money, love, well-being.