Keli Gwyn
Guilt-free Living: Identify Your Five Non-Negotiables

Do you sometimes feel out of balance?

Do you have trouble keeping things in perspective?

Does the constant struggle to juggle leave you feeling stressed out?

Woman Juggling Clocks


Then you might find the following exercise as freeing as I did.

A month ago our pastor delivered an enlightening message, saying our lives reveal our hearts. He challenged us to choose our priorities wisely.

At the end of his sermon, Pastor David asked each of us to take a minute to list our top five non-negotiables—those items in which we invest ourselves—and rate them one to five.

I’m constantly bombarded with messages about how this or that should be my top priority, but I’d never taken time to decide for myself. Instead, I performed a stressful and ultimately unsuccessful balancing act as I attempted to juggle everything on my plate.

So I did as our pastor suggested. Here’s my list:

1. Faith
2. Family
3. Friends
4. Fitness
5. Writing

What a difference naming and numbering my non-negotiables has made. Almost immediately the burden of guilt I’d been carrying slid from my shoulders. It became far easier to make decisions.

For example, when our daughter moved back here for the two weeks prior to her recent move to France, I chose to focus on helping her prepare for this major transition.

Sorting everything Adri owns.

Sorting everything Adri owns.

Adri to France 2

Getting Adri’s first car ready to sell.

Adri to France 3

We enjoyed several mom-daughter lunch dates.

Adri to France 4

We used our Saturdays for family trips. This was taken at the Gold Rush Days in Old Sacramento.

Adri to France 5

Taking French-themed pictures for Adri’s blog was fun.

Because family is high on the list, I set my writing aside, knowing I would have plenty of time to work on my story once Adri got on the plane. I missed a couple of Curves workouts because we had appointments to attend and time-critical errands to run, but I was OK with that. After all, what good is being in shape if I sacrifice my relationships?

Adri to France 6

Saying good-bye was tough, but I kept my tears at bay until Adri was gone.

Adri to France 7

I knew we’d done a good job helping Adri prepare when she left without looking back.

In the past, I would have battled some resentment at setting my personal goals aside. I don’t like admitting it, but it’s true. As it was, I wholeheartedly embraced the opportunity to spend the two weeks with my gal. I didn’t add a single word to my story, but I made memories that will last a lifetime.

Our gal made it to France without a hitch and is doing very well. And me? I’m OK. I miss her, of course, but we’re staying connected via email, Skype, and Facebook. I’m looking forward to visiting her at Christmas.


• • •

If you made your non-negotiables list, what five items would be on it?

When’s a time that having your priorities straight served you?

Comment Link 12 Comments
Keli Gwyn