Every one of us is faced with numerous decisions each day. Some of them are not optional; everyone has to do laundry, for example.
Many of the choices we make could just as easily be made another way, though. What do you want to wear today? Should you brush your teeth or shower first? Should you plan on going out for drinks after work?
Making all of these decisions on a day-to-day basis can be stressful, even though the decisions themselves small.
In today’s podcast, Andy and Ryan are discussing how you can make a mental model, or a new way of framing thoughts, that will allow you to make decisions automatically.
We call it the “hell yeah!” method, and as Andy says, it’s “one of the most freeing and liberating concepts I’ve ever run across in my life.” The basic premise is to choose to do only what makes you excited and happy, rather than basing decision on what others think you should be doing.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- How using the “hell yeah” method can help you say no without feeling guilty.
- How you can use this decision-making model to achieve your goals.
- How the method relates to working out.
- Times when the “hell yeah” method is not the best model of decision-making.
- How to get out of the interminably indeterminate state of “maybe.”
- The importance of putting in the work required to make the system work for you.
Resources and Links:
Farnam Street Blog by Shane Parrish
Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less by Barry Schwartz
Practical Wisdom: The Right Way to Do the Right Thing by Barry Schwartz
Derek Sivers post Hell Yeah – The post that was the source for Andy’s concept
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The “Hell Yes” Method Applied to Training and Life
Ryan: Everybody welcome to another edition of the GMB Show. Today Andy and I are just hanging out having a little coffee talk today. What’s up, brother?
Andy: Not a lot, not a lot. I’m very excited.
Ryan: Very excited about today’s topic.
Andy: I am actually.
Ryan: It’s one of those hell yeah, let’s talk about it kind of things because it’s what we’re going to be talking about.
Andy: It is literally about hell yeah, which is probably one of the most freeing and liberating concepts I’ve ever run across in my life.
Ryan: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I remember actually you bringing this up a couple years ago, in a GMB meeting you were like, “Okay, everybody, from here on this is how we’re going to make decisions. If it’s a hell yes we’re doing it, and if it’s not a hell yes, we’re not doing it.”
Andy: Pretty much that sums it up, yeah.
Ryan: Yeah. That’s a good way of doing things. I know it’s changed me too in making decisions for a lot of stuff, and as you said, it’s very liberating.
Andy: Yeah, so we’re going to talk a little bit now I guess about some examples of this, but also about why this is important and why it’s so helpful. It sounds like it’s a pretty extreme thing to say that if you’re not excited about something don’t do it, because you still have to do the laundry, you still have to change the oil in your car, you still have to wash dishes and stuff like that, but there’s a lot of decisions that are optional that we make by default. There’s a lot of decisions that are optional that we make because we feel like we have some sort of pressure to make them in a certain way, and there’s a lot of decisions that we think are going to be difficult to make, so we put them off and procrastinate indefinitely, and it causes us stress. I think for all 3 of those cases that it’s really nice to have a mental model that helps you clarify what you want to focus your energy and time on.
Ryan: Later on I’ll also make some references to our training, to our workouts, and how you can use this to actually make better progress in whatever you’re doing.
Andy: Cool. I’ll start off by saying that this is just one of several different kinds of mental models of decision making. Mental models are something that have been around for a long, long time and they’re used in a lot of ways. You probably came across them if you took a philosophy 101 course or something like that. Here’s a new way of framing thoughts that might change your outcome. If you get confused about something you can look at it from this perspective, and it gives you a different way to look at it. That’s a mental model, and if you’re really interested in learning more about mental models for decision making, you should really look at a website called Farnam Street by a guy named Shane Parish. Really really interesting website, and we’re going to link to that.
You should also look to a couple of books by a guy named Barry Schwartz, both The Paradox of Choice and another book called Practical Wisdom. Both of those have been pretty life changing for me, and we’ll give a couple of examples from those a little bit later. The biggest thing is that this is just one of many mental models that you could use that will help you make decisions. It’s not always going to be the right model, right? We all have tons of decisions to make. Like Ryan, how many Facebook messages do you get a day?
Ryan: Oh, it’s ridiculous. Yeah.
Andy: You’re not even famous.
