How Non-Negotiable Habits Will Give You All The Freedom You Need

A MacBook, iPhone, and a bullet journal

So it’s been a transformative time for me.

For starters, it’s my second year of being consistent on WordPress. Never missed a single week’s post, nor a single day’s comments on other blogs.

I’d maintained this momentum through the highs and lows of life, from quitting my job, to falling sick, to publishing a novel, to getting injured. And while I did falter in some habits, my blog has always been a non-negotiable.

New post every Tuesday, twenty comments every day.

What began as an experiment quickly turned into a way of life, and you know what’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned?

It’s that the consistency matters more than the actual task.

What are we talking about again?

Today, we explore the topic of non-negotiables. What is it? Why do it? And more importantly, will it grant you x-ray vision and spidey senses?

No, you won’t get superpowers, I’m afraid. But you will supercharge your life!

In its most basic form, non-negotiables are tasks that you choose to undertake, come hell or high water. By hook or by crook. Or whatever other idiom you prefer.

Let’s say you want to be a novelist. For that to happen, you have to finish writing a book. And for that to happen, you have to write. Regularly, if possible.

Maybe you dedicate 250 words per day to this quest (which, by the way, can be any arbitrary figure of your choosing). And you plan to do this every day.

And once you set those terms as your non-negotiable, you’ll have to honour your word, even when life throws a couple curveballs your way.

So you don’t get a break even if you’re down with COVID (not like it’s personal experience or anything) or if you pull your back playing with your dog (nope, not personal experience at all).

And that, my dear reader-writer, is a non-negotiable, which shall henceforth be known as an Annie, because I’m a rebel like that.

Why should you even bother?

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you probably think you could do more with your time. Perhaps if you cut that extra episode of Bridgerton, you’d have an extra hour in your day to write. Or sing. Or draw.

But you’re a busy person. You need your time to unwind. And maybe you have children to take care of, or a dozen presentation decks to prepare for work. Surely, there’s no way you could fit a couple more Annies into your life, am I right?

To that, I present to you this question: Would you do it for a billion dollars? Or at least try? How about if someone pointed a gun to your head?

Yes, we’re entering hyperbolic territory, but humour me. The question is, can you do more of what benefits your life?

Because if you’re anything like me, you can whine for eight years straight about not having the time to write a novel, only to learn that you can, and that you could’ve written eight novels in the time it took you to complain about why you couldn’t.

That’s why you need Annies in your life. Not merely to achieve goals, but to change your outlook on your abilities.

A macro shot of

Sometimes you just gotta put your life under a microscope. Photo: Ben Wicks

“But it’s no different from goal-setting!”

Sure, what you’re doing is setting goals and trying to reach them. Big whoop, right?

Well, goals are nice to have, but they can remain dreams if you want them to. Annies are different. Annies are sacred. And you find a way to uphold your end of the bargain no matter what. Because that’s where the growth occurs.

Oh, you can very well break the promises you make to yourself. No one’s stopping you. In fact, nobody even needs to know about that time you caved in to ice-cream on your third day of your no-junk-food diet.

But these are the exact moments where you forge your new self. Your conscience keeps tabs, and it can be your worst critic or your best cheerleader. Which side it takes depends on the decisions you make. Even the mundane ones.

Affirmations don’t come from staring in the mirror and telling yourself you’re worthy. It comes from knowing that you’re worth it, and that comes from actually doing the work.

Ask yourself this: Whom do you respect? And more importantly, why?

I’ll bet it’s not because they learned a trick or two from The Secret.

You’ve felt the benefits before

You know the days where you zoom from task to task, and the day passes without you noticing? You remember that feeling of flow? Chances are, that wasn’t Zeus bestowing you with the motivation of the gods.

Instead, you probably surfed the momentum of tasks that snowballed into a boulder big enough to flatten the entire population of Bakkafjörður (that’s 80 people. Surprise trivia!).

You know how the cliche goes—it’s harder to start pedalling than it is to continue cycling.

This is how non-negotiables can help you. Yes, your feelings could fluctuate, and waking up at six o’clock on Wednesday could very well be a different beast come Sunday, but do it enough and you learn to hone the power of consistency, despite outside circumstances.

And one good thing may very well lead to another. One good day will lead to a good month, to a good year, to a good life. You’ve felt this feeling before. Don’t you want to feel it every day?

That wasn’t really a question, because your only option is ‘yes’.

Non Negotiable Snowball - Pauline Bernfeld

The snowball effect is real, so try earning your list of small wins every day. Photo: Pauline Bernfeld

Expect to take the long way round

Perhaps the biggest benefit from having Annies in your life is learning to adapt, because nothing ever goes as planned.

