Let it breathe

“In the quiet moments, the discoveries are made.”

Vera Farmiga

If you don’t give your creativity time and space, you’re not gonna do it.

Creativity needs breathing room to grow. Not an unlimited time amount of time, of course. Too much time might be just as detrimental as not enough time. In both cases, we usually end up not creating anything meaningful.

Shoving your craft into the last 20 minutes of your day is fine if that’s all you have to give right now. But it highlights an important idea: is our creative pursuit — the thing that you love to do — so unimportant to us that we can only fit it in our busy schedules at the very last moment of our day?

Believe me, I get it. Not everyone is doing their creative work as their full time gig. (Maybe that’s your goal, but you are not there yet. Or maybe you just love doing it in addition to your job.) But that doesn’t mean we should bench it to the sidelines. We need a little space to thrive.

Do your creative work first. Get up earlier if you have to. Find a way to prioritize enough time that allows you to do the work you feel called to do.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #688


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Slow and Steady

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at
the end of the day whispering, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’”

Mary Anne Radmacher

Not every one of these blog posts will be great. Go peruse the archives (The Archives sounds like a great fantasy novel title) and I’m sure you’ll find a couple stinkers.

Was I trying to make something mediocre? No. I was doing the best I could with what I had to give. But some of them being bad ideas in retrospect less important. Sometimes things are so bad, they are good. But often our so-so works of creativity are steps towards greater ideas later.

When it comes to creativity, motion is what matters. Motion gets the gears turning and ideas flowing. The best way I’ve found to practice this is taking your art — what you feel called to do — and making it a daily habit.

Think of it like planting a tree each day. One tree might be well. One might not grow at all. Another might grow into a massive redwood. But each tree we plant teach us something for the next one we plant tomorrow. And as time passes, our weird daily tree habit turns into a forest of work and creativity. The single planted tree matters, but the forest is the goal. This is what a daily habit can do for us.

Picture yourself 20 years from now.

20 years is 7300 days. Can you imagine what 7300 days of working on our creativity would do for us? That’s 7300 paintings, 7300 songs, 7300 days of practicing woodwork, 7300 written pages or 7300 days of coding… Not only would that amount of time invested in our pursuits gives us a massive library of work, it would also hone us into masters of what we do.

Remember: we don’t have to always go big to improve and reach big. Going small and persisting long also gets us to big too.

Besides, unless we get hit by a bus tomorrow (knock on wood), we’ve got the days to do it, we just need to start and keep going.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #687


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Always in Transition

“Change your thoughts and you change your world.”

Norman Vincent Peale

The last two years have been a whirlwind for me. Some moments where good, others not so much. It’s hard to not let the bad moments crowd out the good ones. But I know that it is possible to have an optimistic perspective on life. I’ve been slowly walking this path towards a realistic optimism this past year. The kind of optimism that allows you to learn from the bad, but not let the bad control you.

Life is always in motion, we just so happen to be living in it and it’s difficult to notice. The earth spins. The sun dances with energy. We age chronologically and biologically. Technology is certainly changing.

And whether we like it or not, we change too.

The people who reach success and joy in life are the ones who see change for what it is and take advantage of it. Change is our ultimate chance to do something that matters and grow. Change gives us the opportunity to be better. And as long as we’re still breathing, we’re still changing.

And because life is messy and sometimes difficult, so good moments will eventually transition into hard moments and then eventually back to good. Which is nice to know, especially when you are going through mud and tears. As long as we can persist and strive towards a better tomorrow today, change will take us somewhere exciting.

The tool that cuts through the emotional rollercoaster of life’s ups and downs is our perspective. In a way, perspective is also a chance for change. If we can learn to look at difficult moments and see possibility, and slow down to see the lessons from our failures and fears, then we will be able to thrive in whatever situation / opportunity that comes our way.

There’s two sides to every coin. For every tails, there’s a heads. Each problem* has an opportunity, we just have to flip our head over to see it. (*Or swap problem for doubt, fear, complaining and negativity.)

It’s not easy, but once you switch your mindset to possibility, it becomes easy.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #686

Related:

Book: Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It by Kamal Ravikant


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Thinking Outside the Box

“At the time, my life just seemed too complete, and maybe we have to break everything to make something better out of ourselves.”

Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

“Named must be your fear before banish it you can.”

Yoda

The first rule of Fight Club is you don’t talk about Fight Club. The first rule of thinking outside the box is recognizing that you are in a box.

But what is a box? (Is it slang for boxers underwear? ‘Yo, are you a box guy or a briefs guy’.)

When we give in to fear, doubt and uncertainty — that’s a box.
When we listen to others ideas for how we should live our lives, instead of listening to our own hearts — that’s also a box.
When we let our friends, peers, community and even family influence us to live and act a certain way. — that’s a big box. (Is this starting to sound like a Jeff Foxworthy redneck joke? ‘You might be a redneck if your bicycle has a gun rack’.)

The box is normal. It’s the standard deviation of how ‘they’ say we should live our lives.
Sometimes other people try to put us in a box, and sometimes we put ourselves in a box. There are different boxes, for different folks. They come in various shapes and sizes, and are made of different materials, but they generally serve the same purpose: to keep us right were we are in life.

Boxes aren’t always bad. Some boxes are safe and comfortable. Some boxes influence us in positive ways. But in order to create, grow, change, add value to our lives and pursue our dreams, we’ve gotta step out of the box we are in. All the fresh air and good ideas are outside of our cardboard walls.

When you find yourself with a need to change, there’s two great ways you can start:

1. Act.

Action breeds momentum, and momentum drives change. Even the smallest of acts done consistently quickly gains traction and drives growth over time. Compound interest isn’t just for money — it can also be applied to any goal we want to pursue or skill we want to master.

2. Surround yourself with people and ideas that are outside of your box.

If you want to be an artist, surround yourself with other artist who are also ambitiously seeking to improve and create. If you want to be an entrepreneur, surround yourself with people who think differently and see opportunities everywhere. Surround yourself with friends who want you to succeed and want to get better themselves. And surround yourself with books, ideas, and creative work that inspires you to see the world differently and do what most only dream about doing.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #685

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How to Help Someone (And Ultimately Help Yourself in the Process)

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.

Richard P. Feynman

There’s a funny, slightly insulting quote you’ve likely heard, from the author and dramatist George Bernard Shaw, that goes “He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches”. And perhaps, an even funnier follow-up quote by Woody Allen, saying “Those who can’t do, teach. And those who can’t teach, teach gym.”

Now that I’ve insulted every teacher and, specifically, gym teacher reading this, I’d like to discuss a somewhat related idea (that might be a bit more helpful to us than criticizing our doing and teaching abilities):

If you can’t help yourself, try helping others.

When we hear about other people’s problems, Why do we think they are so much easier to solve than our own?

Because we can usually see their — our friend, family member, coworker, boss, etc —problem with a clear mind and come up with linear ideas and strategies to solve it. Our problems are too close to us because we are the ones dealing with them (and at the same time trying not to have a panic attack and emotionally eating an entire cake). And it’s the same both ways. They might see your problems and think they are easy to solve, just like you think the same about theirs. In reality, most problems are messy and hard to deal with. But we make them harder by weighing them down with fear and blindly try to fix things without clarifying the problems first. Clarity is key.

Clarity is what we can give to others. And clarity is what we need for our own problems. We need to see all the visible cards on the table and think through (and gut feel) our way through the cards we don’t know about.

How do you help someone gain clarity about their problems? Have a conversation with them. And more importantly, listen to them. Be a sounding-board first; A helper second. Sometimes all we need is to hear ourselves speak aloud about our problem. Having a person in front of us who is giving us eye contact, nodding their heads every so often, and allowing us to talk is a great way to do that and really hear what we need to hear.

After, listening, giving actionable advice and ideas is another way we can help someone. I believe advice needs to come from a neutral place. The point of helping is not to tell them what you think is best for them. You need to think about the advice that is best for who they are and what their goals are. Remember, we’re not trying to make clones of ourselves. We’re trying to help others be the best version of themselves they can be. Not the best versions of us they can be.

