If It’s Not a Hell Yes, It’s a Hell No: Intentional Decision-Making as a Creative & Photographer

Imagine that you say yes to a job or a project that you’re not really all that excited about. Maybe you need the money, or maybe you think you “should” take it, but it just doesn’t light you up. Your decision-making gets clouded by the immediate issues at hand, not your long-term goals at the forefront. I bet you don’t feel great when it comes time to do the work. You’re unmotivated and unfulfilled. It probably didn’t take a lot for you to imagine this scenario because we have all been there. 

As creatives, and especially as entrepreneurs, we often think we need to say yes to everything. But if you say yes to something that doesn’t align with your values and what you want for your business, you’re not going to feel fulfilled in the work that you do.

In today’s episode, I’m talking about embracing the mentality of only saying yes to things that really excite you and light you up. I’m sharing tips for learning how to say “no,” setting boundaries, and embracing and prioritizing the work that makes you go, “hell yes!”

What’s in this episode:

  • [01:37] How to know when you’ve had a “hell yes” moment, and why it’s important to say “no” when the opportunity just doesn’t feel right
  • [03:44] Tips for learning how to say “no” and setting boundaries in your creative work
  • [06:53] How to get started putting “if it’s not a hell yes, it’s a hell no” into practice

Tune in to this episode for tips on saying “hell yes” to what lights you up (and “hell no” to what doesn’t)!

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Want to put an end to awkward moments in your photo sessions and create genuine connection? Download The Storyteller’s Toolkit today, featuring 200+ emotive photography prompts, so you’re never left wondering what to say.

Did this episode inspire you to make confident and intentional decisions as an artist? Check out this episode from Jasmin Jade that offers you even more insight on finding alignment in your business!

[00:00:02] Lisa DiGeso Welcome to the Art and Soul Show where we dive into heart opening chats on photography, business, life and that messy in between. I’m your host, Lisa DiGeso, a mom, a photographer and entrepreneur, and I’ll be sharing honest conversations and advice for photographers with insight on mindset, entrepreneurship and creativity. The goal of this podcast is for you to be able to gain insights and strategies that will get you real results. Because let’s face it, having a photography business can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. This is the place you can go when you need a boost of encouragement, a kick in the pants and inspiration to pick up your camera. This is the art and soul show. 

[00:00:45] Hello, my beautiful friend. Welcome back to the show. Well, today’s episode is all about making confident and intentional decisions as an artist. We’ll be exploring the idea that if it’s not an hell, yes, it is a hell no. And how it applies to us in our photography, businesses and our art. So, my friend. What does it mean to have a hell yes feeling about something? Now I’m sure you’ve experienced it. It is that gut punch of intuition that tells you you’re on the right track, that you’re doing something that aligns with your goals, your values, and your purpose. It’s that feeling of excitement and passion, of being fully present in the moment and fully engaged with our creative work. Now, for me it’s that feeling of losing track of time and getting really into a flow state, having like zero idea if it’s been 5 minutes or it’s been an hour that’s passed. But how do you know when you have a hell yes moment? For some, it might be that physical sensation. Maybe it’s a racing heart, maybe a sense of elation, a surge of energy. Now, for others, it may be more of mental clarity, like a sudden understanding of what you need to do next, or even a feeling of alignment with your goals and your values. Now, whatever form it takes, a hell yes feeling is really something that can’t be ignored. It’s a sign that you’re absolutely on the right path. 

[00:02:07] Now, examples of times when maybe you’ve experienced a hell yes moment in your own creative work might include that sudden burst of inspiration that leads you to a breakthrough in your work, a deep sense of connection with a subject, maybe a model or an idea that just fuels your creativity, maybe a feeling of joy and fulfillment that comes from creating something meaningful and impactful. Now, for me, it’s really that artistic high. When I had a vision for a shoot or an image, and I get that rush when I know that I’ve got the shot and I’m so excited to pull it into Photoshop. Now, as artists we’re often tempted to say yes to every single opportunity that comes our way, whether it’s a new project, a collaboration, or even a creative challenge. But the truth is saying no can be just as important as saying yes. It’s important to be selective about the projects and the opportunities that we take on as artists to make sure that they align with our values and our goals and our purposes. 

