A Little Extra

What are you willing to give up in order to gain what you dream?

Some people give up their sleep so they can go to night school, or work on their business in the evenings.

Some push aside their fears and possibly embarrass themselves so that they can keep stepping up on stage, or so they can pursue their dreams in illustration.

In order to have an extraordinary life, we need to put in extra work.

Extra work meanings working smart and efficiently, not working ourselves into the ground. No energy equals no extra. That won’t do.

Giving extra effort doesn’t mean giving up our essential needs.

We have to be smart about what thoughts we allow rent in our minds.

Thoughts that others tell us.

Thoughts we tell ourselves.

For Example, what does looping a negative thought do to us? Thoughts like “I’m bad at writing / I’m bad at money” or looping a past mistake “I wish someone had helped me make a better decision about school…”.

Quantitatively, I’m not sure. But, intuitively I know I feel more tired and drained on days when I’m stuck in my head, looping an unhelpful thought, or overwhelming myself with a mental checklist.

We have to be smart about what we eat and handle our bodies.

Leaning over a laptop all day with poor posture without a break is only contributing to our back-aching-life, not our extraordinary one.

Ask yourself: How is this helping me?

How is this ice cream helping me? Sure it super tasty, but is it helping me accomplish my goals? Is it giving me energy? Or is it stressing my body out of nutrition and adding a new pant size to my wardrobe?

To be extra, we have to act, think, value, and live in the ways that get us where we want to be.

Giving extra effort means getting rid of the nonessentials, so we focus on the essentials.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1087

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Day and Night

“I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.”

Vincent Van Gogh

The best ideas often come from raw and difficult experiences. It’s like we take everything we are feeling, ball it up and use what skill we have—be it our voice, guitar, words on a page, dance—and creatively express it out of us.

Creativity can be an excellent release valve when the pressure of life starts to build. Making something is a creative way to release what’s bottled inside in a positive way.

Difficult moments in our lives suck—but they also add a little bit more color to our story.

Difficulty is part of being human. At least it’s a big part of being creative and putting yourself out there. When I feel the most comfortable and complacent, my ideas suddenly dry up. Imagine that. It’s like we need challenge in order to be imaginative and create something worthwhile.

Now, challenge is not the same as sabotage or danger. It’s one thing to push yourself to the limit of discomfort, it’s another to sabotage yourself and make life difficult for yourself.

Challenging yourself and stretching your comfort zone is getting you somewhere. Sabotaging your success (and failures) with bad habits (or negativity) is only holding you back.

Remember, there will always happy “days” and hard “nights” in our lives. If you’re going through a rough night, keep your head up because night is always followed by day.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1086 ☕️

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RL: Sensory Overload

“I have a theory about the human mind. A brain is a lot like a computer. It will only take so many facts, and then it will go on overload and blow up.”

Erma Bombeck

“Our brains weren’t designed to handle a world’s worth of news at once.” I’ve heard a variation of this idea from multiple people on the internet. (I want to say one was Naval.)

My guess is this is related to the idea of Dunbar’s number, where we have a limited number of people we can maintain a stable social relationship with at once (around 150+), or why our minds glaze over like a jelly donut when statistical estimates reach numbers we can’t comprehend.

In today’s world, we’re all dealing with a case of TMI—too much information. The crazy thing is we mostly do it to ourselves.

Sure, there’s an endless amount of products, services, and ideas marketed to us. And of course, there’s all the social media platforms we use multiple times a day. Email, can’t forget email. YouTube. News. There’s also the information we hear from our personal environment (family, friends, co-workers, classmates, neighbors, etc.) And that doesn’t even start to include the things we are learning and enjoying—blogs (like this one), podcasts, documentaries, courses, mentors, etc.)

Even just writing that last paragraph is giving me anxiety. No wonder we’re all exhausted and on edge!

There are a few strategies that I’ve found to help me keep the sensory overload monsters at bay.

  1. Ask yourself: Is this enabling me or disabling me?

Is this helping me? Does X Y Z information improve my life? Does this make me more capable of helping others and taking positive steps towards my dreams?

Drop anything that doesn’t.

  1. Clean up your digital life/lives.

Imagine for a moment that you dropped everything. You hit unsubscribe on every follower and newsletter. You cleaned up every digital account you have. You organized every digital file you have. A clean slate. A fresh sheet of paper. By trying to know and focus on everything, you overwhelm yourself into a state of casual knowledge and shallow focus.

  1. Curate for quality and wisdom, over quantity, and time-killers.

Your goal should be to surround yourself with a moderate amount of information that we can use to gain knowledge and skills. Ideas that enable or ideas you can act on. Of course, try not to isolate yourself too much—anyone who’s got their hands (or feet) on bubble wrap knows what happens to bubbles before long—they pop. But don’t drink from the firehose just to be “informed.”

