haute stock photography coffee shop collection final 19 scaled 1500x430 - HOW TO FOCUS ON YOUR NON-NEGOTIABLES TO GET AHEAD

Are you someone who thinks in terms of non-negotiables? Those criteria you set to guide your choices and decision making? A friend recently talked about the non-negotiables she and her husband set before buying a new car. She had a very short list, while his was longer. They purchased a car that met their criteria, and both feel satisfied with the replacement for their 12-year-old minivan.

It might feel fairly easy to list your non-negotiables for a car, your dream vacation, job, or relationships. What about non-negotiables for your wellbeing? If someone asked you to list non-negotiables for health and wellness, could you?

Think about this. Consider the irony that we set non-negotiables for important things in our life, but not for the mind, body, and emotional energy we need to go after those things.

Identify Health and Wellness Non-Negotiables

Let’s consider how to identify your health and wellness non-negotiables for your mind, body, and spirt. The key is to look for patterns.

Close your eyes and think of a time when your mind was overwhelmed and overworked. Were you at work or at home? What caused the mental overload? What was the voice in your head saying you needed? Were you able to provide it? Did it help? Were the circumstances that led to the overwhelm and overwork typical? Can you identify a pattern between cause, effect, and solution?

When my mental load is especially heavy (usually from work), the non-negotiable for me is reading fiction because it doesn’t require me to think too hard and it provides an escape. Non-fiction serves a different but important function for me.

How about you? What is a non-negotiable for you when your mind is overwhelmed and overworked? If answering the questions above didn’t provide a clear answer, pay attention to what the voice in your head says you need. It may even feel like that voice is yelling. That’s a good indication of a non-negotiable (with a caveat).

Here’s the caveat: the non-negotiable solution needs to be healthy for all of you—your mind, body, and spirit. The voice in your head may scream you need wine, cake, or to vent on social media. Each of these strategies is fine in moderation (which I know you know). It would be counterproductive, however, to drink more wine or eat more cake than was good for your body. Venting on social media might feel good at the moment, but your spirit might feel exposed a few hours later.

Rinse and Repeat

Ask yourself these questions about physical exhaustion:

  1. When was a time my body/heart was exhausted?
  2. Were you at work or at home?
  3. What caused the overload?
  4. What was the voice in your head saying you needed?
  5. Were you able to provide it?
  6. Did it help?
  7. Were the circumstances that led to the exhaustion typical?
  8. Can you identify a pattern between cause, effect, and solution?

Rinse and repeat for a time you were emotionally spent.

Leverage Your Non-Negotiables to Make Progress

Now that you’ve identified some non-negotiables for your health and wellness, how can you focus on them to make progress or get ahead?

Your self-awareness can lead you to prevent and prepare for those times when your stress level crosses over to the zones of imbalance or distress. As a result, you get to choose to implement the non-negotiables to prevent leaving your zone of healthy stress or prepare for what you to do to get back there.

In addition to my non-negotiable for my mind I listed above, my non-negotiable for my body is sleep and my non-negotiable for my spirit is spending time with my husband. All three of these non-negotiables help me protect my wellbeing by either preventing overload or rebalancing my energy after I’ve left my zone of healthy stress.

Try It!

Download the worksheet to identify and leverage your non-negotiables for health and wellness. After you complete it, you may still feel somewhat unsure of what they are. That’s OK. You can look for patterns and experiment with nominations of non-negotiables. Both are worthy activities and will help improve your health and get ahead (to wherever your dreams take you).


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I’m Karen Clark Salinas, and it’s my mission to help women live their full purpose (work + family) without sacrificing wellbeing. I want to be the coach I wish I’d had when I was a working mom. Someone to help me get unstuck and live my life more intentionally. Marriage, motherhood, chronic illness, divorce, remarriage, and caring for aging loved ones contribute significantly to my story. I know for sure that, with my support, you can pursue your professional dreams while raising a happy and healthy family.