The Most Important Non-Negotiable
Last week I felt as if I was a walking timebomb. A combination of feeling rundown, exhausted and physically sore left me wondering if I would suddenly collapse teaching or fall asleep while driving. I’ve been exhausted before, but this was a whole new level – and one that wasn’t the result from teaching 20+ classes. It was otherwise a normal week for me and the issue wasn’t so much what I was doing as much as it was what I wasn’t doing. The truth is I wasn’t focused on the most important non-negotiable in my life: myself.
Over the past few months, my to-do lists have shifted from high priority and “OK, this can wait until later” to the dramatic, “If I don’t get this done now – and I mean ALL of this – the world might end”.
My inbox and text messages are never-ending. My responsibilities and workload are growing: I’m gearing up to lead our very first Yoga Teacher Training at the Life Time in Ardmore in January; I’m helping facilitate intenSati leadership training in NYC in a few weeks; I’m getting ready to run intenSati leadership training in Philly alongside my life coach Hildie in early 2019 – and I’m preparing to lead and coach a group through Patricia’s Sati 365 program starting in January.
Being ambitious and driven – and actually watching your goals fall into place – is an incredibly wonderful thing. But, despite things seemingly falling into place, there’s the subtle, uneasy feeling of uncertainty: “Will anyone sign up for these trainings I’m running? What if no one signs up? How will I ever get everything I need in order so that I feel prepared to lead all these things?”
These are questions that lead me down a rabbit hole of overwhelm and make me believe I need to get it all done now or the world (my world) might end. If don’t get it done now, I won’t get to do what I want. If I don’t get it done now, I’m missing out on something (#FOMO). If I don’t get it done now, it won’t get done.
The anxiety around getting it all done was so great that I began to prioritize working on lessons over writing my book and the things that fill my soul cup. I chose to run through my to-do’s at home instead of spending quality time with the meaningful people in my life. I opted to “do the things” – really anything I deemed necessary to get done – over sleep, the one thing I know I need in order to set off a positive chain reaction of choices throughout my day. I continually chose to prioritize my worries over all other things and as a result, I’ve been causing myself a great deal of suffering.
Behind all good intentions – the long-term vision, THE ultimate goals and the short-term strategies – is our bottom line, what we’re willing to settle for on any given day.
What is the least you are willing to accept from yourself on any given day?
One of the most important questions you can ask yourself is, “What is the least you are willing to accept from yourself on any given day?”
The least we are willing to accept is determined by our perception: our perception of our circumstances, time, body and potential. The easy part is dreaming up the goals. The hard part is weaving our intentions into our daily reality.
Most of us go through our day perceiving our own intentions to be important, but negotiable. But here’s the deal, if your daily goals are negotiable, they’re disposable.
If your daily goals are negotiable, they’re disposable.
Listen, there’s a lot of moving parts in life. Kids get sick. We get sick. The deadline for a project we’re working on gets moved up and we have to pivot. Money is tight. The weather isn’t cooperating. We get low on motivation and enthusiasm. Life will always fluctuate and to a certain degree, we do need to be flexible. If we simply waited for the “right time” or things to settle down, we would be sitting curbside indefinitely. If we wait and tell ourselves we will be able to follow through when we have an easier week, we’ll likewise forgo progress.
Reality will dictate that circumstances will encroach upon your time. People will ask things of you at the last minute. Your energy will likely be fully depleted before you’ve gotten to your priorities. And it’s in that moment, in the 11th hour, that we decide what the real non-negotiables are.
We have to choose to draw our lines in the sand when we feel it’s important and we have to realize the most important non-negotiables we’ll ever have are to ourselves.
I’m not talking about your goals, dreams or aspirations. I’m not talking about your to-do’s or color-coded, prioritized lists. I’m talking about the simple practices that if you committed to every day – no matter what – would enable you to do the bigger, more grandiose things.
The No Matter What’s
Non-negotiables are exactly that – a no matter what, ironclad agreement with yourself about what you will or will not do each day. They’re the least common denominators, the thing that if you do will allow you to do all your other things.
At the end of your day, what’s the one thing you need to do for yourself so that you can do the other things?
The key to setting a non-negotiable rule is to envision a single, straightforward objective that you will fulfill daily – no excuses. Think of it as an anchor to organize your day around or a mantra to live by.
For example, someone who wants to feel more grounded or present for their kids might make 30 minutes of meditation or yoga a must each day. Another person who perhaps wants to feel good in their skin might commit to cutting sugar – or even make a commitment to forgo self-criticism for gratitude and appreciation.
Really, the non-negotiable can be a myriad of things and what the specific thing is depends on what you need in order to show up as your best self. It’s all about getting connected to the feeling – how you want to feel – and remembering the goal itself (i.e. lose 5 lbs) doesn’t always correlate with how we want to feel.
Once you determine how it is you want to feel and what it is you need in order to show up as your best self, then you need to assess your “must” and make sure it is simple and achievable, meaning it is actually something you can commit to doing every single day. Might it require effort to do every day? Of course. But it shouldn’t be so audacious that you’re setting yourself up for failure. In the end, there’s no real wrong choice when it comes to your non-negotiable if they support and empower you. Really any positive choice you make in your life that betters your wellbeing will always support and empower more positive choices. Especially if you tackle your non-negotiable early in the day, you’ll automatically support a certain perception of yourself and your day that keeps the momentum going in the direction you want.
For me, my non-negotiable is sleep. It’s the one variable that affects every other aspect of my life. When I’m well rested, I’m present for my classes, my students, my relationships, my son. When I’m not rested, I’m irritable, overtly emotional and highly self-critical of myself and my body.
Recently, I’ve been getting anywhere from 3 to 4 hours of sleep a night which has left me feeling drained, exhausted and more overwhelmed than usual. Ideally, I know I need anywhere from an upwards of 8 or 9 hours of sleep to feel my best (I really love to sleep). But realistically, given my current schedule and workload, I know that if I say that I’m committing to 8 hours of sleep off the bat, I will be setting myself up for failure. So, this week I’m making a commitment to get at least 6 hours of sleep a night. If I get more, great, and I’m hoping I do. But, at a bare minimum I am committing to at least 6 hours of sleep a night knowing that if I want to show up for the people in my life, if I want to lead training’s and write my book, I need to make myself my biggest priority.
This week remember your bottom line is not your upper limit. The better you get at seeing your goals as essential, the more you will realize that you can’t “do the things” until you do for you. When you create No Matter What’s in your life, you begin to value yourself, your health, your time and your energy and when you do that, you begin to expand your life in exponential ways.