A standard is important because it is how we measure things. When someone says they have standards, they mean they have a method of measuring the importance of something to them. The better it measures up, the better it aligns with our standards. We are measuring things because we need to determine if they are worthy of our most important resource—time.

Standards allow you to determine what your time is worth. The higher your standards, the better quality you let into your life. This goes for the food you eat, the people you spend your time around and the experiences you have in your short time on this rock. There are three steps to increase your standards so that you have a higher quality time on this planet.

The first step is awareness. To want better you must know that better exist. Some people never travel and that’s a shame. Travel is the single greatest thing for raising your standards in life because it allows you see all the experiences you can have in this world. It doesn’t matter where you were born and it doesn’t matter where you live. It doesn’t even matter how far you travel. All that matters is that you see places that are different from those you are familiar with.

This works for people as well. Most people have low standards because they aren’t exposed to different types of people. If all you know are the fools from the block you grew up on, then how could you have a standard for the people you spend your time based on anything but blind luck? Interacting with different people in different places gives you the awareness to form a standard for measuring people.

The second step is work. This is the part the entitled despise. All movements to normalize destructive behavior would rather you forget about having standards altogether. See, a person is free to desire as much time, attention and money as they want to from the world. However, these things are finite and are given to what people deem important.

If your skills don’t measure up to the economic standard, you make less money. If your attractiveness doesn’t measure up to the beauty standard, you get lower quality and lower frequency bids from the opposite sex.  Even your health must meet a standard or else you will have an unpleasant life.

It takes work and discipline to meet the standards of life. Work to build yourself up and discipline to avoid actions which erode your value. It’s not enough to believe you deserve more money or an attractive lover. You must be of high enough value in the market of life. This market is made up of all the people and institutions that have their own standards as well. They have a standard you must meet before you get their money, time and energy.

You need to have a certain grade point average to get into the universities you want. You need certain experiences and knowledge to get the job you want. You need a minimum level of fitness to participate in certain sports. You need a certain level of money to live and travel certain ways.

The list can go on, but the point is that you are already being measured so that you are someone’s best choice. When a person says they have standards, they are stating that they have a bare minimum for what gets their time and attention. We all want the best, but are we putting in the work to be selected by the best as well?

The final step is enforcement. You must stubbornly adhere to any standard you set for yourself or it is no longer–by definition–a standard. Many people forget this important step. It’s easy to say you have standards. It’s difficult to maintain them when things become difficult. This is because standards force things in your life up a pyramid.

The lower levels of the pyramid are where most people’s standards lie. The further you move up the pyramid, the less space there is. The further up you go, the fewer people there are. Not only are you lonelier, but you’ve got a two-fold problem of position.

The majority of people—the people below your position on the pyramid—want to be around you more because they perceive your higher position is something they can enjoy by association. Instead of doing the hard work of occupying a position on the pyramid themselves, they’d rather live vicariously through you by proxy association. While this is exhausting and repulsive, it isn’t as bad as the second group.

The other portion of this group of people below you are those that view your position with envy. They don’t want to mooch by proxy. They don’t even want to climb the pyramid to increase their standards. They want to pull you down to their level, or worse yet, decide that your position is actually the bottom and theirs is the top.

When you raise your standards, there will always be forces that vigorously fight to keep you down. They do this because when you demand and give more, it reminds them of their own inadequacy. Your intention is not malicious. You aren’t even thinking about the opposition as you work to earn your standards, but the opposition is thinking about you.

Enforcement of standards means that you do not waiver on what is acceptable to you. You know what you are worth and you will not accept anything less than that. You’re worth a certain amount of money, you want certain qualities in a partner, you demand a certain level of respect from family and friends, and a certain level of health and appearance you maintain.

The moment you accept anything less then you are, by definition, lowering your standards. You are settling for what is most convenient rather than for what you’ve earned.