Autopilot Life

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”


We often live life on autopilot. Going where the wind (of others) takes us. I don’t think we have complete control over our lives, but at the very least we can say a prayer to ourselves and put our hands on the wheel.

It’s difficult to see what you are doing wrong, if anything, without proper reflection on what you’re doing.

Just because you’re going in a certain direction doesn’t make it a direction that works out for you.

There is no right or wrong direction per se. It’s more like there is the direction we can choose to take that align better to who we are and what we want out of life versus going against who we are (or who we want to be).

Many mistakes can happen when you go in and wing it. While over-preparation can hurt momentum, it never hurts to be more prepared rather than unprepared and caught off guard. It’s like they say, it’s better to go to a party overdressed (to the nines) than underdressed.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #838

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A Problem Half Solved

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

Albert Einstein

A Problem isn’t just a problem itself. It’s also the baggage we stack onto the problem. How we think, perceive and what we believe changes how the problem looks. (If a problem was like a sweater we wear, our thoughts, beliefs about the problem would be us wearing 10+ extra sweaters on top.)

Depending on how much stuff we pile on top of our problems, the heavier it becomes. (Think of it like an exponential: Problem^x)

But by stripping away everything but the original issue, we can more easily tackle it and not let it get the best of us.

Getting to the essence of a problem starts with understanding it. Asking questions is a great way to do this. It’s difficult to see something when you don’t have a full picture of what it is. Questions get to the heart of the issue.

Is the problem something within my control? Can I do something about it? (Sometimes problems are bigger than we are (i.e. changing the weather) and are better let go.)

What is the problem exactly? How many pages can I write about the problem? Can I describe it in a few sentences? Can I describe it in the size of a tweet? Can I describe the essence of the issue in one sentence?

What’s contributing to the problem? Is something else I’m doing (or not doing) making the problem (seem/become) bigger than it should be?

Who can help me with this problem? Who has found a way past this trouble before? Are there any books or resources I can use to solve this? (Help can come from anywhere, not just people we know.)

How can I use this problem to my advantage?

We can also look out for is negative or unhelpful feedback loops. Meaning situations where I can’t do X because of Y I can’t do Y because of Z and I can’t do z because of X. We’ve thought ourselves into a corner. Nothing useful happens when you are stuck sitting in the negative corner. To break the cycle, we need to find a different way to approach the issue. The best way I’ve found to do this is to ask a friend — ideally someone who you admire or you consider smarter than you. If we’re trapped in our perspective, then we can seek someone else’s (or multiple people).

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #828

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Big Year

I want to do some BIG things this year. I’ll be turning 30 in October (which is nuts), and my significant other, Gabriella just turned thirty early this month.

I have a few ideas, but I don’t like to kiss and tell. One thought was to do at least 1 big thing each month this year.

Nothing big for big’s sake. I’m looking for challenges and experiences. I want to do/read/see things that change me for the better, or at least add up to something meaningful.

If you have any suggestions, email me at josh (@)renaissancelife dot com or reach out on Twitter or Instagram (

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #819

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All In

“Energy and persistence conquer all things.”

Benjamin Franklin

How often do we neglect what we really want to do — our goals and big dreams — for little day to day tasks and needs?

We want to be more healthy and active, but we don’t.

We want to write that novel, but we haven’t.

We want to work on our business ideas, but we aren’t. 

At least not as well as we could be.

I think I’ve been avoiding my most important task recently, and instead have been playing whack-a-mole with little things I want to do instead. (And things that others want me to do.) 

I often blame my lack of time for not doing what I want to do, but my lack of time is because of me. I’m spending it elsewhere. I’m doing other things. Some of them great, but not all of them are being used where they should be. I’m prioritizing easy over hard and uncomfortable things. I’m prioritizing familiar over challenging. 

