Derek Sivers has a very short, very popular, and very timeless post entitled No “yes.” Either “HELL YEAH!” or “no.”
The gist of it is:
When deciding whether to do something, if you feel anything less than “Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!” — then say “no.”
Derek discussed this in more detail in this great Tim Ferriss Show podcast if you’re interested in learning more about how he came up with this approach. He does mention that when you’re just starting out in your career this is not a great idea, that you should probably do the opposite: say yes to as many opportunities as possible because you never know what will come of them.
I’ve subscribed to Derek’s blog for years and had read that post before, but it wasn’t until after the Tim Ferriss interview that I really took it to heart.
I think I’m at that point in my career, and Detailed Image is at that point in it’s life as a business, that I (usually) know a good opportunity when I see one. We have a lot of good things in the pipeline, so we’re very cognizant of the opportunity cost of changing directions. There are things that I am super excited about doing to grow Detailed Image and Pure Adapt. Projects that I cannot wait to tackle. That’s where I want to spend my time.
So that, I think, makes total sense. It’s a great tactic to apply to your career if you’re in a good spot and you feel like you’re becoming too busy or overwhelmed.
What I’ve really found myself doing after listening to that talk with Derek though, is applying this to my personal life. It’s a variation of navigating the sunk cost fallacy. If a book, movie, podcast, article, video game, event, trip, vacation, etc etc doesn’t excite me, I opt out. That sometimes means stopping mid way, or flipping through a magazine I typically love like Wired without reading anything.
Here’s what I’ve found after doing this for a while: there’s ALWAYS something else interesting and exciting out there, so there’s no sense in wasting time on something that isn’t compelling or delightful or fascinating or provocative.