Maybe it’s rains during the only hour you have to run. Are you going to let the weather dictate your fate? Or are you going to flip life the middle finger and take matters into your own hands?

Achieving tasks when all’s well is one thing. Overcoming them through obstacles is another. Remember how I said that the consistency matters more than the task itself? This is it. This is where you foster your self-confidence.

It doesn’t matter if you choose to meditate, write, or study chess. Life will happen, and your plans will go awry. What will you choose to tell your conscience then? That you wilt at the first sign of trouble? Or that you’re unstoppable?

How to start

So you’re interested in adding an Annie or two into your life. Maybe you already know what you want. Maybe you don’t. Here are some questions you should ask yourself anyway.

What major goals do I want to achieve? Do you want to write a book? Lose some weight? Learn a new language? These answers can act as a compass for when you’re lost.

How much can I commit daily? Don’t be afraid to start small. If you can’t even write a hundred words a day, then don’t aim for a thousand just yet.

When can I meet my Annie? There’s a reason why waking up earlier helps. That’s because it’s the most distraction-free part of the day. But it’s up to you to find your own pockets of time, even if that’s midnight.

What can I NOT do? Annies don’t always need to be tasks that you do. It could be something you forgo as well, like social media or fried food.

Does anyone else need to be on board? You might need your spouse to watch over your toddler when you run, for example, or your housemates to leave you alone during your writing hours.

Scooping out one slice of

Declaring your non-negotiables is a piece of cake. Executing them is not. Photo: Caitlyn de Wild

Extra tidbits for your success

Frequency: Your Annie does not need to be an everyday thing (though it would be preferred, just for the sake of habit building). There are weekly or monthly non-negotiables too.

Failure: We all fail from time to time. Remember that we’re aiming for an overall average instead of a perfect score. Suffered a setback? Forgive yourself and try again.

Choice: Still unsure where to start? Try picking from these universal categories: learning, exercise, mindfulness, hygiene, diet. You’re bound to have something there.

Mindset: Focus on execution, not perfection. Another lockdown preventing you from going to the gym? Opt for bodyweight workouts. Really strapped for time and can’t write? Try voice memos while you drive. The goal isn’t to complete your tasks. It’s to execute, regardless of what life throws your way.

Novelty: Even non-standard routines count. Want to wear only black tees every day, or dance the moment you wake up? Go right ahead. Again, it’s not so much the activity than it is the consistency. But of course, it’s better if the habits actually improve your life.

Discipline equals freedom

You know how you become more creative when you apply constraints to your writing? Annies are exactly like that, only in real life.

Too many of us think that by incorporating something as inflexible as non-negotiables, that we’re doomed to live a life of mundanity.

But just like this subheading says (a Jocko Willinks trademark), discipline does equal freedom. Because when you live your life doing what you need to instead of what you want, you’ll find that everything else will fall into place, and you’ll be free of your burdens to continue with your other pursuits.

So what do you say? Ready to lock yourself up so you can be free?


My newsletter is a personal non-negotiable too. Exclusive content right in your mailbox every fortnight, no exceptions. Also, you’ll get a free guide on how to grow your WordPress blog as a welcoming gift, so that’s cool too.

117 thoughts on “How Non-Negotiable Habits Will Give You All The Freedom You Need

  1. This post really made an impression on me. In early June, I started doing my “Annies” aka the non-negotiables, and I was able to crank out more articles in three weeks than I had done ALL year (and it only took 1 hour of writing per day!). I appreciate these thoughtful, fun, and motivational pieces. Keep doing you!

    • Isn’t it amazing how much we’re capable of once we set our minds to it? Now my only challenge is having the focus to stick at a few things, instead of getting Shiny New Thing Syndrome and hopping off on the next interest that tickles my fancy. I feel so ‘diluted’ sometimes, and that I’m missing out on my utmost potential by dipping my toes in everything. Anyway, glad to have you here, Melissa!

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  3. I really enjoy your style of writing, this post was a great read and I will definitely be adding some Annie’s to my life!

  4. I found your blog at the perfect time, struggling with planning my next blog. Adding Annies to my life was a 💡 for me. Just what I didn’t know I needed. Something else I’ll add to my routine? Commenting on other blogs at least twice a week. Starting small here. Thanks for the many gems in this post!

    • Commenting is definitely a great way to grow your blog without spending money. In fact, you get to choose your audience by commenting on likeminded blogs in the first place. So I’m glad you’re starting off on this journey!

      I’m so honoured to have you here, and I’m grateful that you stumbled on by!

