8 standards you’ve set for yourself that may be unreasonably high

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Have you ever found yourself feeling like you’re nothing but a total failure?

That you will simply never achieve your goals or fulfill your potential?

Well, cut yourself some slack!

Chances are that you are simply being too hard on yourself.

That’s why, in this article, I’ll show you 8 different ways you’re holding yourself up to unreasonable standards, and why they’re harmful.

1) Knowing exactly what you want before 20

We’ve all heard the saying that the early bird gets the worm.

…that we have only so much time to spend.

…and that we should get our lives together before it’s too late.

All this, understandably, has us thinking that in order to succeed, we need to know what we want in life before we hit 20.

After all, we’ve had our entire childhoods to figure ourselves out, and by 20 we should already be independent adults!

But contrary to popular expectations, most of us don’t even begin to figure out what we actually want until we reach our mid-twenties and early thirties.

So don’t think you are a failure simply because you couldn’t decide on what you wanted in life before you hit twenty.

There are even some who don’t discover themselves until they’re already retired, and that’s perfectly okay. This doesn’t mean they’re failures.

And if you’re late into your twenties and have just found your calling, take heart in the fact that you’re actually like most people.

2) Earning your first million before 30

Finance gurus talk like all you need to do is hustle hard.

So when you find yourself miles away from earning your first million, it’s hard not to feel bad over it.

You’d think, if earning a million dollars is that easy, then surely the reason why you’re not a millionaire yet is because you’re not hustling hard enough.

And this is simply toxic because the reality is that to be a millionaire, you need not just hard work, but also luck—lots of it!

Fact is that only 2% of all Americans are millionaires, and most of them join that 2% at age 40. But finance gurus don’t tell us that.

This is bad for you because not only will you burn out and resent yourself, it can be hard for you to ever feel content. 

You can have a secure life and a bank account 200,000 dollars deep, and yet you can’t help but wonder “Damn it, why don’t I have a million already?”

3) Being successful at something on your first try

Many studies show that the ideal age of starting a successful company is 34-45 years old.

Do you think they did it on their first try? Definitely not. 

On average, 20% of businesses fail in the first two years. And a staggering 70% fail before it reaches the fifth year. 

The successful people who’ve managed to maintain their businesses have probably failed at 3-4 businesses beforehand, and that’s just part of the journey.

Expecting that you succeed at a business (or any endeavor) on your first try is naive and harmful to your own peace of mind.

If you want to succeed, then you change how you see failure and success. Every failure is a stepping stone to success, and it can take up to 20 failures or more before you finally succeed.

The journey is long, and expecting yourself to “make it big” on your first attempt will just make you bitter and burned out.

4) Being able to finish the week’s work by Wednesday

The idea of getting all our work done early is alluring, least of all because in principle, it should give us plenty of free time to spend however we please.

But the problem is that even if you can manage to do it a few times, it’s not exactly easy to pull off, and neither is it sustainable. 

You may tell yourself “Hey, if you’ve done it before, you SHOULD be able to do it again.” but sooner or later you’ll burn yourself out.

If you manage to keep it up for long enough, people might even notice it and give you MORE work for the same pay.

What you should be doing instead is to pace yourself and manage your expectations. You’re a human being, not a machine, and your body has its limitations.

5) Having it all—career, love, kids, and sanity

We’re told that nothing is impossible—that we can have everything we want. But what they don’t tell us is that we can’t have them at the same time.

It’s just…difficult!

Sure, you can do all of these if you’re already well-established in your career and you have a loving spouse who does 50% of the chores.

Some people make it seem easy. But trust me, it’s messy behind the scenes.

Even the best of us will break down when taking care of 3 kids while working 40 hrs/ week.

And those who want to be good at their careers might have to say no to having a partner or kids (for a while) because it’s just impossible to do it all.

To have it all seems great, and yes you can achieve them—but one at a time. 

Don’t put a timeline to check all the boxes because it will just wear you out.

6) Maintaining a clean apartment even on your busiest days

They say a clean house is a reflection of a sound mind. Some would even go as far as saying that it’s a predictor of success.

This is why you make it a point to keep your house—especially your room—spic and span. 

Good for you if you can usually manage this, but sometimes there are days when you simply don’t have the energy to spend on cleaning.

Perhaps you’re going through a break-up or are swamped with work, for example. Then don’t expect yourself to always be neat and orderly.

Just do the bare minimum, and just get back to it at another time if you simply can’t manage it.

7) Being happy all the time

Sometimes, we want to show we’re happy (or at least, not sad) to not bother others.

We all need to regulate our feelings to some extent, after all.

But at the same time, it’s easy to forget that hiding those feelings should not mean denying them, and that we should just pretend to be happy when we’re not.

If you must smile and be amicable for the sake of professionalism, do so. If you feel like you simply can’t handle it, try to see if you can do work where you don’t need to.

But don’t even begin to try fooling yourself into thinking you’re happy. 

There’s nothing wrong with being sad, or in expressing that sadness. In fact, the sooner you embrace it, the sooner you’ll get over whatever’s haunting you.

Accepting that you’re unhappy (even miserable) means that you can actually do something about it, even if it’s as simple as just treating yourself to some ice cream.

But denying it means you’re only burying it and letting it fester. This will fill you with resentment you just can’t quite place, and eventually you’ll find yourself lashing out.

8) Being totally independent

Independence is a much-honored virtue in our society. 

You’re seen favorably if, by 18, you’re out living on your own and paying all your bills without anyone’s help. And on the flip side, you’d be seen as a loser if you’re still living in your mother’s basement.

You’d be seen as a self-reliant employee if you don’t keep asking others for help, and seen as a needy one if you ask for more guidance.

Dependence and vulnerability are considered shameful, and the ideal is for all of us to be able to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.

And yet this is not how we are meant to be!

We’re social creatures and we need each other in this life.

There’s no shame in offering help to those who need help, or in admitting that we can’t do everything by ourselves.

Even the most “independent” among us still depend on others—they simply seem like they don’t.

You’re not a burden to others and you must stop aiming for total independence because trust me—that’s just impossible.

Last words

The worst thing you can do to yourself is to set your goals way too high

It’s admirable to aim for the stars and dream big, of course, but we often underestimate just how hard things actually are and beat ourselves up for not being good enough.

And this will actually make it even harder for you to attain your goals and achieve happiness!

You must pace yourself. Pay attention to your needs and respect your limitations.

And most of all, always prioritize yourself over your ambitions.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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