We all know someone who always come to the rescue – who holds it all together and repeatedly saves the day. Saviour or doormat? It really depends on how you look at it……


This is the person who’s always willing to listen or be a shoulder to cry on, even when they’re really busy themselves and don’t have the time. The person you can rely on to help last minute – to complete a rush job, to babysit the children, to….you fill in the blank.

And yet this person often knows what they’re doing is not good for them. But they’re waiting and hoping for that ‘miracle day’ when other people will finally recognise what they’ve done for them and start paying them back. And most often this is the person gradually sinking under a sea of commitments, a lack of time for themselves, exhaustion, and eventually resentment.

Sound familiar? Maybe that person is you?

I think many of us go through periods in our life when we do sacrifice ourselves. And we do it from a place of love.

However, prioritising other people’s needs above your own and constantly putting your own needs last, is not a good life or career strategy. It will eventually catch up with you when you recognise that you’re being taken advantage of, or when you start to feel anger or resentment.

So what can you do when you realise that you’ve fallen into this trap?

When you decide enough is enough?

The answer lies in setting boundaries and actually saying no!

Boundary setting is not about being pushy or aggressive, and it’s certainly not about being a pushover. It’s about being assertive. It’s about standing up for your own rights and needs, without disregarding or disrespecting the other person. It’s about taking responsibility and doing what’s right for you. Taking a stand.

So how do you do this in a way that allows you to still feel good about yourself and at the same time minimise the impact and potential upset on the other person?

There are 3 steps to consider before we get to that implementation stage.

Step 1 - Who?

Brainstorm a list of people you’re connected with and care about. The people you want the best for. These are likely to include clients, potential clients, suppliers, team members, employees or associates, work colleagues, friends, and family members.

Now add the people or groups of people who regularly disappoint, anger or frustrate you. If they’re not also in your first list because you regularly connect with them, care about or want the best for them, you can disregard for now (as we’ll come back to them in the next article.)

Step 2 - What, When and Where?

Now write down what specifically about these people or situations angers you. What you’d like to say ‘no’ to.

For example:

Do you already have or know of a Potential client or Client who

  • Is not right for you?
  • Is trying to renegotiate price, timeframes or other areas of work already agreed?
  • Pushes your buttons?
  • Cancels last minute, doesn’t pay on time, or doesn’t do the work?

Do you have a supplier (at work or for your home), who

  • Seems to disregard what you want?
  • Doesn’t appear to ‘get’ you or your business?
  • Is unable to adapt to changing requirements?

Do you have a team member, employee or associate who

  • Is not doing what you want or asked for?
  • Is not carrying out their work to the required standard or within the timeframe requested?

Do you have a work colleague who

  • Is offering you a new opportunity? And although you really like them, it’s not the right time or it’s just not right for you or your business?

Do you have a friend or family member - child, partner, parent etc who

  • Takes advantage of you?
  • Continues to makes requests for things you’ve already said no to?
  • Goes back on agreements?

This list is not exhaustive. It’s a guide to get you thinking and defining the people you want the best for, and the situations you’ve been putting up with. Because you’ve decided ‘enough is enough’, and you’re ready to do something about them.

Step 3 - Boundaries

Take some time to think about what type of boundaries you’d like to establish right now. This is your starting point. So don’t worry about getting them all set right now. Focus on what seems most important to you now.

Boundaries are about what you’re ok with and what you’re not. They link closely with your personality and your needs. So for instance, an introvert may have a boundary around the amount of ‘alone’ time they have and will feel drained if they’re constantly out and about meeting people.

You might have a boundary around the amount or type of household chores you do, around family time. Or at work, around your availability for meetings, or about how you receive feedback.

So look at your list of people and specific situations and ask yourself:

“What is it that I need to be fine in this situation? What boundaries or rules do I need?”

These become your non-negotiable boundaries, the deal-breakers. They establish the line that defines the point at which you stop feeling ok….when an infringement would cause you to feel anger, upset or disrespect. When enough is enough!

In my next article we’ll explore how to implement what you’ve defined here - how to set boundaries and say no to people effectively and gracefully, including how to deal with those boundaries you’ve let slide in the past.

Before you click through, please do let me know what this 3 step exercise has highlighted for you