What are the things on which you will never negotiate, no matter how much busy work is thrown at you? If you have nothing that you would not give away for any busy work that comes your way you are destined to be an unproductive failure. It’s as simple as that.
There are many traits of the truly successful: Hard work, functioning calendars and a passion for what they do are among them, but one thing that stands out above them all and that is they have a number of non-negotiables.
So what are non-negotiables? These are the things that no matter what will always be done. For example, a non-negotiable of mine is my daily mini review. This is the ten minutes at the end of the day I dedicate to planning the next day so I complete the things that are most important to me. It is non-negotiable. Another non-negotiable for me, is exercise. I know the benefits of exercise and I know how I feel when I do not do some form of exercise for a few days, I feel terrible and my productivity drops alarmingly. This is why I exercise a minimum of four times per week. If I get to Friday and I have only managed to exercise once all week, No matter how busy I am on that Friday, I will exercise even if I have to cancel a meeting or an appointment. It is non-negotiable.
As our lives have got busier, and the amount of stuff thrown at us has increased, it is important we set ourselves some ground rules that we will not violate. Doing this brings order and familiarity into our chaotic lives. These ground rules could be anything. It could be spending one hour a day with your kids, playing or helping them with their homework. It could be walking your dog for thirty minutes every evening, or taking your spouse or partner out every Friday evening. It does not really matter what these ground rules are, the only thing that matters is they help you achieve the things that are really important to you.
One of the interesting things about many top CEOs today is they have some very strict morning routines. Tim Cook of Apple, gets up at 3:45am every day to go the gym. Satya Nadella of Microsoft goes out for a run every morning. Tony Robbins has a twenty minute exercise and meditation routine. No matter what, Tim Cook, Satya Nadella and Tony Robbins make sure their exercise is complete before beginning the day. It gives them discipline and it gives them a structure to their lives and these routines are non-negotiable.
It is very easy to allow our lives to drift. To allow events to control what we do and when. This is really not a very good way to live your life. Drifting and allowing the world to run your life is like being a ship drifting in the middle of the ocean without a sail. You will have no idea where you will end up. The chances are you will end up nowhere and will have a ship wreck of a life. Having some non-negotiables in your life gives your life some structure, some navigation and a purpose and it is these things that brings joy and happiness into a life.
To establish your non-negotiables you need to first know what is important to you. These are your “governing values”, the things you feel very strongly about. These could be related to your spirituality. Going to your Church, Temple, Mosque or Synagogue every week for example would be a non-negotiable if your religion is important to you. They could be related to your relationships with your family or your friends — being home for dinner with your family every evening may be an important non-negotiable for you for example. The thing about your governing values, as Hyrum Smith wrote in his book The 10 Natural Laws Of Successful Time And Life Management, are they are unique to you. No one person is likely to have the same values. This means you cannot just copy someone else’s. They need to be yours and you need to take time out to establish what yours are.
Establishing your non-negotiables is a very powerful life development strategy anyone can do. Having a number of things that are non-negotiable to you sets a standard for your life and brings discipline and order into your life. When we live in a world that is being disrupted at increasingly faster speeds, having some things you will not compromise on will bring purpose and direction in your life. Something that for many people who are drifting through life do not have.
So what are the things you are not prepared to compromise on? What are your non-negotiables?
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Carl Pullein is a personal development and productivity specialist, presenter and author of Working With Todoist: The Book as well as Your Digital Life, a book about using your technology to achieve greater productivity. Carl works with clients all over the world to help them focus on the things that are important to them and to become more successful, productive and creative.