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Be aware

Of what is

Unacceptable and

Normalize saying no.

Do what is best for you

And know that it’s not your

Responsibility to sacrifice

Yourself for others.


A colleague shared this little mnemonic with me recently. I belong to a small accountability group and we meet online monthly to share progress, challenges, wins, and most importantly, to be witnessed in that sharing by the group. I think I may have been sharing a personal challenge which gets me down from time to time. It’s some unhelpful internal dialogue about responsibility. I needed reminding that “Looking out for is not looking after.”

In all my years coaching, the most common underlying theme that clients bring is about setting healthy boundaries. It’s okay to say No.

Our dislike of letting others down coupled with perhaps an even greater fear of negative judgement from others creates toxic levels of responsibility.

Have you considered what it’s like to be alongside someone who can’t say No? They over-commit and under-deliver because they are overwhelmed with the volume of responsibility they’ve taken on. I would far rather be given a clear No at the outset than a Yes which then requires lots of follow-up from me to ensure I receive that commitment.

You know where you are with a No. And if that’s too hard to begin with, then try this: “I can’t do that right now. But I can do it by ….”. And that’s ONLY if you are truly okay to do what’s being asked of you.

I chose this picture of a compass because knowing one’s own path is key to being able to say Yes or No to requests. If you aren’t clear on your own values, the territory of your life if you like, then it’s difficult to create and hold to a boundary.

Being poor with your own boundaries is a symptom of not being clear about what’s important to you. And when you know what that is, you can begin practising saying No more often than you are doing right now.

When it’s right for you, give me a shout to explore what’s important to you, and where those boundaries need establishing and holding.