For many of us, our non-negotiables are the things that get pushed out and trodden on in our rush to meet other people’s agendas, attain recognition and confirmation of our worth, and be a ‘success’. I used to spend so long perfecting a piece of work I’d miss out on all the fun stuff. I’d over-promise myself to people to such an extent that didn’t have time to notice the sky, let alone breath properly.
For years I struggled with not feeling ‘good enough’. I was busy fulfilling other people’s agendas, but, in my own eyes, never quite measuring up: however hard I worked, I always thought I should do more, achieve more, be more. As a result, I would try to be all things to all people and over-promise on things in an attempt to catch that elusive sense of ‘being enough’.
This road led me to run on adrenaline a lot of the time, to rush from one thing to the next; however hard I worked, or however much I gave out, somehow I would feel I was falling short of what was expected of me, or more to the point, what I expected of myself. After being signed off sick, with adrenal exhaustion, I decided that rather than chasing other peoples’ idea of success and what ‘enough’ was, I would hone in on my non-negotiables and create my own definition of success from there.
Retaking ownership of ‘success’
When I committed to upholding my non-negotiables above everything else, it immediately became easier to say ‘no’ to people, to maintain stronger boundaries and to avoid my tendencies towards perfectionism and playing superwoman.
Success for me began to be measured by how I felt internally, not by ‘external’ outputs. A ‘successful’ day became one where I held tight to my personal boundaries and standards, and upheld my non-negotiables above all else. This was incredibly empowering, because now I had chosen my priorities, I was 100% committed and in charge of upholding them. Getting clear on my non-negotiables helped me retake ownership of success.
If you find yourself suffering from blurry work-life boundaries, never getting to the end of your to do list, never feeling quite good enough, take a moment to get clear on your non-negotiables and define your own sense of ‘success’ and ‘good enough’:
Get clear on your non-negotiables
1. Identify YOUR non-negotiables
What puts the ‘quality’ into your life? What things do you need to be present in your life in order for you to be at your best? In what quantity? How often?
2. Commit to your vision
What would a life with those non-negotiables in be like? Make an internal commitment to honouring that vision.
3. Protect what’s important and enlist other people’s support
Set protective boundaries around your non-neogtiables. If necessary, let the people who need to know, know that these are your non-negotiables – the things you need to be at your best - and that you’re asking their support in helping you to honour them.
4. Be strong when it comes to saying 'yes' and 'no'
When you say 'yes' to one thing, you’re saying 'no' to another, and vice versa. When you come across an urge to say yes to something somone’s requesting of you, ask yourself how this will impact on your non-negotiables? Remind yourself what your priorities are, and assess what you’ll be giving up/gaining.
5. Be proud of what you’re trying to do
Remember, it's not the people who work late or run from one thing to the next, just managing to hold on to life by a thread, who garner the most respect, it's the people with the strongest boundaries and clearest sense of their personal and professional priorities. The first group may think they’re doing it and having it all, but on who’s terms….?
I've shared my non-negotiables, tell me yours in the comments below...