It’s hard to sit down and create something. You’ve gotta be all in during those moments. You’ve got to be **on**. It’s easier to clean the house, or watch a movie, or go out for drinks. The worst thing can happen at a movie is we pick the wrong movie and it’s not good, or we eat too much popcorn. Oh well… But there’s high stakes when it comes to creativity. Or, at least it feels like there are. We post online we’re going to train for a marathon — and don’t. We write a novel — and it sucks or worse, nobody reads it. We work on our business ideas and we fail.

But do we fail? What is failure? Rejection? Financial loss? Loss of Reputation? Where does failure begin and end?

As long as we’re still living and breathing, failure is an arbitrary division. A milestone among many. In some cases, even being dead creativity lives on. What matters is that we keep pursing. We wake up, fail and try again. 

Because big dreams are bigger than small failures. 

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #817

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The Enemy is Me

What’s getting in your way?

Perhaps something came to mind for you. But is that the real reason? What’s the why behind the reason? Why do you feel like __ is getting in your way?

I often find myself wrapped in great excuses for why I’m stuck. What is an excuse but a reason to avoid doing things?

What if I’m just scared? Scared of failing. Scared of uncertainty. Scared of rejection and looking like a boob. Well, at least then I’m being honest with myself.

It’s okay to be afraid. It’s okay to feel lonely or defeated or tired or clumsy or lackluster or jealous. That makes us all human. That’s what allows us to seek others and grow. What’s not okay is letting loneliness, fear. fatigue or despair have the last laugh. At the end of a bad day, all we can really do is wash off our bruises, take care of ourselves the best we can muster, and get up tomorrow and try again.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #816

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Even Your Heroes Make Mistakes

“Everyone is flailing through this life without an owner’s manual, with whatever modicum of grace and good humor we can manage.”

Anne Lamott

“The ideal man bears the accidents of life with dignity and grace, making the best of circumstances.”


Imagine if you woke up tomorrow rich and famous. If you need a backstory why — one day, you were shopping at an antique store. you were rifling through a stack of dusty books when a gleam caught your eye. In a bowl on a thick wooden desk, a ring stood out among the rest. Something about it was mesmerizing. Maybe it was the way that one blue jewel of three seemed to flicker in the right light. You try it on and it surprising (not so surprisingly) fits perfectly. A from the corner of your mind comes to a voice that reminds you of hot summer days and the scent of fresh air. “Hello, my friend. I have one wish left to give to be set free. What do you desire?”

Backstory aside — imagine if you woke up tomorrow and everything was exactly the same, but you were rich and famous.

Think about your life up until now. The little mistakes you made while growing up. Things you did without knowing any better. Things you tried because you thought you’d be able to get away with it. Think about what you’re good at, what you’re bad at (or what are works in progress).

I’d likely be just as flawed and mistaken-ridden as any other famous person is.

Money and status amplify who we are. They put us in front of more opportunities (opportunity creates opportunity) but they also give us the chance to make some very public mistakes and expose us to a lot of people who want we have. Money solves a lot of problems, but it also creates more. I say this as a normal, non-rich (yet), non-famous person.

Hero’s make mistakes. Just like we make mistakes. Does that justify or condone their actions? No. In fact, because they’re in the spotlight, they have more responsibility to uphold higher values and own up to mistakes when they inevitably happen. Most of us have a right to a little grace. (Not too much grace, but some. 🙂

What makes a human is not the mistakes they make, but what they do after they make them. A great leader owns up to their flaws, failures, and foibles, and commits to getting better every day going forward.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #808 can you feel that b.a.s.s.

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Goodbye 2019

“You must live life in its very elementary forms. The Mexicans have a very nice word for it: pura vida. It doesn’t mean just purity of life, but the raw, stark-naked quality of life. And that’s what makes young people more into a filmmaker than academia.”

