Posts in Lifestyle
Hurry Up and Wait

Yesterday I️ talked about the idea of self-inflicted stress. Stress that we carry around like an orangutan on our back, jonesing for a banana. (...what?) This could be internal stressors we bottle up, such as anger and frustration towards our work or relationships, and this could be external stressors like

comparison (why can’t I️ have what she has?), 

stuff (I️ have too much stuff / I️ don’t have even stuff / I️ don’t have the right stuff), 

Or pursuits (money, happiness, connections, skills).

But usually its all the above, internal stressors, external stressors, twisting around like earbuds in your pocket, eventually forming into one giant life crisis that floors you and feels impossible to untangle.

I️ mentioned that a big self-inflicted stress that I️ carry is being late / hating rushing. I️ HATE rushing. It’s one of my least favorite feeling. (Did I️ say that already?) I️ want to be on time, but I️ fit so much in my day that I️ don’t have a lot of margin in between doing things. (which is an entirely separate topic I️ need to explore...)

I also live on island time 🏝 This is definitely something I️ picked up from my mom. Her parents (my grandparents) were the complete opposite. They would leave a movie before I­t­ was over just to beat the traffic. I️ think she rebelled into the opposite direction, taking her time, not beholden to it, not afraid of showing up late. My dad, on the other hand, is completely opposite from her (Which makes for regularly hilarious entertainment 🍿). He wants to be on time for everything, but when he can’t — usually because of mom — he goes through the 10 stages of grief.

In the army, they have a phrase for this: Hurry up and wait. You’re either 15 minutes early or your late. I️ learned this from gabriella, who, centuries before we met, was in the army. To them, I️ imagine it’s all about being prepared. You want to be where you need to be, at the right time, the right place, with the right structure and gear to be able handle anything.

Which sounds fantastic. I️ want to be in the right time, right place and have everything I️ need to handle anything. That sounds amazing!

Putting that mindset into practice starts with the level of commitment you have on your goal. You can’t be 15 minutes early if you keep hitting snooze. If you are 10 minutes away, you need at least 25 minutes to get there early.

The same is true for entrepreneurship and creativity.

Deadlines are not restriction, they are margins of time that give you (ideally) flexibility and space to be your most creative and effective self. Of course unrealistic deadlines are restriction. They are the equivalent of rushing or cramming. Without structure, work doesn’t get done. Without margin, creativity isn’t at its best. There’s a tight balancing act between island time and chronic panic.

It’s impossible to be creative if you’re not actually in the habit of creating. And it’s hard to be creative with a banana crazy orangutan for a backpack.

How to find this balance all depends on how you want to live. What you do for work, Who you work for, spend time with and surround yourself with, What types of content you consume and what principles and values you hold all add up in a big, and unique way. There is no one way, because there is only one you. I️ can show you how I️ live my life and you can be inspired and challenge by that or not. But trying to be me doesn’t mean that will work for you. Making I­t­ (dreams, passions, experiences etc) work comes from making I­t­ work for you.

The thing to be watchful of is the question: do you feel good about how you act?. When you’re actions don’t align with who you are and your aspirations / intentions / values, then you’re adding stress to the ‘I hate myself’ bucket.

Do you feel good about how you act?

If you do then you're on the right track. If you don't it's time to change how you feel or change how you do things.

Being on time is great, and being late is fine — unless your stressing yourself all the time by carrying around two opposing beliefs: 

I️ should be early, 
I️ am never on time.

Should being the key word here. Our ‘should’s’ are the very core of what our self-inflected stresses are. We should be doing something, but we are not.
we want to be doing something, but we haven’t.  We wish we could, but we are not trying. 

I️ try my best to live my life by the things that I️ do, versus the things that I️ should do.

I️ hardly succeed at it, and easily fall pray to comparing myself to others, but as long as I️ reaching for the goal, I️’m better off than I was.

The more ‘should’s’ you can remove from your life, the greater life you will have.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
And wherever you are, keep smiling :)
Josh Waggoner

Feedback: What did you think about today's blog post? Did it spark any insights for you? Thoughts? Outrage? Email me: josh@renaissancelife.com. Join the Renaissance Email List below for more content on creativity, mastery and life.

Related Insights

"Your best ideas, those eureka moments that turn the world upside down, seldom come when you're juggling emails, rushing to meet the 5 P.M. deadline or straining to make your voice heard in a high-stress meeting. They come when you're walking the dog, soaking in the bath or swinging in a hammock." — Carl Honore

"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving." — Albert Einstein

"A broad margin of leisure is as beautiful in a man's life as in a book. Haste makes waste, no less in life than in housekeeping. Keep the time, observe the hours of the universe, not of the cars." — Henry David Thoreau

Book Pairings

Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

Play It Away: A Workaholic's Cure for Anxiety by Charlie Hoehn

It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be by Paul Arden

 

Next Level Pursuits

“Nostalgia is denial - denial of the painful present... the name for this denial is golden age thinking - the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one one 's living in - it's a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present.”

Midnight in Paris

Sometimes it can be frustrating to do so much, yet feel so far away from where you want to be.

