Hell Yes Or No: The radical practice of only saying yes to what you want (what you really, really want)

“Focus is a matter of deciding what things you’re NOT going to do.”

Gary Keller, “The One thing”

There is deep and powerful reason that we are drawn to the things we’re drawn to. It is often something we can’t logically explain, something we can’t justify intellectually. The things that whisper to us hold wisdom for us that will only make sense when we look back, long after we said Yes and followed the call.

Listening to the deepest desires within us is a giant YES to life, a surrendering to ourselves, to life. It opens the doorway to the mystery in a way nothing else does – because our inspired action is the creative intelligence of the universe pulsing through us, living us.

And we live in times of abundant (sometimes overwhelming) choice. What this means is that we must become specific – we have to practice listening to the loudest desires and following those (to the exclusion of others). A helpful way of doing this is to filter your Hell Yes’s through your priorities.

This is especially important for life enthusiasts such as myself, who can get (very) excited about a great many things. If we don’t choose some over others….we end up either not doing much, or trying to do too many things at the same time (and overcommitting is damaging both for ourselves and for others involved).

Practicing HYON

“You can get your time and your life under control only to the degree to which you discontinue lower-value activities.” 

Brian Tracy, “Eat That Frog”

Hell yes or no means saying yes ONLY to those things that light us on fire so that we’re consumed by the thought of them.

It means being radical about saying No to things that might sound good but don’t feel clean or don’t turn us on – this requires listening to the gut/heart and not the head. It means saying no to people who aren’t right and letting those who aren’t (or are no longer) a Hell Yes go. It means saying No to some projects in order to dedicate ourselves to others.

In every moment we’re creating our lives through the choices we make. HYON can be applied to all aspects of life;

  • Activities (What do you most want to do with the time you have left? Make it count)
  • Work (An opportunity that sounds great but feels meh will not lead to joy. Dare to say No)
  • People (You are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with – are the main people in your life helping or hindering your being the person you want to be? Do you have a Hell Yes for them?)
  • Speaking (Are you really fucking interested in what you’re saying? Does it feel alive, energized?)

Saying No, especially to things that look good in theory, can be daunting at first. We worry that another opportunity/person won’t come along, that we’ll regret not doing it, that people will think badly of us. Now I’m not going to lie – people get triggered by radical choices. It brings up their own mediocre decisions, and that’s uncomfortable.

But ultimately your opinion of you is more important than anyone else’s, and in being uncompromising with your integrity you set the bar higher for everyone in your environment. 

It’s become my favourite thing. Saying No (consciously, from love rather than fear) is self-affirming, self-loving, empowering clarity.

There might be a gap between saying no (and getting specific about what you want) and the next opportunity (more closely tailored to your desires) coming into your life. Don’t panic; nature abhors a vacuum – create space and it will be filled. The more clarity you have around what you want it to be filled with the better.

How do you want to feel?

All of us want to feel happy, right? We’re all chasing a feeling but often not paying that much attention to what produces it within us, and instead falling back onto the perceived wisdom of what works (hint: we’re individuals for a reason. What turns you on is going to be different to what turns some else on).

Joseph Campbell said, “We’re looking for an experience of being alive.”

When we say yes only to things that turn us on and light us up, we feel fucking amazing. HYON is a visceral inner response; it’s a high-value state in which we feel present, alive, energized, connected to awe, wonder, and the beauty of life. Spending time in this state is the most powerful way to uplevel your experience of life.

And a wonderful side-effect of spending time there is that we raise our standards.

So many people spend a lot of time in a mediocre state. This (quite logically) leads to mediocre decisions, actions, and a “meh” experience of life. As we begin to spend more time feeling juiced and energized and on fire, it starts to become our new normal.


Another awesome side-effect is increased clarity. When we consistently choose only things that feel completely aligned with our deepest core, those core values and passions become more and more embodied.

This effectively means that we begin to represent on the outside what we feel to be true on the inside – we become more dense.

Our true self becomes stronger and stronger, more and more tangible. And in a wonderful positive spiral, this leads to even greater clarity.

It also means that, because we’re saying No to more things, we have more space to focus on the things we really want to do. And focus is gold. Focus is a gateway to transcendent states of awareness, which not only feel amazing and fulfilling, but invite in wisdom from a different level of consciousness.

Now we are giving all our energy to creating, manifesting the life that we truly desire.


Commitment comes from a place of Hell Yes. If it’s not a Hell Yes you’re going to need a ton of discipline to make it happen – and discipline uses a whole lot of fuel. Commitment (as I wrote about here) means doing something with dedication, with devotion, with your whole heart – it’s an energy that comes from desire, and as such you are pulled towards the thing.

And committing to something that’s a Hell Yes feels juicy as hell.

So all in all, saying Hell Yes brings about massive shifts in the way you approach your entire life – you raise your standards, you create a transformative shift in your quality of life.

And it’s all just about choices.

MAke them consciously and your life will take a dramatic turn towards the extraordinary.



Action 1: Start practicing HYON; what areas in your life are you good at it, where less good? Are there projects/goals/relationships you want to let go of? (don’t be afraid to be radical – you’re building clarity)

Action 2: Get clear on top 3 priorities (what % of time are you according to each/week), the why, commit – what does that look like (vision, ideas)?

Action 3: Examine your systems and habits; are they in line with your priorities and commitments (implementing the vision/ideas)?