There are hundreds. No, thousands. Or even millions of ways this day and every day could unfold.

Some of the day ahead is in our control. But most of it is not.

Unexpected appointments, errands, phone calls, emergencies, and celebrations will inevitably arise. Items on our “to-do” list will go unchecked.

It can feel like we are pursuing an unachievable goal, a never-ending list.

It can feel like it’s our fault we don't accomplish everything we wanted, like we have no control, like our willpower is fully depleted.

For months, I felt like this.

Working full days and often into the late evening, yet never fully catching up with my work and my personal goals. Despite all my efforts during the day, I never felt like I had done enough.

What is “enough” anyway? 😕

Then I stumbled upon the idea of “one non-negotiable” on Brian Johnson's Optimize website (which I highly recommend). This concept was developed by Michelle Segar, who has a PhD in Psychology and master’s degrees in Health Behavior and Kinesiology. In her book No Sweat!, she shares the idea of a self-care hierarchy.

Imagine a pyramid, and at the bottom is the one habit or goal that is essential for you.

Do that one thing, and your day is already starting on the right foot.

It could be getting eight hours of sleep, writing in your journal, or meditating.

For me, it’s going outside each morning and stretching. I need the fresh air and I need to move my body.

Because that’s the base of my pyramid, after doing it I feel like I'm going in the right direction.

It's amazing how by exercising willpower in one area of life, it becomes easier to use it in other areas of life.

While I still don’t always finish what I set out to do in my to-do list, on the days that I do my “one non-negotiable,” I know that I made an effort to set myself up for success.

What is your “one”?

Dave Radparvar
Co-Founder, Holstee

P.S. Not sure which goal you want to choose? Our Intention Guide explores the difference between intention and goals and helps you set up your own SMART goals.

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This article is part of our series on the theme of Intention.

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Our Themes

Distilled from our Manifesto, positive psychology, the science of mindfulness, and ancient philosophic studies we have identified twelve themes core to living both fully and mindfully. We mapped these twelve themes to each of the twelve months in a year. Together with our community we explore one each month.