Latest Life Motto

If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.

I’m not sure where I first heard this phrase, but I do know that it was a little over a year ago, and it really resonated with me. I wrote it down on a sticky note and stuck it above my desk.

If It's Not a Hell Yes, It's a No | Fairly Southern

The thing is, life is really short. Too short to do things we don’t love.

I’m not trying to use this phrase in a #YOLO sort of way to justify bad behavior. Obviously, I still do things that I don’t necessarily love (i.e. eating green beans) in order to reap benefits that I do love (more energy). But, sticking around for things that I really don’t love when there’s no greater purpose or benefit in sight? That’s out.

This has been pretty hard for me, because I am definitely a “yes” person, and I’m the opposite of a quitter. I will slog through the worst, longest, most boring book ever because I simply can’t bring myself to quit once I’ve started. I say yes to doing all the things because I’m afraid of missing out or disappointing someone. Unfortunately, that approach often leaves me with zero emotional and physical resources to enjoy the things I do love.

Sometimes, I really have to sit down, look at my sticky note, and ask myself, “Do I feel HELL YES about this activity? This commitment? This job?”

My most recent hell yes test came in the past few weeks. About a year ago, I began the year-long process of joining the Junior League of Raleigh, something I was super-hell-yes-pumped about. I spent a lot of money, went to a lot of trainings, and did the required community service. I met some really nice people. Yet, as I have approached the date when I will officially become an active member, I have increasingly had a nagging feeling that joining just isn’t what I’m supposed to do right now. My experience as a member has been okay so far, but I’m not fired up about it like I was when I first started. I’m not chomping at the bit to get started on my community service placement next year. I’m not feeling hell yes about it.

The thought of quitting, however, was a little terrifying. I had already invested so much time, money, and energy! I knew the League was doing good work, so that meant it had to be a good thing for me to be involved in, right? And, possibly most of all, I didn’t want anyone in the League to be offended or think I didn’t like them.

The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that following the hell yes rule was the right thing to do in this case. The things I had already invested in the League were sunk costs. It is silly to continue to invest more of our resources into something we aren’t enjoying, even if that thing is an organization with a great mission or cause! I can’t get back any of the time and money I already put into the League, but moving forward, I can put my resources into something that it is a hell yes for me. There is no way to be involved in every single one of the many wonderful organizations out there, and it’s okay to say no to some in order to fully invest yourself in others that are more up your alley.

And, without exception, fellow members of the League have been supportive and kind when I have broken the news to them that I will not be returning next year. I’ve even had quite a few League members confess that they feel the same way as me. So often, people are far more gracious and understanding than we worry they’ll be.

I’ve got to say, living a hell yes life is so much more freeing, purposeful, and fun than overcommitting and stubbornly sticking with things that I’m not passionate about. This will always be a work in progress for me, and I am excited to see where this one short phrase continues to lead me in the future!

xoxo, Laura


  1. Yes! I read the book the Best Yes and it was a reminder that if I say yes to good things it won’t leave me time, money, energy, etc. to say yes to the BEST things. It’s okay to say no to good things so you have the margin for the great. Jess at Just Jess

  2. That’s a great way to approach things in life. I like to please people too. It’s that part in us that doesn’t want to disappoint anyone. Go with your passion always. Your gut will lead the way.

  3. 1. Green Beans are delicious.
    2. This is wonderful advice. You don’t want to be stuck lackluster your whole life just because you started something at one.

    I can relate to your Junior League story so much because I felt the same thing about rushing for a sorority post grad. At first, I was super pumped but when I thought about all of the time commitment and money I would be spending, I figured there were better ways to create and support different communities. So instead of pushing the issue and rushing because my friends a few family members wanted me too, I just simply changed my mind and didn’t.

    Maybe I’ll explore it later but like you said if right now it’s not a HELL YES, then no.

    Puff from Burly + Puff

  4. Yes yes yes to this! (Hell yes in fact!) It can be so hard to let go of something, especially if it’s something you’ve been invested in emotionally and financially, but if it’s just not the right fit or the right time then you’re totally right, it’s better to let it go (let it gooooo!) and if you decide later it’s something you want to pursue you can always come back to it 🙂

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