Navigating Your Non-Negotiables

Navigating Your Non-Negotiables | Sense of Sunny

I don’t mean to be a buzzkill and remind you of the frigid dead of winter that seems so far away, but I do want to remind you that 7 months ago you probably started a new routine, made new goals, or felt like the future was full of abundant possibility. I’m a lover of New Years Resolutions, however, I think there is just as much (if not more) value in assessing your life mid-year.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about a lot of things; personal, professional, and nonsensical things. The joy of being an introvert is that all of this juicy thought tends to happen on the inside. It’s not too unusual for the core of my soul and the depth of my heart to be full of all these wandering thoughts. But that’s not here nor there. What is worth mentioning is what I’ve discovered is regulating, guiding, and leading those thoughts to my command center; the place where my To Do List becomes trash and dreams become a Connect-the-Dots masterpiece (that I’m still trying to decipher).

A few years ago, I read this post by Maxie McCoy, spiritual and emotional intelligence extraordinaire, that discussed with such honesty and clarity the idea of “non-negotiables,” a concept I never heavily considered prior to discovering her perspective on the subject. While trying to remember where I could find her exact post to reference in this one that I’m writing now, I came across another great example by David K. Williams, CEO of Fishbowl, an inventory management software. He wrote this article as a follow-up to his book on the 7 non-negotiables that drive his company. In the article, David compared non-negotiables to “oars in the water. They might not be moving in perfect rhythm at all times, but they are moving us in the right direction.” Eureka! My loud, overwhelming, and odd arrangement of thoughts are actually less like a washing machine full of tennis shoes and more like a boat above the sea.

Non-negotiables are those concrete things you will hands-down never want to negotiate in any aspect of your life. A pretty simple definition for a pretty important idea that is pretty hard to pin down. The goal of establishing and enforcing your non-negotiables is to align your job, relationships, self, and daily decision making with your most important values.

Your non-negotiables stay by your side amidst the ever changing landscape of your life. They’ll pat you on the back when you’ve found something good and kick you in the butt when you need to high-tail it out of Dodge City. They’re the standards you set for yourself and the qualities and behaviors you either encourage in others or have no tolerance for in their absence.

I’d love to hear what your non-negotiables list would look like! If you don’t already have a list (like myself before writing this post), I highly suggest making one. Don’t stress it. Don’t overwhelm yourself with keywords and expectations that others may have set for you. Just make a conscious effort to think about those qualities in your day that you couldn’t thrive without, whether in the workplace, with friends and family, or alone.

Here are some of my live-and-die for non-negotiables:


The longest two-way street you’ll ever travel is Route Respect and Be Respected. Despite differences or disagreements, respect is a priority in my work, my relationships, and with the treatment of my own self. Everyone has a story that deserves a chance to be respected.

Show Up

Being present for myself and others in a variety of capacities makes bonds stronger, work more efficient, and time more valuable. If there’s a job, get it done. If there’s an event, enjoy it. If a loved one is making a tough decision, support it. Be there or be square.

Be Positive

No one ever likes a Negative Nancy. Positivity is a very contagious force that shifts perspectives in magical ways. Many of life’s challenges are never too far from life’s blessings.

Work Hard

If I’m going to be spending my valuable time doing anything, it’s going to get done right.

Find Humor

If I can’t laugh at least once in my day, something needs to change. Taking life too seriously can lead to a regretful disaster on my part.

Express Gratitude

There are few places I’ve arrived all on my own. Say thank you and never stop.

 What is one of your non-negotiables?


  • Maxie McCoy

    Love these non-negotiables stephanie!! Glad you were able to track down that old post – I almost forgot about it too! xx!

    • Stephanie

      It definitely stuck with me! Thank you for reading! 🙂

  • Kara Benz

    Great list of non-negotiables! I think for me I would add sell-improvement. It is something that I can’t let myself waiver on 🙂

    • Stephanie

      Thanks, Kara! That is another great one!