Wherever you are, whatever you are aiming to do, there’s always going to be that next level. 

A place where you’re smarter, better, more connected...
more ______  than you already are. And the more you do, the more there is to do.

There’s always a level up you can climb and a level down you can atrophy. That goes for every aspect of your life too:

Money:
Working at Starbucks for minimum wage > working at a 9 to 5 for 10k a year > 50k > 100k > Becoming a millionaire, Billionaire >

Connections:
Having no friends > having a friend > groups of friends > online following > deeper friends > nationwide connection > global network > super-connector >

Business:
Bootstrapping a startup > Getting your first client/customer> Making a profit > Growing your team > Exiting or IPO > Becoming the next Amazon, Google or Apple >

Loving the process

The next level is a lifelong pursuit. Striving for greatness is a fine balance between being good with where you are while pursuing a better you (and life). In our connected world of follows, downloads, likes, and shares, you have to have the right intentions — personal growth, helping others, making deep connections etc.— behind your actions. Pursuit, with the right intentions, can be a fun process of striving for the next level of performance. However with wrong intentions — for personal gain (money, power, attention) — will be a nightmare and leave you in a cycle for wanting more more more and being miserably unhappy. Growth vs. Greed. Passion vs. Dissatisfaction. Happiness vs. Longing

So the question is where will you plant your flag?

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Insights I'm Thinking About:

“Excellence is being able to perform at a high level over and over again. You can hit a half-court shot once. That's just the luck of the draw. If you consistently do it... that's excellence.” — Jay-Z

You’re a Slacker McFly, Just Like Your Old Man

How many of us go through our entire life living passively

We spend most of our time hoping for a better life while taking part in a life that doesn’t align with our core self. We work, interact, read and exist as if we will live forever and that we have the option to slack off. We avoid who we want to be, in service of who don’t want to be.

All the while, we could die tomorrow in a freak hotdog accident.

I don’t want to live a life of a slacker and wake up one day when I️’m fat and 85 and wonder what happened.

Slacking isn't having negative 'nothing' space or spending time with what you love. Slacking off is distracting yourself from what you should or want to be doing. It’s the fidget spinner of our humanity. 

Do people plan to be apathetic?

No, I️ don’t think so. Living asleep happens gradually and it’s hard to notice unless you’re  already out of it­ looking back to the bizarro world you lived in.


How do we keep ourselves from being apathetic and complacent?

1. Have a reminder that life is short.

A phrase you read each morning or a memento you carry as a reminder.
Read I­t­ in the morning, feel I­t­ in your bones.

2. Create weekly, monthly check-ins to review what you’ve been doing.

 What’s working, what’s not?
 Are you giving time for the important things?
 Are you taking steps towards accomplishing your goals?

3. Make a plan for what’s important, and take daily actions that challenge your status quo.
    What are you afraid to do?
    

We must live in our discomfort zone to create radical change in our lives.


Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Related Ideas I’m thinking about:

Fear Setting from TF
The Tail End, from Wait But Why
Guilt, Happiness and Honesty, from Ryan Holiday (Feb. 2008)

Expectations

I tend to create high expectations for myself when I­t­ comes to goals and visions of who I want to be and how I want to live. (Who doesn’t?)

Actually, scratch that. I tend to have high expectations for myself about EVERYTHANG. I’m not seeking perfection, but I don’t want to live my life at 11.

High expectations can backfire.

One big problem I need some improvement in is having huge expectations of how much I can take on at once, and how much I can fit in a day. Sometimes packing your day in with 30 - 50 different things work, but you’re not left with a feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day. You feel tired and empty like a container of squeezed toothpaste. And on the days where things do NOT work, everything sets on fire. (AHHHHHH!)

When I expect more for myself, and I don’t reach that expectation I’m a ball of anxiety, frustration, and discouragement (probably a little hungry too). All that these negative emotions give me is the exact opposite of what I wanted and why I had high expectations in the first place.

Clearly high expectations don't work for me.

If a sound vision and specific goals and sticking with it make the dream happen, what do we do with our expectations during the rollercoaster ride on the way?

What if low expectations + high self-esteem is the winning formula for happiness and achievement?

Here’s a small example: I’m a big superhero fan. When the movie Man of Steel came out, I was pumped. After the string of great and good Marvel movies, and the Dark Knight movies by Nolan, I was expecting this D.C. movie would be killer. I wanted I­t­ to be good, but the more I watched the more disappointment I was. Cut to this year past year, I had low expectations for Wonder Woman and Justice League. Yet Wonder Woman was fantastic! And Justice League — all be I­t­, not the greatest thing in the world — was a fun ride too! Now, I’m not saying the quality of these movies was determined by my expectations (You still have to create excellent work), I do think that our perception of a result/outcome we have in our head can skew how we paint the world.

Expectations is another word for perception. It’s perceiving a future value in the outcome.

Expectation is another word for perception. It’s perceiving a future value in the outcome.

 

Putting in a different light, it’s like saying, ‘I can’t be happy unless X happens.’

