Have you been struggling to change a habit or reach an important goal? Perhaps the same thing you want to achieve keeps popping up at the top of your to-do list over and over again? Or there’s that lifestyle change you know you should really tackle because it’s ruining your health but all you’ve got is a nagging inner voice and a bucket loads of guilt.
I meet hundreds of women at our Lifeworking groups and most people struggle with this one thing. There’s a lack of understanding how to actually get to your ‘bigger life’. The questions most are struggling with are: What are the steps you should take? And what kind of building blocks should you use?
Interestingly, I was really struggling to find a suitable photo for this blog post. I wanted to use an image of a woman who stands firmly, holds her presence and looks directly into the camera. An image of a woman you know you can’t push around. She’s decided and she’s committed and she’s going to stick with it!
It was really hard to find that photo. No, it was impossible!
In images of women they look like you can talk them out of their dream. They look slightly insecure, looking for a permission or an approval. And in most instances that’s exactly the case. These women haven’t firmed up their non-negotiables! There’s still room for a discussion. If this then that. We can negotiate. And she’s going to give in.
It’s time to pick our non-negotiables, ladies. Or our bigger life will never happen!
The secret to a bigger life is to pick your non-negotiable actions and let nobody (including your inner voice!) talk you out of them.
Let’s say you want to define your ‘bigger life’ as: To live healthily and happily with a bundle of energy everyday to do work I love. By the way, this sounds pretty awesome definition of your ‘bigger life’, what do you think?
The problem is that you might not take this sort of things very seriously. Firstly, you may not even believe it’s possible to have such a life. So why bother!
Secondly, you might think that it could be possible for someone to have such a life but not for you. Self-doubt overrides any desire to live in an abundance which is, actually, meant for all of us.
But let’s, for arguments sake, use this definition and say that this time you are going to give it a go. You might not yet deeply believe it’s possible but you are curious to know how it’s done.
Perhaps your starting point is this. You feel tired most mornings, not exactly jumping out of bed with excitement. Life is comfortable enough and your job is ok. Why ask for more? It pays the bills. There’s no immediate health issues but you could loose some weight and would love to feel more energised. Yet any attempts to cut sugar has come to nothing.
Life will basically carry on because to change anything sounds too much of an effort. You are not ready to cut sugar, or become a gym maniac or to go after a new job. So status quo it is.
Are you going to settle for an attitude that if you can’t change the habits that govern your future then it’s ok to stay stuck with habits that over time will keep you away from success and ‘bigger life’?
But what if I told you that to move towards your ‘bigger life’ you don’t have to do many hard changes?
The way I approach things is through ‘non-negotiables’, a set of actions that will happen no matter what.
One of my non-negotiables is this blog post. Every Sunday night, without a fail, I post a blog on DrivenWoman blog. I usually write these articles in advance, but every Sunday night I spend time doing the final edits, I select blog images and create social media links. Every Sunday night. My family knows this so our family time has been planned accordingly.
Another one of my non-negotiables is juicing in the morning. I have decided that making a fresh vegetable juice will over time improve my health and energy levels, and it has. For the past 4 years I have made a fresh juice almost every morning (5 out of 7 days a week).
So back to your ‘bigger life’ then. Health, energy and to do work you love — your non-negotiables could be:
- Monday and Wednesday completely sugar free (I told you, no need to make a drastic change, simply reduce and stick to it)
- Thursday morning pilates class
- Research for new job opportunities every Sunday between 8 pm and 10 pm
Non-negotiables are the building blocks that are going to lead you to your ‘bigger life’ over time.
Here’s a short guide how to set yours non-negotiable actions:
Pick life areas that are really important to you. Health, career, wealth, happiness, relationships… what matters to you?
1. Yield your power.
Treat non-negotiables like someone else has made you do this, like you’d have no decision power over this matter. Let’s say it’s the Goddess of Bigger Life who has created this new law and you have to obey her wishes. You must do what she says!
“I always save 15% of my monthly income. It just goes from my bank account. I can’t change it!” or “I never eat dairy between Monday and Friday. I just don’t. It’s out of my hands. Here’s hummus instead.” or “I never take meetings on Fridays afternoons.” or “I have a date night once a week. We’ve booked the babysitter for every Wednesday for half a year. I can’t change it!”
2. Make preparations.
If your non-negotiable is to do 15 minutes of yoga every second morning then have your yoga mat ready. If your non-negotiable is to juice every morning, then keep your juicer in good shape and on top of your kitchen counter, not in the cupboard. If your non-negotiable is to only do creative work on Friday mornings then have an automatic email response set up so nobody expects a reply from you.
3. Inform your team.
Make sure that people around you fully understand and appreciate your non-negotiables. Family and team members must respect your boundaries. It may take time to teach them about your non-negotiables and you may end up repeating yourself 10 times before it sinks in. Stick with it. Don’t let the pressures of everyday life push you off track.
4. Don’t rely on willpower.
Don’t assume you will act according to your non-negotiables. You must set safe guards to make thing happen. You can create automatic mental responses to the usual voices of non-reason, ie procrastination. If your inner voice tells you to stay in bed rather than get up early to do your non-negotiable yoga practise, then have a standard answer ready. Inner voice: it doesn’t matter if you don’t do it today. You: If I let you negotiate me out of this I will spend my elderly days with a horrible back pain. Think about your mental inner responses in advance. Write them down and be ready when your inner nag tries to talk you out of your own plan!
5. Use guilt.
If you break your non-negotiable you should feel really bad and know that the Goddess of Bigger Life is highly disappointed of you. Use her to silence your inner voice if she tries to talk you out of non-negotiables. Don’t let anyone, not even yourself, negotiate. Keep yourself accountable to this higher power.
Bigger life doesn’t emerge because one day you are going to change everything. Your bigger life grows slowly through small steps and positive habits you put in place repeatedly.
It’s those DrivenWoman members who build an indestructible daily writing habit that end up publishing a book. It’s those women who get up morning after morning to go for a run that stay fit and feel energised to conquer the world. It’s those doers who repeatedly say ‘no’ to meetings on Friday afternoons who enjoy a better work-life balance.
We don’t have to change everything to be able to improve absolutely everything in our lives.
Now, take time to write down three non-negotiables you will put into practise this week. Please share below in the comments to inspire others!
If you think a group of like-minded women who all are on their way to bigger life could help you create your ‘non-negotiables’, join one of the DrivenWoman Introduction events. Find out more at www.driven-woman.com.