  5. Well this was informative content Stuart. I too believe that these non negotiable habits of writing a blog are to be honored if you are serious about goal attainment.

    Keep it up with the interesting topic Stuart

    • I’m glad you think so. Most importantly, I hope people find their own non-negotiables, whatever that is, be it drawing or reading the news.

      And you keep it up with the lovely comments. Always great having you stop by!

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  7. I’m reading this at an interesting time as I just had a realization about my life and where it currently stands. And in order to get it moving in a certain direction, I definitely need to set up some non-negotiables. I’m also of the mindset of execution over perfection, as I am already anticipating what might go wrong and how I should continue moving forward.

    But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from working out this year and my time on WordPress, it’s that I simply must put one foot in front of the other. Even if it’s small steps, I’m still moving forward and I will eventually reach my goals in the end. Thanks for another wonderful post.

    • Oh yeah, I’ve come to the same conclusion as well. Some days you just need to go through the motions. But if your goal is important to you, it wouldn’t matter that you were simply going through the motions, because in the future, you won’t even remember which days were good or which days were bad. You’ll just be thankful to your previous self for putting one foot in front of the other.

      Thanks so much for stopping by, and here’s to always putting execution ahead of perfection!

  8. Congrats on being consistent for as long as you have been! Admitted, I have been toying with the idea of taking a break but everything I think I will do it, I remind myself that I was able to stay consistent through the worst of covid, through the time we all got covid in my house, through some tough and lazy weeks… and I think… gosh if I didn’t take a break on those days then I can freaking keep going! What’s the point of all that pressure on myself when NO one would likely know (well, maybe a few blogging friends) and NO ONE will likely care much… well, like you said…. just knowing myself to have been consistent and being able to look back at a body of work that I am SO proud of… that I know took (some weeks) a mighty chunk out of my stamina.. that’s something.. something MAJOR to be proud of myself for… and so I keep going! :) Plus, someone like you and your ability to be as consistent as you have totally inspires me too!

    • Oh boy do I have a surprise for you where consistency is concerned. I’ve been looking at how I spend my time daily, and I think I need to rejig a thing or two when it comes to blog admin duties. I’ve sacrificed too much writing time without even noticing, and I guess I’ll better explain it tomorrow in a blog post, lol.

      Likewise, meeting people like you who are equally consistent does give me inspiration as well. So many people just blog whenever they want to, and stumbling across someone with your work ethic does remind me to stay on my A-game too.

      I’m so grateful to have crossed paths with you, Jen!

  9. I’m so impressed by your WordPress discipline. Here I am reading blogs that are five days old. Clearly making time to keep on top of the blogosphere needs to be one of my Annies (or what I’ve decided to call Nonnies).

    • Gah, I can’t believe I didn’t think of Nonnies. I think that logging on to WordPress more frequently doesn’t necessarily mean better—something that I’m coming to learn after looking back at these two years and taking stock of how I’m spending my time.

      You have so many things going on, and you actually have to travel, take pics, and even record audio for your content, so you have your own flavour of discipline going on there.

      Maybe it’s time that I allocate my discipline someplace else too. Also, maybe I should talk about exactly that in my next post.

      Anyway, nice seeing you here again!

  10. I like the “would you do it for a billion dollars” hypothetical, really puts things in perspective! There’s always at least 15 minutes in a day, it’s all about how we choose to spend them!

    • Heck yeah. I’m definitely capable of doing so many things I’m ‘too tired for’ if I really want to. And that question helps me determine if I’m just justifying my lack of action, or if I really can’t do something. Thanks for being so specific with your comment. It does help me determine which parts are resonating more than others!

  11. Yeah! Annies are powerful things! After handling a few for long enough, it stops being a burden, and quickly turns into an enrichment!

    It’s exactly the reason why I write every day. And the most common question? How do you do it…? Well… You just do, there’s no secret.

    • Yup. People think it’s snarky when ‘just do it’ comes up, but there really is no other way. In fact, the more you don’t feel like doing something, the more you SHOULD. Thanks so much for stopping by, Robin!

  12. This is the quality content I joined wordpress for! Thanks for writing such a beautiful piece. I have some goals too but your post now gives me motivation to be consistent with them, and make them my Annie.

    • Every time I read a comment like this, I feel so grateful to be able to leave positive vibes in the world. Your comment made my day, so thanks so much for taking the time to stop by!

  13. Hey Stuart,
    I’m sitting here eating the most delicious brownie on the planet while reading your post and I don’t even like brownies usually. lol 😂

    Great post always and I so agree.. consistency is key and makes all the difference in the world.
    Nice work by the way in walking your talk!

