The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.
I’m still buzzing from a powerful exercise I (sort of) made up last month. I’m calling it “Your HELL YEAH Wake-Up Call.” Inspired by the bestseller Tools of Titans in which author Tim Ferriss asks programmer-philosopher Derek Sivers to describe his practice of saying “No.” Sivers replies:
“If I’m not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, then I say no. Meaning: When deciding whether to commit to something, 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.” Doing so too often drown us in commitments that will, as Sivers says, “sink the ship.”
When I read Sivers provocative words last month, (while, I must add, in my pajamas drinking coffee) I immediately grabbed pen and journal and got to work.
What activities, projects, or opportunities did I feel HELL YEAH about? What stuff was just KINDA COOL? What was flat out MEH? I needed to know — and fast.
Hence the birth of Your HELL YEAH Wake Up Call.
Let’s begin with my not so sophisticated terminology:
• HELL YEAH! — You’re jumping out of your skin with excitement thinking about engaging in a particular activity, project, or opportunity. Doing so makes you quiver — with joy. Life feels big, really big in anticipating this endeavor. 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 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 blah, flat or lackluster. You may also feel dread just thinking about MEH stuff — like ugh, really?
What makes you feel like screaming HELL YEAH?
What’s just KINDA COOL?
What’s a definite MEH?
The key to doing this exercise (and to have it make an impact as it did for me) is to get honest — really honest. For a moment, forget about what you think you “should” be doing and uncover what you actually feel.
No one ever needs to see your list. It is for your eyes only. Go for it.
Let’s get started.
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, stay with it longer. Get fully engaged in imagining yourself in this activity.
3. 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. Go through each activity naming only those that are a definite HELL YEAH! Get up and do something else for a few minutes to clear your slate. Next, go through your list of activities, projects, or opportunities that are not HELL YEAH. Read them out loud, sense them and name what feels KINDA COOL or just MEH.
4. Live Smarter:
Getting clear on what lights you up or shuts you down is the first step to organizing your life more around HELL YEAH, less around the MEH and being honest about whether or not to stay with the KINDA COOL’s.
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 month since I first did this exercise I’ve been batching the necessary MEH’s into an hour or two a day. I’ve also found the courage to politely pass on new KINDA COOL opportunities.
The result? I’m creating space for activities, projects, and opportunities that makes me want to scream HELL YEAH all the time!
I have no doubt, you can do this too.
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 still may have to live through a few MEH’s every day (yes, we sometimes need to take out the trash, attend meetings, and write reports) learn to get through them faster, embrace the space, and lean into your HELL YEAH life.