When my daughters were home for Thanksgiving, we had a discussion about upgrading the quality of the things in our lives. We all feel the need to raise our standards when it comes to the things we purchase, the things we consume, and the interactions we have with others.
Both girls are young professionals, which means they need to upgrade their wardrobes. All of us are rethinking our relationships with food, choosing foods that are higher quality, organic, local and more nutritious. We’ve also examined our interactions with others, noting who we are and how we need to show up in the world in order to give and receive value.
Raising standards is not an easy thing to change. We create our standards as a reflection of our personal values. Our standards are deeply ingrained and related to our beliefs about money, about what we think we deserve, and about our value as a person. Though it is a process rather than an event, it is possible to raise your standards. Here are a few ways to raise your standards:
Choose quality for over quantity.
My daughters know that upgrading your style is important if you want to maintain a professional image. The cheap clothes that worked in college don’t work now. I also need to change my style. Since I work from home, I need better casual clothes and a few nice things for professional meetings.
In order to purchase quality things, we will likely be able to buy fewer items. The upside is that if our clothes fit well, are the right colors and styles and make us look and feel fabulous we can do with less. We no longer struggle with a closet full of cheap clothes that don’t fit right, aren’t the right styles or colors and that that don’t work with anything else we own.
It is more expensive to buy quality things, but experience tells me that they last longer. For example. My husband likes woven leather belts. I usually look for them on sale at discount stores because they don’t last long. If he gets a year out of them, he is lucky. When the last one broke, I was fed up. I ordered a new belt that costs several times more than the ones I usually buy. It has a lifetime guarantee. I’m done with purchasing cheap belts. Ultimately, it will cost me less to buy the more expensive belt because I won’t have to replace it so often.
Upgrade your diet.
My daughters and I are not alone in making over our food consumption habits. It is easier than ever to find healthy foods. If you haven’t gone the organic, local, grass-fed route, you might be in for sticker shock. At first it really hurt. Ultimately, what you put in your body matters in how you look and feel. Cheap food is often processed and full of fillers and chemicals. I actually read the back of a jar of applesauce once to note with horror that the number one ingredient in the applesauce was high fructose corn syrup. Yes, there was more corn syrup in that jar than apples. It reminded me of an article I wrote about Skittles and real food.
I think that a higher quality diet results in my eating less but better food. When I eliminated all of the processed carbs from my diet, I found I was not nearly as hungry. My husband had no idea that I bought local organic eggs, but one day he commented that they tasted better. In another example, I recently had to put my cat on a special diet. The food is ridiculously expensive. However, I have been happy to note that he requires much less of the new food and is doing very well.
Raise Your Standards in Your Interactions
If the “Me Too” campaign has taught us anything, it is that we don’t have to accept poor behavior in order to succeed. This doesn’t just apply to sexual impropriety, but to bad behavior in general. You do not have to allow a colleague or client to scream at you. You can respectfully suggest that you will set up another time to talk when emotions are not running so high.
You teach other people how to treat you by how you respond to them. If you allow them to take credit for your work, or to undermine your decisions they will likely continue to do so. If they know that they can slack off and you will pick up their end of the project, they will leave you doing more than your fair share of the work.
If someone throws you under the bus, call them on it. Have the difficult conversations with those who are disrespectful. Know your value and stand up for yourself when needed. If people in your life leave you feeling resentful, angry and hurt, speak up.
The other side of the story is in what your attitudes and actions say about you. Raising your standards means being aware of you what you bring to interactions. Being respectful and kind goes a long way. People notice when you show up with integrity. The old axiom “treat others in the way that you would like to be treated” still holds true.
I am working to raise my standards, to not settle for less, and to pay attention to what I buy, what I eat, and how I interact with others. I don’t always get it right, and old habits sometimes do die hard, but I’m moving in the right direction.
What about you? Have you ever tried to raise your standards? Id love to hear what you are doing or what you have done in the past that helped you to raise your standards.