How Setting High or Low Standards Impacts Your Success
Having high standards is relevant for any area of your life. Your standards determine the results you get in your relationships, career, health, finances, personal growth and many other areas. Nobody wants to settle for less, but many people end up inadvertently settling for less by not understanding how standards work.
Achieving the Lowest Standard
You will always achieve whatever your lowest standards are. Invariably, it’s easier to reach a lower standard than a higher standard.
Suppose you’re looking for a partner, and you’re hoping to meet someone that is good looking and has a great personality, but you’re willing to settle for someone that is average looking and has an average personality. In that case, you’ll find yourself in a relationship with an average looking person who has an average personality. If you’re willing to settle for a lower quality partner, then that’s what you’ll get because it’s easier to find a lower quality partner. It’s rarer to find someone that you’re highly attracted to and compatible with.
If you’re looking for a new job, and you’re hoping for a high paying job, but you’re willing to settle for an average paying job, then you’ll get into a job that pays an average salary rather than a high paying salary. There are many more low paying jobs than high paying jobs, so if you’re willing to accept either, you’ll find a low paying job before a high paying job.
If you’re happy with an average physique rather than a great physique, you’ll get an average physique because it requires more effort to develop a great physique. Even if you intend to have a great physique, you will naturally engage in compensating behaviours like eating unhealthy food or occasionally slacking off on workouts. Whereas if you set a commitment rather than an intention, you won’t settle for anything less than a great physique.
Your mind isn’t good at distorting between moderately wanting something and deeply desiring it. So when you have two choices, you will pick the most convenient one.
What About Luck?
Sometimes in life, you can get lucky and generate much higher results than your lower standard. But since it’s not your highest standard, these things never usually last.
Most high standard achievements require maintenance. If your standard is much lower, then you probably won’t be motivated to maintain that standard. An example of this is with promising young athletes who are predicted to be the next big star. A few years after breaking through and rising to fame, they fail expectations, and their success declines.
One of the reasons this happens is because they aren’t willing to outwork others, and they blame the environment for “stress, adversity and frustration” rather than owning it. Instead, they can opt for an easier route where they don’t have to work as hard, handle the continuous pressure of performing at a world-class level, and deal with constant publicity.
When you genuinely want to accomplish something, you don’t focus on the external situations, like how much effort it requires; you focus on the end goal.
Anytime in life when you’ve wanted something and been ruthlessly persistent in attaining it, it’s because you had a high standard. There were obstacles along the way, but you overcame them because you’re committed to achieving a goal. But then there are other times when these obstacles hold you back.
Some of those obstacles might be:
Lack of time
Your fears and insecurities
The country you grew up in
Lack of knowledge
Lack of experience
Your standards are far more important than any obstacles that exist in the external world.
It might seem like your success is dependent on the obstacle in front of you, but it’s dependent on the standard you’ve set yourself. But most people don’t set high standards for their lives, so they get mediocre results because they have the same standards as everyone else. They are held back by all the same obstacles as the average person.
If you’re content with a mediocre education, then that’s the type of education you’ll get. Whereas if you set the standard for earning a master’s degree from a top university, then that’s the education you’ll get. However, some of those courses can be £50,000 a year. You might say that even if that was your standard, you couldn’t afford it.
At this point, your mind begins to list all the obstacles that come up, lack of savings, not earning a high enough salary to afford it, not having a good enough resume to secure a good-paying job. But if you’d set your standards on reaching that goal, then you wouldn’t let money become an excuse. You would find a way to afford it.
There are tons of ways of affording college tuition, scholarships, grants, loans. Alternatively, you could find a job and save money or start up a business and generate money.
Some people would use the excuse that they don’t know how to generate money. But if you’d set your standard such that you needed this money for the university you deeply desired to go to, then not knowing how to make money wouldn’t be an excuse. You’d read books, take seminars or find experts who could teach you how to make money. You would find a way because you wouldn’t accept anything less.
Your standards are also important for everyday choices like the types of food you eat. For example, you might set the standard of eating organic meat rather than regular meat. Some of the organic meats can be triple the price of regular meat. You might say that you’d have a high standard to eat organic meat if you could afford it. But that’s the opposite way round. If you set your standard such that you’d only eat organic meat, then you’d find a way to be able to afford it.
Accepting the Cost
Pursuing any ambitious goal is going to come with costs and sacrifices. What differentiates those who fail from those who succeed is the willingness to accept the costs. If you have lower standards, there will be no reason to accept the higher costs because you can get something you’re content with at a lower cost.
Whereas if you are certain that you want to get to a particular standard, the first step is to accept the costs. These costs are time, money, hard work, discomfort, stress, fear, uncertainty and many more. It sounds like there are many costs, but if you are working towards a set standard, they don’t feel like costs.
When you have set high standards, the scale of the obstacle becomes irrelevant. If you need to save £10,000 or you need to save £50,000 to go to university, it’s the same process. £50,000 will require more time and effort, but you just accept that it’s what you need to do to reach your goal, irrespective of the money you need to save.
Earlier, we spoke about successful athletes owning all the negatives like stress and frustration that come with being a world-class athlete. Unsuccessful athletes fail because they don’t accept responsibility for the costs associated with pursuing their goals.
Accepting the costs is a process that happens naturally. If you have an authentic motivation to achieve a goal, then all the costs disappear. You don’t see them as costs; you just see them as part of the process of attaining your goal.
Athletes have to endure gruelling fitness regimes. Movie stars have to stand around on set all day, repeating the same script over again. These are not things they enjoy doing, but they are necessary to reach the standards they set for themselves.
If you want to set your standards higher, you have to set a 100% commitment. When you commit, it means that you’ll do it regardless; you’re not settling for anything less. Anything less than a 100% commitment means there’s an opportunity for you to choose the easier option, which then leads to inferior results.
If you think back, you’ll be able to recall a time when you adopted this mindset. There will have been some kind of project or task that you were fully committed to completing. You made a decision that you were going to achieve it no matter what.
However, you cannot just say that you will commit 100% and expect to remain motivated indefinitely. A lot of people do this with healthy eating. They set a goal to eat healthily, but that’s not a standard that they’ve set themselves permanently. That’s a temporary standard. A permanent standard is a desire that you develop over time. Setting your standards is an ongoing process. If you want to eat healthily, then you gradually raise your standards over time.
When you think about the high standards you have in your own life, you didn’t just wake up one day and set these standards. Instead, you developed them over time based on your values and preferences. For example, maybe you have a high standard for your school grades, the quality of the restaurants you eat at, or the type of relationships you have. These standards were developed and built upon over time. What caused them to develop was a desire to improve or achieve something greater.