"Our actions are the springs of our happiness or misery."

-- Philip Skelton, The Book of Positive Quotations by John Cook
In the last issue of Making Lives Simpler, I talked about creating
boundaries in your life. Boundaries determine what you do or don't allow people to do around you. They help you to stop reacting to everyone else's expectations and start living by your own. However, setting boundaries isn't the only tool available to help us live the life we desire. We can also adjust our standards.

Standards are the expectations and behaviors to which we hold ourselves. For some of us, our standards are well defined. For instance, one of my previous standards was my "perfectionist" self. My associated behaviors ranged from all the detail given to accomplishing each work task to how clean the house had to be before someone could come to visit.

When I started simplifying my life, my standards needed to change to reflect the changes I wanted in my life. I did know that I wasn't going to achieve any of my goals in that area without asking for help with some things. And to let others help me, whether it was in my work or my personal life, I had to let go of "my way" of having things be done. I had to learn to honor that there truly is more than one right way to accomplish a task. I'm not suggesting that this is easy for everyone. You might find it painfully hard to just ask for any kind of help. But I urge you to try.

As you look at your desires and your standards, you might find it's time to stop doing some things you've been doing for years. Take a good look at the things you are doing and ask yourself why. Look to see how much time and energy these activities are costing you. My husband discovered that he really didn't have to spend so much time and energy keeping and filing away every single financial paper we received. A number of the monthly reports are available on-line these days and he can check there if he needs to review them. Now when a monthly, quarterly or annual report arrives, he does a quick review, makes a decision to keep or toss it and moves on.

He and I also changed our standard of answering the phone every time it rings. If we're having dinner or enjoying a rental movie, we don't interrupt that time anymore by jumping up to answer the phone. The answering machine works just as well when we're home as it does when we're away.

In reviewing your standards, ask yourself which ones need and can be adjusted to meet your current desires. Which ones are dictating your behavior? What might you be doing because of what you think others "expect" of you?

Standards need to stay fluid as your life and desires change. However, just as with boundaries, understanding that you have more control than you may now believe is the first step in changing them. Checking and establishing your standards and boundaries will help you create the behavior to make more effective choices and better use of your most precious resource -- you.

Make use of the tool of adjusting your standards and you can start transforming your experience to living the life you truly desire.

By Linda Manassee Buell, Personal and Business Coach.
Linda can be reached at http://www.simplifylife.com.
(c) 2002 Simplify Life
1. Clarify the essential things you want in your life. Do you
want more quiet time with your family or more leisure time? You might even be interested in adding activities. Remember to look at all aspects of your personal and work lives.

2. Write down the standards that you think might be needed to have the life you desire. How do they differ from your current standards?

3. Are there areas in which you feel stuck in or guilty of letting go? Look at the actual motivation behind those particular activities. For instance, is your motivation for doing a particular behavior caused by wanting a family member to know how much you care? If so, what other way is there to achieve the same result?

4. Do some personal research. What people do you know who are currently living in ways you desire? Which ones are living the opposite of what you'd like? In both instances, look at their standards and behaviors. What are they and what can you learn from them?

5. Begin adjusting your standards to fit your desires. Let people in your life know your plans and ask them for their help and support in making these changes.

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