Know Your Non-Negotiables

Know Your Non-Negotiables 


We’re lucky to live in a diverse economy. For many of us, the world is our oyster—we have countless career options to choose from. 


This abundance of choices is good, but it can leave you wondering which career is the best fit for you. Making a career choice requires some self-reflection – a guided approach to surface your non-negotiables. 


Your non-negotiables are the things you cannot compromise on and will be unique to you. What your friend needs, and is passionate about, is likely different than your interests and needs. You might need a work-from-home job, or perhaps you need daily variety in your tasks at work.   Career needs are unique to each individual.  


So, to empower yourself in your career, it’s important to know your non-negotiables. Without this personal insight, you can’t expect to have a long-lasting, healthy career.  


You might already know your non-negotiables. But I often find that most people don’t know their boundaries until they face an uncomfortable situation.  


How can you discover your non-negotiables? 

You discover your core values. 

Your core values are the three or four values that must be met in your life to feel fulfilled. They are the foundation of what drives you and all of your actions. Knowing those core values will easily allow you to decide what will and won’t work for you in a career. 


In the meantime, let’s go through an exercise to help you discover your core needs. 


First, answer this question: What do I really love to do? 

Don’t think too hard. write down the first five to ten things that come to mind. 


  • Doing puzzles 
  • Going on daily walks 
  • Home improvement projects 
  • Going to the farmer’s market on the weekends 


Next, answer this question for each thing you wrote down: What does this thing/activity do for me personally? In other words, why does it bring me joy?  


  • Doing puzzles — I like solving problems, having time to myself, and completing something difficult 
  • Going on daily walks — I like the solitude, moving my body, and the routine 
  • Home improvement projects — I like making something better, making my space more aesthetically pleasing, and doing something to make me feel more settled at home 
  • Going to the farmer’s market on the weekends — I like the weekly routine, seeing the variety and feeling a part of the community, and the chance to do something fun 


After completing this exercise, you’ll begin to see a pattern emerge. Perhaps you wrote down similar reasons for each of your passions.  


Lastly: Look through your answers and identify three or four themes that emerged. 


  • Need for solitude 
  • Routine  
  • Feeling of community/home 


Do the themes you found feel authentic to you?  

If you’ve identified your core needs, you should feel like you’ve uncovered something about yourself. If you feel uncertain, go back through the exercise and see if you missed something.  


Once you know your core needs, you know what’s most important to you. If one of your core needs is having time to rest, you’ll know that a non-negotiable for you, perhaps, is a job with a more than 40-hour work week. You’ll know better where to look for your next career and which jobs to apply for.  


Knowing your non-negotiables—your core needs—can change your career, end even your life. Take the time to discover them. 


Happy discovering! 


CCM Career Coaches are experts in helping clients find their core needs. We offer free, 15-minute consultations for anyone who wants career guidance.