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[For an audio/vlog version of this story, click here.]

‘If it isn’t a hell yeah, it’s a no.’

Hell yeah or no?! It's a no, so!

‘I’ll get back to you.’

So goes the advice from Derek Sivers, a man who I guess can be described as a self-help guru even if he doesn’t appear to use that title himself. The books he’s written, including Hell Yeah or No and How To Live, suggest the self-help sombrero fits well.

The certainty of uncertainty
On first viewing, I thought this counsel to be spot on. If one has doubts about engaging in something, it’s best to follow one’s instincts and decline.

On deeper reflection, however, I began to think about the times a decision I made was a definitive hell yeah.

Now, I may be guilty of recency bias here, particularly in this highly uncertain period I’m going through, but I couldn’t think of any hell-yeah decision in my life. Before any choice I eventually opted for there was an amount of thought and much hesitation.

Heck, I struggle to decide with peace of mind over what to eat in a restaurant, never mind the mental and, at times, physical chore of choosing one potentially life-altering path over another.

OK, my levels of indecisiveness may be higher than average but I wager few people have ever made a decision with total certainty and confidence. Almost all choices come with pros and cons.

‘We either make a decision or we do not. And not making one is a decision in itself.’

Perhaps in Hell Yeah or No sagacious Sivers expands on such dilemmas and helps the irresolute reader find the fog-less way. I certainly hope he does. (And no, I haven’t read his work. I merely happened upon his advice via a post from another man with many answers, Chris Williamson, on the social medium formerly known as Twitter — X, that is.)

While I often wish I was more decisive, I do feel, in certain contexts, that there’s a positive aspect to my regular uncertainty and hesitancy.

Not immediately saying yes to something that is ostensibly great allows me to think about the downsides. Thus, one can make a more balanced decision. That’s the theory, anyway.

What’s more, I do have a tendency to be a faultfinder of sorts. And we do need people to point out errors; it’s why, for one, we have editors and proofreaders.

This is not to say that I’m an overly negative person. It’s just that where some people are able to easily overlook *the bad*, I usually find this more difficult to do. (Of course, there are obvious exceptions, such as imbibing. I know it would most likely be better for my overall health not to drink any alcohol but I do like the occasional beer!)

It’s not revelatory to state that few if any things in life are solely positive and beneficial.

Take the sun, an essential giver of life and a great provider of vitamin D. Yet, soaking in too much of it can hasten one’s earthly demise in the form of skin cancer.

In any situation — particularly where time allows — it’s about weighing up the plusses and minuses to make what is generally described as an informed decision.

¡Viva la resolution!
So while a choice might not be an obvious hell yeah, the positives on one side may be sufficient enough to make it the selection that’s, um, less hellish. Or a hell OK if you will, to make it sound slightly chirpier.

The idea is to be in as much control over this process as possible. We may be indecisive but time doesn’t pause whilst we make up our minds. We either make a decision or we do not. And not making one is a decision in itself.

This is all in the context of those who can be deemed fortunate enough to have reasonable options from which to choose, the conundrums posed by the paradox of choice notwithstanding i.e. where too many choices represent a problem in themselves.

These what-to-do moments are dilemmas for many, yet others see them as a luxury they’d gladly have.

So rather than endorse hell yeah or no, my more nuanced advice is to try to make a decision as quickly as possible — where possible, that is — and once you’ve made it, don’t dwell too much on the path not taken.

With New Year resolution season upon us, think of it as aiming for a little less irresolution. Few things in this life are unalterable, after all.
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La vida en Colombia desde la perspectiva de un periodista y locutor irlandés, quien ha vivido en el país desde 2011. El blog explora temas sociales y culturales, interacción con los nativos, viajes, actualidades y mucho más. Escucha su podcast acá: https://anchor.fm/brendan-corrigan.

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