5 Lessons of Pain

Sometimes you have to go through short term pain to learn a lesson you’ve been neglecting (or abusing) to learn.

For me it was a neck injury.

I’ve broken bones, almost bit my tongue in two as a child, rebelled against rules, but nothing has compared to my neck pain.

It’s taught me that I am not invincible and not to fear that. Trying bold things is always a good idea — as long as you aren’t ignoring your gut or potentially risks you’re not covering. Feeling pain makes us human.

It’s taught me to notice the pain of others. I may not have experienced what you’ve gone through, but I can see and empathize with your pain. I see your pain, and can create a connection with you through that.

It’s taught me that no one will care more about your wellbeing and dreams than yourself. It’s not that others WON’T care, its just that they 99.9% of the time, you are going to care more. If you want to heal, you’ve got to push for it. Family, friends, doctors, professionals — they’ll help if you let them, but you are the one who has to initiate and reach for the results.

It’s taught me that pain is a chance to be better, to be more than you were. I’m still not the man I was before my injury. But that doesn’t matter. I’ve learned strength. I’ve learned resilience. I’ve learned how to be calm and how to handle impossible situations.

It’s taught me how to listen. We abuse ourselves so much. We eat anything we want, throw our bodies around as much as we want, lay around in couch-potato mode when we’re off, and butt in chair hunched over a keyboard when we’re on. I’m still learned to give my mind and body what it needs, but first comes listening, and knowing that it needs it.

Pain isn’t required to learn, but it makes a fine teacher.

Going forward, I want to avoid unnecessary pain from lack of forethought and mitigation. There’s no reason to experience hell when you can learn the lessons from predetermined insight, or from others failures.

But when you are in hell, find the lessons, find the opportunity. Find the good — that will be your path out.


Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner


If you are waiting until you are good enough, it’s too late.

The perfect moment you’re waiting for is a fable. There’s never a perfect moment to start or stop, to say yes or no.

The only thing separating you from your dreams is yourself. Every outside of that is a reflection of how you are handling your internal world.


Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Purpose in Each Step

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe”Anatole France

What are the reasons behind your actions?

Motion is good. Motion gets you places. However, behind every act we take, must be a purpose — a dream — for taking it.

Dreams and action go hand in hand. One shows you where you are going, the other shows what’s in front of you. If you just stepping forward, without intention, without dreams, without believe, you’re going to end up exactly where you started. Having action and no dream is like marching forward without a ounce of direction (or reason why your marching there in the first place). If all you do is dream, without action to back it up,  there’s nothing that’s going to make that dream any closer to reality than it is now.

Having both dream and action is like dancing your way towards success — you might not know the exact steps you will take (and need to take), but it sure will be fun on the way there.


Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

What is this math class?

Life is an unbelievably complex system of inputs and outputs.

If we do X, Y happens.

or —  If we do X, Y Z or Q may happens.

We don’t always know for certain when something we try will succeed or fail 100% of the time. But with the right habits and inputs, we can move the needles closer to what we deem as a success.

Sometimes we do X and B happens instead of C like we thought. Now we know B has a high chance of success that X will create a B outcome.

The point is, you never know what’s going to work or not. Don’t let fear get in your way from trying. Even failure can lead to success if you look far enough. It’s all of matter of trying new things, sewing what works for you, what doesn’t, and finding your way forward.


Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

​Decisions decisions

Is this a decision made from fear?

Is this a decision based on what others tell me or based on what’s true to me? (Is this a heart decision?)

Is this a decision made from indecision?

Anger? Strength? Jealous? Resilience?

We are more than just our decisions, but our lives are built on the backs of decisions we make. We can’t change past decisions, but we can also change how what and why we decide on things today.


Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner



Where does that innate rebellious fire inside the downtrodden and lowly come from?


Is it in the water? Is it born? Or do hard circumstances build the spirit within?

And if it is hardship that creates spunk and resilience and creativity, why do some people buckle under struggle, while others thrive?

