A new year means a fresh start at whatever’s holding you back. Maybe this year you need a new way to filter all the demands on your time. Here’s a simple one: Say “hell yeah” or “why not” to more opportunities.
- “Hell yeah” is what you say when you’re excited about something, right? How many opportunities are you that excited about?
- “Why not” is what you say when you’re non-committal, but willing to go along for the ride. How many opportunities are you willing to give a shot?
These are two opposing views on how you should filter opportunities. One (or both) of them might be a helpful way for you to frame the new year.
The “hell yeah” approach comes from Derek Sivers and is a book he’s currently writing called Hell Yeah or No. The idea is pretty simple. To accomplish something you really want to accomplish, you need to say yes to that and no to everything else. Sivers summarized it more succinctly: if you can’t say “hell yeah,” then it’s no.Basically, if an idea isn’t exciting enough for you to say “hell yeah,” then it’s not worth doing. Say no. Focus on the things that are a definite yes. Do the things that really excite and motivate you.
We’re all flooded with so many opportunities and possibilities. Many are great things to do. But we can’t do everything. When we try to do too many things, we end up failing—or at best we do them poorly. So narrow your focus.
This might sound similar to the common freelance advice to find your niche. That’s no accident. A lot of good can happen when you limit your options and focus on one thing.
The other end of the spectrum is a response to Sivers from Sid Savara that says in some circumstances maybe we should be saying “why not” to opportunities.
Savara agrees with Sivers’ rationale that sometimes we’re too busy and flooded with so many opportunities that we have to say no. But Savara argues that isn’t always the case. Sometimes the issue is that we’re not excited yet. We’re not at the “hell yeah” stage of excitement, but it could still be an amazing opportunity.
So instead of rejecting everything that doesn’t excite us, explore things you’re not sure about by saying “why not.” If you say no to everything, you’re going to miss out on a lot. And if you only say yes to what excites you, you’re unlikely to try new things. Yes, it depends on what kind of person you are and what excites you. But if you’re at all risk averse, the “hell yeah” approach could seriously limit your opportunities.
Approaching opportunities with a “why not” attitude opens you up to more options. It allows you to try new things, to experiment, to even do things you’re reluctant to do but are good for you (um, exercise?).
Two Different Attitudes for the New Year
These two opposing approaches might be just what you need this year. Some of us need to ignore the distractions and focus on one thing. Others need to try new things and experiment to see what can happen.
Some of us may even need a little of both. That sounds contradictory, and it sort of is, but maybe you need to take one approach with some things in your life (projects, clients, marketing) and the other approach with other things (networking, service offerings, meetings). It all depends on where you’re at.
Take some time to figure out where that is, and then decide if you need to narrow your focus or if you need to be more open to opportunity. Whether you’re courting new clients or exploring new projects, whether you’re trying to be more productive or expanding your marketing, consider whether you need to try saying “hell yeah” or “why not” this year. (Or for a completely different take, maybe you need to say yes to everything, like Shonda Rhimes.)