Last week I had one of those romantic little epiphanies. You know the one, you suddenly see your life through rose-coloured glasses and realize quite suddenly, that you’re not living as you should or would like to.
You should be living the life you desire.
You should be eating better.
You should be less stressed.
You should be more mindful, present, and intentional about, well, just about everything.
So what was my epiphany? I need to raise my standards. Again. Because I’ve done this before. But somehow, whenever I have a small life tragedy, whether it’s divorce or job loss, like a typical introvert, I withdraw into myself for a bit of good old-fashioned healing time. Which is code for, I fall back into old habits like eating comfort foods, which leads to gaining a few pounds, which leads to wearing frumpy clothes. That is not at all me.
So without pomp and ceremony, I committed to raising my standards. You might be wondering, what on earth does that look like? What do you mean?
Raising your standards does not mean you’re going to get all uppity or become one of the real housewives; it simply means respecting yourself and improving yourself and your life. It means taking all those “should do’s” and turning them into “must do’s.” Whenever I do this, it always leads to massive growth in all areas of my life.
When I choose to turn my shoulds into musts, I hold myself to some pretty high standards for how I dress, how I speak, what I consume (or don’t, for that matter), how I spend my money and the money strategies I use, and the talk track that goes through my head on nonstop replay.
For those of you that might be new here, at 40, I was let go from a 16-year sales career. At the time, it filled me with joy. I loathed that job (and never mind that, the whole career). It was time for a change. But what I first saw as an opportunity and a blessing quickly turned into feeling lost, overwhelmed by what to do next, and eventually turned into depression. As with most things, there was a lot more going on in my life that led to a lot of these feelings, but it would take much too long to get into all of it.
Now that I’m coming out of my melancholic state and working hard to put my life back into alignment, the next natural step is to raise my standards.
I’ve always loved the life of Parisians; filled with extravagance yet balanced with simplicity. Since my first visit to Paris in 2006, and then a second in 2009, I’ve fallen in love with the way they live. I promised myself to mould my life to that of a typical Parisienne — to enjoy more, savour more, and live more.
Here’s how I plan on raising my standards to take control of the quality of my life and get what I want.
Raise Your Standards, Change Your Life
Journaling is a perfect first step to boosting the quality of your life and getting what you want. It lets you take a peek into who you are, what you enjoy and what you want out of life.
By journaling, you’ll discover your beliefs, values and who you are.
Before you get all freaked out, thinking you’ll have to answer the difficult question “who am I?”, you can break this down to make things easier on yourself.
Here are a few prompts that I journal to uncover what’s going on and what I need to do to improve the quality of my life:
- Look back at the last five years and journal all that you’ve been through. Write down everything – positive and negative! I journal trips, conferences, job layoffs, family issues (or deaths), etc. It gives you perspective on all that’s occurred and that maybe, just maybe, you need to forgive yourself and realize you needed time to heal and that you’ve been through a lot.
- Next, ask yourself high-quality questions that will lead to a higher quality of life. Such as:
- What lights you up?
- What do you want to change in the world?
- What type of person do you want to be?
- What makes you unique?
- What are you drawn to? Think of colours, textures, words, feelings and moments.
When answering these questions, I think back to positive remarks people have given me (I’m a great motivator and listener, people want me to sit on their shoulder to motivate them, they like that I “tell it like it is,” they love my timeless, classic fashion sense). Words are also a fantastic way to envision the quality of life you’d like and makes it a bit easier than answering the questions in full sentences.
You can also explore what music, places, and feelings you’re drawn to.
Do it for yourself
Most of us would beg the question, why bother? Well, why not? It could lead to many beautiful things.
For me, I have to motivate myself. I don’t have anyone to do things for or raise standards for but me. I’m childless, have no partner, and work tirelessly to create the life and business I want. It’s tough work. What motivates me is doing something for myself. And it should be your biggest motivator too. You live with yourself every day, so why not live it beautifully with a hint of magic in there?
Telling yourself that you’re doing it for yourself boosts your confidence and creates an environment of self-love.
We have to teach ourselves what’s possible for our lives. We have to learn motivation.
Own brave and courageous
In the wise words of Brene Brown, “choose courage over comfort.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Raising your standards involves putting yourself out there again, being willing to fail and fail again, facing criticism with courage and knowing deep down that you’ve tried.
I mean, what would be better: knowing you put yourself out there, took risks, raised your standards and grew immensely as a human being, OR sitting curled up in a ball whining about how you hate your life?
Which option would you prefer on your deathbed? I’m sure you’d like to be able to say I lived La Vie En Rose. I kicked the pants out of life and found some joie de vivre!
“Refuse to lower your standards to accommodate those who refuse to raise theirs.”
~ Mandy Hale
Are you a worrier? I sure am. If my mind gets its way, I’ll be worrying about five years from now before I even take a step into today. It’s not the best thought place to be because it leads to inaction and keeps feelings of being lost, hopeless and depressed front and centre.
Don’t worry about tomorrow or the next, or five years from now. When you’re working on making some significant changes, focus on today. What can you choose to change today?
Nurture your health, wealth and mindset
Who do you have to live with the most? YOU, right? You have to live with yourself 24/7, so why not raise your standards for how you feel in your body, how you spend your money and what thoughts you choose?
For health, I focus on being more energetic so I can improve the quality of my life. When we’re full of energy, we’re more present and stop living on autopilot. I work toward changing my eating and exercise habits slowly and gradually. I’ll do things like challenge myself to quit sugar and coffee for 30 days and to exercise at least 30 minutes three times a week, then slowly increase into more intense activities.
When it comes to wealth, I focus on my minimalist beliefs. To avoid impulse buys, I choose quality over quantity and choose experiences that enhance my life. I’ll also try out different strategies for managing my money and learn new ones whenever I can.
Now, wealth also applies to your earning power too. For me, raising my standards is twofold: I’m always learning so that I make myself invaluable to clients and commit to doing extraordinary work instead of just average. Me and mediocre? We don’t co-exist well together, which is why I decided to go out on my own and create my career. I was tired of the “average” mentality that dominated the corporate world.
Mindset is choosing only the thoughts that facilitate my actions. When I raise my standards, I focus on embracing positive affirmations, a positive self-talk track and believing I can do whatever I set my mind to do. Sure, it involves a lot of self-discipline, but you know what? Self-discipline leads to more confidence, improved finances, and achieving the things you set out to do.
There have been many times in my life when I’ve let things slip. I’ve wallowed in melancholy and let things go. I suppose it’s only natural when you’re going through heavy emotional times. I’ve eaten all the bad foods, not bothered to style my hair, gotten out of bed and stayed rumpled all day with bed head and not cared about what I wear. For me, that’s not the norm.
When times are good, I care. I appreciate the beauty of life. I prefer to walk through life with confidence and disarm everyone with my natural charisma.
Sometimes the tough times last a while. I get it. That’s when you need to choose to say ENOUGH and raise your standards. Go on, tell yourself, “I’m raising my standards.” Because who wants to live out life frumpy and miserable?
Create a beautiful state of mind. Eat healthily, take care of yourself, and indulge in real self-care (not spa visits, try creating a mind palace instead). Learn to manage your finances. Take time to invest in your knowledge and learn a few money strategies. Stop telling yourself you’re broke, unhealthy, poor or unworthy of that special someone.