How Everyday Non-Negotiables Can Change Your Outlook on Life

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My schedule was a mess. I felt like I had too much on my plate but wasn’t sure what to take off. I had a family to take care of, a ministry to run, and big ideas with no hope of seeing them come to life.

I enlisted the help of a life coach to give me some direction on what I should do with my online self. But I got so much more than that. One of the first things she asked me was, “What are your daily non-negotiables?” In other words, “What are the 5 things that must happen for you to feel good about your day?

Non-negotiables are decisions that are made, in advance, based upon on your values, beliefs, and convictions that you will not change. They are the things you will or will not do in areas of your life such as family, relationships, or business.

I understood what a non-negotiable was in the broader sense, however I’d never considered them in terms of my daily life. At that point, everything I did was negotiable. Most days I’d just go with the flow or address only the most pressing issues, and no day ever looked the same.

With a bit of thought I came up with my non-negotiables. The list consisted of what mattered to me. More than anything else, these were the things that bummed me out when I didn’t “get to” them each day.

My List included:

  •  Spend time with God
  • Invest time in my kids – talking, reading, homework, or bedtime routines.
  • Tidy (not perfect) house - everything in it place.
  • Create something - write, design, or organize
  •  Connect with my husband

Once I assembled this list I was able to use it as the framework for my day. I intentionally made time in my schedule for each of them. It took a bit of practice but eventually over time I started to see results. I began to see, that it was indeed possible to do the things that I said were important to me. 

Here are 3 steps you can take to create non-negotiables and get on track:

1. Brainstorm ideas. Set aside time to think about what matters to you. If you could design a good day, taking into account your responsibilities, what would it look like? Write down everything that comes to mind.

2. Choose five (or less) of them.  That is all you need. There is only so much time in a day. It’s better to do a few things consistently rather then take on too many and become discouraged.

3. Put them in your calendar. Make an appointment with yourself and your non-negotiables. The key to leave behind good intentions and accomplish what matters to you is to designate a time each day to do them, even if it is not the same time every day.

Your life is a product of your routine and daily rituals. << CLICK TO TWEET

It takes practice to make your non-negotiables a part of your everyday but it is worth the effort, especially when they are rooted in your values. Eventually they will become habits and you’ll begin to feel like you have control over your time and ultimately your life.

Once the things that mattered to me the most became a consistent part of my day, I no longer felt hopeless or like a victim of my busy schedule. I was able to have realistic expectations of what was possible to do with the rest of my time.