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Why You Need Non-Negotiable Core Values to Succeed in Life and Business

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A few weeks ago, our city was blasted by Arctic air and temperatures plummeted to the -23 Celsius mark. While my family griped about how the extreme cold forced us to cancel planned activities and stay indoors, our neighbour Greg, went for his morning run like he did every morning, rain, shine or freezing.

You see for Greg, exercise – specifically his morning run – is a non-negotiable. As we get busier we sometimes get lost in chaos and lose focus of what is important. By setting and committing to doing those things that add meaning to our lives while helping us move closer to achieving our goals, we establish order and routine.

These non-negotiable tasks could be anything from walking the dog twice a day to volunteering at a local non-profit once a week. Committing to these non-negotiables is easier than you think because a non-negotiable is determined by a core or governing value.

“Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money but you cannot get more time.” – Jim Rohn

You see we act on these non-negotiables because they make us feel good. Let me explain: Core values guide your behaviour and decisions. If family is a core value, then you will prioritize time with your family over time playing racquetball with friends for example. These activities are your non-negotiables and they drive both your personal and professional success.

Here are my 3 non-negotiables and their related value:

  • Meditation – I meditate for a minimum of ten minutes every day because meditation not only helps control my anxiety but it also helps me stay focused. My first core value is wellness.
  • Writing – I write every day because it is part of my work but it is also something I enjoy doing. Writing has become a habit and my day doesn’t “feel right” if I haven’t written something regardless of length or substance. My second core value is creativity.
  • Dinner with my family every night – My family is very important to me so while it’s easy as a business owner to come up with excuses as to why I need to “put in another hour or two at the office”, success will become meaningless to me if I lose the love and support of my husband and sons. My third core value is family

So how can you make non-negotiables a natural part of your daily routine?

1. Start out by identifying your core values

We all make decisions based on our core values whether we know it or not. The aim of this exercise is to bring our values to light so that we can consciously decide whether something is worth doing or not. Grab a notebook and pen, settle down in a quiet space, free from distractions and answer these three questions:

  1. What do you most love about your life?
  2. What qualities do you most admire about yourself? (For example, you’re compassionate, creative, hard-working etc)
  3. How would your best friend or partner describe you in 3 words? Go on. Ask them.

2. Make a list of core values

Read through your answers carefully and choose the 5 core values that most resonate with you.  

Here are a few examples of core values: Love, beauty, creativity, community, diligence, empathy, faith, family, friendship, gratitude, health, honesty, impact, self-expression, service, visibility, wellness…

“Price is what you pay, value is what you get.” – Warren Buffett

3. Decide on your non-negotiables

Read through your list of core values and then write out your answer to the below question: What are the things that I absolutely won’t negotiate on and am committed to doing every day regardless of the date, season or conditions? Remember, you don’t want to complicate your life further or add to the busyness.  Try to keep things as simple as possible.

Here is an example:

Let’s say health is a core value but you haven’t been making the best choices thanks to that new burger bar down the road. You may want to start by stopping your daily visits to the burger bar and start making your own healthy meals at home.

If you work full time but hope to turn your side hustle as a wedding photographer into a real business, a great non-negotiable would be to market your side hustle every day on social media. This shouldn’t take longer than a few minutes every day.

As you write out your answer to this question you may also want to create two separate lists, one for PERSONAL non-negotiables and one for PROFESSIONAL non-negotiables. Aim for a maximum of 3 for each list.

Once you have completed these steps, commit to your non-negotiable tasks by making them a daily priority and watch as your life expands with meaning and success.

What are some of your core values? Comment below!

Yolanda McAdam is a social media and online marketing strategist and experienced business coach. She helps small business owners attract a consistent flow of ideal clients and buyers and grow their businesses with the help of social media and BS-free strategies, processes, and tools.

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