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Understand Your Non-Negotiables

12 Apr 2018

Understand Your Non-Negotiables

The secret to thriving, not just surviving, in life is understanding your non-negotiables.

Found at the intersection of your lifestyle and personal and professional self, your non-negotiables help you ‘own your yes’ and ‘protect your no’. Follow this simple, no fuss 60-second per day plan for 7 days to start on the journey to becoming your best possible self.

Make time to take time

Set aside 60 seconds per day for seven days to work out your non-negotiables. Choose a time, set a reminder and, with pen in hand, commit to the process.

Choose Life

Think of your non-negotiables as a triangle of needs. First you need to establish your lifestyle’s non-negotiables, then your personal non-negotiables and then, and only then, your professional non-negotiables.


To function optimally you must sleep, eat, move and spend time with people who make you smile. In other words, what do you need outside of work to thrive in life. To find out, ask and answer these questions —

  1. How much sleep do I get?
  2. How nutritious is my food?
  3. Am I hydrated?
  4. Do I take time to move, exercise and get fresh air?
  5. Do I spend quality time with people I love and who make me smile?

Now ask- what am I happy with? What do I need more of? Pay very close attention to your lifestyle non-negotiables as they are the foundation stones upon which you design your own version of success.


Your personal non-negotiables are the day to day things that are important in life to you. They focus on your financial needs, your location and the type of work culture that is important to you. To figure them out ask yourself –

  1. How much money do I need to cover my monthly bills?
  2. Geographically is my location fixed?
  3. What type of work culture and flexibility do I need?

Once you have answered these questions, you know what is important to you on a day to day basis.


Your professional non-negotiables are the aspects of your career that keep you engaged, challenged and motivated. Again, different for everyone, it’s important that you dive deep based on what YOU want.

Is it important to you that you derive meaning from your job? That your role helps you to help others? Do you want to work with people or independently? Do you enjoy big picture problem solving? Maybe you have a preference for the finer details? Perhaps money is your motivation.

By naming and understanding your professional non-negotiables it becomes possible to at least consider them in light of your career and ultimately integrate them into your professional strategy.

Prioritise your Non-Negotiables

At this stage it’s likely you have a long list. But too many non-negotiables will paralyse you and prevent action. Ask yourself –

  1. What is the most important non-negotiable under each heading?
  2. What am I unwilling to sacrifice?

Repeat this until you have 3 words under each heading.

One sheet of paper

On a single sheet of paper write and display your non-negotiables. These nine words become your 21st century thriving kit and guide you as you design your own version of success.

Article by; Sinéad Brady

Sinead Brady, Chief Inspiration Officer at A Career to Love, is a Dublin based career and coaching psychologist who works internationally. Over the past 15 years she has helped 2,132 people to thrive in the modern workplace through her Design Your Own Success Programme.

She writes, coaches, blogs and speaks about all things careers related. Her favorite topics are managing your career in a time of change, the future of work, psychological safe workplaces, work-life blend, leading you, and returning to work after maternity leave. For more information, check out A Career to Love