I've been thinking a lot lately about my personal standards and expectations. As I look at all the areas in my life, I can see very clear differences in my expectations. For instance, I am quite selective in what I chose to eat. There are certain foods that will not touch my lips. My stance is firm and there are no grey areas. But if you look at my physical activity, there are times when working out is a priority and there are times when other things get in the way.
There are other areas of my life where my standards are high and where they're practically non-existent. When my standards are high, and I'm consistent in maintaining them, my results are phenomenal. By the same token, where I have little to no standard, my results are pitiful at best and somewhat destructive overall.
Having no standard requires too much of your thought power.
I mentioned in fitness tips video that by not eating gluten, I take away one very important factor which is a major hindrance high standards....discipline. By taking away choice I don't have to decide whether or not to take that first bite of cake. My standard is set at "I don't eat gluten heavy foods." So if there is a tempting spread of cakes, cookies, pasta, garlic rolls, etc. I automatically know the outcome. I either find something else to eat or I wait. There are no other options. This may sound undesirable to some of you. But actually, I've never been happier. No longer will I have to deal with my will power in scenarios where I'm exposed to high calorie goodies. Especially considering that before going gluten free, I had little to no standards on managing my intake of sweets. My willpower muscles just weren't strong enough.
When I look at all the areas of my life where my standards are the highest, I realize that my stress and anxiety levels are lower. The same is true for the reverse. One area where my standards are below expectation is in my physical environment. My home isn't overly messy but there are times when the clutter gets out of hand. I have a dreaded habit of not putting things away immediately after use. Things pile up, then I have to set aside time to reorganize. My standard in this area is fairly low. Because of this, I have to deal with a nagging feeling of having to clean up. When I look around my working area, I may experience feelings of overwhelm, disconnect, or stress (even at low levels). Those feelings take away from my creativity. My subconscious mind is dealing with the clutter which restricts my conscious mind from being fully engaged in the creative process. I know this because I've experienced writing when my environment was highly organized and when it wasn't. So I ask myself, what if I were to establish new standards in this area? What if I chose to redefine what I was willing to accept and worked consistently to maintain those standards?
Low (or no) standards keep getting lower
When a standard is set. We work to stay at that level or go higher. But unfortunately, low standards work the same way. If I'm ok with the way things are, chances are that I'll be ok if they get a little worse. Most likely, I won't take any action to change the situation until things are at rock bottom. When I can't take it anymore. If there are areas in our lives where there aren't clearly defined standards, consider that the same as having NO expectation. How do you know if you have a high standard? High standards can clearly be articulated. For example, when someone says things like "I don't eat gluten, or I only drink water, or I exercise regularly, or "I wash my face every night before bed no matter how tired I am." They are expressing their standard. If I don't have the standard of washing my face every night (for example), I can go 1 day or 365 days without nightly cleansing. It's all the same because I don't have an opinion or way or another.
Kimora Lee once shared "a place for everything and everything in it's place." That's her expectation for maintaining her environment. When I searched my own mind for the environment standard I set for myself....nothing came up.
High standards bring new experiences
Over the past several years, I've been focused on elevating my standards and expectations. The main outcome of my actions has been a plethora of new experiences. In many ways, my life looks vastly different than it did five years ago. Heck, 2013 has been an exceptional year because of the level demand I've placed on my own habits. For everything we do, we get something. Good or bad. If we choose to do things at a high level, we will receive greater returns. So keep bringing your standards up, even if just a little and you will craft a new life for yourself.
Maintaining high standards
Saying you want to do something, and maintaining high standards are vastly different. The video below shares the key to KEEPING your standard. Anthony tells us that rituals are the main ingredient to success. I'll let him tell you more about it. Do you know how I can tell if my standards are lacking in an area? If I'm being reactive. For example, if I head back to the gym because I've gained 10-15 lbs, this means that my fitness rituals were not in place. If company is coming over and I have to scramble to organize and clean......you guessed it (no rituals)!
Don't be "wishy washy," Set the highest standards you can
I know you're thinking, "Nadege, you want us to set these crazy, high standards that no one is going to reach?" The answer to your question is YES! Because (with rituals) setting high standards are actually easier than being wishy washy and reactive. If you stay ready, you ain't gotta get ready. There are women who set the expectation that they will look their BEST at all times, so they create rituals to align with their standards. If they happen to run into an ex boyfriend someplace random, they ain't got no worries about their appearance (low stress). If a nail chips or breaks, it's a small inconvenience but the person who doesn't keep themselves up might require a full makeover to create the same look if they were meeting their ex. If my standard would be to drink a full gallon of water a day, all I would have to do is set a gallon of water on the counter and challenge myself to drink at certain times of the day until the gallon was gone. This is much easier than remember to fit it in.
When I was in college, I set an expectation of the salary I wanted to make once I had enough experience in my field. Looking back, I wish I had set a much higher standard. Why, because my actions would be different and maybe even my choice of work. Now, my next course of action will be to identify areas where my standards are low and, one by one, set the highest level expectation I can in those areas. Then I'll identify what rituals I need to put in place to make it happen. My motivation will be to focus on what I will gain from my actions. We're more likely to do something consistently if we are deeply connected to the benefits.
I'll let Mr. Robbins tell you more about it.
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