Non-Negotiable Mindset

Apr 13, 2024

Read time: 5 minutes

Why having clear, actionable rules for your life is the secret to consistent success.

You have goals, aspirations, and a vision for your life, but somehow, you keep falling short. Despite your best intentions, you find yourself overwhelmed by the daily grind, unable to bridge the gap between what you want to do and what you actually do. Sound familiar? The problem isn't a lack of motivation; it's a lack of clear, non-negotiable rules to guide your decisions and actions.

By establishing specific, actionable non-negotiables — like waking up at 6 AM, hitting 5,000 steps, or spending an hour on focused work — you create a structure that eliminates guesswork, conserves mental energy, and ensures consistency. These rules act as anchors, keeping you grounded and focused on what matters most, even when life gets hectic.

Without non-negotiables, you risk being pulled in countless directions, your time and energy scattered across competing priorities. The result? Stagnation, frustration, and a growing sense of disconnection from your aspirations. If you're tired of letting your goals slip through your fingers, it's time to embrace the power of the non-negotiable mindset and take control of your life, one decision at a time.

The Gap Between Intention and Action

We've all been there. You set a goal, make a plan, and feel a surge of motivation. You're convinced that this time will be different. However, as the days pass and life's demands pile up, that initial enthusiasm begins to wane. Suddenly, you find yourself back in the same old patterns, wondering what went wrong.

The core issue lies in the gap between our intentions and our actions. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of setting goals, but following through consistently is where most people stumble. This is where non-negotiables come into play.

The Power of Non-Negotiables

Non-negotiables are the unbreakable rules you set for yourself — the guidelines you follow without fail. They serve as the foundation for your daily decisions and actions, ensuring that you stay aligned with your goals and values.

Think of non-negotiables as the guardrails that keep you on track, even when life tries to veer you off course. By establishing clear, specific rules — like not eating ultra-processed foods or not drinking fizzy drinks — you create a framework that eliminates decision fatigue and conserves your mental energy for what matters most.

Absolute Commitment Over Moderation

Let's be real: moderation is a nice idea, but it's not always easy to put into practice. Picture this: you're at a party, and you tell yourself you'll only have one drink. But then someone hands you another, and before you know it, you've lost count. Or maybe you're home alone, and you decide to have just a few cookies. Fast forward an hour, and you're staring at an empty box, wondering what happened.

Sound familiar? It's a common struggle. That's why sometimes, the best approach is to commit to not doing something at all, rather than trying to moderate your behaviour.

Now, I know what you might be thinking: "I can't give up [insert vice here] forever!" That’s not what I’m asking (although it wouldn’t hurt you). But what if you committed to a non-negotiable for just a week, a month, or even a year? Think about it: what's the worst that could happen? You might find yourself feeling healthier, happier, and more in control of your life. Doesn't sound so bad, does it?

Here's the thing: when you make a non-negotiable commitment, even for a short period, you're proving to yourself that you're capable of sticking to your word. You're building self-discipline and resilience, one day at a time. And that's a powerful thing.

Plus, when you eliminate the constant back-and-forth of trying to moderate your behaviour, you free up mental space for the things that really matter. You're no longer wasting energy on internal debates; instead, you're channeling that energy into living a life that aligns with your values and goals.

Now that you're considering the power of non-negotiables, let's take a closer look at how they've transformed my daily routine.

3 Real-Life Examples of My Personal Non-Negotiables

Let's look at how non-negotiables work in practice. Here are three from my own life that have made a big difference:

  1. Tooth-Brushing Squats: Every time I brush my teeth, I drop into a deep squat (a.k.a. horse stance) and hold it for two minutes. Sounds a bit weird, right? But here's the thing – by doing this twice a day, every single day, I'm sneaking in 28 minutes of exercise per week. That might not sound like much, but it actually adds up to 18% of the recommended 150 minutes of weekly physical activity. And the best part? I'm not spending any extra time on it since I'm already brushing my teeth anyway. It's like a secret fitness hack hidden in plain sight! And sure, my mind tries to convince me to skip it every time, but I've learned to ignore that voice. I've been squatting and brushing for months now, and I'm not about to stop, not even when I’m out camping (see photo below) – despite the odd looks that I get from people.

  2. Daily Morning Meditation: For the past seven years, I've made it a non-negotiable to meditate every single morning, rain or shine. And let me tell you, it's been a game-changer. Not only has it helped me reduce stress and improve my focus, but it's also given me the clarity and resilience to navigate life's challenges with a clearer mind. It's like I'm training my mind daily, just like a warrior trains their body before battle. And trust me, life can be one heck of a battlefield sometimes.
  3. Zero Intoxicants Policy: I get it, the idea of entirely cutting out intoxicants might seem a bit extreme to some. And I'm not here to judge anyone's personal choices. For me, this is simply a decision that aligns with my values and goals. It's about maintaining clarity, prioritising my health, and not relying on external substances to find focus or pleasure. There's a certain freedom in always being clear-headed, never having to nurse a hangover, or needing to loosen up to make social interaction easier. And the cool thing is, it doesn't feel like I'm giving up or missing out. In fact, I feel liberated and freed up. I'm not perfect, and this is just one way I try to stay true to my values. But I stick with it, knowing it's ultimately in service of the person I want to be.

Some of these examples seem significant, and you're right. The truth is, non-negotiables can be small, daily habits or major life choices. The key is to not hold back when it comes to defining what matters most to you.

Whether it's a two-minute exercise routine or a lifelong commitment to sobriety, the size of your non-negotiables isn't what's important. What matters is that you choose them intentionally, align them with your values, and commit to them fully.

Implementing Non-Negotiables in Your Life

Ready to start implementing non-negotiables in your own life? Here's a simple but powerful process:

  1. Reflect on your values and aspirations: What kind of person do you want to be? What values do you want to embody? Use these reflections to guide your non-negotiable selection.
  2. Start small and specific: Choose one or two manageable non-negotiables that align with your goals. Be specific about the action, time, and place. Is it about doing something? Or is it about avoiding something?
  3. Tie your non-negotiables to your identity: View your non-negotiables as expressions of who you are and who you want to become, rather than mere tasks or chores.
  4. Prepare for challenges: Anticipate obstacles and temptations, and plan ahead for how you'll handle them. Having a plan in place can help you stay committed when things get tough.
  5. Acknowledge your progress: Track your achievements along the way, no matter how small. Each time you honour your non-negotiables, you're moving closer to the person you want to be.

Remember, implementing non-negotiables is a practice, not a perfect science. Be patient with yourself and trust the process. Over time, your non-negotiables will become second nature – a seamless part of who you are and how you live.

Start defining your non-negotiables today, and take the first step toward becoming the person you've always wanted to be.

To making a difference,

Dr Yannick

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