How To Know When To Say Yes

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

Hell yeah or no. This is the motto I am living for.

When I first heard this described to me, I was skeptical. I was taught to say yes to almost everything. This is how I built my career and found opportunities in life. It has proven to be successful. 

The most valuable currency we have is our time in this world. Everyone is overloaded, overworked, and overcommitted. That’s why this idea of saying no is so appealing and important. Use this system to narrow in on our focus in life excites us will save a lot more time.

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

Howard Thurman

I first tried this philosophy on my tiny house project. I had some reservations about how hard it would be for me to finish this project on my own. I wasn’t sure if the city would even allow it. I thought maybe I could spend my time relaxing or traveling. Ultimately, I thought, is it a “hell yeah” to build a tiny house? HELL YEAH, it would be so cool! So I went for it.

Looking back, all of the projects I have taken on and kept on going are “hell-yeah” projects, the CPA exam, running a marathon, hiking, and backpacking trips.

Most of our “dilemmas” in life do not have an absolute right or wrong answers, so the best way to make a decision for you is to only work on projects that excite the hell out of you. Should I go with saving for retirement or pay off the mortgage? Should I stay in the current job or move to a big city? Should I get married? Have kids? They are all absolutely IMPORTANT questions, but there is no one answer. Focusing on your energy on multiple things at once, or worse, not making a decision, will actually cost you the most valuable resource you have, your time. This is why we should eliminate projects that aren’t a “hell-yeah” for us. Say no to them so we can give our full-self to the projects we love.

It is easy to explain this system of saying yes, but it’s actually hard to implement. Here are some of the decisions I’ve made saying no by using the “hell yeah or no” method. My thought process is not always straight forward but reflecting back, I could have saved more time and contemplation if I went with the system of decision fully.

  • I was very excited about learning beekeeping at the end of 2020. At first, I was told it will be just $10 to attend a beekeeping seminar for 4 weeks (1 day a week) before making my decision. This class was canceled, and the beekeeper asked me if I wanted to jump in by observing him, but I will have to buy $300+ worth of gear. I didn’t feel the hell-yeah anymore because I wasn’t sure what beekeeping would mean since I haven’t taken the class. After two days of contemplation, I said no. Reflection: I could have arrived at this answer faster, but I was afraid of rejecting someone else.
  • I signed up for a marathon in Seattle in 2020 that was postponed by the pandemic. However, I don’t feel the excitement of flying over to Seattle then drive 3 hours to the start line (in the mountains), and spending $800+ just to run a marathon. I said no after contemplating for a week. Reflection: Having signed up and paid for the marathon itself already has made my decision a lot harder. But it is a sunk cost at this point and should not be part of my decision-making. Hence, a simple “is this marathon still a hell-yeah?” would have given me the answer.

I am planning on implementing this rule more in my decision-making and see where it goes. 

What is something that you do to decide whether to take on a project or not?

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