Is it Possible to Live By "Hell Yes’s" Alone: THE RESULTS

{Settle in - This is a long one.}

So, just to remind you: Last week, I challenged myself to live by Hell Yes’s aloneDid it happen? Not even close. But I had a great week. (What? How? Exactly.)

Read on for all the details about why it’s possible to make productive, good, enjoyable decisions despite never feeling a Hell Yes.

MONDAY: I got a last minute invitation to have dinner with friend on Monday. I thought this would be a perfect time to start. I checked in and it wasn’t a total Hell Yes, but I also knew that I was saying no out of comfort (Mondays, tired, blah blah blah) and I wanted to do something different, and maybe even challenge myself a little. So, I accepted. It was definitely fun, and a nice change of pace. I knew I just had to commit and get into it.

Verdict: Not a “Hell Yes”, but an ultimate plus.

TUESDAY: I stayed home and watched first 2 episodes of "Wild, Wild Country". I had heard some good things about it. It seemed interesting, and I knew I wanted to watch it. But, I was tired and not really in the mood to start over with new characters (does anyone else have that? When you’d rather watch episodes of something you’ve seen because you’d rather “hang out with people you already know” Like, they’re your friends but obviously they’re not). I took a breath, decided to get into it, and hit play.

Verdict: Also, not a Hell Yes. But wound up loving it.

WEDNESDAY: I had dinner plans with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. She wanted to cook at her apartment, who lives no less than an hour from my house. This fell somewhere on the Yes scale, but definitely didn’t register as a Hell Yes. I brought a new wine I had been wanting to try, a book for the train, decided it would be fun, and it was.

Verdict: True, it was not a Hell Yes. But, bringing treats and fun things to do for the journey was very helpful. The devil really is in the details. Thinking through the experience and seeing the gaps definitely made it more of a Yes.

{Editor’s Note, i.e. just me}: We just finished mid-week, and still no Hell Yes’s. Starting to wonder what a Hell Yes actually is and if, in fact, I’ve ever felt one. Am I even qualified to know what one is? Should I be concerned? At this point, what am I even using as a metric?

THURSDAY: A company I love released a new shirt. Clearly this is not a big deal, but I had been following it for a couple of weeks and was excited, like Hell Yes excited. Finally, a Hell Yes! Clarity! A success! It all seemed so clear. My life of Hell Yes’s could finally begin.

You guys, I was so amped to love it and ready to buy it the second it became available. I get the email. I open it immediately I get my first glimpse of the full shirt, not just a sneak peek, but the full shirt, on a body, and in all of its glory.

Prepare yourselves. I didn’t love it. I don’t want to buy it. The excitement, the lead up - all a Hell Yes. The actual shirt itself - definitely not a Hell Yes.

But, interestingly enough, I’m still really close to buying it. I have to talk myself out of it more that I should, considering it’s a shirt I actively and consciously don’t like. Amazing to see how the momentum of enthusiasm (and basically deciding in advance that I would love and buy it) is hard to break. Even now, 36 hours later, I’m still 15% considering it. Because I was so excited to be excited about it. My attachment to a Hell Yes is clear.

Verdict: My enthusiasm is a Hell Yes. Reality is a Hell No. But because I decided in advance I would love it, and my the momentum of my excitement was strong, it’s an inertia that is hard to resist. Funny how that worked earlier in the week to build excitement around things I wasn’t initially as excited about. It appears the reverse is also true - once I have decided to be excited about something, it’s very hard to un-decide that.

FRIDAY: I have dinner plans with another friend (I swear, I’m usually not this social). By now I kind of know the drill. I will be tired. I will decide to get into it. I will bring fun things for me to do on the way there and back, so I will be prepared to be excited.

For some reason, I suggest a restaurant that I don’t even really want to go to. Definitely not a Hell Yes. We agree, and then 10 minutes later she writes back with a different suggestion. A place I haven’t been to in years, and am way more excited to go to. It’s palpable. I can feel the difference as this one hits higher on the Yes scale. I’m grateful. I give it a Yes Plus.

And, it’s worth noting that the excitement is a nice surprise, an added bonus, but it’s not the deciding factor in whether something will be enjoyable. It’s great to have, but by the end of the week and this experiment I also can see how it’s not totally necessary.

Even if the excitement never comes, I can still decide to be happy about something, or decide something is going to work and be good. I can decide in advance what I want to get out of it (the chance to see a neighborhood I don’t usually go to, an hour to read my book, the chance to try something, or someplace, new). I decide the success will be determined by something I can control (the wine I buy, the book I’m reading, the restaurant I’m choosing - even though I obviously didn’t do great on that one, but the Universe stepped in and saved me there).

Verdict: I can feel the difference in genuine excitement vs. making things work.


So, there weren’t really any Hell Yes’s this week. Even recapping this experience wasn’t a total Hell Yes. Of course, once I got to my favorite coffee shop and ordered my favorite green tea and settled into the groove of writing, it was wonderful and pleasant. But it felt more soothing and like I’m floating in and out of a zone. And the thought of sitting down to write this was definitely not a Hell Yes. What am I going to write about? How am I going to contextualize all this? Will it make sense? How can I not have had a single Hell Yes? But now that I’m here and writing (almost to the phase of “having written”!), it’s all great.

Maybe this means I missed the point of my own experiment, so before I spiral into any thoughts about what does this all mean and why am I not capable of feeling a Hell Yes, or living a life that is CHOCK FULL of them, let’s take a beat. Because it was a mostly positive week. I really enjoyed myself, was productive, was social, and saved myself some money on a shirt I didn’t like.

So, why was this able to happen, even though none of it was an obvious, clear, or sustained Hell Yes?

Because even when the new thing proposed wasn’t a clear Hell Yes, it still had elements of good. Things that I have historically enjoyed, or been good at. It didn’t need to be scrapped altogether. It just necessitated a little planning, some thought to decide what I wanted to get out of it, and then a couple more steps to ensure what I wanted to get out of it (i.e., it's success) could be determined on my own terms, and wasn’t totally at the hands of someone else.

It’s also worth noting that the transition into that new thing (even after I decided what I wanted to get out of it) was never a Hell Yes. The energy it would take to adapt was never a Hell Yes. These were throngs I assumed I wanted to do, so I did them, decided they would become fun, and brought some extra incentives so they would be successful no matter what (a new wine to taste, a book for the long subway ride, self permission to leave at a certain time so I wouldn't be too late coming home, a podcast to listen to).

I made the decision, assumed I would get excited about it at some point, built in some extra fun things just in case and to make it easier, and then let the fun catch up. Which it usually did. And pretty quickly, I might add.

What I really learned is that, for me, even when there aren't a lot of Hell Yes's, you can still have a great time. And it certainly doesn’t mean I forced a decision. A Hell Yes makes things easier for sure, but it’s not the only way know you’re going to enjoy something.

In most cases, once I decided it would be fun, it grew into something fun. And, while there was usually some kind of transition period, it never lasted too long and it was made even easier by the provisions I gave myself. Treats on the way and knowing what I needed to do in advance for it to be successful. Worked every time.

Decide, then go all in and do the work to make it fun. Basically the same as a Hell Yes.

So, what do you think? Is it possible to live on Hell Yes’s alone? How do you know you’re experiencing a Hell Yes? Is that how you make most of your decisions? Should I extend the life of this experiment and do this for another week?

I’d love to hear what you guys do.