Perhaps the old adage, ‘expect the worst, hope for the best’ is actually wise. Low expectations are not about living based on negative attitude toward life, it’s about fundamentally understanding that anything can happen to us, good or ill, and what really matters if we stay true to who we are.

In essence, high self-esteem could be believing that no matter what happens, I’m still complete.  I'm still me. My life is still worthy and full. (worthful?) It’s saying I have this vision of what I want to look like, and knowing that no matter what happens, If I stay true to me, trust those I look up to, consistent in my actions and pursue my life with fire and gusto everything will turn out okay in the end. (No matter the setback or failure I may face).

 

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Insights:

"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important." — Steve Jobs

"The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools." — Confucius

"I'm not in this world to live up to your expectations and you're not in this world to live up to mine."Bruce Lee

Be Intentional

How do you become a writer?
A designer?

Musician, Dancer, Speaker?
A better friend, connector, brother/sister?

How do I align my words with my actions?


Show up.

Even if you don’t want too (especially if you don’t want to) Because when you show up you’re telling the world — and more importantly yourself — that you are serious.

Sometimes I write a motivational blog post like this and feel like I’m just reiterating ideas with different words. Same message, different day. But really I’m reminding myself of my values and why it’s important to live intentionally.

Do you ever catch yourself scrolling through Instagram or the web while you're surrounded by friends or family? I could be right next to them, yet a million miles away. It's easy to notice this pattern once someone tells you, If fact, you'll probably start seeing it everywhere now. Parents 'playing' with their kids, while they're on their phone, Couples on their devices at dinner, and on and on. The technology itself isn't bad (in fact it's incredible we've come so far!) it just depends on the context. And being a design and developer, I know most apps are created to be as addicting as possible. That way you'll keep using it.

Are you using it, or is it using you?

One principle of a Renaissance Life is living intentionally.

Living intentionally means giving all of your attention on what you're focusing on. 

It means having plans for what is important to you and giving your time and attention to them every day. Intentionality is the opposite of phoning i­t­ in. It's being active in your decisions vs. being passive. It's knowing your macro while narrowing in on the micro (which will lead to the macro).

What does this look like?

Intentionally friendships are based on respect, deep connections, and care.

An intentional relationship is knowing your person and his or her needs. It’s being spontaneous and affectionate with all of your beings. 

Intentional work is knowing when you’re doing too much, knowing when to say yes and no, and caring for your customers, clients, and employees as if they were you.

The more intentionally we are, the more happier and capable we will be.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Wisdom:

“The quality of your commitments will determine the course of your life.”Ralph Marston
An Intentional Life: Zen Habits
Death By Opportunity

I’ve talked about how I️ went through some difficult failures and setbacks on a recent post here. My solution? When the world keeps slapping you with No’s, you start saying yes to opportunities.

Your No’s could be a job loss, a bad breakup, financial meltdown, health problems, crippling fears, burned bridges and everything in between.

It is Imperative to say YES to every* opportunity when you’re going through rough times and setbacks.

(* the exception being it's a good opportunity, not a stupid opportunity that can get you killed, maimed, or worse)


How do we say yes to opportunity?

  1. Go out and look for it. It’s like when you want a particular car and then you start seeing that car everywhere — so too, with opportunities. You’re not going to find opportunities sitting alone in your room watching Netflix. Break up the mundane by going out and doing things you don’t normally do.
  2. Create it. Start building your idea muscle. Pitch ideas to business and friends. Taking classes in something you’ve always wanted to learn. Find groups and organizations you can join. Talk to people who do something you admire or would like to do yourself.
  3. Ask for it. There’s nothing wrong in seeking help, by that socially or professionally. In fact, asking for help will not only keep you sane, but it will also shorten the gap between having no opportunities and finding an abundance of opportunities. When I️ was feeling burned out, I️ asked my friends for advice. When I️ was going through some financial problems last year I️ ask friends if there were any work opportunities they knew about.

How can we expect something to happen if we don’t go out looking for it, asking for it and creating it? 

The closer we can align our mind with our actions the better our life will be.


However, when you’re life becomes less volatile, there is such a thing as too much opportunity. If you say yes to everything, regardless of whether it aligns with your values our not, you’re setting yourself up to overwhelmed. (dun dun daaaaaah)

Too much of a good thing will kill you.

Saying yes to more and more opportunities at once will split your time and attention into a million different directions and will keep you from doing what you’re passionate about.


When should I say yes, when should I say no?

I️ can’t tell you whether to say yes or no to a dancing opportunity versus a traveling opportunity. Ultimately, that decision is up to you based off what matters most to you. Once you choose, never look back. (Alternatively, sometimes there are ways to make both opportunities work if you can find a clever solution. It’s like Peter Diamandis says, “When given a choice – take both!”)

I️ can teach you one thing I️ learned recently from Kyle Maynard in Tim Ferriss’ book, Tribe of Mentors. Kyle is the best selling author, award-winning mixed martial artist, entrepreneur and ‘known for becoming the first quadruple amputate to reach the summits of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Aconcagua without the aid of prosthetics.’

