Say no to anything that isn’t a ‘hell yes’

In December, I splurged on a session with a career coach who delivered a sky-high ROI in one sentence: “You need to start saying ‘no’ to anything that isn’t a ‘hell yes.’”

At first, I tentatively embraced this manta. Three months later, the results have been terrific. I find myself at my desk writing and sending emails late at night because it’s fun. I realized that the major career pivot I was planning was not a “hell yes!” at all, so I scrapped it. Now I’m in the research phase of a side hustle that I’m so excited about, I keep finding loose pieces of paper around my apartment with ideas I’ve scrawled down as they came to me.

According to Hana Ayoub, a life coach based out of WeWork West Broadway, “‘hell yes!’ has merit not only as a professional framework, but also as a benchmark to consider as you look at your day. Is your calendar filled with hell yeses? This could be something that transcends into all areas of our lives.”

Examples: if an article of clothing isn’t a hell yes, “Don’t buy it,” Ayoub advises. “If you’re moving forward in a dating relationship, is it a ‘hell yes!’ for you?” she asks. “Consider the people you surround yourself with. Use ‘hell yes!’ as a lens to consider all the options you have, career and otherwise.”

Lou Leone is a WeWork Fulton Center member and founder of Leadinary, a management consulting and executive coaching firm for startups. Leone recognizes that “Saying ‘no’ to things is hard. This all takes some faith. You need to get really clear on what you authentically want. What does your ‘hell yes’ look like for you?”

Greg Edelman, an account manager for the recruiting firm Premiere Onboard has a litmus test for whether something is a “hell yes”: “Would I take this project, client, or job if the money didn’t matter?”

“It’s absolutely important that you can say ‘hell yes!’ to the nature of your work,” says the WeWork Fulton Market member. “If you’re not saying ‘hell yes!’ to a couple different things every day, stop settling for ‘okay.’ Get your ‘hell yes!’ opportunity. You can build a lifestyle around your passion.”

Edelman isn’t recommending packing up your desk, but rather, easing into taking “hell yes!” steps in the direction you want to go in.

Saying “hell yes!” is intrinsically rewarding, even when you start small. When you’re able to shift what doesn’t excite you off your plate, you have room to say “hell yes!” to things that really move you.

“There is a sense of autonomy that comes from making more choices,” says Ayoub. “You’re being proactive; you’re creating what’s going on in your life. You’ll feel more in control, happier, and creative at work because you’ll probably be leveraging what you’re naturally good at. Work doesn’t feel as much like work. You’ll be tapping into your natural talents, and what you do uniquely and like to do. It shines, and other people will see it.”

Having a day full of “hell yeses” isn’t frivolous though.

“We’re tired at the end of the day, but we’re going for the pleasant fulfillment of a long day, as opposed to the exhaustion and drain of working on things that we’re not that excited about,” says Ayoub.

Greg Edelman suspects that entrepreneurs’ attraction to “hell yes!” opportunities is how to stay motivated for launching new ventures and staying committed.

“For first-time entrepreneurs to go out on their own, there’s risk and it can be scary,” Edelman says. “But they’ve never been happier. When you have a ‘hell yes!’ it helps you get through the fear.”

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