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PP 038: Creative Decision-Making: If It’s Not a Hell Yes, It’s a Hell No

Creative Decision-Making: If Not a Hell Yes Than It’s a Hell No

The Power of No & the Value of Your Time

This past April at Creative South, I got to listen to a panel discussion by Marc Hemeon and Joel Beukelman of Design Inc. which links companies and freelancers together.

Scratch that, according to Marc, design panels suck so they turned it into a quirky session about 70ish Life and Business Lessons for Designers.

What made it even more enjoyable was the Always Sunny in Philadelphia theme music in the background along with the energy and humor they injected into the presentation.

One of the biggest takeaways that punched me in the gut was when they said: “If it’s not a Hell Yes, then it’s a Hell No.”

This spoke volumes to how I used to take on work simply out of financial scarcity or due to feeling obligated.

I want this episode to drive home the fact that saying no creates more time for the work that excites you.

Listening to this episode better be a hell yes to you.

The Power of No

Why is it so hard to say no to people?

For me, it always landed into two buckets:

  1. There was an element of people pleasing or obligation
  2. Money was tight and projects felt scarce

Letting these guide my decisions of saying yes got me into some shitty commitments that held my time and excitement hostage.

Only in the last two years have I discovered the power of saying no. To be honest, saying no has allowed me to stumble across exciting new work that let me evolve as an artist.

For example, in September of 2016, I randomly got the chance to do my first mural. The only reason I was free to take on this new challenge was because I turned down a not so exciting job the week before.

Murals have easily blossomed into the work that excites me the most. Who knows when or if I would’ve stumbled across this new medium had I committed to the other project. There just wouldn’t have been time to take it on.

Perspective-Collective Illustrative Lettering

That brings me to one of my main points: your most valuable asset isn’t money, it’s your time.

Your most valuable asset isn’t money, it’s your time.

We all have the same 24 hours in a day and each hour is sacred.

When you say yes to mediocre things you don’t really want to do, you’re saying no to the things you really want to say yes to.

By filling up those open gaps in your life with low budget t-shirt designs for unaccountable clients who take forever to pay, your killing those spontaneous opportunities that could be an instant “Hell Yes.”

That’s where saying no comes in.

When something isn’t a Hell Yes, it should be a Hell No.

Operating Out of Scarcity

If you’re taking on work solely based on scarcity or guilt, I really think you should reframe your thinking

To be clear, right now in life I choose to take on freelance but I don’t necessarily have to and I realize this doesn’t apply to everyone.

I make enough at the day job to cover bills, groceries, gas and the occasional pizza to treat myself. However, I’m not bringing in enough to save for a kid, take Perspective-Collective full-time and attack student loans.

This is why I choose freelance but more intentionally than before.

I’ve grown to be selective now and target one “Hell Yes” project per month. Only one as I still have the day job, podcast and husband duties that take priority.

If no “Hell Yes” opportunities present themselves, my wife and I will be fine and I can focus on other things to push Perspective-Collective forward.

The old me would have settled for the first project that popped up due to scarcity mindset. I was willing to trade my sanity and satisfaction as I felt this opportunity would never come again and neither would the small chunk of change that accompanied it.

Always remind yourself that there are plenty of more projects coming your way if you happen to pass on one.

Operating Out of Guilt

On the other end of the spectrum is feeling guilted or obligated to do work for friends and family.

I have zero problems doing pro-bono work for family or friends when it’s:

  • for a good cause
  • and is convenient for my schedule

However, the people closest to you seem to always want a hookup or some type of freebie.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had some family or friends guilt me into doing work for them. Other times they get outraged when I tell them my pricing or simply reply with a professional / polite no.

Especially in a small town of Iowa where $50 for a logo is the going rate, people act like you’re crazy and proceed to talk shit about you behind your back.

As you continue to invest your life, effort, sweat, blood, tears and money into your craft, you’ll realize the value of what you produce and how sacred your time is.

Over time you’ll see that true friends and family will understand and respect you, even if they don’t like your response. The rest don’t matter and it’s cool to trim the fat and reduce your circle.

I get the feeling of wanting to please people but you’re better off saying no to free you up for bigger “Hell Yes” opportunities coming your way.

Decision-Making – Hell Yes Only

It feels like a ton of pressure has been lifted off my shoulders after adopting this motto.

Pulling the trigger with decision-making is so much easier in my opinion when you operate based on a simple Yes or No.

You’re always going to be faced with tough decisions, but if you can get by without taking on a mediocre project, then do it.

If people want to judge or talk shit because you quoted them “too high” or because you said no, who cares—that’s their problems.

Simplify your decision-making and free up your time for the projects that excite you.

Function from a mindset of “If it’s not a Hell Yes, then it’s a Hell No” and keep moving forward.

Key Takeaways

  • Saying no creates more time for the work that excites you.
  • Your most valuable asset isn’t money, it’s your time.
  • Saying yes to mediocre things means you’re saying no to the things you really want to do.
  • There are plenty of more projects coming your way if you happen to pass on one.
  • Pulling the trigger is so much easier when you operate based on a simple Yes or No.


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