Here’s Kyle’s solution: 

“My biggest shift came after listening to a successful CEO talk about his philosophy of hiring people. When is the company grew and he ran out of time to interview people himself, he had his employees rate new candidates on a 1– 10 scale. The only stipulation was they couldn’t choose 7. It immediately dawned on me how many invitations I was receiving that I would rate as a 7 – speeches, weddings, coffee, even dates. If I thought something was a 7, there was a good chance I felt obligated to do it. But if I had to decide between a 6 or an 8 it’s a lot easier to quickly determine whether or not I should even consider it.”

When you’re facing an opportunity does it lean towards a 6, or an 8? Again, this is a fantastic way to make sure what you say yes to align with what actually matters to you. What does gut say?


Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Learning Playbook: Resources on How to Master Learning — Part 1

Yesterday I made a list of the micro-skills of mastery, skills that if mastered will create massive improvements in all areas of our lives.

Tonight I want to talk about learning. My aim here is to start building a master learning playbook to teach myself (and anyone like me) how to master the art of learning. Why learn how to learn? Because learning is a universal skill that affects all aspects of our lives. By becoming a more effective learner, you will be able to develop any skill, trait or habit you desire.

Questions I have:

Q: How can we teach ourselves to learn? (Learning how to learn — or meta-learning if you want to get fancy pants-y)

Q: What are the books, blogs, courses, tools and other resources we can add to our learning playbook?

Q: Who are Masters of Learning that we can learn from? How makes learning look easy?
    What resources do they recommend?
    What questions do they ask?
    What habits do they have?
    Who do they learn from?


Here’s what I’ve found so far:

Books baby, booooooks:

The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance by Josh Waitzkin 

Learning How to Learn by Joseph D. Novak and D. Bob Gowin

Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter C. Brown and Henry L. Roediger II

The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything . . . Fast! by Josh Kaufman

The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life by Timothy Ferriss (A learning book disguised as a cookbook)

How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens by Benedict Carey

How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer

A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra) by Barbara Oakley

The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less by Richard Koch

Teaching Smart People How to Learn (Harvard Business Review Classics by Chris Argyris

The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. by Daniel Coyle

Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys To Transforming the Way We Work and Live by Tony Schwartz

The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization by Peter M. Senge

Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella H. Meadows and Diana Wright

 Learning, Creating, and Using Knowledge: Concept Maps as Facilitative Tools in Schools and Corporations by Joseph D. Novak

How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens by Benedict Carey

So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love by Cal Newport

Mind Mapping: Improve Memory, Concentration, Communication, Organization, Creativity, and Time Management by Kam Knight

15 Invaluable Laws of Growth by John C. Maxwell

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

 

I've started reading Be Excellent at Anything, and have read The Art of Learning and I'll be diving into these in the coming months so expect full reviews here on the Renaissance Life.

Did I miss any books? Let me know.

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Origami Life

I want to get to the end of my life and be like a piece of origami paper.

Worn, folded, and forged from a thousand lives lived.

A lifetime of learning, pursuit, and adventure. A life of meaning and worth. A life filled with friendships, creativity and boldness.

Otherwise what was I living for?

Sometimes we have to take a good hard look and ask ourselves, 'Am I ALIVE or am I just existing?'

Complacency is insidious. It creeps into our lives through comfort and success.

I'm not telling you to throw out your blankets and sleep on a pile of hard candy. I'm saying make sure what you give your time to — what you do on a day-to-day basis — aligns with the vision of the life you want to have. And if you don't have a vision for your life there's no better time like the present. It's hard to see the macro when you're living in the micro, but our lives are the sum each day we have on this earth. What does your day look like? If you're going through setbacks — keep going. If you fear something — do it. If you're experiencing pain or failure — Reset your mind, body, and focus. Start living for the extraordinary.

 

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Action Question:

  • Am I ALIVE or am I just here?
  • If I was an origami shape, what would I be?

Related Wisdom:

“If I’m not saying ‘Hell Yeah!’ to something, then I say no.” — Derek Sivers
"Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me."Carol Burnett
"Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking."Marcus Aurelius
"To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone."  — Reba McEntire
How to Turn Your Worst Setbacks Into Your Greatest Triumphs

For the Last 8 Months, I’ve been sleeping on my parent's couch. (Hard to say, but it’s true)

But in all honesty, life couldn’t be better.

Okay, you might be wondering how have I adopted this mindset?

My life imploded into oblivion after my health continuously became worse.

Here’s what happened:

I sprained my neck about 3 years ago. The first year was hell and it put a lot of things in my life on hold.

I burnt myself out at a job where I was barely making enough to pay rent let alone anything else.

I was unintentionally exposed to bad mold from my apartment which led to weird health issues that were hard to pin down.

Every day I felt more tired than the last. When you go to bed tired and wake up tired you know something is wrong. (But the question is what?) Continuous Signs of Fatigue, Do I have CTF? The worst part is not knowing what’s wrong.

