Continuous Effort

“Genius is often only the power of making continuous efforts. The line between failure and success is so fine that we scarcely know when we pass it—so fine that we are often on the line and do not know it. How many a person has thrown up their hands at a time when a little more effort, a little more patience, would have achieved success. As the tide goes clear out—so it comes clear in.” — Elbert Hubbard

Success is often about making good decisions at the right time (or finding a little luck). Yet, sometimes all we need is just a little bit more effort.

The difference between someone who fails and someone who succeeds is perseverance. Because what is success but a continuous effort towards a goal and the willingness to continue after you fail again and again.

That being said, it’s worth looking at what we are trying to succeed in. Just because we can succeed at something doesn’t mean we should. Succeeding at something that doesn’t mean much to us isn’t worth the countless hours we sweat to make it happen.

“A little more effort, a little more patience” towards the right things.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1350

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Start with Low Steaks


More often than not, we are our own worst enemy. We hold ourselves back by building things up in our minds. Big expectations. We think we can’t do something, so we don’t.

But as FDR said in his first inauguration, “the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself.”

Fear—and other things that are fear-in-disguise—hold us back.

That’s where low stakes come in. When the stakes are lower, it’s much easier to put your toes in the water. For example, it’s much easier to find a new job when you currently have a job, than it is when you don’t have a job and you are stressed about paying for essential needs.

High stakes, high pressure. Perhaps the goal is a high-stakes dream, but we don’t start there.

We start just a little beyond our comfort zone. A half step in the right direction. Then another. Is a half-step what we are wanting? No, but at least it’s better than nothing. Doing nothing is letting fear when.

Low steaks show us that ‘hey, this isn’t so bad after all.’

Make the first step easy. Show yourself how good it can feel to do good for yourself and your aspirations.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1349

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Unmasking Complexity

Our life is the sum total of all the decisions we make every day, and those decisions are determined by our priorities.

Myles Munroe

In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Complexity is simply a tapestry of simpler components and space. The “tapestry” gives it structure and meaning, Whether that’s a t-shirt quilt, DNA sequence, or a complex cloud computing architecture.

For example, a (good/bad) habit is a consistent collection of actions over time. We can start (or end) any habit today, but it doesn’t become a full note until we build it up over time (on average 66 days). One day of piano lessons isn’t much to brag about, but what about 10 weeks of piano?

When you are overwhelmed, breaking something down into its smallest components and prioritizing them by importance is incredibly helpful. It’s a simple idea, but you’d be surprised how often we forget to do it.

A problem that feels too big is likely too big. We need to break it down into a smaller set of problems.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1348

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Habit Graveyard

“Our daily decisions and habits have a huge impact upon both our levels of happiness and success.”

Shawn Achor

Many things that define who we were—experiences we had growing up, habits we had in college, things we valued last year—have a surprising (yet not-so-surprising) hold on who we are.

Our past identities (good and bad) reflect on who we are today. (And the same goes for our current selves reflecting on our future selves.) I enjoy basketball today because I played it growing up (and have a lot of fond memories tied to friends and family around it). But I rarely play nowadays (even though I’ve been trying to get some pickup games going here recently). That’s just one sliver of who I am/was, but that’s part of my story—a small layer of cookie dough in the ice cream that describes my life.

But enjoying basketball in my past doesn’t mean that I have to be that person today. (This is a silly example, but you get where I’m going here).

We may be where we are because of our past decisions and circumstances, but we aren’t defined by them. We define our lives by the decisions (wise or poor) that we make today.

The same goes for our habits.

A habit is only as good as it’s useful to you today and in the future. It’s okay to let habits die if they are no longer serving you.

At the end of the day, a habit should bring joy or progress towards what you value. Don’t let things you used to do or wished you would have done haunt you and keep you from doing what you can do right now.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1347

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Waiting for Rock Bottom

Change matches the pace of our willingness to act on it.

When we are unwilling to change (or feel that we can’t) we often wait until everything implodes in our life before we final force ourselves to change (in the ways we knew we needed to).

We could have changed at any moment, but we needed to hit rock bottom first. Out of tears. End of the line. No other options. Sometimes this is necessary, but not always.