Ryan: That’s just the thing, I’m just like, “Why do you know who I am? This is crazy.” No but yeah, I really appreciate all those messages, but it can be overwhelming. This is a good example of a hell yes kind of thing. It’s not that I don’t want to separate myself from everybody, a part of me does, I’ve got to be honest, got to be truthful there. I do, but the amount of time that it would take for me to sit down and answer every single one of these messages is not, to be honest, worth it. I could be doing other things helping more people by focusing on those other things instead of sitting down and doing the Facebook message thing. If you send a message to me on Facebook, you know that my response, if you’ve sent one to me it’s, “Hey thanks for your message, I really appreciate it, but please send this question to firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheers.” That’s the standard thing, and in the beginning this was tough, because I want to be there for everyone, and I want to answer people’s questions because I really appreciate it.
It was one of those things where you have to actively make a decision and say, “Is this helping or hurting what I’m doing here?” Yeah man, I know you’re the same way with your email.
Andy: Right. I actually had to make the decision that email was stressful for me, email was causing me problems, email was something I didn’t enjoy, so I made the decision that email is not a hell yes for me. By that I mean communicating via email at all is not a hell yes for me, and I don’t do it very much at all. The only email I do is basically my online banking, my mother, and the GMB support email. That’s it. This is not to talk about how busy we are, but I think anyone listening to this, you’re busy too. Right? Everyone here is probably really busy. Your Facebook inbox, or your email or whatever is just one example of that. Think of all of the decisions you have to make when you go through a day. You get up in the morning, and do you need to brush your teeth first or go to the bathroom first? Some days it’s like, “Which do I start with?”
It’s not something that should stress you out, but it’s these small little decisions that add up, right? Recently Mark Zuckerburg, founder of Facebook, is famous for wearing the same clothes every day. I’ve been wearing the same clothes every day pretty much for a few years too. It’s great. I don’t have to decide what shirts to buy. Every time my shirt wears out, I go to the American Apparel website and I buy another 5 pack of the same damn shirt. It’s wonderful. You go through your morning, and by the time you get out your door you’ve probably made 100 to 500 small decisions that some of them you realize you’re making, and some of them you don’t realize you’re making. Some of them are just fine, but some of them probably annoy you. Some of them probably stress you out, like, “What do I wear today? I don’t know. Is it going to rain, am I going to get stuck, am I going to have to talk to someone, is that cute barista going to be at the Starbucks?”
All these things go through your head when you’re making a very small decision. Sometimes it can be really helpful to just say, “I’m not going to deal with this decision anymore. Instead of having to decide this fresh every time, I’m going to rely on a model. I’m going to rely on a heuristic that’s going to let me make this decision quickly.” For me and for Mark Zuckerburg, that’s wearing pretty much the same clothes every day. I don’t ever have to think about that, and so at GMB as we have gotten a little more traction and more people know who we are, we get a lot more people … Not people asking for help, that’s not a problem. When people ask for help, we do want to help out, but we get a lot more people asking for our help. Okay, that’s not the way … A lot of people, they want to partner with us.
A lot of people that want to have us go do a seminar here, or want us to write a tutorial or make a video on this. All of these things, a lot of them are great ideas, and we want to do as many of them as we can, but sometimes we can’t say yes to everything, right? That’s the problem. There’s only so many hours in a day, there’s only so many of us, and we can’t say yes to everything, and so we really have to start prioritizing. There’s a lot of ways you could do that. We could prioritize on what’s the most profitable. We could prioritize on what takes the least time, but instead we decided that we wanted to prioritize on what excited us. On what made us feel glad to do it. On what made us really happy that we have this opportunity to do. Those are the things that make us say hell yeah.
Those are the things that make us really want to get behind it, because if we make a decision that’s like a, “Eh, not so bad,” Well then when we actually go and do the thing, when we commit to doing the thing, doing that work is drudgery. It’s no fun, and we don’t show it …
Ryan: It’s going to show in our work, yeah. It’s going to show in the work.
Andy: It’s definitely going to show. We focus on the hell yes’s, and that means that we can do a better job.
Ryan: A lot of people enjoy chatting, whether it be on Facebook, or wherever else. I don’t know because I don’t chat. This was something that I decided that I’m not going to do. People contact me and say, “Hey, do you have 5 minutes so I can talk to you on SKYPE?” No. I don’t. From the get go being able to say no and not feel guilty about it is really what a lot of people need. Let’s be honest, a lot of people feel pressured into doing things. If you don’t have a game plan and if you don’t know how to say no, then it’s going to be an issue. This is something I went through for many years, and now I know exactly what I want out of it. When I do say no, it’s not that I’m just being a dick, it’s that I might have to explain why, but then that other person’s like, “Oh okay I get that, that makes total sense.” Being able to do it that way also is a good thing.