    ” If you’re extremely active you’ll be at the top of everyones “Reader” and if not the opposite will happen and a lot of people will forget you exist. It sounds harsh but I’m just trying to be honest”

    Oh man, I’ve been in the WP nightmare this week, so there’s that!

    If you can see if I hit your reader Monday, I’d really appreciate it and if not, I’d be so grateful if you could visit. I’ve been intechnological WP hell since then. Fun-Fri-Yay or Fried Friday will be out tomorrow and I’d love to feel your love.

    Thanks my friend and great usual post💖💖💖💖👏👏

    • Are you asking if I see you on the Reader? I definitely do for Fun Fri-Yay, but I’ll let you know on Monday.

      Weirdly enough, this consistency of mine has given me much thought. Might want to revamp the way I approach WordPress. Just have no idea what I’m going to do yet.

      Anyway, thanks so much for your thoughts, Cindy! You always have one of the more funner comments.

  14. Congratulations Stuart! I’m glad you’ve kept at it- love your posts! Great advice too to keep at it. I know we all have the end goal in mind but it’s also the journey that counts.

    • And I’m glad to see you here as always! Yeah, it’s so easy to forget that the journey is what makes us the person who achieves our biggest goals, but that’s what it is. A journey of constant ‘nows’ that take us somewhere. So we best appreciate it before it’s gone.

  15. Consistency is definitely the key. I like when you said “Focus on execution, not perfection.” That is so true! A lot of times we make one slip up and consider it a failure. The better way to look at it is to see the slip up as a learning opportunity and keep going, making small tweaks as needed. Great post as always!

    • It’s all a matter of perspective, isn’t it? I now welcome failure, because that’s an actual moment of learning. Didn’t write until 10 p.m. today, then struggled to quickly maintain that habit? Or worse, didn’t write at all? Why? How could I improve?

      The sooner we see these moments as our paths to improvement, the more we’ll welcome the snags in life.

      Thanks so much for bringing up such a wonderful point, and for always stopping by, Suzanne!

  16. Oh, this post is painfully accurate at parts and filled with great tips throughout! I started thinking about some habits I wanted to maintain as non-negotiables and even this tiny shift in mindset helped so much! For me the hardest part was to avoid skipping these habits due to external factors (meeting friends when I planned to exercise vs meeting them after I exercised). To visualise it better, I compare it to taking off my makeup at night ot brushing my teeth: no matter how late I come back home, it is something I always, always do. Same thing for work or classes: no matter the amount of external pressure I have, I will not skip work or a class that I paid to adjust myself to other people’s schedules. Of course some flexibility is always needed, but this helped a lot and you are completely right: it DOES give you more freedom! Thanks for sharing!

    • Amazing points there! Most of us have at least one non-negotiable—like brushing teeth—and it’s good to borrow from that task to apply into another. It’s all about perspective, and while it’s easy to say that non-negotiables are impossible, we can also take the brushing teeth example to highlight how we’re actually capable of maintaining habits, even if we don’t know it.

      Here’s to hoping you add a couple more Annies into your life, and I’m honoured that you’d start thinking about the topic after reading. Thanks for making my day!

  17. Congratulations on your second anniversary! Discovering your blog is a godsend, really. I can totally relate to what you’re saying. For me, posting every week was damn near impossible, until funny enough, I hit rock bottom and writing consistently became a sort of therapy. Now, almost three years on, I can’t imagine myself not writing, even if I’m feeling uninspired or if the work isn’t as good as I’d like it to be for whatever reason.

    • It’s my second year of weekly posting, but the blog dates back eight years or so though. Thanks for the wishes still!

      Likewise, I’m glad to be able to connect with a fellow ACTIVE Malaysian here on WordPress, because it’s so rare to see one of us on this platform. And you’re somewhat in the same niche too, so it’s so much easier to communicate.

      Pretty interesting that negative feels were what got you to write. I had a phase where I thought I wouldn’t be able to write if my life was going good. Thankfully I proved myself wrong.

      I believe it’s the same for you now? Anyway, thanks for stopping by!

      • True, I guess now writing has felt like connecting with a close friend in a way. You just never really run out of things to discuss about, regardless of the state you’re in

  18. Hey Stuart, another great article. This bit caught my attention “The goal isn’t to complete your tasks. It’s to execute, regardless of what life throws your way.”. Razz has several ‘Annies’ in his daily routine and he uses a similar mindset “Do something”. Even just a little bit just don’t ignore or bypass it. I’m working on a new non-negotiable but I don’t take to routines easily so we’ll see how it goes.