[00:03:03] Now, the dangers of saying yes to everything are well, many. We risk burning ourselves out, and that leads to feeling overwhelmed, overworked and really stressed out. And honestly, my friend, I’ve been there way too many times than I want to admit and this leads to eventual burnout. And really for me, it’s creative stagnation and that sucks. We may find ourselves working on projects that really don’t speak to us, or maybe even collaborating with people who don’t share our vision or our values. Maybe for you it’s taking on clients or projects you don’t actually want to do. And worst of all, we may lose sight of our own creative goals and purpose simply because we’re too busy saying yes to everything else. So how do we learn how to say no and set boundaries in our creative work? Because that really can be difficult, especially if you’re someone who likes to please others. And honestly, my friend, I am pointing at myself too. I have a hard time turning down opportunities as well, so here are a few of my favorite tips. Number one is start by identifying your core values and your goals really as a creative. What really matters to you? What do you want to achieve with your work? Once you have a clear sense of your priorities, it really becomes a lot easier to say no to things that really don’t align with them. I came to realize that often saying yes to someone really meant saying no to something that I really wanted and I was putting their wants over my own, which eventually just leads me to unfulfillment and sadness and eventually just depression. That sucks. So my friend practice saying no in a kind and respectful way. You don’t have to be rude or dismissive when turning down an opportunity. In fact, being polite and thoughtful can actually help you build stronger relationships with others. Try saying something like, Thank you so much for thinking of me, but I don’t think this project is right for me at this time. And if you have a photographer friend or friends that you can refer to, even better refer out to other photographers who it might be in their zone of genius. Give yourself permission to take breaks and prioritize your self-care, because sometimes saying no means taking a step back from your work and giving yourself time to rest and recharge. And this can be difficult, especially if you feel like you need to be constantly producing or creating in order to be successful. But the truth is, taking breaks and prioritizing self-care is essential for maintaining your creative energy and staying true to your purpose as an artist. Whether it’s taking a day off to go for a hike, creating your own personal project, maybe practicing meditation or yoga, or binge watching Netflix, or simply spending your time with loved ones. Just make sure to prioritize your own well-being as part of your creative practice. 

[00:05:46] So why is it so important to embrace the hell no in your creative work? Simply put, saying no to things that don’t align with your values or purpose frees up your space and your energy for the things that do. By setting boundaries and being intentional about the projects and opportunities you take on, you’re able to focus your creative energy on the things that do matter the most to you. Embracing that hell no can also help you build stronger relationships and maybe even collaborations in your creative work. When you’re clear about your priorities and your values, you really do attract people and projects that align with them. You’re able to communicate your vision more effectively and you’re more likely to find others who share your passion and your purpose. And perhaps most importantly, embracing the Hell no allows you to stay true to yourself as an artist. When you say no to projects or opportunities that don’t feel right, you’re honoring your own creative voice and staying true to your own vision. You’re not compromising your values or your purpose for the sake of external validation or success, and that’s really important. Instead, you’re creating work that is authentic, meaningful and impactful to you. 

[00:06:54] So how can you put the idea if it’s not a hell yes or it’s a hell no into practice in your own creative work? Well, here are some steps to get started. Grab a notebook. Number one, identify your core values and purpose as a creative. What really matters to you? What do you want to achieve with your work? Write these down and refer to them often. Number two, when faced with a new project or an opportunity, ask yourself, Does this feel like a hell yes or a hell no. Does it align with your values and your purpose and your goals? Does it excite you and inspire you? If the answer is no, it’s time to say no to that opportunity. Number three practicing no in a kind and respectful way. Remember that you are not rejecting the person or the project. You’re simply honoring your own values and your own purpose. Number four, give yourself permission to take breaks and prioritize your self-care. Remember that taking care of yourself is essential for maintaining your creative energy and staying true to your purpose as an artist. 

[00:07:57] Oh my friend, I really hope this helps you. Thanks so much for tuning in today to the Art and Soul show. Remember, as artists, it is so important to be intentional and confident in our creative decisions and by embracing the idea that it if it’s not a hell yes it’s a hell no. We can create work that is authentic, meaningful and impactful. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out to me on social media or through our website, TheMilkyWay.ca. And as always, keep creating from your heart. I am sending you so much of my light and love today and every single day. We’ll see you next time. Have you ever wondered how some people seem to effortlessly connect with their clients? My guess is that they’re using their unique superpower to their advantage. When you allow more of you to shine through, good things can happen. Now discover your special superpower with our handy dandy quiz at TheMilkyWay.ca/quiz. 

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