Invisible standards: The new “invisible scripts”
You may have heard me talk about invisible scripts. It’s a term coined by Ramit Sethi to explain the belief systems that all of us have that we’re not even aware of. Often, the concept refers to belief systems that don’t serve us in our lives.
It’s an enormously helpful concept to know about, explore, and work on in our lives.
But today I want to introduce you to a new concept: Invisible standards. (TM Cristina Roman. You heard it here first, folks.)
In my coaching sessions with my clients, I started noticing a pattern. People would talk about things like having “an amazing morning routine,” being “good enough” at work, wanting to be an “incredible leader,” and having a “wildly productive deep work practice.”
And 9 times out of 10? They’re beating themselves up, because they aren’t where they want to be.
But here’s the crazy part: They don’t actually know where they want to be, because their definitions are so elusive and undefined. Their standards are completely invisible, even to them. They’ve never defined what any of it means.
So, here’s the two-part process that I lead my clients through: Define, then decide.
Define your invisible standards
First, define in excruciating detail what you’re really striving for. Let’s take “incredible leader.” Write down every single detail of who you think you would be if you were an incredible leader. Walk through an entire 24-hour period — what would you do, say, believe, and feel as an incredible leader? What would you not do, say, believe, and feel?
- What does “an amazing morning routine” look like? What would you do, say, believe, and feel if you had “an amazing morning routine”?
- What does “being ‘good enough’ at work” look like? What would you do, say, believe, and feel if you were “good enough”?
- What does a “wildly productive deep work practice” look like? What would you do, say, believe, and feel if you had a “wildly productive deep work practice”?
If you start writing down your definition and it feels a little unrealistic, EXCELLENT. That’s what we want. We want you to surface all of your slightly crazy standards that you’ve been carrying around in a little invisible suitcase. The crazier, the better.
Decide your standards
Now that you have an exhaustive list of the standard that you’re really striving for, it’s time to decide what to do with the list.
Here are the three most common paths I see clients take:
- Decide to go all in on your standard and beat yourself up when you don’t hit it every single time. <– 10/10 do not recommend. Seriously — going all in but beating yourself will feel like shit and it will not be constructive. I promise.
- Decide to go all in on your standard but commit to not beating yourself up along the way. Use every falter as a learning experience.
- Decide to keep some of your definition, but drop the parts that don’t serve you.
Is it surprising that I recommend option 2 or 3?
The risk of not uncovering your invisible standards
Here’s what can happen when you don’t do this exercise: You continue on as is, running an invisible standard in your mind and always coming up short. You feel behind and unsatisfied, but you don’t understand why.
….so might I suggest that you do the exercise? 🤔
Sending you invisible good thoughts!