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1085 ☕️

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Make Your Own Mistakes

“Often any decision, even the wrong decision, is better than no decision.”

Ben Horowitz

The worst decisions you can make are from a place of non-decision. A non-decision is a self-thoughtlessness one. Meaning, without consideration of why you are saying yes (or no) to something.

This comes from a place of not knowing what you want, and/or not taking the time to ask yourself what you want.

By not knowing what you want, big life decisions are made for you by the people in your environment.

In some regard, this can be a good thing. If you are surrounded by wise and thoughtful people, then they’ll want the best for you, and their influence will reflect that.

But what someone else thinks is the best for you and what you think is the best for you isn’t always the same thing.

Plenty of people have gone down the path of being a doctor or lawyer, not out of passion, but because that’s what their parents told them to do and that doing so would make them successful and happy.

But success and happiness aren’t always the same thing.

Sometimes what others deem as successful actually creates unhappiness.

Take the opinions of people whom you admire and respect into advisement, but make your own decision based on your own dreams and passions.

Even if you’re not sure what you want yet, it’s better to make a mistake by your own hands, than regret a choice by defaulting to someone else’s decision.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1084 ☕️

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Stick-to-itiveness

“The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.”

Emile Zola

There are many strategies you can employ on the road to becoming a successful artist or entrepreneur.

They aren’t mutually exclusive—you can try multiple creative strategies—but it’s often better to experiment with one at a time, otherwise, you’d be dividing your time and potency between too many things.

A classic example is product-market-fit. PMF was concept was created by Andy Rachleff (who is the CEO and co-founder of Wealthfront, and was the co-founder of Benchmark Capital.)

The essential idea is how well does your product meets the demand of the market you are selling it to. What value does your product need to match what the market wants? What’s a market you can address that really wants your product?

Another creative strategy is having exceptional skills. This is the strategy that Cal Newport talks about in his book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You*. (The title says it all.)

I’m a big fan of stick-to-itiveness, aka persistence or perseverance as a creative strategy. If you can consistently show up, day after day, despite whatever curveball, storm, or complacency life throws at you, you have a big chance of being successful.

Sometimes the ones that win the game are the ones who keep playing the longest.

Imagine, for example, Joe Rogan stopped doing his podcast after a hundred episodes. Maybe he got too busy, or he didn’t like the quality of his work, so he stopped. He would have missed out on being the podcasting powerhouse that he is. There are many reasons why his podcast his great—honest conversation, humor, personality, variety of ideas and perspectives—but one of the biggest ones is the consistency.

Of course you want to make double-dang sure you are in the right game.

And with stick-to-itiveness comes challenging yourself and always upping your game. You can’t get lazy and rest on your morals if you want consistency to work. Plateaus and dips are natural, but after every plateau and ever drop there needs to be a rise. Dwayne Johnson sums it up well,

“Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.”

Question: Are you being consistent with your work?

Action: Take some time to think about how you can more consistent this week, starting today.

Share: What’s something you have consistently done for a long time? What’s something you struggle to be consistent with?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1083 ☕️

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Creative Capacity

“The marble not yet carved can hold the form of every thought the greatest artist has.”

Michelangelo

Building skill takes time, but the nice thing about creativity is that you can still create while you are developing. Sure, it might not be at the level you want, but don’t worry, because honing yourself at your current level is what’s going to push you higher.

If you’re just starting out, know this—

Anyone is capable of creativity.

And the thing about creativity is it comes in many flavors, not just art.

Imitate the greats

You’ll find that you can’t quite do what they do (did) but in the process of imitation, you’ve created your own original way of doing things.

Focus on getting better today.

As you increase your skills, you’ll notice that your previous work kinda sucks. You’ll notice the flaws and mistakes, but that’s natural. It’s a sign that you are moving forward, versus stagnating.

Question: Is there anything you aren’t doing but wish you were because you think you aren’t ready or don’t have the skills yet?

Action: What’s one thing you can do today to challenge yourself and push your skills a little higher?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1082 ☕️

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Criticizing Yourself

“To my younger self, I would say unless you’re literally in danger, ask forgiveness instead of asking permission.” — Jonathan Van Ness

You don’t know what you don’t know. That sounds like an obvious statement, but it’s true. Making mistakes from a place of ignorance sucks, but we shouldn’t harass ourselves about it.

There are only three things we can do:

  1. Learn from it and do better next time.
  2. Prioritize knowledge and wisdom so that we are more capable, going forward.
  3. Surround ourselves with wise and thoughtful people who have our backs.

Blaming our younger selves for their dump mistakes doesn’t help us now, nor gets us where we want to go.

