8 Ways To Raise Your Standards (Motivation)

8 Ways To Raise Your Standards (Motivation)

What does it really mean to “raise your standards”? At its core, raising your standards is about consciously choosing to expect more from yourself and to take purposeful action towards positive change. It encompasses both your attitude as well as your behavior. Higher standards fuel motivation and growth. They compel us to aim higher and expand our vision of what is possible. When we raise our standards, mediocrity no longer feels acceptable. We aspire to bring more skill, care, and excellence into everything we do.

1. Surround Yourself with People Who Inspire Excellence

The company you keep plays a major role in influencing your standards. If your closest contacts exhibit mediocrity, it tugs your standards down through normalization. On the other hand, spending time around disciplined high achievers catalyzes your own growth by exposing you to elevated standards. You expand your perspective on what is attainable.

Actively network with standout people in your industry or field of interest. Seek mentors and friends who motivate you to show up as the best version of yourself. Allow the tenacity and dedication of those around you to rub off and lift your own standards.

For example, elite athletes training together in camps push each other to higher levels of speed and strength through peer motivation. You can harness this same collaborative power of a “rising tide lifts all boats” mentality in your own inner circle.

2. Set Clear, Achievable Goals

Well-defined goals act as guides toward the actualization of your vision. Not only do they provide targets and benchmarks to aim for, but they also help maintain motivation over time through a sense of momentum and accountability. Establish S.M.A.R.T. goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

For instance, rather than merely stating “I want to improve my physical health”, you could set the goal to “Exercise for 30 minutes 5 days per week for the next 3 months”. The more vividly and quantitatively you articulate your goal, the more effectively you can structure actions plans and measure progress.

Review and upgrade your goals as needed. Goals that once felt ambitious can start to seem average as your capacity expands. Continuing to level up your goals is key to the ongoing elevation of your standards.

3. Cultivate a Growth Mindset

Our deepest beliefs about the fixedness or malleability of abilities powerfully shape our standards. A “fixed mindset” assumes talents and intelligence are pre-determined and finite. Consequently, outsized standards get discouraged for fear of failure. Conversely, a “growth mindset” views abilities as flexible and able to be developed incrementally through practice.

Internalize that you have virtually unlimited potential to learn, evolve, and improve. Embrace challenges with curiosity and tenacity rather than avoiding situations where you might not immediately excel. Your skills are not set in stone – dedicate yourself to growth and your standards will rise inevitably as your competencies increase.

4. Commit to Continuous Learning

Make learning a lifelong practice rather than something reserved just for school. Regularly expose yourself to empowering content, resources and trainings to avoid stagnation personally and professionally. The best way to stimulate growth is by feeding your mind new ideas and skill sets on an ongoing basis.

For example, you could dedicate 30 minutes each morning to educational podcasts, videos or books. Or sign up for monthly online courses and seminars to keep expanding your horizons. Think of learning like compound interest – knowledge and capabilities build upon themselves incrementally when you invest consistently. Curiosity and intellectual humility are key.

5. Embrace Failure as Feedback

Fear of failure often holds us back from taking the risks necessary for growth. However, failure itself is not the enemy. Rather, it is how we relate to failure that matters most. Billionaire business mogul Richard Branson once said: “Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.”

The path to increased excellence inevitably involves some stumbles. Recognize failure as providing valuable insights into what is not working so that you can course correct. Each failure brings you closer to figuring out what you need to tweak to actualize your bigger vision. Progress cannot happen without courageous experimentation and a willingness to fall short at times.

6. Practice Consistent Self-Discipline

Meaningful change requires dedication through ups and downs. Establishing positive habits and routines creates the structure needed to implement elevated standards into daily life. Procrastination and excuses limit growth – self-discipline is the antidote.

For example, want to complete an important project in the next few months? Break it down into defined action steps to accomplish weekly and daily without overloading yourself. Consistency compounds over time. Dedicate even just 60-90 minutes per day towards your biggest priorities and goals.

Self-control and time management allow you to transcend motivation fluctuations and distractions. Discipline applied consistently lifts every area of life simultaneously.

7. Seek Constructive Feedback

Honest feedback provides the self-awareness to recognize areas needing improvement. Without feedback, it is easy to overestimate our competencies or underestimate the progress still required. Feedback grounds us in reality and points the way for where to focus more development.

Actively invite constructive critiques from mentors and peers whose judgement you respect rather than just waiting for annual job reviews. Customize your growth plan based on the feedback about where your skills or mindsets could still use refinement. Use feedback to pinpoint next level standards worth striving for rather than as criticism about current limitations.

8. Celebrate Small Wins

Lasting change occurs through many small, positive steps accumulated over time. Each little win deserves acknowledgment for the effort behind it. Celebrating progress, no matter how incremental, activates the reward centers of your brain to release dopamine. This reinforces motivation to keep taking effective action.

Make sure to pause and appreciate how far you have come. Do not get so fixated on the end goal that you fail to honor the effort it takes to get there. Whether you practiced self-discipline and woke up early to exercise, finally tackled a challenging project at work or simply made a healthy dinner – find ways both big and small to give yourself credit. Progress feels empowering and keeps you reaching.

Case Study: Sarah Raises Her Standards

Sarah, a 32 year old accountant, recognized that her standards had flatlined. She had been stuck in the same position at her firm for years without pursuing promotions or higher pay despite excelling at her job. Her free time consisted mostly of Netflix and unhealthy takeout meals rather than hobbies she enjoyed or social events.

Ready for a change, Sarah decided to implement the strategies shared in this article over the next year. She cleaned up her social media feeds and began following more motivational thought leaders in her field. This exposed her to expanded perspectives on careers in accounting she had not previously considered. She then set clear professional goals to earn two specialized certifications and have an exploratory interview for a senior manager role by year’s end.

Sarah adopted a diligent morning routine that involved reading about positive psychology, exercising, and meditating before work. She meal prepped healthy food twice per week so takeout seemed less tempting. When overly critical thoughts like “I could never qualify for that high level job” arose, she consciously shifted her inner dialogue to be more empowering.

Over time, Sarah began to think bigger and exude greater confidence. She started volunteering as a mentor to train less experienced accountants which increased her self-assuredness even further. When job interviews made her nervous, she embraced it as helpful feedback to pinpoint areas still needing improvement rather than proof of inability.

Within 18 months of concerted effort raising her standards, Sarah earned a promotion to senior manager at her firm and modernized her lifestyle dramatically. Her story exemplifies how implementing the strategies shared above leads to extraordinary personal and professional progress!

Key Takeaways

  • Surround yourself with high achievers to absorb elevated standards
  • Establish clear, evolving goals that stretch your growth
  • Cultivate an empowering “growth mindset” about your potential
  • Commit to continuous learning and skills development
  • View failures as helpful feedback to propel your progress
  • Practice consistent self-discipline through routines
  • Invite constructive critiques to precisely level up
  • Celebrate small wins to stay positively motivated
  • With concerted effort, you can transform any area of life by raising your standards


Raising your standards is a process – not an event. It requires first expanding your perspective on possibilities followed by tangible upgrades to your daily attitudes and actions over time. The rewards in terms of increased fulfillment make dedicating yourself to excellence in all areas of life well worth the effort.

Choose one or two strategies from the key takeaways that most resonate with you. Then create an initial action plan for how you will begin actively implementing them day-to-day. Revisit and revise your approach regularly based on learnings and growth. Uplifted standards become the new normal when backed by self-discipline and commitment to progress.