How much better would your life be if you could:

  • Make better, faster, more confident decisions?
  • Maintain healthy boundaries and be true to yourself?
  • Feel more empowered and in control?

There’s one simple way to do all of that: Figure out what your non-negotiables are.

Career non-negotiables come up frequently in my coaching work. But the concept is universal. Knowing your non-negotiables can lead to more success and fulfillment in every area of your life.

What is a non-negotiable?

It’s a deal-breaker. A condition you MUST have in order to continue in the game – be that a job offer, a lifestyle, a relationship, or anything else important to you – and without which you are willing to walk away from it.

Your non-negotiables define what you will and won’t accept from others, as well as from yourself. They are the promises you keep to yourself and other important people in your life.

Identifying and owning your non-negotiables is essentially setting the rules for your life. And it IS your life. You SHOULD set the rules.

From a career standpoint, any term or condition of employment is potentially negotiable and could be on your list of non-negotiables. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to identify yours.

  • What do you have now that you MUST continue to have in the future?
  • What do you NOT have now that you MUST have in your next job?
  • Are there any potential trade-offs for the things on your list?
  • Would you really be willing to walk away from an offer without each and every one of them?

Most of us have few true non-negotiables (for our careers, anyway), but it’s critical to know what they are.

Sometimes non-negotiables are temporary. Consider how significantly one’s employment needs are impacted if they are the single parent of a school-aged child or the primary caregiver for an aging parent, for example – both circumstances which may last for years but will eventually go away.

And non-negotiables tend to change significantly when something big happens in one’s life, positive or negative. It could be simply moving on to a new stage of life, like graduating from college or getting married. Or it could be a financial windfall or the life-threatening illness of a loved one, something that could happen at any time.

You can increase the power of non-negotiables in your life by:

  • Getting clear on what yours are,
  • Writing them down and keeping them current,
  • Getting your life aligned with them, and
  • Communicating them to important people in your life.

Your non-negotiables are powerful.

Learn to use them well, and they can become the fail-proof guideposts to your best life.

Lorri Anderson
Lorri Anderson

Lorri Anderson is an expert consultant to businesses and a powerful coach to individuals. After a long and rich career as a strategic HR executive, she is driven to give back by changing the Human Experience in today’s workplaces, one business or human at a time.

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