It’s not always just about that hell yes. That helps in being able to say, “Hell yeah that is definitely something I want to do,” But also understanding how to say no. That’s a big thing too. A book that I’m reading recently is, and I forgot the title, I can’t believe I forgot the title, but basically not giving a fuck. It’s not that you don’t care about things, there’s a difference. Oh here’s a great example. I don’t really enjoy going out drinking with a lot of the people over here in Japan anymore. I used to enjoy maybe going out for a drink with someone, but really the way they drink over here in Japan is basically they just get drunk, and then the next day you can’t function kind of thing. While I enjoy meeting friends and doing things, I’m not going to go out with a certain group of people anymore, because I know that it’s going to just completely ruin everything else.
A lot of people right now are saying, “But dude, just because you go out doesn’t mean you have to drink or anything else like that.” Yes I get that, that’s fine, but instead of me going ahead and doing that, right away I just say, “Hey no, sorry. Not going to go,” And then I’m done. I can get going on other stuff, not feel bad about it, not anything like that. Nothing with those other people or anything like that, but it’s just I have my game plan, I’m living my life now, and I’m not basing my decisions upon what other people think I should be doing. This is kind of what it comes down to. Andy, I don’t know if you want to go into the next thing of this, but it also relates to exercise. This is what I wanted to say about this hell yes no thing today is, there’s a lot of people on the interwebs out there telling you that you should be able to do something, or you should have a particular barbell squat number, or something like this.
My answer to that is, I think it’s bullshit. I think you need to figure out what is a hell yes for you, and all the other stuff just say no. What this means is basically figuring out exactly what you want out of your workouts. What do you want to be able to do? This is truly truly finding what you want. This isn’t just like, “Yeah, I think I might want to do this.” Just like Andy said, if it’s just kind of a maybe, it’s not going to work out. Figure out what that hell yes is for you. Maybe a hell yes for you is something beyond this exercise thing that we’re after. Maybe it’s, and I’m just going to throw something out there, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. That is a hell yes for you, then instead of focusing on doing a planche, instead of focusing on doing a one-armed handstand, make your workout focused on being able to get up Mt. Kilimanjaro, and everything else, say no.
When you have a plan, well not even a plan, but when you have this big hairy idea like that, it makes everything else easy because you know exactly where you’re going. Wouldn’t it be cool if life was like that every single day?
Andy: Well that’s the thing. It makes everything easy.
Ryan: “Right, and that’s why this hell yes and the no is so brilliant. If you do know where you want to be going in your life, it’s easy to say, “Hell yes,” Or, “No.”
Andy: Like I said earlier, it’s not about are you going to wash your socks or not. You should wash your socks, okay? There’s a lot of things that aren’t really decisions, but there’s a lot of “opportunities” that come up. There’s a lot of invitations that happen, there’s a lot of people asking you to do them favors. There’s a lot of people trying to tell you how to live your life, or maybe they’re just really well intentioned and trying to invite you out on a good weekend or something. If it’s a weekend on a boat and being on an ocean makes you seasick, that’s not going to be a good time for you. It comes down to knowing what are the things that you like, what are the things that you can enjoy? I’m not saying that you should be self centered and tell your kid you’re not going to their basketball game because you don’t like crowds.
Sometimes you’re going to have to suck it up anyway, and you’re going to do something out of love for somebody, instead of the thing that you selfishly would just decide, “Well, I don’t want to.” Out of love sometimes you’ll do things that you would normally not do. That’s what love is, you sacrifice, but a lot of things come up, and it’s not going to mean anything bad to the other person if you just say, “You know, I really just don’t like barbecues because I don’t like being outside with the mosquitoes and getting sweaty and stuff. If you guys ever have a dinner party with pasta and wine, I’m totally down.” You just need to know what you’re going to get excited about, and the other thing’s feel okay about saying no about it. The alternative then is maybe, right? Maybe sucks. Maybe is an indeterminate state. It’s an interminable indeterminate state.
