How to Honor Your Boundaries

Lisa Crilley Mallis, Capacity Coach COC, Impactive Strategies

We have all said “yes” to something we later regret agreeing to. You may, for instance, find yourself at a social event you didn’t want to attend, feeling grumpy because you really wanted to say “no.”

Or perhaps you spent the whole day working hard but realized when you were done that you worked on someone else’s tasks and priorities and not your own.
Think about it … by saying YES to everyone, you are in fact saying NO to yourself! You are not allowing the space and energy to work on your BIG YES, your goal, your dream, your vision.

If you are sitting there reading this and nodding your head, keep reading!

Sometimes you say ”yes” reactively because you’re caught off guard. You may find it helpful to create a pause before you answer, so you can accept requests that truly fit you and your Big Yes! Then, refuse opportunities that may be a “good” fit but not a “great” fit. These opportunities pull you from your Big Yes.
So, how can you do this? How can you create this pause and be proactive? One way is to use a verbal phrase to give your brain time to catch up with your mouth. My favorite phrase is, “If you need an answer right now, the answer is no. However, if you give me 24 hours to check my schedule and commitments, I may be able to change this answer.”

This allows you time to THINK!

Then ask yourself, “Is this the best use of my time RIGHT NOW?” If it is, say yes. If it isn’t, say no.
Remember, “NO is a complete sentence.” In reality, we’re rarely asked to explain our “no” but we do out of habit.
If you struggle with “no” as a complete sentence here are some additional ideas.


  • “Thank you for thinking of me, however I already have a commitment.”

  • “Thank you for the kind invitation, however, I’m unable to join you.”

  • “I appreciated the offer / I’m honored by the offer, however, I’m unable to add anything to my current schedule.”

  • Refer someone else. Redefine the question so it fits into what you are able to do.
At the end of the day you must please yourself and honor your goals and your boundaries.

Lisa Crilley Mallis is a certified coach, author, and speaker. She works with focused, successful business owners who are overcommitted and still want to achieve more.
For over 15 years, Lisa has provided customized, real solutions to everyday time management challenges, allowing her clients to accomplish more in less time, without giving up their nights and weekends.