Of course, sometimes people don’t know what they need. Use your best judgment. Some skills and piece of advice are universal. For example, building a better community and support group around you who all want you to succeed is always a great idea. (Or at least, I’ve never heard or read anyone giving the opposite advice — ‘don’t be friends with anyone. support groups will get you nowhere’ 😜)

However, there’s a caveat I would be remiss if I didn’t say: we first need to make sure that the person (or people) we are trying to help actually want our help. If we’re just telling them what to do and giving them a dozen ideas to try that they don’t want and didn’t ask for, the help isn’t going to work. And related, it’s always good if you can back up your advice with experience. If you haven’t taken your own advice, very few people are actually going to listen. Help works where it’s needed, not where it’s assumed to be needed.

By putting our energy towards helping others, we end up helping others and helping ourselves. Not only do we do a good thing by lifting someone up when their down and teaching them something valuable, we also begin to feel better about our own circumstances and problems because we are no longer are wasting so much energy into doubt, fear and worry about ourselves. By channeling our energy towards others, we’ve taken away energy that we would be giving to fearing our own issues.

Giving a helping hand doesn’t have to be just people we know too. We can also help others online or in our local community that we haven’t met. We could even put energy towards helping a group of people, like the homeless, or a type of need, like clean water.

In a roundabout way, helping others usually helps ourselves in the process. We gain motion through the act of helping others, and in the process gain the confidence and momentum we need to help ourselves.

How can you leverage your skills, connections and extra resources to help others?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #684

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Related

“Help others and give something back. I guarantee you will discover that while public service improves the lives and the world around you, its greatest reward is the enrichment and new meaning it will bring your own life.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger

“It’s also selfish because it makes you feel good when you help others. I’ve been helped by acts of kindness from strangers. That’s why we’re here, after all, to help others.”

Carol Burnett

Don’t Live By Assumptions Alone

One of the areas that can bring us trouble in life is assumptions. When we assume that someone knows something we know, or that they believe / think / understand something in a particular way, it usually bite us in the *ss.

The problems arise through lack of communication and miscommunication.

We are not the center of the Universe, but we are the center of our life. And because we have a natural bias towards seeing thing through the lens of our perspectives, believes, knowledge and circumstances. Because I know something, it’s easy to assume that that information / insight is known or even obvious to everyone else, but this isn’t true. As far as I know, people can’t read our minds. Even our significant others and friends don’t always know what we are thinking. It’s like we make agreements with others in our mind (or have conversations with others) without them knowing it.

In my past, anytime I’ve made an assumption around an unspoken agreement, I’ve regretted it. And it’s often not just me making assumptions, but both parties making assumptions and neither of us really knowing what the other is saying.

Clear and upfront communication goes above and beyond to create impactful relationships in our lives.

Here’s a great place to start with your family, friends and coworkers:

  • Clarifying your intentions with others.
  • Share your thoughts, ideas and goals.
  • Ask and communicate with others for clarification and their intentions.
  • Make sure that you are both on the same page, instead of each person on two different imaginary pages.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #683

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Intentional Habits

Whether we think about it or not, we all have good and bad habits we run our lives by. A habit is an action or decision that we have integrated into our lives as a practice. What makes a habit good or bad really depends on the kind of outcome we are expecting (or neglecting) to see. To use a biological term, a habit creates ‘receptors’ to allow us to tune into certain aspects of life.

Inputs leading to outputs; Outputs leading to inputs. Sometimes this is physical. When you smoke cigarettes, for example, the brain develops additional nicotine receptors to deal with the larger doses of nicotine rushing in, opening you up to becoming addicted to it and wanting more. Putting aside the health concerns for smoking, I consider it a harmful habit because it takes the steering wheel out of our hands and eventually controls us, versus us controlling it.

A habit’s ‘receptors’ can also be philosophical and squishy. What does being optimistic instead of pessimistic do to (and for) us? It’s difficult to say with certainty. On the surface, pessimism, negativity, and worry doesn’t really do much to our lives. Or does it? When we have to make small decisions, we negate their potential with doubt and dismiss their validity, we think something like ‘this will never work’ or ‘this is a terrible idea’. When big decisions or possible problems crop up, we worry them to death, and if our fears never come true, we don’t notice because we are on to the next big thing to worry about. What does a habit of negativity do to our careers, our friendships, and community? I’m not sure. Does optimism create for us a better headspace and open us up to more opportunities that we wouldn’t have if we were pessimistic? In my personal experience, I’d say 100% yes. But again, this is all fuzzy logic.