It never ends until you come down on the side of yes or no. The more things you keep in maybe, in the back of your mind you know you haven’t decided. That’s why inbox zero is such a big deal. You see these people, “Oh I have 583 unread messages in my inbox.” Why do you care? Why do you care, because you know that’s 583 things that you still eventually have to decide to act on, or not act on, but the thing is, you know you’re putting it off, and that’s what causes you stress. It’s not saying no to those things. Refusing to say no to those things is what’s causing you stress, and that’s why hell yes or no will save your life. Maybe is going to suck the life out of you. Do not get stuck with maybe.
Ryan: That’s great. I want to bring this in again, back to with the GMB, the movements and things that we’re doing, we’ve got lots of programs out there. We’ve got lots of them out there. What is your hell yes right now? What is that one thing where you look at that program and you’re like, “Oh man. I would love to be able to do that?” Okay cool, do it. Don’t worry about anything else. Even if you really should be doing some more flexibility or whatnot, okay great, maybe you should be doing that sometime but right now, if the one thing that you want to be working on is … I have no idea. Is cartwheel, well hey, get to work on that cartwheel. Do it. Don’t worry about anything else. That’s what it is.
The more maybes you have, like Andy said, the more confusing things are going to be, in a more state of limbo you’re going to be in, and the more stress it’s going to cause. That’s totally cool. Just focus on your cartwheel.
Andy: Yeah, do the other things that help the cartwheel. If you know that if you do a couple of stretches it will help your cartwheel be better, if you know that your right leg is weaker, so you’re going to work on some shrimp squats and strengthen up your legs so you can have both sides be better at cartwheel, then it’s working on your cartwheel, that’s great. Do the things that are going to be the hell yes for you, rather than, “Oh well maybe I should start stretching more,” Or, “Maybe I should take up parkor,” Or maybe I should be doing this thing or that thing,” Or, “I heard about this awesome protocol on this.” All of those maybes are just going to distract you and make you enjoy what you’re doing less, and less, and less.
Ryan: Absolutely. Like I said though, you still have to do the laundry, so that’s important. Those little things that are related to the cartwheel to get you there, like the stretching and whatnot that are for that, but make it about that cartwheel. Keep the goal to goal and focus on the little things around that that you need to do in order to make sure that you’re getting there. Again, if you want to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, focus on all the little things that you need to do to get there. Just remember that you’ve got to put in the work. This is something too that I think a lot of people, most of us, we get to the point where we’ve got this big goal, we’re like, “Hell yeah I want to do that,” And then when it comes time for the work, it’s like, “Oh man, I don’t really think that I want to do this work,” And they quit.
Well, you’re kind of missing out on that goal there. You’ve still got to do the work in order to get there, so don’t forget about that. Keep it clear. I think that’s really what it’s coming down to.
Andy: Yeah. It’s self knowledge. It’s self knowledge like we’ve written about before, like we’ve talked about, why is it physical autonomy that we’re after that we say we’re after instead of physical freedom? Well because freedom is another giant maybe. Freedom means you can do things, it’s potential, but it’s empty potential unless you decide how you want to use it. That’s what autonomy is. It’s choosing what you want, and then going after that thing and doing that thing. You have to prioritize, you have to know what you want. You have to know what’s important to you, and you have to know what makes you excited. You have to know what’s the hell yes, and then you have to say no to as many other distractions as you possibly can. Again, you’re going to have to do laundry, you’re going to have to do a lot of things that maybe don’t excite you, but there’s a lot of things that you can say no to. Then when you can say no to something that is not going to cause a problem for you, you absolutely should. Absolutely should.
Ryan: Now this is great, and it’s very liberating. Just a simple, well, which can be difficult, change of thought. This different framing. Very liberating. Very liberating.
Andy: It takes practice.
Ryan: It does. It does, but it is liberating. We’ve talked a lot about this, but I think it would be wonderful in the comments to let us know what your big hell yes is. After listening to this, hopefully this is giving you some ideas of looking really at your life, and some of the things right now maybe that you need to cut out of your life. This is tough, go slow with it. Don’t just take everything and put it in a garbage bag and get rid of it right away. Really think about if it’s something that’s going to help you or not, but we’d love to hear what your hell yes’s are. As always, thank you so much for listening, and you know where to find us. Until next time, later.
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