“Hell Yeah! or no.” – a framework to help make better decisions

Hell Yeah! or No

Use this rule if you’re often over-committed or too scattered.

If you’re not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, say “no”.

Derek Sivers, Anything You Want

It’s the mantra that Derek Sivers writes about in his book, Anything You Want, to help make a more focussed decision or weed out the crap from your life. He also has a post about it here.

When I read it, it instantly became a personal mantra as well.

Big decisions should be a “Hell Yeah! or no.”

If something isn’t bringing you joy and your not getting that “Hell Yeah!” then you should really take the extra time to think through if it is something you want to be doing.

My wife and I have adopted it as much as we can, even when considering small family events.

But the bigger a decision, the more important this type of thinking is. Jeff Bezos calls these types of decisions “one-way doors:”

Some decisions are are consequential and irreversible or nearly irreversible-one-way doors-and these decisions must be made methodically, carefully, slowly, with great deliberation and consultation

Jeff Bezos – 2015 Amazon Shareholder Letter

One-way door decisions are:

  • Leaving your current job
  • Getting married
  • Purchasing a car
  • Buying a house
  • Having a kid

If you are not enthused enough about a “one-way door” decision and it’s not a “Hell Yeah!” then the decisions should be a “no”.

This type of thinking is what led me to become Accidentally Retired. I really had to think through if I was still willing to stay on my current course or pursue a new path. In the end, I decided that my CEO job was no longer a “Hell Yeah!” and engineered my exit.

Making better decisions by using a 0-100 scale

Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, offers some additional tools and thought process to help make better decisions.

He suggests grading decisions on a 0-100 scale.

Go ahead and pick something you are considering doing.

Now grade it…

If you have given a score less than a 90. Throw it out.

That is Essentialism, and that is Hell Yeah or No thinking.

You can do this when deciding on where to go to dinner.

You can do this when deciding who to hire.

Or how to invest your money.

You can do it for anything.

Clearly not all decisions are “one-way door” decisions, but this type of grading process can help you to make better “Hell Yeah! or no” decisions.

Build a Happiness Tracker to help with “two-way door” decisions and gray areas

But how do you put this mantra into action when there are a lot of gray areas in life?

What do you do about the things that you don’t have a “Hell Yeah” for, but know that you probably have to do it anyway?

Jeff Bezos would call these types of decisions “two-way door” decisions.

In order to help better make sense of what I was really enjoying in life and not, I started to build a happiness tracker to track my happiness.

This really helped me to understand what I was enjoying in my days and what I was not.

As a result this has helped to polish out the gray areas in my life as much as possible.

Sure there are still things that I do for other people and those are not always a “Hell Yeah!” — but at least I am aware of it.

“Hell Yeah! or no.” – a framework to help make better decisions

The “Hell Yeah! or no.” framework has helped me to ensure that I am making the most essential decisions for the big things in life.

Grading things on the 0-100 scale and throwing out things that are not a 90 or above is hard to do, but worth the effort to make sure that you are living your life with passion and integrity.

Most of my life I have already led with this type of decision making, and the end result was that I have few regrets and have had a fun ride along the way.

Derek Sivers helped me to furthy codify and refine my “one-way door” decision making process.

Life is too short to make a half hearted choice in any big decision.

So for big “one-way door” decisions, it should be a “Hell Yeah!” or it is a No.

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  1. It’s a good reminder. My inbox gets bombarded with requests every day which is why I created a really large out of office automatic responder I can hopefully address 90% plus of questions.

    But I found that the more choice you have, the harder it is to decide. Right now, I’m trying to decide whether to leave our vacation rental earlier at 9 AM to go play softball at 10:45 AM. Or just enjoy another three hours here by the pool with the family.

    Both are close to hell yeah decisions!

  2. This has been relevant to me. I’m anticipating a job offer which will be a lateral in comp but I think the culture / people / and the job will be a MILLION times better.

    So it’s a bit like 60% leaning towards accepting but not towards the hell yeah category yet. I may be jumping the gun a little too soon as well so there’s that!

    1. Yep. Not everything in life can be so black/white, but I think in general it is a good way of avoiding mediocre decisions. I want to make passionate decisions, I want to be enthused about what I am doing in life. You only live once after all!

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