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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The First Line of Defense

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.”
Henry Ford

What’s the one thing that touches everything we say, do and experience?

Our thoughts.

Thoughts flavor everything.

But you are not your thoughts. I learned this from Mo Gawdat’s Solve for Happy book. Mo explains that if you were your thoughts, then how are you able to hear your thoughts?

Reality is reality, but we bend our reality with how we think. If you are continuously looping negativity in your head (or aloud), imagine how that’s affecting your experiences and view of the world.

A glass-half-full and a glass-half-empty is the same thing—a half-glass of water. It just is. But one mindset gives us hope and the other makes us jaded. The question is, which one do you want to cultivate?

“Every moment of your life is neither all good nor all bad. When you clear your thoughts and see beyond the Illusion of Knowledge, you will realize that what Shakespeare wisely said is true: “Nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
― **Mo Gawdat

A question I like to ask myself is,

How is this thought helping me? (Or plural— how are these thoughts helping me?)

If they aren’t, they are just getting in the way of my happiness and wellbeing—so I let them go. It’s not an easy practice because it’s something that I constantly need to stay vigilant in (especially after this last year) but it’s worth it if it improves the quality of my life (and the lives of those around me) even if it’s only a 5% increase.

Related Recommends:

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STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1157

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Failure to Launch

Isn’t it funny (ironic, tragic, silly) that often the very thing we need is the thing we won’t give ourselves permission to do. And because we won’t do it, we end up stuck in a place we don’t want to be.

We want it, but don’t think we can have it (or aren’t willing to go after it) because X, Y, Z reason.

We want to (finally) eat healthily and lose weight (or fix a health issue that’s constantly bothering us) but we never actually do it (or quit as soon as we glance at a piece of cake).

Or we have the desire to be an entrepreneur, but we sideline ourselves by convincing ourselves that we don’t know enough yet or we don’t have a good idea yet.

And because we don’t do it, we are dissatisfied and judgment to ourselves, stuck in a loop of wanting something we won’t give ourselves!

Why?

Because trying something new or going after a dream is scary and it might not work.

Because it’s easier to play it safe and not get what we want than to do something hard or that might fail.

But honestly, all we are doing is failing and mentally blocking ourselves before we even try.

Ask yourself—what am I convincing myself of that is “impossible” or that I “can’t do”?

If we’re already failures for not trying, then why not try anyway and keep trying?

What do we have to lose?

Failure is a part of learning. It’s painful and messy and uncomfortable, but it can also make us better if we allow ourselves to learn and grow from the experience.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1156

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Go Easy on Yourself

That fresh, clean feeling of the start of a New Year always makes me want to resolve to do a hundred things. Exercise more. Be a better friend. Write better stories. Stop eating sugar. Go to bed early… you get the idea.

Whether you are as intoxicated by New Year’s Resolutions like me, or just intoxicated (hey-o!!) remind yourself that you are only human.

It does us no good to self-judge ourselves when we make mistakes or miss the mark.

Go easy on yourself—

Learn to be more self-compassionate.

Good habits aren’t built in a day, they are built every day.

So if you mess up and eat a cookie, don’t quit. Start back up immediately with enthusiasm and desire to be better next time. Don’t let bad habits win.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1155

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Not More, But Few.

A Renaissance Life it’s not about stuffing your life with skills.

Not more, but few.

More skills don’t automatically equal more opportunities.

But a few skills mastered is a powerful thing. Because not only do you have variety at your beck and call, but the ability to combine your expertise in interesting and unique ways.

The combination of skills is a breeding ground for innovative ideas and creative ways to think and express ourselves.

Of course, it takes time to get to a professional level of quality in any one skill. This is the reason why we won’t reach for too many skills and stretch ourselves too thin, and therefore dilute our time.

Our time is the most valuable thing we can give to anyone or anything.

There’s an occurrence in health where we crave food and reach for the chocolate and sweets, but what our body actually wants is water (but is masked by desires for Little Debbie’s and chips).

I think a similar thing happens to our habits. Out of want, we reach for something new and exciting—a new hobby or skill—but what we need is to focus and progress in our current skills, even if that means digging in and doing the hard work.

At least this is what I do and struggle with.

It’s easier to add new things than to finish old ones. But finishing what we start is 5x more rewarding than the excitement of starting something new.

Remember this next time you are tempted to start yet another project or another hobby before you finish the ones in front of you.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1154

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Hodgepodge

There’s an old(ish) game that my friends and I use to play called Katamari Damacy. I think we enjoyed it so much, not because of the gameplay, but because it was such a weird quirky experience (plus the soundtrack is crazy). You are this green elf-looking little dude who’s been tasked by your father, the Kind of the Cosmos, to rebuild the stars (which he accidentally destroyed).

So, you roll this magical sticky ball across various levels, and slowly pick up a hodgepodge of things—staplers, candy, chairs, cats, cars, trees, cows, etc.—until grows big enough to become a star.

