Develop Your ‘No’ Muscle

The development of your ability to say no might be the singular most important thing, as a founder, to catalyze change in your life. It is the source of everything else: Room for you. Room to play. Room to breathe. Time to do whatever you damn well please.

We kicked things off in Jennifer’s monthly editorial, Defend the Perimeter [ADD LINK], and below are some techniques to get the ball rolling. There are exercises to strengthen that ‘No’ Muscle, and additional tools to keep the no firmly in place. Yes, there are even scripts, because sometimes the wording is a stumbling block.

Here’s to saying no with fervor!

To get that “No” Muscle worked out and strong, there are 3 important steps to put in place.

They serve as the walls of your boundaries, and all 3 are necessary.


  • Based on the personal indulgence you miss the most, create time blocks every week that are yours and yours alone. Say no to anything interfering with these. It may take some practice (see scripts below). These time blocks can be used for whatever you want: yoga, a movie, coffee and a book, a walk — whatever brings you pleasure. 
  • If you’re a committed helper, you can accommodate those you want to help with answers, quick meetings, etc., by choosing a window of time where you can deal with little things people ask. These can be 15-minute slots on a calendly for a chunk of time on a weekday afternoon when it’s quietest.


Do whatever is necessary to defend these time blocks and preserve them. If you are able to just blurt out “no,” brava! However, if you struggle in that moment when someone has asked something of you, you can decline graciously. Here are some ways to frame it:

“I appreciate that you need this right away. Unfortunately, I’m fully booked. I’m happy to look at it next Tuesday.” 

This acknowledges their concern is real, and you also have no time to solve it. Usually “emergencies” can wait. If not, they’ll find someone else.

“I would love to help, but I just don’t have the bandwidth right now.”

Nothing needs to be added to this. 

And by “a time that works for you,” we mean choose from the following teeny windows of time we’ve created expressly for this task.

“Unfortunately, that doesn’t work for me, but thank you so much for asking.”

It’s essentially impossible to argue with the logic of this one. You don’t need to explain yourself, either. You can even wish them luck in their search/question/whatever.


Once you’ve set up the first two pieces, how do you know if your ‘No’ Muscle is working? You can create some easy ways to measure your effectiveness:

  • How many of your “me-time” blocks remained intact this week? 
  • How many hours of sleep did you get each night?
  • How many hours of exercise/movement did you perform this week?
  • How many hours of fun/family time did you get to spend with your kids?

Strive to improve this number every week. It will take time, but eventually that “no” will be as easy as the “yes” used to be! 


Wednesday Wisdom takes a deeper dive into the core concepts of IMPERIA’s work, helping to strengthen you from the inside out as you scale your vision.

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