If I had to guess, I would say the fire within is already there, and needs a spark of something we experience that lights us up and wakes us to new possibilities.

Maybe a parent gets sick or a friend dies in a random accident, which shows us how fragile life is.

Maybe someone that looks a lot like us shows us what life can be with a little effort and thinking differently.

Maybe a teacher believes in us.

Maybe someone shows us how NOT to live.

Or maybe we find out the hard way, through injury, failure, ruin and the like.

Whatever the case: There is a fire that burns inside each of us. A fire made of creativity and ideas and originality and heart. All it takes is a match to let it loose. Feed it right and nothing can stop you. You’ll blaze with energy and capacity. And in so doing, become an example for the next kid, looking for something different from life.


Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Good Habits Minus Bad Habits

Even with our best college try, a good habit can be completely ineffective or nullified if we have too many bad habits surrounding them.

Making your bed is a great habit to have.
It helps you set the tone for the day. It brings a breath of calm and control to even the most chaotic day.

But if you’re staying up until 2 AM watching New Girl, or an endless supply of hashtag clips from The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon on YouTube, it doesn’t matter — you’re still going to wake up exhausted and feel awful. You’ll either sleep in and sleep too much (at less quality of sleep) or you’ll not get enough sleep and move like a zombie all day. Your bad sleep habits have canceled out any benefit you might have had by making your bed. No amount of crisp and prim sheets and fluffy pillows are going to make you less tired and sleep grumpy. Eventually, your bad sleep habits have also short-circuited your willpower to even want to make your bed.

This is an obvious example, but one that’s easy to overlook.

However, more often than not, we don’t know what / which bad habits we have that are nullifying the habits we are trying to start.

We want to lose weight and get fit, but we don’t know how. So, we try what everyone one on TV suggest — eat less, hit the gym.

Yet we have no idea what we are really doing, or how the body actually works.
Like a car driving in our blindspot, we have a hidden bad habit: Ignorance. And thinking that it’s okay to wing it.

Sometimes it is. Sometimes winging it is the best way to get yourself started. But winging it isn’t always the best way to keep yourself motivated, especially when the going gets tough, and the belly gets hangry. 

Life is an unbelievably complex system of inputs and outputs.

Every good and bad habit we have (and others have around us) live together (instead of in isolation).

Three bad habits don’t make a good habit.

If you know you have a bad habit, the solution is not to cast out the habit from your life (like an expired carton of coconut milk), its to replace it with another good habit that’s is similar and in the same family as the habit, you want to remove. (Or alternatively, make the bad habit disgusting to you. Smoking is hard to get rid of until you realize how bad you and your stuff smells, how gross nonsmokers think you smell, how much money you spend a month on cigarettes and what you could be spending and enjoying if you didn’t)

The biggest problem is when bad habits are that they are unknown to us.

These are hard to find. The only solution I’ve found so far is to be aware when they happen (stumble on them) by noticing when good habits you are trying to create seem to never work out. Something is cause it (I smell a bad habit or two). We can also ask others in our lives to point out bad habits to us — it’s easier to spot stupid or bad habits others are doing around us (when it’s not us that’s doing them) — but take their opinion with a grain of sand. A bad habit to them might not be a bad habit to you. The only way to know that is to ask yourself: “Is this habit what I want?” “Will this habit get me where I want to go?”

To create good habits that help us build our dreams or get us where we want to be in life, we must first know what bad habits we have.

Just like a good habit is defined by your own values, beliefs, and desires, a bad habit is anything that you’re doing that’s holding you back.

Ask Yourself:

What are my bad habits?
When do they happen?
What prompts them to happen?
What can I replace them with?

Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner


300 days, 300 blog posts.

The goal was never to get to 300. The goal was and is to become a better writer and storyteller through repetition and the act of a daily writing practice.

The daily challenge is just an excuse to trick my brain into writing daily, no matter what’s going on that day. Wake up sick? Write. Work until 11:50 PM? Write. Vacation? Write on the beach, baby.

