Ah, good ol' non-negotiables…
You’re chipping away at a pile of tasks, sitting in your sweatpants sipping on (ok, fine, guzzling) your fourth cup of coffee. You’re checking off boxes on your ‘to do’ list, but you’re not getting any closer to the end of it.
You’re busting your butt and then, you get another email from a client.
You glance at it.
“Hey, I know you’ve already fulfilled your contract but do you think you can also add on this extremely time-consuming and nearly impossible task?”
And you reply…“of course!”
Because you’re a people-pleaser.
Because you don’t know your worth.
Because you haven’t set these very important guiding principles I like to call ‘non-negotiables.’ (OK, you caught me; I didn’t come up with the term.)
We’ve all been there. But we will not go there again, no sir!
Because we’re going to learn how to identify and evaluate principles that will give us control over the decisions we make.
1. Identify Your Values
Think about your life and your business; what really matters to you? What are your core life values? What are your top business priorities?
In order to evaluate your non-negotiables, you have to identify them first!
Non-negotiables are formed by your values, define what you will and won’t accept from others, and determine the actions you do or don’t take. They’re big deal-breakers. Ya know, like when your dream partner is actually a serial nose-picker or antique-doll collector…but I digress.
In business, non-negotiables are promises you keep to yourself, your clients and your team. They are unique to your personal desires and your business needs. Only you can determine what they are, and only you can manage them.
Once you determine those things you won’t budge on, write them down. Be thorough!
Start by brainstorming what matters most to you. Why did you choose that as a non-negotiable? What habits will help you uphold it? Do these non-negotiables align with your values and your goals?
When busy work is thrown at you, having guidelines will help you make smart decisions.
2. Revisit Your List
Once you’ve written out the things you’re not willing to sacrifice, revisit them frequently. Maybe you’re not staying true to them, maybe you need to make them more practical, or maybe you need to trade them for new ones because your circumstances have changed. Whatever the case, you’ll want to revisit them at least once a week to make sure you’re on track!
If there’s nothing stopping you (whispers: non-negoootiabblleeesss) from saying ‘yes,’ to a new opportunity, you’re destined to be unproductive. If you’re feeling tired, drained, or stressed, there’s a good chance you haven’t stuck to your handy-dandy list we talked about. Prioritize and honor those promises you made to yourself and protect your time and energy!
3. Celebrate Your Progress
Writing down and honoring our non-negotiables brings order into our crazy lives. We entrepreneurs tend to spread ourselves thin, and eventually come to the point where we’ve got nothing left to give.
But when we set ground rules that we will not violate, we give ourselves the gift of energy which allows us to be generous to others. We also earn respect from others when we say ‘no’ to protect our time and energy.
There will be moments when we fail. In those moments that make you wonder where you went wrong, remember: we’re striving for progress, not perfection. And progress is worth celebrating! So when you violate your own rules, go back to step two and evaluate their viability. Then consider your progress. Then pour yourself a glass of champagne because, hey, you’re human, but you’ve come a long way!
The things you feel strongly about can become your governing values and can save you precious time, energy, and self-respect. So get to work making your list. Happy writing, friends!
Do you already know your non-negotiables? Share them in the comments below!
Cassandra is a successful business owner, gifted serial entrepreneur, and holistic guide for women in business. A natural visionary, she has built multiple businesses, including Tola Marketing + Creative and Milkin’ Cookie, from the ground up.
Cassandra’s greatest passion is helping female entrepreneurs leverage their past trials and traumas to create fulfilling million dollar businesses.