There are select set of phrases that have found there way into my lexicon over the years. If you’re around me long enough you’ve probably heard some of them. One of the ones that I use rather frequently in day-to-day business decisions is “It’s not a hill to die on.” What is interesting about that phrase is that it makes the assumption that you know what hills you will die on. As we inch closer to the start of another year, I have been taking some time to reflect and evaluate what those are for me.

One of my greatest fears as a blogger is to come across as if I know much about anything. I don’t like writing posts that tell people what to do or how to do it. The reality is I don’t know much and am an expert at pretty much nothing. I’m simply a guy with a head full of thoughts, a laptop and a blog program. Nothing more. So take whatever I say with a grain of salt.

It’s probably grammatically incorrect anyway.

That being said, have you ever established the hills that you would die on? Do you know your non-negotiables in life?

A few years ago I was completing an application for a job and was faced with a question that forced me to make a decision. Do I be honest or do I fill in the blank with something that I think they want to hear? I’m on the hill. Do I risk dying here in this interview process or do I own what I believe and take that chance?

Q: What are your 5-year professional goals and why does this position fit those objectives?

A: My 5-year professional goals are to continue to raise and support my family. This may sound like an odd professional goal, but I believe I am a failure at any professional position if I am failing as a father and a husband. My children are 12, 10 and 8. In the next 5 years they will be in their high school years and not far from moving on to college. Family is one of my core beliefs so to work in a position that is something we very much believe in as a part of family and life fits that professional goal. In accomplishing the goals of any organization I work for on a daily basis, I am providing for my family as well. That is my greatest goal.

I might be strange, but if you know me, you know I don’t care about titles. I never have. I’m not in this game to get as high as I can in some organization. They won’t discuss that at my funeral. They WILL remember how I made people feel, how I loved my family and my wife. That is forever. Titles are not. They fade. That is why family is a hill I will die on every. single. time.

It’s been 5 years since that application question and answer. Those three children are now in high school and middle school. Over the course of those 5 years, I have died on that hill a few times. It’s been worth it.

Establishing your core beliefs will help guide you through the minefields of life. Without them, it is easy to end up in places we don’t want to be and doing things we never thought we would. Our “hills” set the guardrails and keep us focused on our priorities. None of this is to say that it is easy. Actually, it’s not easy at all. You’ll be forced to make decisions that won’t be popular or even make sense to others.

As we approach 2018, take some time to think about your core beliefs. What are the hills you will die on. What are the things that are so important to you that you are willing to fight to the bitter end for?

Life is so short. Knowing what we’re living and dying for will make it worth it all in the end.