Werner Herzog

2019 was a particular raw year for me. I faced quite a few harsh realities that had been accumulating like cobwebs in an unattended ceiling corner. It seems insane to me how momentary decisions, like being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or hanging out with the wrong people has big-boy ( / big-girl) ramifications and unintended consequences. For me, it was staying too long at a job that’s wasn’t working for me. I had my reasons, but at the end of it, my ‘reasons’ were more justifications for things I didn’t like that I was seeing (and trying to avoid), such as colleagues exaggerating successes and thoughtlessness (or manipulation). Apologies, I’m being vague here. I’m not some who enjoy mincing words or criticizing another’s character.

Negativity and anger harm the source more than the recipient.

At the end of the day, my character is the only thing I have control over, not someone else’s. We can set the example, lead by doing, instruct and guide when given the opportunity, but we act for others, they have to do it themselves.

In many ways, I’m ending my 2019 in a much better place than how it started. But I can’t help but feel like I’m entering the 2020 atmosphere hot upon reentry and a little raw. Perhaps that’s exactly what I need. A raw look at things will give me an honest and first principled look at my life and creativity (music, writing, art, business). Who knows? Maybe this raw, anxious energy can give me a creative edge. Great ideas tend to bleed. And honesty and heart show through and hit a nerve that connects your ideas to real people who want to hear them and be a part of the story too.

Great ideas tend to bleed.

I’m still thinking about what I want to experience and do in 2020. I don’t think I’m going to do a million resolutions like I normally do. I want to have some sort of structure, goals to aim for, but I want to do so thoughtfully and intentionally.

  • How can I help friends and family accomplish their goals this new year?
  • What if I focused on enabling others, instead of solely focused on myself?
  • What’s working, what’s not working?
  • How can I nurture my intuition more and follow it at the moment?
  • What can I remove from my life? What is distracting me from what I love and enjoy?
  • How can I focus on experience, without sacrificing the future?
  • What can I build this new year that will set me up five, ten years from now?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #793

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Magic Beans

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on
being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.”

Anna Quindlen

I think New Years Resolutions usually fail because we put too much pressure on ourselves to succeed. By the end of January, we want to have lost 25lbs, read a hundred books, run a marathon and thirty other goals on top of that.

We want the magic beans, the thing that will immediately give us what we want as easy as possible. But that’s no how change works.

Change happens slowly. A decision to change can happen instantly, but the hard work and commitment to make it reality takes some time.

While you’re thinking about 2020 and what you want to accomplish and experience, remind yourself that it’s okay if a goal might take a while. It might be easy, but it might not be. Either way, if it’s something you want to do or accomplish, do let difficulty stop you from doing it. Difficult moments are fleeting. They are like a campfire in a rainstorm.

By all means, make a giant list of things you want (I know I am going to). Then, pick on and focus in 100% on it. You’re not saying no to the others you’re are just saying no to them right now while you focus on the goal at hand.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #791

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Cutting the Unessential

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Find a way forward. The best way to cut through the nonsense is to keep going. Sometimes it will look like you’re going in circles, and sometimes you have to go back to the beginning. But we never really go back to the start. We have our hard earned experiences to guide us, and our open mind to see what matters to us and what doesn’t.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #790

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Caught up in the Right Things

In life, we often find ourselves in difficult spots — places we don’t want to be — such as poor relationships, burdensome financial problem or unfulfilling work. Sometimes we even end up in the exact opposite of where we want to be. As nice as it would be to figure out how to avoid these difficult moments, they are often blessing wrapped in painful disguises.

In order to find ourselves in a good place, we have to go through a crappy place to get there. Or, in other words,

Something usually has to break in order to have a breakthrough.

I guess I’m saying there’s sometimes a bright side or silver-lining to negative things (…which is really dumb but true).

I’ve found it really helpful to remember that when I’m going through a rough patch, whatever it is. If we can latch onto to the good we have, and remind ourselves that there are good times ahead, perhaps we won’t be so caught up in the negative, frustrating (yet fleeting) moments.


The Jar of Awesome

The Five Minute Journal: A Happier You in 5 Minutes a Day

Pick Me Up: A Pep Talk for Now and Later by Adam J. Kurtz

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #782

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