I attempted to make my side-business more than a side-business at the worst possible time. It worked at first, but after having some bad-egg clients, things got worse. (And cue financial problems.) My girlfriend was also having job issues, so I was helping her as much as I could.

I kept talking (complaining *cough cough*) circles around fatigue, ache, money, and other problems that made me and everyone else blue in the face. I started identifying who I was with the problems I had.

I felt isolated and alone. Unable to keep up with my friends, be that energetically or financially.

It’s difficult to be yourself, your whole self, when you’re tired, broken, broke, despairing and on the verge of tears.

All of these setbacks were a one, two, PUNCH on my psyche and on my desire to be the best version of myself I can be.

But here’s the punch line:

I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned the past few years, it’s
Your greatest triumphs come from your worse setbacks.

What separates those who use setbacks to their advantage and use them to surpass where they were, versus those who give up and never recover? (And how do we become the former rather than the latter?)

You are not your problems.

Having an injury or bad job, or health issue, or anxiety, or ______ (insert pain-point here) doesn't me you are that experience. Everyone has issues, even the larger than life characters we look up to, but that doesn't mean that's your identity. Pain is a shared human experience. It's not meant to be bottled up instead. It's meant to be shared and relieved by the hands of others. Pain is a touching point to guide, inspire, and related to others through there own pain.

Every moment in my life where I’ve been broken down and beaten to a pulp by failure and setbacks, Has been the path to my greatest success and growth. As much as I️ would rather not feel the anxiety, frustration, pain, illness and all the negative outcomes of facing setbacks, I️ now see the value and blessing of going through hard times. Once you see the blessings in disguise, you having something to focus on besides the pain itself. Knowing there is a kernel of truth in pain and that truth will help you achieve your wildest dreams is how we can take advantage our worst experiences and allow us to build an extraordinary life.

There are hard-earned lessons in pain. (It’s hard to see this during, and might be impossible to really know what I’m talking about unless you’ve gone through your own share of setbacks) There are also opportunities and abundance in pain too. 

Where am I today?

I’ve got a new apartment, one that I’ve always dreamed of. I’ve got a great job working on Pass It Down and working with Paul Cummings. My business started to thrive when I️ made it my side business again. My relationship with Gabriella and my family has improved. And best of all, I’m thinking less about me and more about you and how I️ can make an impact on your life and on the lives of others everywhere.

How did I get here? What do you do when you are facing down the barrel of a setback?

I️ asked for help. I️ reached out to friends to see if they knew of any work available I️ could take on.
I️ said yes to opportunities that came my way, big or small. I took chances. I created challenges for myself.
I pitched ideas to others to collaborate. Not all of them said yes, but one, two, three yeses are better than none. One yes is all you need to get going.
I️ invested money in going to the doctor and have started to unlock the solutions to my health and energy problems.

I’m still working on my health, my friendships, finances, spirit, creative pursuits (like this blog) and other areas of my life. But as long as I️ focus on improving in each area every day, and remember the lessons learned from my experiences, I️ know any setback I️ face I️ will be able to turn it into my greatest triumphs. And you can too with yours.

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Action Steps:

  • Share your pain
  • Look for opportunity and truth when you are facing down the barrel of a setback.

Related Wisdom:

"Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life's search for love and wisdom." Rumi

"The struggle of my life created empathy - I could relate to pain, being abandoned, having people not love me."Oprah

"A lot of what is most beautiful about the world arises from struggle."Malcolm Gladwell

"Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward."Henry Ford

Defining Moments

Yesterday I talked about my 5 definitions of success. You could also call them my life principles.

To piggyback on that idea, I think my biggest pain-points in life have been when I don’t follow my own principles.

Anytime I️ don’t make time for creativity and learning I️ start feeling anxious and crazy. Anytime I️ say yes to mediocre and unimportant things or when I️ say yes too much at once my life implodes. When I️ give into fear instead of being BOLD, when I️ fall into a mental rut and go numb because of a setback or failure, or when I️ don’t put in the time for friends and family — I️ suffer. I live in a suffering mindset instead of a successful mindset. My mind paints the world like nothing ever works out and I should just go lay down and take a nap.

We all define success in our own ways. The key is to make sure your life aligns with your definition.

The most defining moments of your life will what you do with failure and what bold actions you decide to take.

I would have never learned just how vital our body is unless I hadn't broken it by spraining my neck a few years ago.

I would never be doing the work I'm doing if I hadn't sought out opportunity and challenged myself with action.

Don't go out and fail on purpose, or risk your life frivolously.

Live by what your heart is telling you. When setbacks happen — and they will — be the better person you've always wanted to be.

Action Question:

  • What are my most defining moments in life so far?
  • What do I normally do when I fail? How can I fail better? How can I master the art of failing forward?
  • What do I fear? What is making me uncomfortable? What bold actions do I need to take?

