Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there’
– Eckhardt Tolle.
All day long we face this kind of stress in our professional and personal lives. Everyone reading this will identify with it.
We want to get on with a particular project, but clients want us on the phone, or emails demand responses.
We wanted to have this new project operating by now, but it is still on the drawing board.
We need to be at that important meeting, but we are stuck here at work with a client who turned up unexpectedly.
We have a sick child at home and feel we should be there, but we have a meeting with an important client so have left her with a generous neighbour.
We are getting great opportunities to advance our careers, but we are struggling to balance it with our family commitments.
The result – stress, stress and more stress!
The answer is to get greater clarity between our negotiables and non-negotiables, to make them and our reasons clear to all stakeholders and to consistently act on them.
What is Non-Negotiable in Your life?
What is so important to you professionally and personally that you are not prepared to compromise on it, no matter what?
These will be the highest priorities in your life. They may be things like:
I will have a team meeting every week.
I will meet every team member individually at least once a month.
I will close my door for one and a half hours every day, hold all phone calls and attend to my most important priority.
I will attend all board meetings of my organisation.
I will turn off my phone once I get home at night for at least an hour and a half to allow me to spend time with my family.
I will not allow any work activity to interfere with me celebrating the birthdays of my partner or my children.
I will spend at least one evening of quality time with my partner every week.
What is Negotiable in Your Life?
What are you prepared to change around if you had to?
Where are you prepared to compromise? What can you let go of? These may be things like:
If I need to be responsible for the children early any morning, I will forego the gym on that day.
I am prepared to miss the occasional meeting of Group X or Group Y.
I don’t have to be at work at 8 a.m. every day. Some days I could delay getting there until 8.45.
I can take 4 weeks to complete Project D if necessary rather than place my team under excessive stress.
I can decide to not take certain phone calls when they come in, but rather return them later.
I can negotiate flexible work schedules for my team.
Having negotiables and non-negotiables takes an enormous amount of stress out of your life. They give focus and clarity to how and where you spend your time.