Updated: Dec 8, 2020
We are constantly asked, what is that we really want? What are our goals? What is it that we are truly aiming for in our career, with our family, in our community, etc.?
I know I ask my clients this all the time. Because understanding what you really want for your holistic life is crucial to making conscious choices and prioritizing your time in a way that really works for you. But just as important, is knowing where your line is drawn. What is it that, no matter what facet of your life you are in, is an automatic deal-breaker for you?
Setting a deal-breaker is a great way to set boundaries and guardrails around your goals. It is a guide for you and those around you for when to say no. No to that project. No to that volunteer event your neighbor wants to pressure you into. No to that “girl’s weekend” your friend always invites you to that always ends in awful hangovers and a 3-day recovery period.
The point is that your number one deal-breaker has to be crystal clear and applicable across all of the facets of life. It can be anything as long as it is true to you and you are willing to hold yourself to it. For me, it’s inauthenticity. If you are not authentic in your actions, your words, or your intentions that is a deal-breaker for me. Whether it is a new client, partner, friend, community opportunity, whatever, if it’s inauthentic, I’m not interested and I’m saying no.
Your deal-breaker, while personal, goes nowhere when kept private. Let the people whom it will affect know that this is your line. Tell your boss, your partner, your kids, your friends, whomever you may be saying no to in the future. Sit down and explain to them what your decision is, why you’ve made it, and how you can see it influencing the future decision for both of you.
For example, let’s say you coach your kid’s soccer team, mostly on the weekends, once a month there’s a scrimmage and it’s planned and known. So, you explicitly tell your boss and your family. And when your family wines to you about you working late, etc., you can refer them back to this. Boundaries help set priorities and explicit communication upfront helps you keep them. There is NO guilt about this. Whether at home or at work, keep constant confidence around clarity.
Don’t Cross the Line
Now that you’ve made your deal-breaker clear, stick to it! It’s not just here to keep other people from crossing the line, it’s also to stop you from crossing it. Having a deal-breaker that you don’t follow, while making you feel warm and fuzzy, is damn near useless.
I’m not saying it’ll be easy at first. Saying no can be a very difficult thing. But if you respect your line, others will too.