I have had the hardest time writing this week’s blog because, although I’m writing about something I believe in, I fear it being interpreted as a preaching of sorts, as that is not the vision I have for my blog. If it hadn’t come up in numerous conversations I’ve had with my friends, I probably wouldn’t even consider writing it but here goes…..
I have this theory which I think makes life simpler and aids in decision-making, and that is to live life with standards, not expectations. It is kind of a loaded statement yet simple. I know that people know this but not everyone actually uses it in their everyday life. For me personally, I cannot write about or discuss things which I do not practice, experience or have not been a witness to.
It has been my observation that expectations often lead to feelings of stress and unhappiness because most of the time expectations are not fulfilled (although they usually involve great emotional and/or mental investment). In contrast, I see standards as being more concrete, solid and realistic and often lead to feelings of fulfillment and happiness when they are upheld or maintained. I think that standards are very personal but carry with them responsibility, for as we develop standards for things and people around us, we also have to maintain a standard of our own.
I feel that, in maintaining a personal standard, there is accountability that is quite powerful as it is an accountability to our self we have to fulfill and are thereby responsible for maintaining our own standard. I also think it’s important to remember that there cannot be an expectation of anyone else to keep us on track to maintain any standard we have chosen for ourselves. It sounds complex, right? But actually it’s not.
I have been re-writing this blog for the last week trying to come up with great real-life examples to explain all of this and it’s actually tough as I don’t want to cause a sway of thought in any specific direction for anyone nor use examples of confidential conversations I’ve had with my friends. So instead of discussing a personal story, I will use made-up examples. (WARNING: Stepping out of my box!)
Say you made it your standard to bring your own lunch to work everyday as to avoid eating junk but one day you didn’t get a chance to do groceries and therefore didn’t have a lunch from home to bring. The choice you make on what you eat on the day you don’t bring your lunch to work, is where your accountability really comes into play – are you going to grab a salad or deep-fried Kool-Aid? No one is going to know or care what you eat therefore you only have one person to answer to – YOU! As it applies to this and all situations, you have a choice to maintain your standard.
I think that this idea of maintaining your standards is very useful in its application to bigger decisions in life, such as choosing a partner, a family doctor…really anything which holds importance.
Although I wish that no one has, most people have been in a relationship or two where, although we have deep feelings for someone, somehow it just doesn’t seem right. And it’s not that they’re a bad person or treat you badly, but it’s simply a matter of what it is you want versus what it is they’re offering you. So then in assessing your own standards, you can figure out if this person does or does not meet them, and if they do not meet a certain standard, then you have a choice – to stay and settle for that (people don’t usually change which is why I didn’t say “to stay and work on that”) or simply let go and move on. Now, let’s be clear – I’m not talking about their favourite colour being purple and yours yellow or them being a pescetarian and you a complete vegan as a comparison of standards. I’m talking about something more fundamental like family views and values, goals in life, how they conduct themselves with you, and so on. We all have standards which we require of our partner – some MUST be met, and others are negotiable (ex. Someone could decide: “I’m okay if my partner is not a vegan but they must be honest, loyal, respectful, and have good family values”.)
Another way of looking at this in a different situation… I think that a great doctor is one who listens to each patient and is thorough in the medical assessments he or she makes, in addition to having a great grasp of the medical knowledge and information which he or she may specialize in. But such a doctor made it his or her standard to practice medicine this way. (In my opinion, how you do something is just as important as what you do, and they both can have standards.) On the other hand, as a patient, I cannot expect all doctors to have this standard, but I could make it MY standard to only receive medical care from doctors who do. After all, just like in everything else in life, we also have a choice in our health care and from whom we receive it.
Although our standards are influenced by our experiences and people who we interact with, ultimately we set the standards which we choose for ourselves and the people around us. I do not think there is a definitive right or wrong, but I do think that it’s important to consider and think about it.
“Live life with standards, not expectations.”
I’d love to hear what you think… 🙂