Standards are an interesting thing. They don't dictate exact performance, but they do sketch out a ballpark. If you expect yourself to read a book a week, you may not actually do that, but you'll probably read a book most weeks. If a boss tells you to have something done one month from now, you'll probably get it done sometime around then. Not two weeks earlier, but not two weeks later, either. Standards work to guide performance by creating an idea of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. They shape our priorities, trying to maximize the amount of acceptable things we do and minimize the unacceptable ones.
It's interesting to think about where our standards come from. Why is forty hours a week the standard for a full week of work? Why isn't it less? Why isn't it more? Is that standard really right for everyone? Our societal standard for healthy eating is to eat anything that qualifies as non-dessert, preferably not entirely fried, and then a small amount of something that is dessert. Most people hover around that-- no one eats ice cream for every meal.
It's no secret how I feel about, well, pretty much all societal standards, and since you're reading my blog, chances are you don't subscribe to all of society's standards either.
When you DO subscribe to these standards, you don't ever need to police yourself. Society will keep you there automatically through peer pressure. If you don't work very much, people will call you a slacker. If you don't work at all, your mom will call you and tell you to get a job. If you work too hard, unless you're in a specific industry which has a high standard for work quantity, people will actually encourage you to work LESS. You'll even see this on my blog, where suggest that I ought to have more balance/fun/etc.
The thing is, when you have your own standards, you alone become responsible for enforcing them. You have to step up and become your own boss. When you become your own boss, you have a battle on two fronts. On one side you have to push against the pressure of society, and on the other side you have to push yourself to put in the effort to reach your own standards. It's not easy work, especially if you're not used to it.
The hardest case is when your standards require you to push beyond what society expects of you. Most people you know will be telling you that you've done enough, most people you don't know will tell you the same thing. Even part of your brain will be saying, "Come on... this is good enough. Okay, fine just do a little bit more. No need to push it too far, though." The only solution is to push back and hold on to your standards.
You have to monitor yourself. Most people don't really even do that. Then you have to be able to objectively evaluate yourself. Even fewer people do that. In particular, you have to be able to identify and admit weakness. Then you have to push. Most of all, you have to have faith that everyone else is wrong about you. That's a tough thing, right? Everyone else says that watching a couple hours of TV per day is just fine. You have to have the arrogance to think that most of the developed world is wrong.
You basically have to go through this process for everything, because once that fragile bond of trust is broken-- the one where you rely on the world to tell you what is okay-- you can't help but question pretty much everything. It works the same way interpersonal trust works-- if someone lies to you once, you suddenly can't take anything they tell you at face value.
Other people will offer you suggestions, advice, even ultimatums. So will society. It's worth listening to what you hear, because it's not all totally senseless. Everything is as it is for a reason, but it's up to you to figure out what that reason is and whether or not it's valid. At the end of the day, the whole world can be your adviser but you have to be your own boss. You set the goals. You evaluate progress. You dole out encouragement or discipline.
Photo is a painting that I really like.
Yep. I saw an animated short film where there were people milling around. One of them eventually got a great idea, started to change, sprout butterfly wings, and fly above the crowd. Before they soared very high, the crowd grabbed the individual and drug them back down to their level and beat the individual to a pulp. I think this happens more often than we think. Others fear the individual who shows them that you can be different or do great things. Dont let others fear cause you to change your own standards.
Why do you so often say "most people do this" or "most people don't do that?" How do you know what they're thinking? That's so presumptuous. I just assume that everyone is working more than I am because they always seem to be somewhere else. I also assume they're dating more, making more money and accomplishing more of their personal goals.
recently I have not been reading your blog as frequently as I did at home as I am traveling South East Asia right now.*
As I am catching up right now, I just wanted to say that the "Read This Next" feature is working much better than how I remembered it. Not only are the suggestions a lot better, it is also somehow much less annoying. As in, not annoying anymore.
I like how it now disappears again when I scroll up. It also appears to be smaller - or is it just my higher resolution? Went from something like 1366x768 to 1920x1080.
Anyways, it's not as obtrusive.
Speed and stuff is great, too. I can't exactly tell you what I mean by "stuff", though.
*Speaking of which - my general gear selection was hugely inspired by
your writing on the topic. I'm not traveling as light as you by far, but
I can take my backpack as carry-on luggage. I also have tailored wool
pants and a black wool dress shirt and Vivo barefoot leather shoes, so I
am able to dress pretty smart if I need to!
for me if i see it i eat it ..removing temptation works ..also the sight of food pics triggers hunger
Nice post! Its true, sometimes you really need to follow your gut and go against the grain.......
it helps to find someone on your wavelength with whom to exchange reinforcement - that old song" two against the world"
Yes. This is perfect timing as I am working out today what my focus will be for 2013. Not all at once, but in a big picture/general sort of way. I learned many years ago not to compare myself to others. I excelled quite a bit more once I figured that one out. People are well-intentioned, but so frequently wrong. I think that it is so important to remember to reverse things when you are wanting others to behave in a certain way. For example, no one walks in my shoes so they don't know what is right for me. I know they mean well, but they just don't know. I can reverse this in my relationships with others as I realize that I can't really know what is best for them either. This becomes especially challenging with our children and friends that are going down a similar path to our own that gave us some tough lessons.
I like that you also gave some room for people to listen anyways, though. Even though advice is often-times not appropriate for us, it is still good to listen and pay attention to how our bodies respond to the advice. If the reaction is strong, there could be some lessons there for us.
In my last post i talked about what NOW is the right time for. The implication, of course, is that there are certain periods of time where you can actually take advantage of opportunities that come your way. Let's call that your Opportunity Window. In the Standard American Lifestyle, that window is narrow. Really narrow. It probably starts somewhere at the end of senior year in college and ends a few months afterwards.
There are small blips of opportunity afterwards, too. Getting fired creates a window. Some sort of windfall income might create a window.
That sucks. Someone with a Standard American Life probably has no more than a year of Opportunity Window in their lifetime. It's only during those times that they can start a new business, leave their lives behind and try something new and exciting, or just make a drastic change.
The following paragraph was also added to the Disclosures & Info page, and put here for clarity.
Update September 14, 2013: Any posts with morals, lessons, or other instruction-like writing can be read with the assumption that I've personally experienced the events being written about. Any and all speculation will be noted in advance.
It's about standards, specifically the ones you hold yourself to.
When you hold yourself to high standards, you abide by them right? And when you abide by those standards, it will show in your actions, in your words and behaviors. People will come to expect that of you.