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Set high standards and few limitations for yourself.

Anthony J. D’Angelo

Six days into the New Year, a friend called me up and said, “Well hell, I’ve done it again.  I’ve already broken my New Year’s resolutions.” I believe that life is too short to feel like a failure.  When you live your fullest potential, you create a life that makes you feel proud, not like a loser.

So, I offered my friend a suggestion that I’ve been using for many years now.  Each year, I deepen this practice.

Here’s what I offered her.  Instead of setting resolutions and goals that don’t excite you, do what Coco, Oprah, Beyonce, Audrey and all the women we admire have done:

Set high standards for yourself.

By definition, a standard is, “a level of quality or attainment,” or “accepted as normal or average.”

This year, why not let things such as exquisite self-care, a beautiful work ethic, pursuit of a life-long curiosity, or nourishing relationships be your normal?

The beauty of standards is that if you ruthlessly commit to living by them, you’ll ultimately get the results you desire.  Resolutions and goals are all about a future payoff.  Standards are attainable in the here and now.  They revolve around who you’re being in each moment of your life.

For example, instead of the tortuous goal of losing 30 pounds (future oriented), you may create a standard that says, “I will nourish my body with delicious, fresh foods and eat until elegantly satisfied” (present-oriented).

Setting high standards is a form of self-respect, a proclamation to the world of what you’re willing to accept from yourself and others.  

They say things, such as:

This is how I will spend my time.
This is how I will allow you to treat me.
This is how I will treat myself.
This is how I will eat.
This is how I will dress.
This is how I will believe.
This is how I will behave.

When you create high standards for yourself, you have a bar of excellence that constantly guides you.  You won’t always get it right.  You’ll inevitably let yourself down.  But, if you constantly recommit and remind yourself of the elegant lady you are and commit to the quality life you desire to live, you’ll make yourself extremely proud this year.

Here’s what I’ve learned as a girl who used to shop at K-Mart and eat bags of Cheetohs at a time:

You’ll receive in life what you’re willing to accept. Via @tonyaleigh #frenchkisslife (Tweet this)

If you’re willing to accept poor health, you’ll continue to sabotage your efforts for more vitality.

If you’re willing to accept the average Joe-blow as a partner, you’ll continue to have less than what you desire in the love department.

If you’re willing to accept inauthentic friendships, you’ll continue to be surrounded by competitive, gossiping or low-energy friends.

If you’re willing to accept debt, excess and a “poor girl” mindset, you’ll constantly struggle with money.

If you’re not willing to invest in yourself, you’ll never reach your fullest potential.

My life changed dramatically when I started creating higher personal standards.

If you want to make yourself super proud this year, grab yourself a cup of tea, a journal and reflect on these two questions:

  1. What will I no longer accept from myself and others this year?
  2. What high standards will I create for myself?

Each year, I raise my standards based on what’s working and what’s not.  After reflecting on 2014 (and where I had let myself down), I declared what I was no longer willing to accept.  This list inspired the following new standards:

I will only accept friendships where I don’t have to guard my every word and action.
I will only buy quality clothing that I absolutely love.
I will only drink good Champagne.
I will only yes to invitations that excite me.
I will only allow stellar people on my team.
I will only accept excellent customer service in my company.
I will only entertain beautiful thoughts and people.
I will only be on social media during scheduled times during the day.
I will only speak to myself as I would my own best friend.
I will only take clients who are willing to do the work and commit to being their best selves.
I will only watch, read and listen to things that inspire me. (And, yes ‘Scandal’ is on that list; I happen to adore Olivia Pope’s style!)

Please note:  setting high standards for yourself is not about perfection.  I’m sure that I will not abide by the above list 100% of the time.  We’re human, for God’s sakes.  And, if the mood is right, and I have to choose between cheap Champagne or none at all, I may have a glass :).

So, if you use this as a tool to beat yourself up and I find out, I will call you out (with love, of course).

Standards are something to aspire to, not to feed perfectionism.

To make this most effective, write down your new “higher” standards. Read them daily (or hourly if needed).

If you’d like, I’d love to hear where you intend to up your standards in 2015.  Share them in the comments below.

Now, go out there and make yourself proud this year!

With High Standards,


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