Last year, my two friends of mine told me about this blog post they had read, in which the essence of it was about learning to only say yes in dating to the people that get us really excited. The blog post was actually inspired by a previous blog post, written by Derek Sivers, that applied this logic to a business practicum. In life, the reason we tend to feel so trapped, depressed, or bogged down is because we have taken on too many things. Too many projects, too many favours, too many commitments, etc. It weighs us down and takes a grave toll. I don’t think there’s ever been a period in history where people have checked themselves into hospitals for sheer exhaustion as there has been in the past few years. Glorifying busy is not chic anymore, guys. Completely over it. We are literally trying to take on too much, and it is a serious problem. After my friends told me about the article, I went back and read it. Twice. And then I read the original one. Twice. I really wanted to absorb the information that I had read in an effort to understand why and how to stress less + simplify your life. We are happier when things are simplified in our lives because it leaves more time to appreciate the wonderful things in our life because we’re not scattered all around trying to focus a little bit of attention here and a little over there. There’s a quote that I learned from my grandmother when I was little and trying to clear off too many dishes on the dinner table to finish quicker, that goes “Jack of all trades, master of none.” I didn’t quite understand it, but I learned it to mean that we can either focus on the most important and become very good at a few specific things, or we can spread ourselves too thin and never quite be good at anything. This is one of my hardest to learn lessons, but I wanted to share the insight and brilliance behind simplifying your life into two sections: “Hell Yes” or “No.”
What I mean by “Hell Yes” or “No” is the ability to decide whether something appeals to your core. When something appeals to our core, it excites us and makes us feel alive – like we can’t possibly live without it, now that we know the possibility of it exists. Think about how much time you’ve given over to mediocre things that you knew initially didn’t excite you. How many other things that made you happy or elated could you have filled that time with? We have to stop confusing being busy with being important. You can apply the Hell Yes or No rule to anything. I’ve practiced it in dating, shopping, activities, and of course business. I’ve outlined some examples in each area so you can see how impactful applying this strategy could be.
The Art of Hell Yes or No: Simplify Your Life
If you’re dating, it’s easy to get swept up in the notion of “giving everything a shot” so you don’t miss out on the potential of true love, or a great date that leads to something more, romantically. I used to practice this when I first got back into dating last summer. I said yes to almost everyone because I thought maybe I was being too picky and potential love was passing me by because I didn’t have my eyes and my heart opened. You know what happened a lot? It would be an hour before my date and I would be showered, but not dressed, sitting on my bed, scrolling through Facebook, or watching just “5 minutes” of whatever tv show had caught my attention. I would go back and forth in my mind between “ughhhhh, why did I say yes to this” and “omg, get it together, this could be something special!” Rinse, wash, repeat with almost every date. Then, I would meet someone and they would ask for my number and if they could take me out and I would gladly accept and be so giddy and excited about the date that I already knew what I wanted to wear and was ready on time (if not early), without procrastinating. You want to know the key difference between the first and second scenario? The second scenario involved a “Hell Yes!!!” feeling from my gut, where as the first scenarios we’re obviously “No’s” that had morphed into a “yes” at the pressure of finding “the one” (or more realistically, “the one” for a little while). Now, I only say yes to dates where I feel an indisputable “Hell Yes” when I’m talking with the guy. No if’s, ands or buts. The moment I start sliding into saying yes when I’m not 100% feeling it, I make myself read the Mark Manson article so I can remember and renew.
Likewise, why would you want to spend your time dating someone who isn’t your “Hell Yes” or vice versa? You don’t want to be someone’s filler, so if you don’t feel like they’re putting in a worthwhile effort, it’s because they’re probably not and you should invest your time in finding someone who looks at you as if you’re their “Hell Yes” and treats you as such! If you’re dating someone or with someone and they don’t make you say “Hell Yes” do both of you a favor and move on to find your happiness.
This one is actually pretty easy and my wallet and financial advisor have been very happy about it. First, when I go shopping, I wear an outfit that I absolutely love because rule #1 is, if it doesn’t look better than what I’m already wearing, than why bother? Second, I use the “Hell Yes” to anything I try on. If I’m in the dressing room and I try something on that doesn’t instantly make me feel like I have to have it, or life just won’t be the same – I say “No.” When I try something on, I have to immediately be able to visualize what type of occasion I would love to wear it to and it needs to make me feel absolutely special in that moment while I’m trying it on in order for me to consider it a “Hell Yes.”
Activities + Friends
We’ve all been there before – we say yes to a get together or drinks out with friends on a particular day, then no longer feel the same conviction on the day of. This is because we are agreeing to do too much and we’re promising too much. I’ve learned the fine art of telling people I’ll need to “play it by ear.” This might sound like a blow off, but it’s really not. It’s a respectful way of setting a boundary for yourself so that you don’t seam to be unreliable, or make yourself do something you don’t want to do. The next step is to use the same simplifying process I’ve described. Chances are, if you’re really in tune with yourself and listening to your gut – you immediately know if a plan sounds like something you really want to join, or not. Sometimes your mood will change, but usually you know as you’re committing if it’s going to be something you’re likely to do, or not. When someone asks you if you want to join an activity, use the “Hell Yes” or “No” strategy to simplify and watch how many things end up not having to cancel on last-minute!
As some of you know, years ago I started my own event planning + production firm, Supernova Société. When I first started, I was so green that I took every meeting and client that came my way in an effort to build business and make money. I kept using this module until I realized most of the business meetings could be done in 10-15 minute conversations over the phone and that not every client was a good fit. Now, before even taking a phone call, I qualify the client to make sure they have a budget, they have an impending need, they have respect for the PR process, and most importantly, I enjoy their work ethic and communication. After establishing that, then I take a phone meeting to determine the specifics. If, and only if after that phone meeting my gut says “Hell Yes” then I move forward with representing or creating an event for them or their brand. I am also not just discussing the brand, but the people who I would need to work with as well. There might be an amazing event, for the right amount of budget, but if I get a sense that I will not enjoy working with the project managers, it’s a “No.” It has eliminated a tremendous amount of time waste and disappointment. I used to get so burnt out on going to meetings, running all over town on the hopes and maybe’s of a company, now my business is doing better and I am happier!