It’s like the choice to change is overwhelming while we are going through difficult moments in our lives. But rock bottom leaves us only one path: forward.

Wouldn’t it be easier to notice what’s wrong and adapt In real-time instead of waiting until everything is in pieces?

It’s easier to change when you have no choice.

That’s why when you need to change something about your life, it’s better to convince yourself there’s no other option but to change.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1346

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When skills get in the way

Sometimes what you currently know, can hold you back from what you could know. Meaning, it’s easy to hold onto something that worked for you in the past but is no longer serving you now.

This means, to create something new, we have to let go of what’s holding us back.

But first, we must realize we are actually holding ourselves back.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1345

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Making Friends

“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

The best types of friends are the ones are the ones you can hang out and do absolutely nothing with and still manage to have a good time.

The tricky thing about friends is they ripen with age, so the longer you have a friendship, the better it is over time.

I’m finding it more and more difficult to make new friends as I’m getting older (maybe I’m not trying hard enough) which I’ve heard was a thing but i didn’t believe it. Leaning on an activity, such as yoga or D & D, or dancing helps. I guess it’s easier to make friends with someone you have at least one thing (your hobby) in common with.

Some people you just hit it off with right away. These are the ones worth making effort for (no matter what’s going on at work or in your life).

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1344

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Make Today Count

“Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.” Elbert Hubbard

On any given normal day, life feels infinite. It feels like we have all the time in the world to do and be who we want. And so we often push off the important things (things that usually require hard work and discomfort) in favor of entertainment and nothing burgers. Or we work ourselves into the ground and never quite get to what we really want to do, or be with the people we love.

The significance of our time really only shows up in moments of difficult or life and death situations. If you’ve survived the past year and a half, then you know the feeling of how quickly time passes. Getting older does it too. One second you are a kid, the next second you are so old you are talking about how old you are.

Have you ever heard given the response, “Yeah I’m just killing time until…such and such.”

But do we really have time to waste or kill time?

Whether or not you believe in live after this one—this is the only life you’ve got right now. What are you going to do with it?

I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes by the poet Mary Oliver, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

This is it. Better make the most of it.

Better make today count.

And that starts with being the person you want to be.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1343

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On Collecting Skills

As a computer scientist, it’s easy to get caught up in learning the latest programming language, but never actually use it to build anything. You learn one language, then jump to the next one, and the next.

But skill is only useful if you use it. If a painter never paints, are they still a painter? Or perhaps someone who used to be a painter? A painter paints. Which you can always do, or relearn to do if that’s something you want. But if it’s not then that’s okay too.

What matters is not collecting skills but using our skills to create new and wonderful things.

I love learning new things and building up new skills to challenge myself. But—if all I do is jump from one thing to the next without actually using it, then what was the point of spending so much time learning it in the first place?

Skill unlocks a lot of doors. Skills create experiences. If you are great at something, people notice. As Steve Martin once said (and Cal Newport codified), ‘Be so good they can’t ignore you.’ And the more you do it, the more experiences you’ll have around it.

But that requires going beyond the lesson plans and how-to books and going out into the world and using your skills, versus just honing your skills.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1342

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Slow and Steady

”Those that are most slow in making a promise are the most faithful in the performance of it.” — Jean-Jacques Rousseau

”Slow but steady wins the race.” — Aesop

There’s a lot of benefits from practicing a daily habit, but there is one potential downside:

Progress (especially mastery level progress) takes time.

As a tool to learn new things, daily habits get better the longer you do them. (And if you need to learn something quickly, immersing yourself in a Bootcamp-like schedule might be a better approach.)

The essence of daily habits is compound interest and the accumulation of deliberate practice over time. The more you stick with your habit(s) and hone them, the better you will become.

But that likely won’t be day one. Or week one.

Daily habits are a marathon. Something you want to be great at in the long run. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t create value a week into your habit. Every day you practice matters.

A week of guitar is completely different than a day of guitar. A month of guitar is a completely different skill than a week in.

There will always be days of challenge, off days, plateaus, and moments of doubt. But that makes the days where your skills are just singing with creativity all the more rewarding.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1341

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