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Wisdom: 

"Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value." — Albert Einstein
"Some people dream of success, while other people get up every morning and make it happen." — Wayne Huizenga 
"You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don't try to forget the mistakes, but you don't dwell on it. You don't let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space." Johnny Cash
"Failure comes only when we forget our ideals and objectives and principles." — Jawaharlal Nehru
Moving Day

Today was a great day.
It’s 10 pm and I’m laying on an air mattress in my new apartment. We (family) spent the majority of the day moving me in, laughing and really enjoy the moment of the day. (We also hilarious moved a big A bookshelf up multiple flights of stairs because it would fit in the elevator whew!)

This is the first time I’ve had a place without having roommates. My purchases have always been around tech and learning (booooks) and the rest I’ve leaned on others. You don’t realize what you don’t have until after you start looking for your own place. (Oh right, I️ don’t have silverware... Oh right, I️ need a dining table). I don't have everything, but that's okay — I’m loving it. (All a part of the process.)

Last year, I️ had quite a few setbacks financially. It felt like I️ was getting roundhouse kicked in the teeth every week. I’m not 100% but I’m in a much better place than I️ was. 

As I’m laying here reflecting in silence on the day, I️ know that this was a good decision. We face many setbacks, but there’s always a way up from them. Be strong, lean on others, don’t be afraid to ask.

I️ going to make a vow to myself to focus more on improving my health (gut, physical, emotional, mental), friendships, wealth, love, creativity, and spirituality a little every day.

Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Related Wisdom:

Earl Nightingale"Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don't wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it's at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored."
Hippocrates: "Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity."
Henry David Thoreau: "Wealth is the ability to fully experience life."
Jim Rohn: "Learning is the beginning of wealth. Learning is the beginning of health. Learning is the beginning of spirituality. Searching and learning is where the miracle process all begins."
Me Me Me! Over Here!

In a world of Me Me Me, what if I did the opposite?

What if I️ lifted other people up instead of me?


Of course, I want Renaissance Life to be huge. I want to create a massive tribe of friends pursuing mastery and living life to the fullest. But is pushing out one more social media post really going to do it for me? 

Binge reading Ryan Holiday’s blog has shown me how timeless our work can be. I’m reading his thoughts from over a decade ago, and yet there they are — fresh as the day they were conceived. What stands out most to me is not the insights (although there are a bunch of them) but the connections he made along the way. And the same goes for us.

My writing is important, but it’s the connections I make that matter.

That’s why I’ve started interviewing Creatives Like Me on the blog.
I want to create deep and lasting bonds with likeminded humans.
I want to surround myself with charismatic and energetic people who are striving to make the world a better place.

Action Steps: Focus on the we culture, not the me culture. Focus on lifting others first.

Who knows what kind of friends we’ll have if we do?

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Wisdom:

"What tribes are, is a very simple concept that goes back 50 million years. It's about leading and connecting people and ideas. And it's something that people have wanted forever." — Seth Godin
"Great things in business are never done by one person. They're done by a team of people." — Steve Jobs
CHALLENGE: What Would You Change If You Were Going to Die Next Week?

Time is a fickle friend.

Used properly we can increase our abundance — skills, ideas, friendships, wealth, experiences — through the power of compound interest.
Used poorly we can haphazardly give our time to things we don’t care about, and even worse we give our time without actually intentionally deciding to do so.

And Death feels like a far off event that happens when you’re old and grey.
But really it could happen any moment.

We can plan our world for tomorrow but die today.
That’s why brushes with death can powerful motivators. You hear stories about people completely rewriting their story after almost dying in a car accident, or from a health scare.
Moments like these can be a lightning rod to what really matters to you.

Death Becomes Me
So what would you change if you were going to die next week? What would you change?
Would you change anything?

Would your relationships be different?
Would you do the same work?
Would you have the same hobbies?

I want to live my life to the fullest every moment, because if I don’t that means I’ve been living my life with a glass half full.

You are going to die, so  why not be ALIVE while you can?
I’m not talking about reckless abandon (and three sheets into the wind)
I’m talking about intentionality. What would your life look like if you did everything to the upmost?

Extraordinary.

My actions will be fearless. Why wait? What would I wait for? How could I possibly be scared of trivial things like failing or standing out when it’s up against.
My wealth will be in the number of people I️ impact, not the number of zero’s in my bank account.
My friendships will be based on quality and care.
More confident, present,  and.. happy.

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Are You Phoning It In?

Plot Twist: There is an actual limit to how much we can do at one time. 

I️’ve always been late to this party. (Mostly because I️’m in permanent denial) ‘Wait, you mean I️ can’t do everything all at once?!’

Right now, Somewhere in time and space, an economics class is talking about opportunity costs. (Pour one out for all the economic homies) The term describes the idea that choosing one opportunity prevents you from choosing others. And it’s true, there’s only so much time, energy and work you can give in a day. If you want to master basketball, you’re not going to have the necessary time you need to master guitar too. (Well.. you can try but you’ll be a jack of all trades master of nada)

I’ve been experimenting with where my line in the sand is when it comes to how much and how many pursuits I️ can have at once. (Because I’m crazy) What I’ve learned is I️ can be quite resilient with the amount and variety of things I️ can hold in my head.. however (like everyone and their mamma) I am limited by the 24-hour cycle. But more importantly, doing too much at once gives me the opposite of want.
More more more doesn’t give you peace of mind, happiness, creative space — it sandblasts away all of those and leaves you as a shell of a human. (aka about as interesting as a broomstick in a vacuum cleaner world) And it's just not a great way to live. On the worst days you feel rushed, overwhelmed and like you're making zero progress in a million things.

