Editor’s note: You’ve probably noticed that Wayne Levine has become a regular contributor to AoM; he writes the “Ask Wayne” column that runs on the site every other Thursday. You probably also have noticed that in his columns, he often refers to knowing your N.U.T.s. I figured it would be beneficial for readers to know more about what N.U.T.s are and that coming up with our own would make an excellent task for our 30 Days project. So I asked Wayne to take over Day 18, and he graciously obliged.
This exercise fits nicely into the project, as it builds on our first task, which was to find our core values. Your N.U.T.s are the specific and concrete terms that spring from those general core values. For example is one of your core values is fitness, then something like “I will workout 6 times a week no matter what” might be one of your N.U.T.s. Wayne will explain more…..
One of the most important challenges facing every good man who wants to be better is to know exactly what he’s committed to. Without a clear understanding of what is acceptable and what is not, a man is untethered, and likely to find himself down a path of compromise, resentment and despair. So, what’s a better man to do? Find his N.U.T.s and maintain a firm grasp.
N.U.T.s are your Non-negotiable, Unalterable Terms. N.U.T.s are the things you’re committed to, the things that matter more than anything else: your kids, your career, your primary relationships, yourself, your purpose, your spiritual practice, your hobbies, your integrity, your morals and your psychological well-being.
N.U.T.s are the boundaries that define you as man, those things which, if repeatedly compromised, will gradually—but assuredly—turn you into a pissed-off, resentful man who will likely blame others—especially your wife—for your unhappiness.
Your N.U.T.s are uniquely yours. They reflect who you are as a man and the man you want to be. Compromise your N.U.T.s, and you’ll compromise yourself. Compromise yourself too often, and you’ll become an extremely unhappy man, husband and father.
Here’s a short list of Non-negotiable, Unalterable Terms provided by the men of our BetterMen Community. These will give you an idea of the N.U.T.s which men, like you, have developed for themselves in their efforts to be the men they’ve always wanted to be.
I am faithful to my wife.
I say what I want.
Compassion for my family trumps my need to be right.
I replace doubt with acts of faith.
I am a risk taker.
I devote at least three hours a week to my writing.
I will only seek validation from the men.
I live in accordance with my religious faith.
I do what I believe is in the best interest of my kids, even if they disagree.
My commitment to my children comes before everything else.
I do not ask for permission.
Fear does not keep me from taking risks.
I do not indulge my addictions.
I am a man of my word—period!
I take my problems to men, not to women.
I do not show anger to my elderly mother.
I do not tolerate my wife’s attempts to belittle me.
When name-calling begins, the discussion is over.
I spend time with the men.
I have my own private office/space some place in my house.
I exercise regularly.
I do whatever it takes to keep my family in our home.
I ask for help when I’m not being the man I want to be.
I speak my mind in spite of my fear of confrontation.
I honor my daily spiritual practice.
I welcome feedback.
I only apologize when it’s appropriate, not simply to please others.
I do not hide out at work just to avoid issues at home.
I decide how I interact with my boys.
I choose which of my friendships to maintain.
I do not sell out who I am to placate others.
I share my men’s work with the men in my life.
I do as I see fit.
This list is here simply to inspire you. Maybe some of these N.U.T.s resonate with you. If so, use them and make them your own.
Can you imagine the transformation in your life and relationships if you were this clear about your terms? Can you see how much easier it would be for you make decisions? Do you understand how you owning your N.U.T.s makes it so much easier for those around you to rely upon you and respect you?
Finding Your N.U.T.s
Understanding the importance of finding and never compromising your N.U.T.s—your Non-negotiable, Unalterable Terms—is the most important thing you, as a man, will do. Once you find your N.U.T.s, never forget them and never compromise them.
Some men find their N.U.T.s over time, while others sit down and make a list. Either way, here are some of the questions you’ll want to ask yourself:
- What’s most important to me in life?
- Are there activities I used to do for fun that I no longer do? Is someone interfering and am I resentful because of it?
- Are there valuable friendships with men I’ve let slip away?
- Where am I currently having problems (unhappy, frustrated, sad, angry, resentful) in my life, and did compromising myself—and what’s important to me—contribute to my feelings and/or the situation?
- What dreams have I abandoned?
- If I’m going to be the man I want to be, what will I have to do differently?
Today’s Task: Find Your N.U.T.s
Carve out a good chunk of time. Have privacy. No distractions. Breathe for a couple of minutes like this: count to seven in, hold for seven, count to seven out. Do it a few times. Feel yourself relaxing and connecting to this important moment.
Take the list of N.U.T.s offered above and identify candidates that suit you.
Then methodically answer the six questions above. Don’t rush it. This is your life. If you’re going to short-change this process, how committed are you, really, to becoming a better man? Take your time. Compile your first draft of N.U.T.s.
This may be today’s task, but for many men, it’s a lifetime commitment. The more work we put into defining our N.U.T.s, the happier and more successful we’ll be. And as we mature, we change. As we change, so must some of our N.U.T.s. This list you create today will be something you’ll want to revisit periodically.
For this first go around, expect to come back to it a few times over the course of the next month. Let your N.U.T.s sink in. Run them by a man or men you respect. Get challenged. See what you’re made of. See how committed you truly are to these new N.U.T.s.
Then, live them and keep asking for help.
For more about figuring our your N.U.T.s check out Wayne book, aptly titled, Hold On to Your N.U.T.s. Wayne’s not making me say this. I’ve read the book and it’s great. And I’m recommending it to you.