Non-negotiables. Could this be the answer to making a resolution stick?
What behaviours, habits, choices are non-negotiable to you?
Many people can’t start their day until they’ve had a coffee. Some won’t go to bed without a clean sink. My Dad had to start his day with a banana. If he didn’t he was a grumpy mess — so much so that after a banana-less morning on a camping trip my kids nicknamed him “Grampa No.”
A few years ago I was introduced to the concept of non-negotiable’s with regard to resolutions. Given that it’s the first day of 2022, many of us are looking at “New Year, New Me” types of changes. But what is the secret sauce that makes New Year’s resolutions stick? Most resolutions won’t make it past the first week. So how can you make a change in your life that will actually last?
In 2020, my friend told me about a weight-loss challenge she was doing, where her company outlined 7 non-negotiable actions that had to be done every day for 45 days. It was things like “drink a gallon of water”, “follow this meal plan” etc. And while I didn’t choose at the time to jump in, what stuck with me was that those 7 things were non-negotiable.
It got me thinking. What if the choices we make are just that — non-negotiable? How does that change our feelings around them? How does labeling them non-negotiable change the energy around them? If it’s non-negotiable it’s a no-brainer.
Let me give you an example.
I am a cancer survivor. Certain medical studies have determined there is a correlation between sugar and cancer. I also know that alcohol becomes sugar in my body. I also have been told that that sugar and alcohol are both connected with inflammation. I haven't done any of my own scientific analysis but for this example, I choose to believe all of these statements are true, which makes it a “faith-based position” that cutting sugar and alcohol would give me a better chance at avoiding a cancer recurrence.
Now whether it’s true or not, I know for sure that my experience with alcohol makes me sleep crappy, makes me make poor decisions, seizes up my joints, and makes me feel anxious and miserable the next day. It takes me three days to recover from a hangover, while I question every life decision I’ve made, relying on Tylenol and Gatorade to get me through.
And hence, a New Year’s resolution is born: Quit drinking alcohol.
But… I really do like a glass of wine with dinner. I enjoy a few drinks with friends and we have a lot of fun together. I can quit any time. New Years is a horrible time to make a resolution because New Year’s resolutions never work (because they’ve never worked for me in the past). But it’s my hubby’s birthday next week! It’s not like I have a problem or anything. What will I do with my time? Will I ever socialize again? What will my friends say?
So what if I decided that based on my beliefs and feelings and experience with alcohol and my aforementioned faith-based position that alcohol = sugar = cancer = imminent death, that cutting out booze is non-negotiable? I do not want to die, I don’t want to feel crappy, I want to be confident and stable and sleep well. That’s it. No negotiations. I don’t drink. Period.
Choosing to make a change and labelling it as non-negotiable automatically shuts down the toddler in my head that tries every angle to break the resolution.
Whether it’s January 1 or any other day, change is hard. We don’t have to make it harder by leaving every decision open to negotiation. Making lasting change can be daunting. But non-negotiable is a solid strategy for setting ourselves up for success.
What are some of your choices that you would like to make non-negotiable? Send me a note — I’d love to be an accountability partner for you!
A version of this article was originally published Jan 1, 2020 at www.unstuckduck.ca.
Teri is an Executive Coach and Empowerment Strategist with the Unstuck Duck Coaching. She helps entrepreneurs create a career (and a life!) that is both fulfilling and profitable by overcoming the self-sabotage that keeps them stuck in the muck!
Learn more about Teri at www.unstuckduck.ca or join her Facebook community The Empowered Entrepreneur — from the Muck to the Magic.