Regardless, these are good things to consider.

How are all of your habits — good, bad and ugly — affecting your life? Which habits are enabling your dreams and which ones are making you sink?

Where things get really tricky is knowing that our habits don’t live in isolation. Each habit we have connects and stacks upon one another. Benefits of one habit might outweigh or cancel out the negative effects of another. An obvious example: You could exercise like a champion every day, but if you are pounding cookies, ice cream and whatever pastries you can get your hands on, the potential gain you would get from exercise is canceled out by your sweet tooth. And if all our habits are mingling and dancing the night away, how do we know which habits are good for us and which are bad?

This question requires so series thought and intentional alone time. It’s difficult to run towards your dreams in life with your hands and feet tied behind you. By finding which habits are holding us back and replacing them with better ones, we can finally start creating momentum in our lives.

Here are some questions to get ya think’n:

  • What habits do I know I have?
  • Which habits do I think are helpful and beneficial to me? Why are they beneficial?
  • Which steps (daily or consistent habits) are getting me towards accomplishing my goals? And why?
  • Are there any unhelpful or bad habits that I’m doing?
  • What habits do I have that I know I should stop doing?
  • What are the benefits and downsides for each of my habits?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #682

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Too Much of a Good Thing

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.”

Bruce Lee

I tend to overdo it when it comes to books. I’ve currently knee deep in 6 (okay, okay — 8) books I’m reading simultaneously. I find it useful to read a variety of books at the same time because it allows ideas to cross-pollinate (what a fancy word… two words?) and muddle between each other and create new and interesting ideas from the mix. Plus I’m just into a lot of subjects. (Hey, if it works for having multiple classes in school, why not for life…school? ) However, even good things need balance.

If I spend too much of my time and energy reading, I’ll have less time to act and work on my various interests and commitments. But, if I don’t read enough (or at all) I’m missing out on insights and knowledge that could help enable me to do my work better and could add more value to my life.

Habits exist of a spectrum, and somewhere on that spectrum — potentially a unique place on that spectrum for each of us, depending on our life and circumstances — there’s a Golden mean where we find benefits with minimal downsides.

Consider exercising*. Not enough exercise can increase our chances of poor health, such as becoming overweight, Heart Disease, strokes, leave us breathless, little energy, poor posture. Over-exercising can tax our system, potential suppress our immune system and increase our chances of injuring ourselves. The Dose is the poison. Somewhere on the spectrum between being a couch potato and an American Ninja Warrior, there’s a healthy dose of exercise that works for each of us. How much you need versus how much I need might be different. And figuring out what works for you is part of your journey (*I just write stuff on the internet. Consult your doctor.)

I guess that means that habits are a lot like Goldilocks and the Three Bears —“Too big, too small and just right”. We need to find the right balance of our habits that works for us and bring us value.

Of course, I’m not going to stop reading (what a silly idea). But I am going to set a limit and make sure that my ‘learning’ doesn’t get in the way of my ‘doing’. (At least until I can figure out how to read for a living 😜.)

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #681

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Life Happens in the Mundane

Life can sometimes be boring, but that’s where a lot of the good ideas are.

Boredom stirs imagination within us. Every time I allow myself to be alone with my thoughts, a thousand ideas pop out. However, when I’m constantly in motion, checking off todos, running from one event to the next, I have no room for my own thoughts and ideas.

Alone time, walks in the woods, or time for nothing at all isn’t boring, it’s breathing room.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #680

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A Job to Love

“Don’t let a bad day make you feel like you have a bad life.”

Hustling can only get you so far. No matter how much blood, sweat and pixels you give to something, if your heart’s not in it, you’ll eventually burnout.

The ideal form of work is loving every second of it, even the parts that suck. How can you love something that’s difficult, painful, tedious and occasionally stressful — because it’s fun.

Sometimes we decided we want to separate our passion from money. I think that’s okay, as long as your day job isn’t getting in the way. But to make your passion your living is also a path you can pursue.

Work is play when it’s something you love, even the difficult parts. And it’s yours. It’s something to plant your flag on.

Sometimes we have to go through a lot of turmoil and crap to get to a place where we can make money playing, but when you do it makes the effort even more worth it. Perseverance and determination are key. To do the work we love, we have to give it our everything.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #679

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