I’m still buzzing from a powerful exercise I (sort of) made up about finding my “hell yeah.” It’s inspired by the bestseller Tools of Titans in which author Tim Ferriss engages with programmer-philosopher Derek Sivers about saying hell yeah and saying no.
“If I’m not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, then I say no. If I feel anything less than “Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell Yeah!” — then my answer is no.
When you say no to most things, you leave room in your life to really throw yourself completely into that rare thing that makes you say, “Hell Yeah!” If we’re not paying attention, we may also get trapped into saying yes to opportunities that sound just “kinda cool.”
While still in my pajamas with coffee in hand, I read these provocative words, grabbed pen and journal and got to work.
And the questions flowed out.
What activities, projects, or opportunities did I feel HELL YEAH about? What stuff was just KINDA COOL? What felt flat out MEH? I wanted to know.
First, let’s define my not so sophisticated terminology:
• HELL YEAH! – You’re jumping out of your skin with excitement just thinking about a particular activity, project, or opportunity. Doing so makes you quiver — with joy. Life feels big, really big. You feel 50% ready to rock and 50% like you may throw up from nervous anticipation.
• KINDA COOL – You’re not all out HELL YEAH but you’re still sort of intrigued. The activity, project, or opportunity doesn’t feel like a “bad” way of spending your energy nor it is super exciting and awesome. When you think about doing it, there’s not much of a physical response either way. It simply feels KINDA COOL.
• MEH – Defined as uninspiring or unexceptional. Thinking about this activity, project, or opportunity makes you feel flat or lackluster. There’s a sort of dread around it like an, Ugh, really? Do I have to do this again?
Now it’s your turn.
What do feel like screaming HELL YEAH! about in your life? What’s KINDA COOL and what is downright MEH?
The key to doing this exercise well (and to have it make an impact as it did for me) is to be honest — really honest. To do so you need to drop below the “thinking mind” and notice what physical sensations arise when you imagine yourself in these activities, projects, or opportunities. You’ll need to get underneath what you think you “should” feel and uncover what you actually feel.
Making this experience as raw as possible is essential. No one ever needs to see your list. It is for your eyes only so go for it.
In Your HELL YEAH Wake-Up Call you’re going to list it, sense it, name it, and live smarter.
Here we go.
1. List It:
On a blank sheet of lined paper list your professional and personal activities, projects, or opportunities. Put each on a separate line.
2. Sense It:
Read each activity, project, or opportunity out loud. Pause and imagine yourself engaged in it. Notice what you’re feeling in your body. Is there excitement, dread or something in between? If you’re not sure what you’re feeling stay with it longer. Get into the experience of being deeply engaged in this experience. Before moving on to the next line continue to step 3.
3. Name It:
Get crystal clear about what you’re feeling and name it. Does this activity, project, or opportunity feel HELL YEAH!, KINDA COOL, or MEH? If it’s a HELL YEAH!, write HELL YEAH! (preferably with a red pen) and move on to the next line. Identify all of your HELL YEAH’s first. After the first round, get up and do something else for a few minutes. For round two, do the exercise again for those activities, projects, or opportunities that are not HELL YEAH. Read them out loud, sense them and name what is KINDA COOL or just MEH.
4. Live Smarter:
Getting clear on what lights you up and what shuts you down is the first step to a powerful process of organizing your life more around HELL YEAH! and less around the MEH. You’ll also face which KINDA COOL stuff isn’t worth your time and energy.
Let’s face it, sometimes we have to do the MEH’s in order to put food on the table, manage the family, and keep the ball rolling. We can, however, learn to live smarter. In the week since I first did this exercise I’ve been doing my best to batch all necessary MEH’s into a few hours a day. I’m also staying aware of saying no more often to the KINDA COOL stuff that’s not essential.
Life is too short to feel MEH too often.
The result? I’m creating space for activities, projects, and opportunities that makes me want to scream HELL YEAH!
And you can too.
Be honest with yourself. What makes you feel fully alive? What’s just not floating your boat? Get clear and, like me, you’ll start organizing your life more around HELL YEAH and less around MEH.
As Derek Sivers said, “When you say no to most things, you leave room in your life to really throw yourself completely into that rare thing that makes you say, “HELL YEAH!”
While you may find that you still need to engage in various MEH activities (yes, we sometimes need to take out the trash, attend meetings, and write reports), we can learn to get through them faster and have more time to live our HELL YEAH life.