300 is a good milestone, it has meaning and significance to me — it’s just a number.  But If I stopped now, I think the future me would regret it.

It’s like all those little things you wish you enjoyed or stuck with when you were younger and you had all the time in the world. Piano practice, staying in touch with a friend, taking the BOLD road instead of the fear road. 

You can’t change what you’re younger self did, but you can change what your current self does that will make your future self happy. 

We use goals and habits as ‘nouns’ things we have or want to accomplish. Really goals and habits are ‘verbs’. They are things we do, not the things we have.

Today is your chance to make your goal real. One action. Another tomorrow. Every day moves you forward, a little closer towards the life that you do.

Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner


Today is the 300th blog post of my daily blogging challenge.

300 days, 300th post.

Here’s are the big takeaways I’ve learned so far:

1. There is no such thing as writer’s block.

Some people wait to be inspired before writing or doing their type of art. They wait for the time to be right. They wait for more stability, energy, lighting, environment, or  _______ (insert the thing you want but can’t seem to get here). 

An artistic block is waiting for inspiration to come to you. Sometimes it comes, sometimes it doesn’t.

An artist who never gets blocked and seems to always put out original work doesn’t wait for inspiration to come to them, they seek inspiration everywhere, all the time.

If your output is blocked, your inputs might be the cause:

Are you reading inspiring things?
Are you doing things out of the ordinary, stepping out of your comfort zone?
Are you testing new things, talking to new people, absorbing inspiring work?

And are you trying hard enough?  

You would be surprised how often I would have zero ideas what to write about, and I would sit down to a blank screen, let my mind wander on what was happening in my life, and pull ideas out of my butt.

The act of making yourself create helps to inspire the expression of your art. Or in other words, you don’t have to know what you want to do, you just have to start doing it.

2. You don’t know what you are capable of until you challenge yourself.

Before I started blogging every day, I could barely even squeeze out a blog post a month. My mind was in anguish that I wasn’t writing like I wanted to, wasn’t working on my pursuits like I wanted to. I just couldn’t seem to find the time or the will to create.

So I did it anyway.
When you set a goal to do something every day, the more you do it, the more you want to stick to it. Streaks are powerful. Imagine getting all the way to 299 posts in a row and NOT doing the 300th? I don’t think so.

Would I have believed that I was capable of writing every day before I started this challenge?
I’m not sure. It’s hard to know what you’re made of when you’re not actually doing what you wish you were doing. It’s hard to know what you are capable of until you push yourself to the breaking point.

3. It doesn’t have to be great, it just has to be real.

A blog post can be anything you want, but typically it’s a snapshot of what was going on in the writer’s mind at the time. It’s as if you tore out a page from a book had captured a few ideas with a big ‘TO BE CONTINUED’ at the end. Daily challenges are like creating a sculpture from a marble slab. You’re chipping away at ideas, bit by bit, and you have a fuzzy vision of what you are trying to express but not quite sure how it will turn out in the end.

It’s okay if your work isn’t the best thing in the world, as long it’s the best thing you have to give right now, in this moment. My posts are a rollercoaster of hits and misses. But no matter how good or bad each was, they all eventually lead me to a better way of thinking about what I’m trying to say.

If you don’t have a daily creating challenge in your life yet, I highly recommend it. 
Don’t wait, start immediately. Here’s to your first day of many.

Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner


Creating for the Hell of It

There’s a theory that Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime.

If it’s true, and you are pursuing creativity, are you willing to go that far?

I not saying that’s the goal. No one wants to be a broke joke. 

But this might be a reality you face.
You have to love painting for painting’s sake, not for the munnies. Creating for the joy of the work needs to be embedded into what you do.

This is also a lesson in the need to master multiple skills. If you want to do great work AND get your work out there, you have to be really good and original at your art, AND really good at marketing and selling your story. Two separate skills entirely. 

Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner