Do you create a schedule for your workday?

How about for the week?

How often do you stick to that schedule?

90% of the time?

70% of the time?

Take a second right now and let’s find out.

Grab your calendar, look at all of your events from last week and calculate that percentage.

Then ask yourself this: Was last week a typical week?

You see, when I ask leaders how often they stick to their schedule they tell me that they always “intend” to stick to it 100% of the time, and yet they don’t.

Why not?

Because life comes knocking and they drop everything to put out that urgent fire that someone just lobbed at their head.


You know exactly what I am talking about.

So now answer this, how often do those urgent events take precedence over say family dinners, your daily workout, your reading time, time with your spouse, weekend trips to see family, holiday events, etc.?

Give yourself a percentage here as well.

What I want you to realize is this, each time you allow something to take priority or precedence over a person or event that you value, you are most likely going to end up feeling frustrated, resentful, and even angry.

Gut check time.

How often do you allow yourself to get derailed, miss out on something important to someone you love, and then kick yourself for not being better at saying no or making adjustments to deliver to both priorities?

Too many times.

How do you solve it?

You need a non-negotiable list.

What is a Non-Negotiable List?

A non-negotiable list is a list detailing all of the critical life events, people, traditions, and activities you value that take precedence in your life.  Things like family dinners, kids’ sporting/musical/theatrical, etc. events, family vacations, holiday traditions, sports teams you like to watch or even participate in, etc. are all examples of personal non-negotiables. 

 What and who matters to you most? 

Write down the answer to this question and you have the start of a non-negotiable list. 

Add how often you want to participate in those events and you have got yourself an even stronger list.

Example: family dinners 4 nights a week.

Look, I know you already subconsciously know the answer to the questions.  But the point of creating the list is to pull it out of your subconscious and into your conscious mind.  

You want to be intentionally aware of what matters most to you.

Why Do I Need a Non-Negotiable List?

This list will now empower you to prioritize how you handle urgent meetings, calls, events, and projects that were not already present on your calendar.  

I’m not saying that you won’t still drop everything to handle something that is truly urgent.  You probably will and in some instances, you should.

However, with your non-negotiable list in hand, you will be able to look at a week-long project and say things like, “Look, it’s Wednesday and I’m willing to work late tonight, but the following two nights I’ve got to be at home.”

Because you have created a non-negotiable boundary for yourself, you can miss that one family dinner but you will take action to ensure you don’t miss the rest.

That’s what your non-negotiable list empowers you to do; it makes you consciously aware of what matters to you and then allows you to make an educated decision to effectively prioritize the activities within a given timeframe.

As they always say, no one lies on their deathbed saying, “I wish I would have worked more.”  

No, we all wish we would have lived more.  

Your list is going to help ensure you do just that and that you strike a healthy balance in your life.

Now go create your non-negotiable list and take a step toward living life on your terms!