    Thanks for some awesome writing that got us talking here on our couch.
    Roze and Razz

    • I love how Razz has the ‘no zero days’ approach, and honestly, a tiny bit is often enough, as long as we move the needle forward every day. So that’s amazing.

      I’m hoping you get to build that non-negotiable too, because once you do, it’s pretty much automatic after that.

      You have no idea how much it means to me that you guys are discussing the topic on your couch. It’s already amazing that people want to read my work, let alone discuss it. Thanks for making my day!

  19. Hi Stuart Kudos to being consistent and keeping up with regular posting like a clockwork . Enjoy the preppy tone of your post. Another inspiring post. Thank you !

    • A weekly schedule’s mighty easy to keep up with. Any more and I probably couldn’t, lol. Been thinking about re-prioritising my tasks though, since this blog could take up to four hours each day. Anyway, thanks so much for stopping by!

      • The important thing is to show up and you are doing it. Your posts are such delightful reads and they are heartfelt. I look forward to reading more. Cheers:)

  20. Haha…you did it again Stu my man! Thanks for this wonderful post about how writers need the discipline to keep on keepin’ on!! Whilst I can’t speak for any “Annies” in my life, I definitely agree that being consistent no matter what has been the key to my writing and blogging since I started three years ago. And I’ve not looked back since, and hope not to — unless it’s to gain some inspiration or rewrite to make an old post ‘new’ again (something I also learned from you in one of your previous post). Well anyway, I’m so glad to always have fellow bloggers like you to remind me to keep on the straight and narrow path, no matter where it leads. In the end it’s about the writing journey more than it is about the destination ya? Until your next post; can’t wait! Cheers bro!!

    • Hey hey! Oh yeah, nothing beats consistency, even if the results don’t come in. There are so many things in my life that I don’t know why I do, such as exercising, but the benefits do announce themselves later. And even if they don’t manifest themselves in better cholesterol levels or body-fat percentages, sticking to routines still help me feel as though I can overcome anything. Anyway, thanks so much for stopping by, Kelvin!

  21. Congratulations on the consistency! I agree that the biggest hurdle is getting started with your Annies. After a while, the snowball effect is powerful! I’ve set a lot of goals, but once I “finish” the initial goal, I have a tough time getting motivated again. For instance, after I finished one novel, it was tough to start another or to get into the revision process and then into my next steps. I think I either need more goals that don’t have an end point to them, or I just need a better transitioning system.

    • The fact that you’re aware of your predicament is already a win, because you can’t improve on what you’re not aware of, right? Many people go through life not even knowing—or caring—about their bottlenecks, and here you are, already clear on the next wrinkle you can smoothen out.

      Sure, getting to the actual action can be hard, but I’d say that you’re headed in the right direction.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  22. Congratulations on the milestone! And thanks for the weekly pep talk. It was galvanizing!

    You know, it’s amazing how many different places I’ve seen affirmations, self-discipline, and creating your non-negotiable offered as life advice and it never gets old. Not really.

    Well, I’m off to do some homework. Time to work again to weed out some false beliefs. Again.

    • I like your word of choice: ‘Again’.

      That’s basically life. We need to earn our days, again and again, and just because we do well today doesn’t mean we’re all set for the rest of our lives.

      I appreciate your kind words. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  23. Also, I liked your description of affirmations. I find the “mirror affirmations” quite meaninglessness when I don’t believe in what I’m saying about myself.

    Very insightful article! I was planning to take a break this week from posting, but this post inspired me to keep consistent!

    • You have no idea how much this means to me, to be able to encourage someone to write. Thanks for sharing this wonderful comment and for making me feel special :D

      And I’m definitely going to keep you accountable with that too. Perhaps I should await your new post for this week then.

      Anyway, thanks for stopping by!

  24. I love your ending ironic words, locking oneself to be free. Seems like there’s a fine line between freedom and discipline!

    My assistant principal at my school also used this term “non-negotiable so” instead of “class expectations” or “rules.” I didn’t really buy into it at that time, but now after reading it from your blog, it definitely opened up my mind more.

  25. My non-negotiable for a few years now has been jotting down in my gratitude journal every night before I turn outxthe light. I have slipped a few times recently and this inspires me to make sure I invest that time into my overall happiness.

    • That’s so cool that you have a gratitude journal. I wonder what it feels like to go through old entries, especially from years back. I myself keep a normal journal, and that’s basically like reading my own blog when I check back, lol. Thanks for stopping by, Hetty!

  26. Everyone is (rightly) commenting on the substance of your post, which is really inspiring and wise, as usual. But I would like to add that I am in awe of how well organized your posts are, considering their frequency. It seems to take me weeks just to organize my own posts into something coherent and worthwhile. So the flow of your writing is, I would say, quite a feat.

