The best thing I’ve ever done in my professional career is going full-time as a content creator. It’s the thing I’ve dreamed about doing my entire life – building my own little empire and being rewarded for creating stuff.

It used to feel like a pipe dream, but as I sit here in one of my favourite coffee shops tapping away on my MacBook Air, I realise that this was always my destination.

However, to get here and remain here, I’ve had to set myself some serious ground rules. Many of them revolve around avoiding burnout and making effective use of my time, but the most important are the following four non-negotiables.

Non-negotiable 1. My family

This is the biggest one of the lot, and it’s something that has only grown stronger since I became a dad in May.

The family was, is, and always will be my number one priority. The little empire I’m building will fall apart and disappear long before anything happens to my family as a result of it. I wouldn’t think twice about shutting it all down today if it ensured the safety and happiness of my two favourite people in the world.

This does work both ways, though. If you’re serious about getting into the same industry as me, you need an understanding, supportive partner. I have that in spades and genuinely couldn’t ask for anything more from my girlfriend; it means I can simply remain focused on giving both her and my son every ounce of my attention when it’s available.

Non-negotiable 2. The value of my time

I told the story recently of an encounter I had with a YouTube agency. To cut to the chase, they suggested I should be charging about a tenth of what I normally charge sponsors.

We politely agreed to go our separate ways.

One of the biggest things I’ve learned since going all-in with my own business (formerly as an external marketer and more recently as a content creator) is how valuable my time is.

If you’re not used to charging for your time or thinking about it in monetary terms, this might sound a bit odd – up-one’s-own-arse, even. But when you start working for yourself, you quickly realise how valuable you are – and how often people will attempt to devalue you.

I know what my time is worth, and it’s pretty easy to work out. All I have to consider is what I can achieve in one hour, and what impact that has on my business. If an opportunity arises that will only pay me a tenth of that, I move on to the next opportunity.

Trust me – you grow in confidence with this the longer you work for yourself. Don’t be afraid to stand by your original quote.

Non-negotiable 3. The Gym

I’ve just completed an early morning gym session, but I could quite easily have approached today very differently.

Tomorrow, I’m downing tools for a week. We’re heading off on a family holiday, and I’ve promised myself that the only work I’ll be doing while away is keeping an eye on email and ensuring my pre-written blogs are successfully published each morning.

This means I’ve had an avalanche to climb this week in terms of content production. Today, I’ve got to finish this blog post, publish it, shoot this week’s newsletter, and then create Friday’s video from start to finish in time for our departure tomorrow.

Now, with that in mind, I could have approached this day very differently. And the most obvious sacrificial lamb would have been the gym; after all, I’m not exactly being productive sat on that exercise bike or while lifting those weights, am I?

That would have been a mistake. Because I am being productive during my time at the gym. As a result of the workout this morning, I feel more alive than I did earlier, and ready to tackle the rest of this long day.

Gym and exercise in general always happen, no matter how busy my day is.

Non-negotiable 4. My wider plans

I get some of the best content ideas from the lovely people on my Discord server, and the equally lovely (mainly) people within the comments sections of my videos.

However, I have to be careful with this constant influx of video requests, blog ideas, and suggestions for future Skillshare classes. This is because I already have a plan.

My business strategy is planned out for the rest of this year, with ideas for 2023 rapidly forming. Some of these plans relate to content, but others are much larger projects which need significant focus and patience if they’re to materialise.

It’s therefore vital that I’m not thrown off the scent. An old boss of mine always told me to “follow your nose” – it’s a phrase I’ve never forgotten and I revert to it whenever I feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of suggestions thrown my way.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m in a wonderful position to be on the receiving end of such suggestions, and I’m genuinely grateful for them. But, sometimes, those wider plans have to take precedence.

Final thought

Every non-negotiable above requires determination on my part if it’s to remain in place – even family time.

It’s so easy to get lost in your own little world as an independent creator. Sometimes, that’s a great thing for productivity – other times, it turns you into a bit of an arse who simply can’t break free from “the business” to do anything else.

I’ve fallen into that trap several times, and I’m working hard to avoid it in the future. Becoming a dad has definitely made a massive difference in that regard. So, thank you, Harrison!

What are your non-negotiables?

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