Whenever I️ fall into the fallacy of  ‘I can do everything all at once’ my life becomes a nightmare and I️ need to re-evaluate. (before I implode) Life isn’t about how much you do, it’s about how much you give to what matters to you.

 

How do we know what matters most to us?

Look at everything in your life and ask yourself, ‘Am I️ phoning this in?’
‘Is this important to me or just distracting me from what’s important?’

If it’s not important — if it’s a distraction from what you really want — why are you doing it? Because it’s easier to do more than do less.

Choosing less is HARD (Believe me I️ know more than anyone)
It’s something I️ need to work on. It’s just hard for me to say no to opportunities when my previous year was so difficult and rot with no’s. 

But more won’t bring me a meaning life filled with Renaissance, friendships and purpose.

Action Step: Choose What’s Important to You; Learn to say no to everything else.

Action Question: Am I phoning this in? 

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner


Related Wisdom:

“Most people don’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing. They imitate others, go with the flow, and follow paths without making their own.”

“Don’t be on your deathbed someday, having squandered your one chance at life, full of regret because you pursed little distractions instead of big dreams.”

“Just pay close attention to what excites you and what drains you. Pay close attention to when you’re begin the real you and when you’re trying to impress an invisible jury.”

“If you’re not saying “HELL YEAH!” About something, say “no”.

Derek Sivers, Anything You Want

RenaissanceLife.com

After going under the name Renaissance Man Life for the last year and a half,
I am officially the proud owner of RenaissanceLife.com

I’ve been agonizing over not having it for a long time now. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent on hover.com, name.com — and every other domain registrar on the planet — looking for a domain close to it. (TheRenaissance.co? RenaissanceLife.blog? RenaissanceJosh.com? Close but no cigar-scented candle) 

I hoped I would get RenaissanceLife.com, but the seller wanted $10,000 for it. (That’s a lot of donuts.) After a year of negotiating it down from who owned it (sitting on it like a troll under a bridge), I couldn’t be happier.

For me, Renaissance Life is an investment in myself. A commit to keep pursuing and pushing my abilities. It’s a promise and affirmation saying I can and will build the RL into a media company focused on helping us reach mastery and create an extraordinary life.

Names are important.

Any idea I have that I think has potential, I immediately come up with a name for it. Names give your ideas a grasp of reality. With a name, you are own step closer. You have edges you can grab hold of, climb up and plant your flag on.

Consider my flag planted.

What are you planting your flag on?

Why Renaissance Life? What does it mean?

Renaissance means rebirth.

From the combination of the French verb /renaître — ‘to revive’ and the noun
/naissance/ — meaning birth comes a word that lives near and dear to me.

The historic Renaissance was a time of innovation and human potential from the revitalization of Roman and Greek classics. To put simply: It was an age of discovery, creativity and pursuit of excellence.

Today we face a new renaissance — The Renaissance of Ourselves.

Your renaissance life begins the moment you decide you want to recreate yourself and grow into a better person. Modern life changes at break-neck speeds, so too, must we. We must become more resilient, adaptable and creative to be who we want to be, to do what we want to do. Dreams of a lifetime don’t happen with wishes. We must create them happen.

Maybe for you that means doing something you fear. Starting a restaurant, building an app, running a marathon. Or maybe it means a rebirth from a past failure. A bad break up, lost friends, a poor career.

By choosing to live a Renaissance Life, you’re choosing to believe that you can and will turn your trails into triumphs, and learn how to become a master at what you do, despite setbacks, pain, and fear.

My greatest moments of pain and failure have become the most defining moments of my life. Isn’t that crazy (stupid) to consider? I would never wish bad on anyone, but through my own troublesome experiences I come to appreciate more, desire to be more and to life my life to the upmost.

We all go through dark moments in our life:

Injury, health issues, financial meltdowns, friendships, frustrations, body issues, brokenness, bad decisions (to name some of mine).

Ultimately, what matters is what we do about them in the aftermath.

Do I give up? Or do I find a better way?

Your Renaissance has unlimited potential. Choosing the pursuit of better is how you begin.

Welcome to the Renaissance.

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Follow @Renaissance.Life on Instagram

Related Wisdom:

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” — George Eliot
“Life isn’t about finding yourself, Life is about creating yourself.” — George Bernard Shaw
Motivation of Champions

Where does your motivation come from? 

I know that because you are reading this, you must desire change in your life. You want to be different and create a meaningful life for yourself and your loved ones, but you just quite haven’t figured out how yet. How do I motivate myself to do the things I want to do, but just can’t seem to get myself to do them.

When I think about the people who do, versus those who don’t, they have intrinsically linked their desires and values to their actions.

They don’t just talk about things but do them.

