Markable

For over eighty percent of my life (I’m currently thirty) I wouldn’t dare think of writing or underlining in a book. I even loathed opening a book to wide, hating the idea of messing up its pristine structure. Folding a book halfway was blasphemous. I know, I was weird (aren’t we all).

I honestly don’t know where this quirk came from. I just really had the desire to take care of my stuff, and treat my books like they were brand new.

Now I’m the opposite. My younger self would feel whiplashed from the amount of underlining and writing I do in my books. The flip was a gradual process, but there were three defining moments shot me out of the canon.

One was a simple thought: there are thousands—sometimes even millions—of copies of books. My scribbling in a hardback now-and-again isn’t going to marginal have much of a difference.

The second defining moment was learning about the marginalia libraries of grand figures, such as Isaac Newton and Oscar Wilde.

And this leads us to the final defining thought: writing, highlighting, and underlining is like a time capsule of your mind and life at a particular time. And every time you revisit a book, you are layering in another version of who you are in a given moment. By writing out thoughts and underlining passages that stand out to you, you are leaving a lasting impression of who you are for your future self.

Does that mean I’m going to scribble in my signed copy of The Name of the Wind? No! Of course not. But I am going to use the books I own and get the most meaning out of them as I can.

Marking up your books is a small thing, but it highlights (pun intended) a big idea:

Making your mark doesn’t require permission.

Perhaps it used to, before the internet age. But now, anyone can pursue an idea or passion and share it with the world. Of course, being able to share doesn’t mean everything is high-quality. Put it does give us a direction to setting higher standards for ourselves and going after big ambitions.

If there’s something you dream about doing, what’s stopping you?

Are you stopping yourself?

What if you got out of the way?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1167

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How to Have High Standards (that don’t kill you)

There’s something fundamental about the desire to improve. Our desire to be more and live up to more is built into our DNA as creatives and entrepreneurs.

Having high standards is a powerful tool in the tool belt for pursuing your creativity and reaching success in your life.

But it can often come at a cost. Because high standards is a razor-sharp knife that can easily harm us as much as it can be of use.

There are a countless number of people who are super successful but absolutely hate themselves.

They’re never good enough for themselves. They seek improvement as a way to escape themselves. There’s also a countless number of people who don’t realize that their high standards are harming them.

I like to think of high standards like riding a strong and powerful Belgian horse. If we give it respect, it will take us where we want to go. But if we cling too tightly to the reigns and try to control everything (even the things that aren’t in our control), we’ll ultimately get thrown off.

Instead, we need to have a loose, but firm grip on the reigns.

What does this look like in practice?

Enjoy your accomplishments in the moment before moving on to the next thing.

It’s easy to go to the next thing than the next without actually taking the time to appreciate what you’ve done, let alone consider where you are going. Accomplishments should be enjoyed, even if they are just stepping stones to greater things. Every single step in the right direction counts.

Be open to more fun and spontaneity.

Fun is often the first thing we cut out from our lives when we are going through difficult times or working hard to make our dreams happen. How can I possibly have fun right now? I’ve got a million things to do. Yes—we all do. That’s no excuse to stop doing the things you love.

If we cut out the fun, we’ll turn into hard, crusty lemons who never enjoy anything and are too bitter to live.

See the bigger picture

The World is bigger than any one of us. Often we pour so much of ourselves into our work and accomplishments that we barely leave time for important things, like friends, family, curiosity, and rest.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1166

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Good Advice

Think of a friend or a family member you’d love to give advice to (if they would only listen).

What would you say? What would you recommend them to do with the problems and dreams they have? What would you do in their shoes?

On the face of things, solutions to problems become obvious with a detached and/or outside perspective.

It’s easy to desire to lose weight or gain muscle, but it’s a different experience to feel every that comes with being overweight or scrawny.

When we are dealing with our own things, we’re so caught up in the mud we don’t give ourselves the space to discover solutions. Instead of taking time to step out of our normal environment, we loop into a cycle of reacting.

Reacting to the next thing instead of addressing the underlying problem.

A funny thing happens when I start going down the list of habits and todos if I were putting myself in so-and-so shoes—

A lot of them are things I need (and wish I was doing) myself. But where I deem someone else as lazy, I give myself a hundred reasons and excuses why I’m not doing what I want/know/wish I was doing.

Convince and influence others with your actions, not your words.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1165

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Make It Work

Sometimes the best thing we can do is accept the reality of what we are dealing with, making it work while aiming for something better.

When you think of the word ‘acceptance’ does your mind automatically translate it to ‘defeat’. I think mine used to. But acceptance isn’t defeat. In fact not accepting our reality, we find ourselves in a place of denial, and without acceptance, there’s no room for change and improvement.

Make what you have work.

