By the time we enter our twenties, most of us have cycled through many relationships with friends or significant others, a job or two and even the most arguably traumatizing experience of our younger years: middle school. [Insert involuntary shiver here.]

Somewhere between all of these experiences, we develop ideas about the way we treat others and how we expect to be treated. When we use the word standard we are referring to your own personal criteria that defines the way you expect to be treated. For example, I won’t tolerate a friend who lies to me. This is not to be confused with a preference, I only date girls with brown hair.

Sometimes these lines get blurred, forgotten or excused. We abandon our standards, forget about ourselves, and become too comfortable with where we are and who we are with. There is no better time than the present to reevaluate your relationships and circumstances and get back to which values truly matter to you.

Why You Should Have Standards

Ain’t nobody got time for negativity.

Don’t let yourself get swallowed up by the negative, downtrodden attitude of other people. No one expects you to radiate a happy-go-lucky outlook all the time. You are allowed to be sad and upset. By surrounding yourself with people who want the best for you and who inspire rather than discourage, you are building a solid foundation for yourself. There are enough people in this world who are going to try to bring you down, throw insults your way or sabotage your success. You don’t need to let your friends and significant others be a part of that group.

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Life’s too short.

We don’t always use clichés but, when we do, it’s for a good reason. You have to decide at what point enough is enough.

I once worked a job where I felt so under appreciated and undervalued. It was me who volunteered to do things that no one else wanted to do. I always came to work with a positive attitude and a smile on my face. And in over two years of employment, I only asked for shift coverage twice.  But somewhere along the way, I stopped being happy. I constantly felt singled out and was always being asked to do more than my job description required.

In retrospect, I should have put in my two weeks when I was on the verge of tears on my way to work. The negative environment blended into my attitude and other areas of my life. It sucked away time from friends, family, and school work. Bottom line: decide when enough is really enough, realize that you deserve to be treated better and have the courage to change your situation.

Don’t let yourself settle.

While there is some truth in this old adage, you first have to decide on what settling means to you. Never be afraid to reach higher, go farther or to challenge yourself to be better. If you are staying in a job simply because you are comfortable with it–but there aren’t many opportunities to advance or acquire new skills–you aren’t going to live up to your full potential as the person you were born to be.

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We aren’t telling you to go quit your job or ditch your friends. Realize when you deserve to be treated like a real, living, breathing person who has so much to offer. You are not a doormat. Find what you love to do and do it. Find people who support and uplift you. And above all, don’t forget to return the favor.