In this time of uncertainty, the frameworks that many of us use to make decisions may not be working or available. We often make decisions in relation to the schedules and expectations of work, school, extracurricular activities, and so on. Currently, the expectations and plans of many schools, workplaces, and other staples of everyday life are unclear. This has made planning for the future hard to navigate; however, times of uncertainty can offer clarity.
We may not be able to depend on the usual external frameworks, but we are able to rely more on our own value systems to create structure for our families. Our values help shape our decision-making in many direct and indirect ways. A family committed to health may use that to guide their grocery store purchases, or a student who values the environment may end up volunteering for community clean-up events. Scheduling our lives, school, and other activities may not return to normal any time soon, but rather than waiting for that time, we can use our values to create a new kind of normal.
Engage proactively with your new normal by deciding as a family what your non-negotiables are and use them as your planning framework.
What is a non-negotiable?
A non-negotiable is a family or individual value that you use to guide many of life’s complicated decisions! While values are often broad terms, such as security, education, loyalty, and connections, a non-negotiable may be a concrete activity that exemplifies a value. For example, if a broad value is “Family,” then a non-negotiable might be one-hour of distraction-free family time.
Why should you make decisions based on your non-negotiables?
Non-negotiables are a values-based approach to structuring our lives. For many of us, we hold core values dearly but rarely think to translate them into our everyday routines. Maybe “Nature” is a value, but where does that fit into one’s busy life? The disruption to many people’s plans this year gives us space to reflect and create a schedule grounded by our ideals. For the nature-lover who was always too busy, now might be the time to implement a 30-minute walk outside as a non-negotiable.
How do you decide what is non-negotiable?
How can your non-negotiables help you make decisions moving forward?
Having a few non-negotiable items locked into our lives provides structure and maybe even a little comfort knowing we are not straying too far from what matters most. For example, if one non-negotiable is ongoing education, we may take solace in the fact that our children are still learning while the traditional school settings are closed, even if it is through a documentary or online article. For some of us, these non-negotiables may be enduring, such as making time to call extended family once a month.
Moving forward, we may need to spend some time re-connecting the dots when new opportunities arise. Our non-negotiables may change over time, and that is okay. However, making room in our schedule for the things we value may help us feel more confident about the decisions we have made and how we used our time. While we cannot always predict what obstacles life will throw our way, we may always use a values-based approach to structure our lives in times of uncertainty.
For additional resources on this topic:
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