    • Can’t say I’ve been called organised before, but I’ll take it! :P

      It does give me something new to think about, because I have to be honest, I’ve never really thought of flow before, and now I’m going to be self-conscious.

      Anyway, I always appreciate you stopping by, Paula!

  27. Good on you, Stuart. Two Constant years of blogging.
    You’ve got me thinking about how do I make (consistent) time for writing. I’m thinking stop taking on new hobbies, definitely watch less television.
    It’s going to be a challenge, now that the time has arrived to lay out in the warm summertime sun. 🍦

    • I have the exact same problem. I take on too many hobbies and half-ass everything. The current time sink? Cooking. Prep alone can take an hour sometimes, not to mention the actual cooking. And it all eats into my writing time. Your comment has reminded me to stay focused, so thanks for this!

  28. This is why 2020, of all years, was a good year for me: I introduced a couple of non-negotiables into my life and I more or less stuck with them. I even happened to meet some of my big picture goals. Good advice.

    • That’s so cool. Do you still maintain those habits today? And yes, these non-negotiables do stack up after a while, don’t they? They seem insignificant in a day, but boy do they snowball into something huge. Thanks for stopping by!

      • My exercise habit, yes; the writing non-negotiable looked more like “this is the project you are working on; you have to work on this project and not other projects when you write,” rather than “write every day.” And I finished that project (a first draft of my story).

  29. Two years of consistent posting?! Well, it certainly seems like less, but it has been a long time. If I’m not mistaken though, your total time of owning this blog probably tolls up to something close to ten years, since Here’s How to Provide Actual/More Value as a Blogger hinted at something of the sort. (An older and more obscure post, but still a great one.)

    A very noice post, Stuart, equal parts actionable and personal. I loved the ‘extra tidbits’ part, and I might even nick it for a future post of mine. ADORED the ‘how to start’ part (did I mention this post was thoroughly actionable?).

    The thing is, as much as you’re adept in the no-niche niche, I still think your best posts are productivity- or writing-related. Some others, like fitness-related ones, probably do pack as many tips — especially seeing as they’re written from a personal experience perspective, as opposed to the feelingless expert perspective — but I don’t find them as helpful (perhaps as entertaining, though) simply because I am not the target who’d want to gain abs (well who doesn’t?) or seek to live a healthier lifestyle through online resources. They still enlighten me about the perks of a cleaner diet or exercise record.

    I like the creativity of a non-negotiable. And I see your titles are becoming more badass with every article, Stu, because the paradox of a non-negotiable and freedom is so epic.

    And gosh, goals nearly always DO remain as dreams! Wrote a post on the matter a few weeks back, but I appreciated how hard it was to differentiate between ‘goal,’ ‘dream,’ ‘passion,’ ‘hobby,’ and ‘habit.’ (Well perhaps hobbies and goals are the easy ones, but when you have five other h-words in front of you it becomes challenging.)

    Once again, an oomazing post! Couldn’t have asked for a better way to end my Tuesday. (Okay, maybe I could’ve.)

    xox
    Olives

    • Heyo! Great seeing you here again.

      Total time of owning this blog seems to be eight years according to my archives button, but the cooler thing is that you actually remember the old posts. Super grateful.

      Do feel free to adapt anything interesting you find into your own style. It’d be my honour.

      That’s a fair point about your favourite topics. For some reason, you’re not the first to NOT prefer my fitness posts, but then again, I write best from experience, and I exercise every day so there’s bound to be post or two about that, lol.

      Your feedback is helpful though, because I remember you sharing about how the emo posts don’t really do it for you either, which made me realise that yes, I don’t really think those posts contribute a lot to my style anymore, so thanks for that.

      Always love your comments, and your support. Thanks for being here through this journey!

  30. Very interesting article. But wanna add some few cents. I absolutely agree with You, as was exactly doing it for several years straight with my workouts (from running, to gym, to calisthenics, to street workout, to basketball). Now is the first time since like 8 years, I didnt do any workout whole week (not counting injuries). I was literally working out everyday, hardly ever skipping even several days in a year (some days doing several workouts, before or after work). Looking at it now, on one hand it probably crafts some discipline and character. On the other hand it also hurts You and Your Close Ones. More often for example I didnt meet my best friends or close family, because had to do my workout, or meeting with them felt boring, compared to my workout. It eventually became some obssession. And guess it wasnt good anymore at this point. What I wanted to say I guess is, dont let anything You do, make You blind about everything and everyone else around You.

