I was talking to an Academy member a couple days ago, and she said something that has rung in my mind for a few days now. She was talking about how busy things have been lately. Her cheer program is exploding, and she has seen 25 percent growth in the past year both in enrollments and revenue. Not only that, but she had some family dynamics that have demanded a bit more of her time lately as well. Nevertheless, she said to me, “It’s been so busy these past few weeks, that over the weekend, we just got away and unplugged entirely.”

It struck me as incredibly mature. She is a mature business owner who knows that without a clear head, she can’t possibly give her gym family and her own family the attention they deserve. I told her I was really proud of her for recognizing that, and she went on to tell me it was a non-negotiable for her. 

The conversation then veered for a moment to the non-negotiables in both of our lives. 

For her, it was sleep and family time.
For me, it’s homeschooling and vacations with my family. 

Despite the fact that sometimes we’re on an ever-chugging train that never tends to stop, there are a few things we’re unwilling to give up for others.

I can tell you I recognize the non-negotiables in my clients and business partners’ lives as well. For Riana, it’s exercise and her kids. If she doesn’t do those things, she isn’t herself. For Shelley, it’s traveling and coaching. Without her athletes, she doesn’t love owning a gym as much as someone who might love the business side of things. For Dan, it’s coaching and his kids. For Justin, it’s exercise and hobbies. 

These are the things we make time for even when we don’t have time. You can have more than two of them also. I think I probably do. 

When we establish these non-negotiable items, we can begin to build the life we want. I am a lifelong learner. If I am on vacation more than a few days without a business or self-development book, I’m likely going to start feeling antsy. Learning is a non-negotiable for me. My brain feels scattered and unfocused when I don’t have something I’m challenged by at any given moment. 

So what are your non-negotiables? 

These aren’t just items of self-care. I know people who get their nails and hair done as a non-negotiable. I’m not judging. That isn’t me, but that doesn’t mean it’s less important. It probably makes them feel more put-together, and maybe it gives them social time with the person doing the service.

For others, social time with friends is a non-negotiable. Maybe being an at-home mom is a non-negotiable. 

I also listened to a podcast years ago by Stephanie Kennedy (she’s a gym owner in our industry with a great podcast all about effective parenting). She talked about habit stacking. I know she didn’t invent the concept, but she related it to her own life and how she has found as a busy parent – that it can be hard to remove bad habits from our lives, but instead that adding new habits could help us develop a healthier lifestyle.

So, I carry around a knock-off Stanley cup (sorry Shelley) full of water to try to get more water in. I take sleep vitamins to make sure I’m not up all hours of the night. I order groceries online so I have easy access to meals at home. I’ve got a long way to go, but this is a good start for me. 

So the question would be – what are your non-negotiables? What are the things in your life that need to become non-negotiables?

By finding these things, you’re going to find that you can withstand the industry longer. You’re going to be healthier physically and mentally, and you’ll be less likely to cave into the idea that your business is the most important thing in your life. 

When we don’t have other things that are important to us, an angry mom or a staff member who ups and quits becomes the end of our world. It can put you in a state of depression. You’ll often look back on it a few months later and realize it all worked out OK. No doubt you’ll continue to find plenty of challenges as a gym owner when you have your non-negotiables, but it’s likely you’ll find healthy outlets and more productive ways of dealing with those challenges without letting them cause burnout.