Know your non-negotiablesBy Megan Dalla-Camina | Oct 31, 12 08:30 AM
The art of saying no can be the key to our productivity, to gaining any semblance of balance, and to perhaps even maintaining our sanity.
There is a great quote from Dorothy Parker; “That woman speaks eighteen languages and can’t say no in any of them”. It is a rare woman who cannot relate to that statement, and she probably lives in a cave somewhere. For the rest of us, who have commitments coming out of our wazoo, the art of saying no can be the key to our productivity, to gaining any semblance of balance, and to perhaps even maintaining our sanity.
Non-negotiables are the things in your life that you are not prepared to negotiate on. Sounds simple right? They define not only what you will and won’t accept from others, say a boss or a partner, but they also define what you will and won’t accept from yourself. They are the deal breakers. They are unique to you and your situation, only you can determine what they are, and only you can manage them.
Non-negotiables can be anything. There are tons of examples, but here are just a few to get your thoughts started;
- not working on weekends as it’s family time
- having Thursday nights to yourself for your study program
- your weekly massage
- going for a run each day
- getting up at 5.30am to meditate
- taking five weeks leave every year
- picking your child up from school
- being in bed by 11pm
- the amount of project work you will take on at any one time
- not taking work calls, or checking your Blackberry after a set time
- your husband/boyfriend not leaving his dirty clothes on the bedroom floor (or leaving the toilet seat up, or any other domestic bliss robber that just kills you)
- only working four days a week, and not working on your day off
You get the drift. Some of these may seem huge, some may seem relatively minor, but they are highly individual. So what may seem small to one person, can be life-changing to the person standing next to you. It doesn’t matter what other people think about your non-negotiables. It only matters what they mean to you.
We need to be able to determine the things that are real non-negotiables, from the things that are just good to haves, but are not really deal breakers. Checking in with your values, and the vision you have for your life, are good ways to validate what your non-negotiables really are. You might like to go for a run every day, but realise that four days a week is really fine, and the extra three days are just ‘nice to haves’. They are not deal breakers. But missing those four days – out of the question. Similarly, you might like to leave the office at 5pm everyday, but as long as you get out the door on time three days a week, you are still content. Having this clarity is really important, so you don’t get yourself in a state over something that wasn’t even a deal breaker to start with.
So how can you start to define what your non-negotiables are and implement a plan that works for you? Try these tips to get you going;
1. Get clear – Identify what your non-negotiables are, write them down, and ensure you have clarity between them and the ‘nice to haves’ in your life.
2. Keep it current – as your life changes, so does what is important for you in order to live your life in a way that works and is meaningful. Review your list a few times a year, to make sure your non-negotiables still resonate.
3. Get aligned – if your needs are continually unmet, you will find it difficult, if not impossible, to live a happy, balanced, successful life. What is really important to you right now? How do your non-negotiables sit with your values and your goals? Check in on these key points and you will make sure you are all synced up with what really matters for you.
4. Communicate – It is one thing to decide your non-negotiables, but its another thing to actually live by them. Communicating with people that matter in your life - like your boss, peers, partner or friends – is really important so that you are not running your life in a bubble. Letting people know what is important to you and why, will allow others to support you and help you stay on track with your plans.
No is a little word with huge impact. Getting clear on what matters most to you, setting your non-negotiables around that, and then actually following through on it (yep, that’s the kicker right there) can really make a massive difference in all aspects of your life. So pick a language, any language, and learn the art of saying no. It might just change everything.
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Megan Dalla-Camina is a strategist, speaker, author and coach passionate about creating positive change. Through her journey from crazy sick workaholic to thriving wellness warrior, she loves helping women create the career and life they love, and live it well. With Masters degrees in both Business and Wellness (Positive Psychology) she gets the science of thriving as well as the practical application. Megan was recently named one of the ‘Hot 40’ in Australia’s Prevention magazine. Her first book, Getting Real About Having It All, is out now through Hay House.