    • Wow, you bring up great points. I guess nothing exists in a vacuum. If our habits are eating into other parts of our lives, then it’s up to us to make the adjustments. For instance, it doesn’t have to be one or the other, but on the days where we ABSOLUTELY can’t fit anything else and have to make the choice, perhaps we can make to our families on the other days of the week?

      I loved seeing your counter-perspectives here, and they’d be useful for any other reader who comes across this. It’s particularly useful because it’s coming from someone who’s practised non-negotiables for eight years. Thanks for sharing!

  31. Congratulations on your milestone, Stuart! There is so much goodness in this post – that consistency matters, starting is the hard part, that growth comes from keeping our commitments even through life’s curveball.

    Next week I’ll reach publishing a post every day for a year. It’s changed me in more ways than I can count – giving me so many opportunities to practice writing, to see what I have in me when my back’s against the wall, to try something new.

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience!

    • Wow, now you see, THAT’S something I don’t think I can maintain. Posting every day for a year! How awesome and crazy.

      What would you say your biggest lesson from that is? Would definitely love to hear your experience.

      No, thank YOU for taking on such an inspiring challenge and for sharing. Also, thank you for stopping by!

    • Definitely not easy. I falter all the time, and we need to learn to forgive ourselves more. But maintaining those habits though? Brings such amazing positivity into our lives. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  32. Oof this is so hard for me, and so good to hear. I have been good with not letting my blog drop (2 posts per week for the last year even through terrible breakup). But I NEVER interact with bloggers u less they comment on my posts. Do you really leave 20 comments per day on other blogs? That’s amazing and I might have to take that one on. Although maybe 5/day (20/week 😬). I have certain Annie’s that don’t sound as noble like my beauty regimen I almost never let drop. Rarely do I miss a daily nature walk. And I’ve been meditating before bed no matter what for the last few months. But I wish I could apply Annie’s to things that brought me more money and success. I’m just less motivated by that I suppose. But I wish I was! Anyway, thank u for this post, it was jam-packed with goodness!

    • Omg you bring up such a wonderful point. I myself can maintain Annies in certain parts of my life, such as fitness and writing, but I also totally falter when it comes to things like earning money or building a career.

      Maybe this is a sign of what direction we should take in life? I myself am less motivated by worldly possessions and corporate success. So thanks for this food for thought, and I’ll have to continue down this train of thought to further understand myself.

      And yes, it’s been 20 comments per day on others’. blogs for the past coupla years. Used to do it during my lunch break when I had a full-time job, and even did it in the waiting room of a hospital when I tore my abdominal wall, lol.

      Do try it out and see how it goes for you. And thanks for stopping by!

      • Yes I thought of the same thing as I was writing. That if I’m not motivated to dedicate myself to something, maybe that’s just not where my soul wants to go, and that’s ok. Also with comments, yes I really want to try, and have sorta tried. This sounds terrible but I struggle to find blogs I like 😬 but I will try again bc I really love this idea and I know it works. And I am very interested in the success of my blog. Thank you!!

  33. This couldn’t come at a better time! I have been thinking of a few Annies that I need to start back and that I need more discipline and consistency.

    The world always sends reminders and assurances my way when I need it. And today it came in the form of your post.

    Thank you Stuart!

    • Awesome! Do feel free to share your Annies if you want that extra accountability. I’ll make sure to check up on you every now and then :P

      I’m so honoured that I could play the role of a reminder in your life. Hope this sparks the tiny habits that’ll snowball into great things!

  34. Fantastic post and you are so right. We need Annie’s ( non negotiables) in our life or we won’t achieve anything. Like you say eight year go byanothing achieved.

    I agree sometimes the mornings are the best time. And we have to start small. Be kind to ourselves we slip a few times, but to keep trying.

    Love you point on goals, we can have goals but how are we going to achieve them. We need to get into action. And non negotiable aka Annie’s are so important.

    Love the way you write with humour and your points, tips, and energy really are inspiring. Thank you.

    • I’m so honoured that you’d comment thrice, and it’s such a privilege to have you share your thoughts on the topic.

      And yes, we can totally sleepwalk through life. I know because I’ve slept through three decades of living, and even now as I’m trying to make up for lost time, I still falter a lot trying to undo 30+ years of programming. Anyway, thanks for your positive vibes!

  35. I need to come up with 1 or 2 things that are non-negotiable and run with them. The only one that comes to mind right now is incorporating drinking more water as one of them.

    • Definitely start with the first thing that comes to mind. The confidence in one task will give you the momentum to start another. Hydration is super important and is often neglected. But don’t forget to balance out your salt levels too. Thanks for stopping by!

