For the Holidays (and All Year Round): It’s Either a “Hell Yeah” or Say “No”

Alright, so it’s the first week of November, and the tension is already starting to rise around here. Every year after the holidays we swear that the next year will be different – simpler, calmer, and more organized. We pledge to have all of our holiday shopping done by the end of October so that we can ease into November with a more serene state of mind. And every year is no different. It’s the same mad rush as the last, full of too much stress and overwhelming busyness.

This year poses even more challenges, as it’s the first in which we’ve had a consumer lifestyle brand to run, and this holiday season is shaping up to be a very busy one for us. Lots going on, to say the least, on top of all of the normal holiday hustle and bustle.

It’s all exciting stuff, but it’s another example of our tendency to take on too much. This is not a problem isolated to this time of year, of course. And I know it’s not just us that feel this way either. Too much and too fast is a problem that afflicts too many of us too often.

It can easily become a vicious cycle. In my experience, the more active and engaged you are – be it with social interactions, business initiatives, or family obligations – the easier it is to become even busier. Opportunities beget new opportunities, and if you’re not careful things can get away from you and you find yourself frantic and frazzled with too much on your plate. This problem is particularly acute this time of year.

There are no easy answers to this challenge. Disengagement from the busy world we live in is not an option for most. But it’s helpful to have a decision-making framework in place so that, in the course of a typical week when tens, if not hundreds, of new opportunities present themselves, you’ll be ready to allocate your most valuable asset – your time – in a way that honors, respects and furthers your life’s purpose.

The framework that we’re trying to employ to help us navigate through the next couple of months was inspired by entrepreneur Derek Sivers, who explained in a blog post that when he’s deciding whether or not to commit to something, if he doesn’t think to himself, “Wow, that would be amazing! Hell, yeah!,” then he says “no.”

In other words, when you say “no” to things that don’t get your heart pumping, then you make room for things that make you want to jump up and down with passion and excitement.

What this means in practical terms is that we’re taking steps to be much more discerning about commitments we make during the holiday season. That party next weekend? Sounds fun, but probably not worth feeling sluggish for the next day. Accordingly, it’s a no. But the concert coming up in a few weeks that we’ve been dying to go to? “Hell yeah.” That last minute, one-off client request for an animated greeting card? Meh, not worth the hassle. However, the proposal that could lead to a long-term and beneficial new business opportunity? In this case, it’s a go.

It would be far better, of course, to operate with a ‘hell yeah or no” mindset not just during the holidays, but all year round. After all, there’s no sense in spending time and energy on things that you’re ambivalent about. Instead, focus only on things that are meaningful and joyful. This is an approach that should apply to every aspect of life.

Failing to say “hell yeah or no” leads people:

  • To enter into, and stay engaged in, one-sided, unfulfilling and codependent relationships.
  • To buy things they don’t need and can’t afford – often both.
  • To stay in jobs they don’t like because they don’t believe that there’s any greener grass out there.
  • To say yes to commitments for which they don’t have the time or energy, for fear of letting someone else down, while disregarding their own needs in the process.

I know from my own experience that being compulsively busy is often an avoidance tactic. There are other things in my life that I’m not – but I should be – addressing, and busyness is a way to avoid them.

In her book Daring Greatly Brené Brown writes about things we do to numb ourselves to avoid confronting hard truths. According to Brown, one of the biggest culprits is an addiction to busy: “One of the most universal numbing strategies is what I call crazy-busy. I often say that when they start having 12-step meetings for busy-aholics, they’ll need to rent out football stadiums. We are a culture of people who’ve bought into the idea that if we stay busy enough, the truth of our lives won’t catch up with us.”

Just like any addiction, there’s only one way to stop being overly busy. That’s right, you need to summons the courage to just say “no.”

We all owe it to ourselves to curate our time more carefully; to say no much more often, and hell yeah when it really matters. This helps eliminate the mediocre and mundane, and makes more room for the spectacular things in life.

LifeJay Harrington