In my mind a champion is not someone who wins, a champion is who does. They have already decided they are gonna win in their mind, and then they go out and do the best they can do.

Despite whatever comes their way, setbacks, failure, fear — they are going to do something anyway.

Where does this motivation come from?

It’s early, not even 6 AM yet, you get out of bed, put on your shoes and head to the gym.

That’s Motivation.

It’s soo early, the suns still asleep and so should you, you swat your alarm clock and go back to bed. Rinse, repeat. It’s 7:49 so you know you can’t prolong it any longer. You roll out of bed and head to work.

1. Motivation is a Skill.

The first insight on the motivation of champions is understanding that — like most things in —motivation is a skill. We aren’t born with the champions value to motivate ourselves to pursue, that must be learned and forged from experience.

2. Know what you want.

Motivation comes from a goal driven mind. If you don’t see the end in mind, how can you possible get to your destination?

3. Set yourself up for a win.

Small nuances in habits can dramatically increase your chances of success. 

For example, If you want to start getting up at 6 am to write, don’t just go to bed whenever you want — Set a get-ready-for-bed alarm for 30 + 60 mins before —

Put your alarm clock across the room or better yet in your bathroom. You have to get up and walk to it, rather than just leaning over and slapping it. By setting your phone alarm next to the sink, you’re in arms reach of splashing a little cold water in your face to wake up your senses.

That's the key — Champions do the hard things, by making the small things easy. Always always always keep your values in arms reach.

In my office, My guitar is out in the open and ready to for me to play. I can just go over and grab it and start working on a song.

I keep some version of a notebook or notecards with me at all times, so If I have a writing idea I can jot it down and revisit it later.

By keeping your habits and tools within arms reach, your success will also be in arms reach, ready to be grabbed.


4. Adopt the Do It Anyway Mindset.

 What most successful champions won't tell you is that the work itself sucks. It’s hard to start a business or blog every day or write a book or work on your health and fitness.
The best things in life are difficult and downright painful. But the reward for doing them far out places the anguish of not doing them. Don’t become the person who does nothing for their dreams. (You know the ones) The way they talk, their dreams are the most important thing to them, but they haven’t done a single thing to make them happen. When things feel hard — Do it anyway. When you’re tired, lonely, unmotivated, lazy, embarrassed, scared, and all manner of difficult feelings — Do It Anyway.

There’s no reward like the one when you don’t feel like working towards your dreams but you do it anyway. You feel good.
Once you have that, nothing can stop you.


Inspiration +

Ryan Holiday, 2007 The Business of Running: “I lace up my shoes each night because it’s precisely the opposite of what my body tells me it wants–that’s my motivation.”

The Lie of 'You Are Not Good Enough'

One of the biggest battles you will face pursuing a Renaissance Life is mediocrity.

Every so often I will have a strong feeling of being mediocre. It comes in waves, a feeling of less than. 'Am I good enough to do this?'  'What if I don’t have it in me to be like the influencers I follow?' 'How can I possibly compete with the Tim Ferriss’s and Seth Godin's of the world?'


But then I catch myself because I’m ‘comparing my inner life to their outer life’.

They have been in similar shoes I'm in. They have faced and overcome their own challenges to get where they are. 
They put in the work. They have forged determination and made it happen, with skill, belief and a little luck.

Stop comparing yourself to others, instead start comparing yourself to who you want to be. Strive to be the best you, and live up to it. The more we care, the better off we are. Never give in to mediocrity, or to the lie that you are not good enough to make your goals happen.

You are not made to live a mediocre life. You were made for an extraordinary life.

So go out and make your life extraordinary.

Our mentors battled mediocrity and ultimately become who they set out to be. And so can you and I.

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Inspiration +

Ryan Holiday: What its Like to Chase While Others Are Resting

 

Related Wisdom +

"You were designed for accomplishment, engineered for success, and endowed with the seeds of greatness." — Zig Ziglar
"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it." — Charles R. Swindoll
"Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you'll start having positive results." — Willie Nelson
Gunpoint

I think I was just held up at gunpoint.

(Wait. What did you just say?)

I was doing my morning walk, had my headphones on with The James Altucher Show playing, and a beat up car creeps up to me.

I didn’t hear them at first, and when I did I was thinking to myself, ‘ok, pass me car’. I was really engrossed in Jim Kwik’s story about speed reading.

But the car kept hovering near me.

 Then I heard “give me your headphones and phone.”

“What?” I said. “Just take those headphones and phone and put them in the car.”

....

I looked at the driver, then and his front passenger. Looked at his left hand, he was holding something at his side in an unnatural way. I glanced into the back, a lady was apologizing and sympathizing. The car smelled of smoke and grime.

I looked back to the driver and said,

“No.”

The lady kept apologizing, I kept looking at them, and then they just drove off.

Your life is worth more than a pair of headphones and an iPhone, but after the year I’ve had — setback after setback, pain, health problems, frustrations, financial problems, and more — I guess nothing phases me anymore.

My instincts are crazy.

More on my setbacks and how to turn your worst circumstances into your greatest opportunities soon.

 

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner