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Mastering Non-Negotiables: 5 Questions to Transform Your Career

Want to know how high achievers do less and achieve more? They have a set of rules they live by.

One of the most powerful concepts that drive success is defining your non-negotiables.

Non-negotiables are the standards you define for yourself and will not negotiate on. They rely on your values and principles and define not only what you will and won’t accept from others, but also what you will and won’t accept from yourself.

Non-negotiables are the promises you keep to yourself.

They are there to guide you through hard times when decision-making is difficult, and to empower you when you need motivation to keep going.

According to Tony Robbins:

"You rise to the level of your standards"

The heights you reach in life are determined by the expectations you set for yourself. Holding high standards drives you to achieve more, while lower standards might limit your progress.

If you want to grow your career, start by holding yourself to a high standard.

5 Questions to Help You Define Your Non-Negotiables

Defining non-negotiables provides a clear compass for aligning your choices and actions with your core values, leading to a more purposeful and fulfilling career.

For example, here are my weekly career non-negotiables:

  • Workout 3 times

  • Take a walk outside

  • Help/uplift someone

  • Plan the week ahead

  • Learn something new

  • Work on a career goal

  • Complete my top 3 tasks

  • Do something creative (write/build)

  • Say yes to something that scares me

Good non-negotiables are aligned with your values, realistic, and sustainable. They are empowering, not restrictive, and do not contradict one another.

If you are not sure where to start, use these 5 questions to get started:

1. Reflect on Your Values:

What are the core values that guide your life and work?

What principles or beliefs are most important to you?

What aspects of life bring you the greatest sense of fulfillment and purpose?

2. Set Boundaries:

In what areas of your life and work do you need to establish clear boundaries?

What limits do you want to set to maintain a healthy work-life balance?

What boundaries do you need to define for personal growth, relationships, ethics, and health?

3. Identify Deal Breakers:

What actions, behaviors, or situations are completely unacceptable to you?

What behaviors or actions from others would cause you to walk away from a job or relationship?

Are there any personal habits or behaviors you refuse to engage in?

4. Learn From Past Experiences:

Recall situations where you felt uncomfortable or compromised.

What values or boundaries were violated or compromised in those instances?

What lessons can you learn from those experiences to refine your non-negotiables?

5. Raise Your Standards

What do you see in others that you want to emulate?

What are some “shoulds” in your life that could become “musts”?

What would the best version of you believe and do?

You can have 3 non-negotiables or 10, the number doesn’t matter as much as the substance.

Start small and grow your list over time as you learn to follow your own rules.

Make it Actionable

Non-negotiables become powerful when you use them. If you keep a running list in your head, it won’t get you far. Write down your non-negotiables, print them and hang somewhere visible, make them your screensaver or simply add them to your notes app.

You can use this template:

Start thinking about your non-negotiables.

Set boundaries and raise the bar for yourself. It could change your career and life.

I believe in you and I’m rooting for you.


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