There has been a conversation going around online about the way to make decisions in your life.

Derek Sivers talked about it a bit ago in reference to time commitments, and more recently, Mark Manson revived it in a “playbook” of sorts for people in or wanting to be in relationships. And in and of itself, I think the concept is a fine one.

The concept being, if something in your life isn’t a “HELL YES” then it should be a “NO”.

If you look at this on the surface, it makes a ton of sense.

Given that most of our lives are spent making decisions that affect the rest of our lives, I can absolutely understand why we all want the easy formula. The guidebook to tell us if we should text back the guy we just met (HELL YEAH!) or ignore him altogether (NO!). Or if we should stay in that unfulfilling job (NO!) or go travel the world (HELL YEAH!).

But the problem I find with this equation is that it’s too shallow. It can’t possibly apply to the complexities of life and the ebbs and flows and the changes we all will inevitably experience, simply by being human.

AND . . . it also doesn’t account for the fact that not everything in life that happens is as simple as knowing right away what the answer is.

Haven’t you ever heard of those couples who, when they first met, they hated each other but then realized a bit down the road that they were actually the love of each other’s lives? Or what about the time you said ‘NO’ to something, because it wasn’t a “HELL YEAH” but the reason it wasn’t a “HELL YEAH” was because it pushed you out of your comfort zone?

These are just two, out of many, examples of how the “HELL YEAH or NO” equation can’t work.

Here’s the thing. Life is complex. We are complex. There are so many nuances and places to explore within ourselves when we’re making decisions. I know that this equation is encouraging people to tap into that intuitive place that knows right away whether or not something is good for us, but the way it’s set up and has been being talked about online falls short.

I’m definitely a fan of following intuition, but in order to follow that, you have to have awareness about yourself. You have to be able to discern whether or not something is “intuition” or just “fear.”

Which is why this equation can’t possibly apply to all people, in all situations.

What happens to the people who don’t know? Whose NO might be because they’re afraid to truly show their heart, or they’re afraid to put themselves out there. What if their NO is actually a “maybe” that just needs to be explored.

What happens when the “HELL YES!” comes from a place of destruction, addiction, and avoidance? Then what do you do?

I think the conversation isn’t actually about whether it’s a hell yes or a hell no, but rather whether or not you’ve looked into the depths of your heart to find the answer, and to actually discover what part of yourself is making the decision.

There have been many hell yeses in my life that caused me a lot of pain. And I’m sure a lot of no’s that had me miss really cool opportunities for myself.

So . . . if you’re looking for advice on how to make a decision in your life, answer these questions first:

  • What do I truly want in my life right now?
  • Which choice is most closely aligned with that goal?
  • Am I being honest with myself right now?

The answers to these questions will give you a way more grounded answer than “HELL YES or NO” ever could.

And now I’m curious . . . what do you think? Do you use the “HELL YES or NO” equation for making decisions? If not…what do you do? As always we love to hear from you so leave your thoughts and questions in the comments below.

Saying HELL YEAH to this article!



Photo by Ann-Lise Heinrichs

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  1. I was having these exact thoughts on this topic and wanted to see if anyone wrote an article about it. Glad to find yours. We are way too complex as humans and often make choices that completely avoid stepping out of our comfort zone. Your three questions are helpful!

    1. I’m so glad this was helpful to you Michael! You’re so right, we’re incredibly complex and our choices are equally complex. Thanks for reading and here’s to stepping out of our comfort zones more often! 🙂

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