Denial tells us that all the problems we are dealing with are not our fault but everyone else. It tells us we’ll never be good enough. It leads us to numb ourselves out with anything but what we actually need.

But if we accept where we are, whenever that may be, then we make what we have work for us. And we can start building something better.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1164

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Calm in an Uncertain World

Being surrounded by uncertainty doesn’t mean you have to be uncertain.

Are you taking care of your body?

Are you honing your mind?

Are you working on your character through kindness, love, and generosity?

Are you surrounding yourself with things that nourish you or drain you?

Then what misfortune can touch you? Nothing can keep a certain steadfast spirit down for long.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1163

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On Being Better

Better is the tension between being okay with accepting where you are and yet driven to live up to a higher calling and ideal code.

But live up to what, exactly?

That depends on what you value and gravitate towards.

For example, perhaps let’s say you value simplicity and clean design.

Then it’s looking at breaking down every single little piece of thing into it’s smallest components and removing the inessential pieces. In this case, Better, in this case, is creating something simple, but not over-simple, clean, but not devoid of it’s intent.

Let’s say you value communication and want to be better at community and connecting with others. Then learning storytelling, emotional intelligence, social skills, humor, and (last but not least) listening are important skills to hone to be a better communicator.

Pretty much Everything is a skill that can be improved. The first step to becoming better at anything is believing that you can. After that, it’s putting in the work, turning over every rock and discovering what works, what doesn’t, and doing it because you love it.

The hardest part of pursuing better is accepting where you are. Acceptance isn’t defeat, it’s humility. And humility gives us room to grow.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1162

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DIY Creative

Limitations allow us to think outside of the box.

Money. Time. Health. Resources.

It would be great to have everything we need. But then we’d have everything we need and would miss out on the opportunity to innovate and think creatively.

And of course, there’s the problem with more. Once you have everything you think you need to start (or do) something, there’s always another thing you could need beyond that.

Being creative is about taking your limits, problems, and setbacks and figuring out a way to make them into advantages.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1161

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Overwatering Your Plants

It’s pretty easy to neglect your plants. All you have to do is never water them, never prune them, put them in the wrong sunlight, and then patiently wait for them to die.

Very hands-off

But the most common killer of house plants 🪴 is not neglect but generosity. We overwater them to death. We give them so much water that their roots start to rot from our kindness.

What in your life are you overwatering?

Your business? Your kids? A million ideas?

Everything from design to health to child-rearing does better with a little space and breathing room.

When I try to pack too much into my schedule, not only do my stress-levels elevate, but the quality of what I’m doing diminishes across the board.

Too much of one thing ends up being the opposite of what we were wanting. Too much exercise or long hours at the office and we burnout. Too many hobbies, friends, todos, ideas and we no longer have room for intentionality.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1160

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Stacking Pennies

There will be some days when you feel like you haven’t made any progress on your creative practice and habits.

You put in the hours, but where are the results to show it?

A few pages for your novel.

One sketch.

50 push-ups.

A few scribbles of lyrics.

A few lines of code.

These are not much, in the grand scheme of things, but at the same time, they are everything we need. Because a little begins to add up after a while. And a book is nothing more than a well thought out, planned, and curated collection of individual pages. Same with a comic, or song or app, or a better physique.

All big things are made of tiny things brought together in harmony.

A song is a combination of lyrics, melody, tempo, key, and rhythm.

A film is the combination of multiple roles brought together for a unified purpose.

So don’t your seeming lack of progress lower your spirits. Keep steady. Work hard today. Make progress on the right (small) things.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1159

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Reaching for Nostalgia

Whenever I am feeling low or unmotivated, I like many, will reach for nostalgia.

I’ll listen to my favorite songs, or full albums from the past that hit me in just the right time and place, such as Yellowcard’s Ocean Avenue album, Logic’s Under Pressure, or Back Breaker by The Showdown (I have very eclectic tastes ;).

I’ll rewatch my favorite shows and films (like Bleach, the anime series. I find Ichigo’s “never give up” resolve quite uplifting).

I’ll reread some of my favorite books, like The Kingkiller Series and The War of Art.

But I have to be watchful. Because as great as nostalgia is, it can also be a crunch for escape.

Finding relief, motivation, energy, and inspiration in our past is wonderful, but escaping to our past to avoid our future only traps us in the past and keeps us from improving our reality.

It’s like eating dessert—there’s nothing wrong with a little cheesecake now and then. But having (needing) sugar to get through the day is a sign that something is out of balance.

Are you eating some cheesecake to enjoy it or are you pounding the cake to avoid/ignore/release your pain?

Create the strength you need to get up and make a change. Be that having a heart to heart, going to therapy, reaching for things that make you help energized and inspired. But don’t lose sight of why you are doing what you are doing.

Focus on the small changes, little ice picks to the ice burg in your path. Even just a few good strikes can break a way forward.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1158

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