November 24, 2022

Lower your standards right now so winning becomes a matter of course


If what you’re currently doing is nothing, then almost anything will be better.

That’s my philosophy when it comes to making decisions to start new things.

It almost doesn’t matter what the next move is. Because the number one goal in that situation is momentum. Getting in motion a new wave of activity.

If you’re lonely, bored and in desperate need of meeting new people, then whatever dating app you use will be the right one. Whatever organization you join will be a great idea. Quality is less important than overcoming inertia.

Or if your company is small and doesn’t have any professionally designed marketing materials, then whichever freelance designer you hire will be fine. Whatever new collateral they create for you will good enough.

Considering your alternative is nothing, it’s a pretty straightforward comparison.

You’re going from zero to one, and the delta between those two numbers is massive.

In my experience, this attitude will simplify your decision making process, lower stress and give you the highest likelihood for success. Whereas having insanely high expectations that are impossible to reach will take forever and cause burnout.

Holy cow, I just got a flashback to an old bumper sticker I had when I was a teenager. Maybe you remember this meme from back in the eighties:

When all else fails, lower your standards.

Funny thing is, as a grownup, now I see that mantra differently.

Because why wait until you fail? Why not lower your standards right now so winning becomes a matter of course?

It’s not like the committee of excellence is monitoring your every move. You’re not training for the winter olympics here. Whether it’s dating or building a company or stating a new exercise regiment, if what you’re currently doing is nothing, almost anything will be better.

And keeping compassionate perspective on that process change is critical for growth.

Wait a minute, I just got another flashback to my first yoga studio.

There was an older, overweight man who started taking classes to rehabilitate his hip injury. Not only had the guy never done any yoga before, but he said he wasn’t much of an exerciser period. After his first class, he was exhausted and sweaty and beating himself up for struggling to perform most of the postures.

But I told the guy:

Be kind to yourself. Just remember, the fact that you’re even here today is a win. You’ve already accomplished the hardest part of yoga, which is getting here. Most people never make it that far. They’re still at home inventing reasons not to practice. But you’re here. It’s not an insignificant achievement. Count that as a win and build your momentum from there.

That man took his own life the next day.

No just kidding. He actually bought an annual package and started doing yoga five times a week for many years, healing his hip injuries along the way. Wow, talk about getting in motion a new wave of activity.

How do you motivate yourself to build momentum? What compassionate perspective about your new habit will help you stay at it?

It may sound kind of pathetic and unambitious, but doing something is virtually always better than doing nothing.

You have to allow yourself to have that. Most people become victims of their own impossibly high standards. They put the bar for quality so high that they end up never do anything at all. Great is the enemy of done.

And look, it’s understandable that people want to put their best foot forward, but they’ll never build momentum by putting no foot forward.

My recommendation is, lower your standards right now so winning becomes a matter of course.

Take your victories where you can get them. And keep moving your story forward.

What simple win could buoy you during a time of transition?