Don’t be too critical to your younger self.

You didn’t know what you know now.

He/she didn’t know what he/she was getting into. Even if you’re still paying for it (in dividends) now, you can’t change what happened.

When you criticize yourself, you are just getting in your own way.

Forgiveness starts with forgiving yourself. Give your younger self a get out of jail free card and move forward.

Everyone thinks they are invincible until they fall. That’s when the real journey begins.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1081 ☕️

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Willpower is a Muscle.

There’s this dumb ritual I do that actually has a lot of benefits in my life.

Whenever I’m lying in bed about to go to sleep, now and then, I’ll forget to do something. I’ll forget to turn off the hall light, or look at the front door, or brush my teeth. You’ve probably experienced this too.

Ugh, you just started getting settled in under the covers.

Depending on what it is, you might dismiss it and go to bed. ‘Ah so what the closet lights on, one night won’t hurt.’ Or you might reluctantly throw off the warm covers and grumble your way toward the front door to lock the door, and grumble your sleepyhead back to bed.

But that’s not what I do. Instead, I train.

Whenever I’m in this situation, I smile, because I see it as a chance to practice my willpower.

First off, dismissing what I’ve forgotten to do isn’t an option. But before I get up, I lay there with that reluctant feeling. It’s heavy and uncomfortable. My mind is trying to make up every excuse in the book for me to not get up. My body is telling me just to give up and go to sleep. I let it wash over me like I’m going to give in, but then I push.

I will myself up, past the heaviness, past the excuses. And… well, you know, go turn off the light, or brush my teeth and then head back to bed.

Like I said, it’s dumb. I have no research or science to back up that this is actually doing anything. But it feels tough.

But I see the results in my life—I have strong discipline.

I exercise every day. I write every day.

The difficultly of turning things into a habit doesn’t seem to bother me or trip me up like it does for others.

I’m probably delusional, but maybe not?

I see willpower like a muscle rather than a battery.

Willpower is a Muscle.

A lot of people view willpower like how runners used to view sub-four-minute mile They view it like something that can be depleted if you use too much of it. But I find that thinking limiting.

It’s true that willpower ebbs and flows depending on your mood and energy levels, but if you practice and train yourself hard, you can be disciplined for any situation.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1080 ☕️

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Passion Comes Second

Finding your passion(s) isn’t about knowing, it’s about trying.

Curiosity comes first. Passion comes second.

It’s giving a bunch of things a go and see what brings you joy and challenges you.

I think the big problem people struggle with is the put too much pressure on themselves to find something they love but also allows them to make a living. Or finding something they love that they are good at.

It’s like betting the farm in a game of poker when you don’t even know how to play.

How can you be passionate about something you haven’t tried or know nothing about?

It’s better to always be trying new things for the sheer fun of it, with little or no expectations of money or reward.

Approaching something with no expectations usually makes the experience more enjoyable. Think about the last time you went to the movie theaters (remember those?). Maybe you had low expectations for the movie because an online review said it wasn’t great, and they were right, but after watching it you ended up having a great time. What gives? Was the movie bad or good? The movie was bad, but what changed was your expectations. On the other hand, if you had gone in with massive expectations and it ended up being bad, you’d be disappointed.

Piling the fate of the universe on finding your passion will just overwhelm you from ever finding or choosing it. Better to approach things with wonder and playfulness than come from a place of pressure and worry.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1079 ☕️

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Laugh It Off

“Like a welcome summer rain, humor may suddenly cleanse and cool the earth, the air and you.”

Langston Hughes

The Martian is one of my favorite sci-fi movies. With a great cast (Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels, Donald Glover, Kristen Wiig, Mackenzie Davis, etc.) and directed by Ridley Scott, you know you’re in for a good time. I won’t go into too many details (no spoilers) but the plot is essential Mark Watney (aka Matt Damon) gets stranded alone on Mars and has to figure out a way to survive.

What I love about it most is Mark’s ingenuity and spirit throughout despite the fear and overwhelming odds of being the only person alive on the hostile red planet. His astronaut training keeps him calm and collected, but he’s not an emotionless robot either. He expresses the full range of human emotions—anger, sadness, happiness, pride, despair, and loneliness (of course. But he doesn’t let things linger and get him down for too long. Deliberate thinking. Movement. Problem Solving. And a good witty attitude.

When your back’s against the wall, and you’re surrounded by problems, what do you do?

Sometimes when you are facing a huge problem or a volley of problems, the best thing you can do is laugh and make dumb jokes. Using humor can take out the “piss and vinegar” of the situation. You’re not belittling the situation, but you’re not letting it break you either. By taking things seriously, but not too seriously, you can get out of your head and focus on creating momentum.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1078

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