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Calm Business Encyclopedia

How to Define Your Non-Negotiables for Thriving in Business and Life

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Do you often find yourself teetering on the brink of burnout or overwhelmed by the relentless demands of work? If so, it’s time to define your non-negotiables!

Simply put, non-negotiables revolve around this crucial question: What will you safeguard above everything else to preserve your well-being? And how will you protect these treasures?

We love the way Elizabeth Gilbert talks about boundaries:

“A boundary is a golden circle that you draw around the things that matter to you, and you say everything inside this circle is sacred.”

Elizabeth Gilbert Boundaries


Green Shape

What Aspects of Your Life and Business Are NOT Up For Debate?

We’re about to explore the power of setting life and business non-negotiables, the things in your life that are sacred and must-haves. Non-negotiables go in two directions too, they are things you ALWAYS do and things you NEVER do. We’ll share examples in a moment!

You may already have existing non-negotiables…

Your morning coffee ritual, your sleep routine, daily time for creativity…. or… maybe you don’t have any of those things right now and you’re desperate to prioritize them?

Your Most Important Non-Negotiables (Energy, Time, and Business)

We’ve done the hard work of thinking through three main buckets of non-negotiables. They are your energy, your time, and your business.

3 Main Non-Negotiables


1. Energy Non-Negotiables

To establish your energy non-negotiables, we want you to reflect on what is sacred to your vitality.

For instance, you might be a person who needs 8 hours of sleep every night 😴. We want you to consider what you’ll always do to protect that sleep schedule (having a consistent bedtime) and what you’ll never do (work past 7 p.m. or watch Netflix too late into the night). That’s just one example of how you craft your energy non-negotiables.

As an exercise, write out your own version of the table below with some energy non-negotiables and the associated ALWAYS do and NEVER do items for each one:

Energy Non-Negotiables


2. Time Non-Negotiables

Time non-negotiables shield your schedule and help you focus on what truly matters.

Start by identifying what’s sacred for you—as an example maybe that’s date nights with your partner. Create rules like always planning date nights every other week and never inviting others to intrude on your sacred time.

Just like the energy non-negotiables, we have a pre-filled-out table below with time non-negotiable examples for you to use as inspiration for your life!

Time Non-Negotiables


3. Business Non-Negotiables

For business non-negotiables, first, pinpoint what’s truly sacred in your business. Is it communication, team happiness, or customer connection? Next, establish rules to protect those things.

For example when it comes to having great communication, always have weekly team meetings but never kick off a meeting without involving the entire team.

These rules are the guardians of your business values and culture. Here’s another example table to help you write out your own business non-negotiables…

Business Non-Negotiables



Examples of Our Energy, Time, and Business Non-Negotiables

Whenever we’re reading an article like this one, we LOVE seeing real examples from other people to help get our brain juices 🧠 💦 flowing (was that gross… weird? Maybe).

👩🏻‍🦰👨🏻‍🦲 Our ENERGY non-negotiable examples

Family Recharge Time: To protect our energy, we prioritize recharge days during family gatherings, allowing us to bring our best selves to events.

Social Connections: We now engage in social activities based on wants, not shoulds, cultivating deeper and lasting friendships.

8 Hours of Sleep: The data is there, we need quality sleep to live healthy and happy lives. We prioritize good bedtime routines and sleep environments.

👩🏻‍🦰👨🏻‍🦲 Our TIME non-negotiable examples

Saturday Movie Nights: A cherished non-negotiable for our relationship and overall happiness. Every Saturday night we sit on the couch and watch two movies together (Speed and Anna and the Apocolypse are two favorites 🍿).

Daily Movement: We’ve set a low-bar non-negotiable of 10 minutes of daily exercise, ensuring the habit remains alive even on off days.

Teachery Fridays: This year, we finally carved off a set time every Friday to work on our second business Teachery. While it’s not a ton of time, we’ve been able to make great strides in this business due to a non-negotiable block of time on our calendar.

👩🏻‍🦰👨🏻‍🦲 Our BUSINESS non-negotiable examples

Teach From Experience: We’re never going to be business coaches who teach something we haven’t done. We will always teach from a place of our own experiments and business adventures.

Fun as a Priority: Embracing fun as a core business value and ensuring that our projects are enjoyable helps us keep our work life as stress-free and enjoyable as possible.

Committing to the Season: Whether we’re in a “season” of heads-down work and saying no to all external obligations, or we’re in a “season” of putting ourselves out there with more content and in-person events, we love committing to chunks of time with specific focus.

Pink Donut

Non-Negotiables Wrap-Up!

We want you to remember that non-negotiables aren’t about imposing rigid rules but creating clear boundaries to protect what’s sacred.

The more you can set aside a small chunk of time to define what truly matters to you, the better you’ll be at managing your own energy, time, and focus.

Don’t forget, your non-negotiables are your personal treasures, guard them well and reap the benefits they provide!

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