  36. How important is consistency I have learned this month. My routine was disrupted on my birthday, then my mother’s birthday because my cousin came to visit me, and though I like spending time with him, he is a demanding fellow.

    And that pretty much screwed the entire week for me. That snowball effect can work in reverse as well, if you get my drift.

    But hey, I decided that I will write daily since the October of the last year. And on average, I’ve managed to stay with it. And I plan to continue to do so, no matter how busy I get with other things, even if it is only 100 words per day. (You should take what you can, when you can.)

    Thanks Stuart, for another wonderful article. I would have used some other keywords, but I’m currently blanking, and can’t seem to remember them. I’m sure you get the feeling though.

    • Nothing like life to hit you in the chest when you think all’s going well, huh? But great to know you’re still keeping your writing habit going. Even 100 words per day is a lot, because my diet of 250 words per day did snowball into very real end-products.

      And yeah, reverse snowball is a new term for me, but I totally get what you mean. I fell victim to it when I got sick from COVID, lol. Anyway, always great to have you here, Tanish!

  37. My only daily non negotiable is cleaning the cat box. Lol! I try not to hold myself to daily writing because my health issues make it impossible, but holding myself to weekly blogs has brought a ton of growth so I have no argument with the premise.

    • I myself am always surprised at how much I was limiting myself prior to taking on new habits, so perhaps there are so many ceilings left to break in our writing pursuits, eh? We’ll never know till we try, and if you do decide to hold yourself to a daily writing schedule, I’ll be right there with you. Thanks so much for stopping by, Erin!

  38. For those of us that WANT and struggle with the DOING …I hold on to the thought…start small…2 minutes of a habit is better than 2 hours thinking about it…love your work😊

    • “2 minutes of a habit is better than 2 hours thinking about it.”

      Wow, truer words have never been spoken. We underestimate the value of two minutes, but often, that’s exactly what we need to start our journey into two-hour activities. Because the challenge is often in getting started in the first place, right?

      I love your thoughts, and thanks for adding them here. I appreciate you!

  39. Interesting thoughts, Stuart. I’m good at setting goals, but Annies? I’ve never thought of that one! I’ve been working on a couple of things as of late, but maybe it’s time to set some Annies to actually turns those goals and dreams into successes before another year passes me by with little to no progress. Time to grab a pen and my pad!

    Thank you for your tips, Stuart!

    • Pen and pad. Even the thought of those instruments makes me feel all cosy inside, like imagining a trip to the stationery store. I hope you’ve found some things to get started on?

      I totally get that feel of another year passing me by. Heck, it’s already May and I feel like I’ve done NOTHING for 2022. Damn it.

      Always great to see you here, Helen. I super appreciate the fact that you’ve become a familiar face (well, avatar) and that I can treat you as a friend now!

      • There’s something about them, isn’t there? Computers are great and all, but handwritten things? Gah, nostalgia. I did find two things – to step outside for at least ten minutes every day and to edit the SEO of 10 old posts every day. It doesn’t sound much, but they can change and they are more than I’m doing right now.

        Oh Stuart don’t! I promised myself I’d get the application for my conservatory finished in time for summer but… well, as you say, we’re in May now. I haen’t even detailed up the floor plan yet to show the planning permission guys how it might look. It’s not just you, I promise!

        Of course Stuart and it’s always great to come back – thank you for welcoming me!

  40. Hmmm. This sounds familiar. Lol. I keep telling myself these things in my head so it is nice to see them in written form from someone else. Maybe my brain will let me follow through more consistently now! Thank you!

    • That’s the danger—of lettings things remain in your head. I tend to do that a lot, and what that does is let the thoughts exist in their ethereal form, never moving on.

      Once it’s down on paper though, I start to see things more clearly. Like Dumbledore using the pensieve.

      Thanks for your kind words and I hope you get to follow through!

  41. Well you already know I think you are brilliant and it all is because the consistency matters more than the actual task. My writing has become more prolific since I embraced that thought and made it my mantra

    • Always great to see you here, Chris, and you really honour me with your kind words. And I love the fact that you take writing more consistently, because I for one can attest to how hard a habit it could be. Thanks for visiting!

  42. Freedom, happiness, fun and worldly success are by-products of the mind. The tips you share Stuart allow one to become strong-minded if the individual holds non-negotiables, within. Great job on your posting and commenting schedule. Simple acts lead to success over the long haul.

    Ryan

    • Simple acts bring great returns indeed. We often think that we need home run actions to achieve greatness, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Anyway, thanks so much for stopping by, Ryan!

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