Derek Sivers' "If not hell yeah, then no." – My lesson on saying no

I recently read Derek Siver’s excellent, short book, “Anything You Want.” One of the chapters is titled, “If not hell yeah, then no.” It means that unless you are excited to do something, don’t do it. Say no. Then, you leave yourself open to cool new opportunities that you will be thrilled to accept.

I love that idea! But, it’s a hard one to put into action. See, I suffer from yes-itis. I tend to say yes to most things whether or not the idea of them thrills me. Then, I find myself running around engaged in activities that leave me lukewarm.

Over the last few years, I’ve curtailed a bunch of them. I no longer attend several ongoing social events in my area because I found that I no longer had a “hell yeah” reaction to them. For a while, the evenings of those events were a little lonely. Everyone else I knew was in attendance; I stayed home and spent time in repose. And then, I started using the time to write, draw, read, make jewelry, create, go to movies, several museums, shows, and other outings. I try to leave that evening a solo excursion. If I stay in, I create. If I go out, I do it so I can fortify my creative coffers.

I’ve gone from feeling the sting of loneliness to being excited to create or at least to leave myself open to inspiration. My “hell yeah” is often a quiet evening at home with a book, and that feels fantastic! The new perspectives and experiences inspire me to produce new art. I can’t ask for more than that.

How much of this filling the well is too much? I haven’t found it to be anything but positive. We all make choices in how we spend our time. I believe if our choices are conscious and focused on our level of anticipation, we will give ourselves the opportunity to create, develop, and produce.

I invite you to try it. The next time you face an opportunity to do something, check in with yourself. Do you feel a “hell, yeah” response, or is it more perfunctory? If you are excited, if this will add to your life, go. Do. If not, are there other activities that would leave you happier, more excited, more creative? What would it look like to do those instead? It’s something to ponder.

Sending you all my love.

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