My Top Ten ‘Non-Negotiables’

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In most areas of my life, I aim not to be a rigid prick. There are many benefits to flexibility, and in some regions of my life, I could use some more of that. In other areas, however, I am convinced that there are certain things I should not be willing to negotiate.

For the most part, this makes it easier for me to make consistent decisions that I may otherwise be vulnerable to ‘flip-flopping’ on. If I need to stand my ground in these areas, it is easier to just make things non-negotiable.

Do you have any non-negotiables? You should. Here are the ten that I find essential to protect in my own life.

Say sorry and mean it

I fuck up all the time. As a father, husband, friend, boss, partner, and professional. I used to blame other people for my screw-ups and recruit enablers to tell me how right I am and how wrong the other person is. Now I examine my actions, and I apologize for my wrongdoings in the most sincere way. This is a practice that most people are too uncomfortable to take up, but a method that will change your life more than any other intervention you can make.

No cell phone notifications. For anything. Ever.

This is a practice I started almost 5 years ago. I don’t have my ringer on (unless my wife asks me to), I don’t get notifications for text messages, and I don’t have any audible alerts for any social media outlets. I decide when I interact with my phone, and I try to do it infrequently. This has not only reduced my stress, but it has also made me far more productive.

Exercise every day (unless there is an excellent reason not to)

Sometimes I go hard. Sometimes I slow down. Sometimes I just walk and stretch. But unless I am on my death bed or run into the ground, I am doing something active every day.

No ego lifting

If it hurts, I don’t do it. If it doesn’t get me directly to my current goal, it isn’t in my workout. I don’t care about my numbers in the gym. I care about what I can do outside of it.

No white flour or sugar (unless I’m in Italy)

I don’t see any reason for white flour, sugar, corn, rice, or potatoes to be in my diet, aside from hedonic eating. I don’t need them. I don’t want them. My life and health are better without them. If I am in Italy, however, I’m going to eat Pasta.

Don’t say yes to food after I’ve already said no

‘Tommy, do you want some of ‘X’?
Me: No thank you
‘Are you sure? Not even a little bit? Why not? Just try some!

I do not budge. You will not win this battle. If my instinct was to say ‘no’ you will not turn that into a ‘yes.’

Step away from anything I am losing control over

If my one to two cups of daily coffee or my regular 2-3 oz glass of red wine starts sliding into 3-4 cups or 3-4 glasses, it’s time to step away and remove that vice from my life until I can go back to enjoying it in proper moderation.

Read and write something daily

It doesn’t have to be good. It doesn’t have to be productive. It doesn’t have to be public. But it does have to be practiced. As much as I gravitate toward reading and writing, I’m not great at either, and I wouldn’t say that I really enjoy the practice. Therefore I can’t let the daily habit slide.

No more than 60 minutes of any digital entertainment, preferably less

Any more than that I am am going down a mindless slope of sloth and lethargy.

Know the difference between winning and progressing

In marriage, you can win every argument and end up divorced, or you can often concede and stay happily married. The same goes for conversations with friends and family and the daily battles you get into on social media. Are you interested in winning or growing? Are you interested in winning or learning? Are you interested in winning or progressing? I am positive you can’t do both.

*Bonus: I refuse to answer any question that can be answered as effectively in a google search engine. Unless you’re paying me.

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Tommy Caldwell

Tommy Caldwell is the Founder of Hybrid Fitness and the bestselling author of the books Heavy Brain and the MetFlex-Rx diet. He is a performance coach, specializing in behaviour change and self-discipline that are necessary for achieving health and fitness goals.


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