Some days it feels like our calendars run away from us. It might even feel like they control us instead of the other way around. We can’t possibly get it all done without dipping into our personal time. And that’s what a lot of us end up doing.
A primary reason we let this happen is because we lack clarity on what matters most. As a result, we chase everything rather than focus on a few nonnegotiables. If we don’t make intentional time for these priorities, they get the leftovers of both our time and our energy—and largely go unattended. To avoid falling into this trap, let’s look at the three primary categories every high achiever needs to give attention to.
- Self-care. Your health, relationships, children, and work—at the center of all of these is you. If you’re not caring for yourself, then the influence you bring to these other dimensions will be less than what it could be. Unfortunately, we often view self-care as a luxury or selfish indulgence. We make excuses or wait until we’ve made it past specific work projects and life seasons. The problem is, there’s never a perfect time for self-care. Because these activities make for a meaningful life outside work while contributing to greater performance at work, neglecting them negatively affects both domains. It’s a lose-lose.
- Relational priorities. Key relationships like family and good friends are essential to your personal growth and well-being. They pull us out of ourselves to invest in others, and help challenge and shape us to become the best version of ourselves. Maybe this looks like having regular family dinners at home, or going on regular dates with your significant other. Maybe it’s an annual trip with old friends, or maintaining a weekly coffee date with someone. The relational seeds you sow will be your greatest legacy.
- Professional results. To succeed, we must drive results at work. This is true no matter what position you hold within an organization or if you’re a business owner. It begins with clarity on the results you’re responsible to produce. Once you’re clear on where you add the most value to drive things forward, you know where to say yes and where to say no. As high achievers, we’re always pushing the present business forward to become the one we want for the future. Consider what you need to be planning or investing in today for tomorrow’s results, and how you can use your unique skills and abilities to drive results toward that.
By now you’re probably asking, “How do I maintain focus on my nonnegotiables?” By blocking out the necessary time on your calendar. This ensures you cover what matters, even amid incessant demands and tempting invitations. If you don’t, the urgent will swamp the important. Your life is worth more, and some things deserve to be the priority, not the leftovers.
What are your self-care, relational, and professional nonnegotiables?