I recently returned from a week in Nicaragua, my first of many this year. I go to see my daughter and son-in-law twice a year, spaced between their two visits to the US. Visiting the small city of Chinandega, Nicaragua is difficult both logistically and emotionally. The bumpy, 2.5-hour drive from the airport is certainly uncomfortable, and the amount of poverty I’m exposed to is not something I will ever get used to.
Despite the difficulties, my Nicaragua visits are a joy, and they are one of my non-negotiables. My daughter, Paige, has lived in Nicaragua for 6 years with her husband, Santos, and I have found that 2 visits per year is the minimum for me to get enough quality time with her.
It can be difficult to find time to spend an entire week away from work (granted, I still do emails in the mornings), but these visits are planned before anything else each year because they are NOT NEGOTIABLE. I’ve learned that if you don’t put your non-negotiables on your calendar first, you won’t have time for them.
I didn’t always have good work and life balance. Earlier in my career, chasing the next big job or exciting opportunity was usually my priority. In the last dozen years, I have become more intentional about what priorities are on my calendar FIRST. Some of these non-negotiables are:
- Spending precious time with my children, their spouses, my granddaughter, and soon, my second granddaughter
- Taking time for physical activity such as hiking, cycling, or jogging
- Preserving time to be responsive to my team and our Signature grads when they need me
- Visiting 2 new places each year, ensuring I take time for fun
In our Signature programs, we place emphasis on creating capacity for leadership and life. Increasing capacity can be done in many ways: increasing your sustained energy, delegating or saying “no” to things not in your gift zone, and working to let go of perfectionism. Consider these questions each week when you determine where your time should be spent:
- What are your non-negotiables? Are you protecting them?
- What are the top 3 priorities for your business? Are you spending most your time on them?
- When are you taking time for recovery?
- How many things did you really say no to this week? (Hint: it should be more than 1.)
I head back to Nicaragua in less than 3 months. Despite a busy schedule for Signature this year, I’m making the trip because Paige is pregnant with her first child. Her due date is May 16th. Being there is NOT NEGOTIABLE; it is my priority.
It’s easy to have a healthy work and life balance when you know what your priorities are. What are some of your non-negotiables? Share with us in the comments below.