I know—it makes perfect sense, right?

I’m bringing it up because it reminds me of a perfect analogy of when we decided to start something new, like a new project or new skill.

At the beginning, we’ve got a clean slate. For example, you want to learn how to design, so you sign up for an online class. You’re super excited about learning something new. Things are simple, innocent, singular.

But as we, our one singular task turns into 2 tasks. 2 turns into 5. 5 tasks leads to 20. And the deeper we go, the more options we have, and things we seem to need to do.

First you learn about what design is, but soon, you realize “design” is actually many many things—space, form, typography, grids, branding, illustration, UI, print, Interior, Product Design… And not to mention all the tools available to you to learn and grow as a designer, such as Illustrator, Figma and Auto CAD.

What often starts a simple quest quickly becomes many smaller quests and potential opportunities we could do.

To me, this is both incredibly exciting and also overwhelming.

The problem of course is not everything can be a priority.

As the saying goes, if everything is a priority then nothing is a priority.

The key is to choose and narrow your focus. And knowing what to choose requires us to take the time to learn about ourselves and figure out what we want to give our time to.

Who am I?

What gets me up in the morning?

What would I love to do, even if I never got paid a dime for it?

What makes me feel alive?

Where are my gifts? How can I use them to help others?

Questions like this will help you get the ball rolling (pun intended).

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1153

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Loving Uncertainty

Facing the unknown is uncomfortable.

No one said it would be easy to start your own business, or finish your book idea, or lose weight.

That feeling of not knowing what to do, or how to do it, or what decisions will lead to success is part of the creative process.

Going to school, smart decisions, honing our skills, and asking for wise counsel can set our course (and give us a better chance to succeed), but we’re still the ones who have to figure out how to climb the mountain(s) we are facing.

Even if we have someone guiding us all the way through, the path will be different, because the timing is different, and we’re different and our purpose is different.

This is not a lonely course, because everyone who is pursuing creative work outside the norm has to experience this.

Most people won’t choose this.

They would rather have someone else choose their path for them. Is this a bad thing? Who am I to say.

For me, it comes down to doing things that fulfill me and help others.

Does this thing I want to do light me up with joy and add a spark to my eye?

Is this person I want to be someone whom I would admire?

Am I helping others with my gifts?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1152

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RL: Prove It

“Whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well.”

Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield

“Map out your future – but do it in pencil. The road ahead is as long as you make it. Make it worth the trip.”

Jon Bon Jovi

I always feel much better about my day when I wake up early. An early morning really grounds me and sets me up for success for the day.

And on days when I stay up too late and inevitably sleep away my morning (and somehow ignoring my alarm), I can’t help but feel stressed and see the day as a wash.

But that’s not true. I may have missed a few hours in the morning, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the day is a waste. It would be a waste, however, if I myself fall into that poor mindset and give up the day.

Even though it doesn’t always feel like it, ~each new day is a fresh start.~

A new day to prove myself.

~Not~ to prove my worth—’who I am’ means more than just what I do—rather, to prove to myself that I can create.

Every blog I write is proof that I’m a writer. Someone who is working on his craft and challenging himself every day.

Every time I pick up the guitar, I’m proving to myself that I’m a musician.

Every day is a chance to show yourself and the people around you that you are committed. Committed to your craft(s). Committed to your dream(s). And each new day is also a chance to recommit when you falter or experience a dip.

Do I want this? Yes.
Am I half-assing it? Yes—then recommit. No—then keep proving it.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1151

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Stop Waiting

There’s this in-between state of creativity when you are just starting out or starting over, where you know where you want to be, but you haven’t quite made it yet.

Having “made it” isn’t the right phrase. There is no making it—well, there is, but there’s always another level, a new place you could be. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

I think of this in-between state like a doctor’s waiting room. We’ve got a stomachache, so here we sit, waiting for the doctor to see us. We know what we need, but we don’t have it yet.

With creativity, we’ve got this desire to do something, to be someone, to go after our dreams, but we don’t know exactly how to make that happen yet. So we sit in the waiting room, but unlike our visit to the doctor’s office, we forget we have to check-in. So we wait on our dreams to come, but our dreams (and the world) don’t know, because we forgot to sign our name and say that we are here.

What do I mean, exactly?

We often wait for our dreams to happen to us, but truly we need to go out and create them ourselves. We do this through practice, through connecting with others, through helping and teaching others.

We stand up and give our names. We declare ourselves a writer, a musician, a dancer, an entrepreneur—or whatever it is you wish to be—and then get up every day and make it happen, inch by inch.

Not by faking it. But by doing and learning and doing and learning, rinse repeat. Slowly. Deliberately. Patiently.

But also desperately. We let our actions and our priority highlight how dedicated we are.

Stop waiting.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1150

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