Inner Work

“This is not your responsibility, but it is your problem.”
— Cheryl Strayed

We don’t get to choose what kind of problems we face in life. Big or small. Maybe if we were able to catch the problem* before it bit us in the ⓐss we could have found a way around it. But that type of wishful thinking about making our past flubs and distress better is exactly what leads to more problems in the first place.

My problems are part of my story. Even if I wasn’t the cause of them happening. (‘not my responsibility’) I can try to deny it. I can wish for different problems. I can try to cope it away through over-shopping or over-working. I can blame the world. But they are still my problems and mine to solve. I’m the one suffering because of them.

Our problems are part of our story.

Taking ownership is our responsibility. And how we react to a problem is also our problem too. I think we all know that getting angry or sad or lost in our problems is like us throwing fuel on the fire. It’s hard to enjoy a campfire when it’s catching everything around it on fire too. We have to find to take responsibility for how we react too. Therapy. Creative outlets. Communication. Positive Habits. Small steps towards healing. Whatever moves us to the next leg of our personal hero’s journey.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #834

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*I have been interested lately in figuring out ways to build a more accountable network of friends and community around me so that I can spot potential pitfalls and problems before they accumulating 💩 buckets and tip over. A community of mutually constructive feedback. I’ll write more about this soon.

Meanie Me

“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.”

Epictetus

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”

Henry David Thoreau

“The enemy is the inner me.”

Nick Miller, New Girl

I think deep down there’s a part of me that wants to fail. (And I imagine I’m not alone in this sentiment.) Of course, I want to succeed. I want to create meaningful work. I want to experience life to the utmost. I want to make enough money to add fuel to my creativity.

But there’s a part of me that doesn’t. Let’s call him Jerry.

Jerry wants things to stay the same. Jerry is lazy and doesn’t care about the future. All he care’s about is immediate pleasures. Jerry wants his gallon of ice cream. Jerry wants me to fail because Jerry (and all the Jerry’s I’ve run across in life) thinks failure is all I’m good for. But Jerry wants what jerry wants, not what I want.

We often push so hard to be who we want to be. We work late hours. We do what others don’t. All for our inner Jerry’s to grab the wheel and crash the car. It’s not Jerry’s fault. Jerry is Jerry. The fault is my own. We let our inner enemy, our resistance, our past failures, and fears drive us, we are taking our hands off the wheel of our dreams and desires.

  • Anger can get you far, but it won’t make you any happier.
  • Fear can motivate, but it usually just diminishes instead.
  • Failure (and the fear of failure) keeps us locked and stuck in place.
  • Envy separates us from what opportunity and good fortune we have within our own circumstances and journey.
  • Worry and apathy keeps us from being alive.
  • Resentment rots.
  • Anxiety is the embodiment of FOMO and convincing ourselves we aren’t good enough.

We are good enough. Maybe we aren’t in an ideal situation we’d like to be, but who really is? We are good enough to use what we have to create something better. And enjoy what we have while also striving for improvement.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #833

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Intent is Powerful…

But not so much if we tell everyone about it. The power doesn’t come from speaking about it. The power comes from the energy (purpose/why/drive/desire) behind it.

When we talk about things we are going to do, we’re setting ourselves up for potential failure.

It’s not that we are lying when we say what our intent is. The problem is just because we say it, doesn’t mean it will happen. Plus there’s a lot of setbacks (usually out of our control) that can distract and get in the way of doing what we say.

Having the public accountability could give us the butt fire we need to follow through, but it could also leave us publicly displaying how bad we are at following through sometimes — even with every intention of doing it well.

Better to let our intention speak through our actions.

Better to only talk about things we are doing or have done.

“The smallest deed is better than the greatest intention.”

John Burroughs

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #830

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Your Enthusiasm Is Showing

“Enthusiasm is everything. It must be taut and vibrating like a guitar string.”

Pele

I always enjoyed math in school, but it wasn’t until I explored the subject on my own and discovered all the interesting tidbits and people you don’t hear about in class. You have time to learn how to solve for X, but only had a vague idea who Rene Descartes or Galileo Galilei was (and others like them) and intrigue surrounding their ideas.

To be enthusiastic, you have to take a genuine interest in what you are talking about. On the surface, some things (pick your poison: gardening, construction, Math, geology, DMV’s, etc) can seem boring, but there’s usually a hidden gem or two that allows you to go deeper into the subject and find what’s exciting or unexpected about it.

Enthusiasm is a power resourceful. And when it’s backed by skill, it can dent universes. Even when you can’t back your enthusiasm with skill, it can’t lead you towards gaining skill rapidly and also create the illusion of skill.

Put two people with identical ideas next to each other but one person is enthusiastic and the other is boring and there’s no question which idea stands out more.

Like a moth to a candlelit flame, we are drawn to enthusiastic people.

And like any resource, enthusiasm can be used well or poorly. Enthusiasm can also be used at you to convince you of ideas and perspective, which isn’t necessarily a bad or good thing.

When enthusiasm used for good, it allows us to open up and grow into better people. By surrounding ourselves with enthusiastic people, we can feed off their energy and charm and feel more energized and enthusiastic ourselves. We learn new things, find interesting stories and opportunities.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #829

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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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Creative Downtime

“I have the habit of attention to such excess, that my senses get no rest – but suffer from a constant strain.”

Henry David Thoreau

One thing I’ve learned the hard way is that I need a healthy amount of downtime (Josh time) during the week. Otherwise, I’ll turn into a Granny Smith apple (aka sour and don’t talk to me vibes). Ideally, I try to have at least an hour each day to myself — but that depends on the week. And if I can, I try to have a full day of creativity where I can focus on personal projects and learning.

The weekend is technically supposed to be our downtime, but since everybody’s off, it’s like nobody’s off. Chores to do, places to be and people to see. But what about us?

Are we giving ourselves what we need to thrive? Are we nourishing our minds, bodies, and spirits? Or are we just running from one thing to the next like our hair is on fire, completely putting ourselves last? Are you even giving yourself downtime?

It’s not selfish to put yourself first.

There are a time and place for giving (your time, energy and other resources) to others. But if you’re emotionally and energetically bankrupt from giving too much of yourself, then what good are you to others?

Prioritize downtime for yourself, whatever that looks like for you.

Here are some ideas:

  • Daily walk with your thoughts
  • Journalling
  • Taking a dance class
  • Drawing
  • A hot bath
  • Practicing music
  • Writing
  • Doing something with your hands — pottery, woodwork, origami, etc
  • Exercising
  • Cooking for yourself

Choose something that rejuvenates you. (And ideally, something you don’t do for money).

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #827

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Related:

“It’s very important that we re-learn the art of resting and relaxing. Not only does it help prevent the onset of many illnesses that develop through chronic tension and worrying; it allows us to clear our minds, focus, and find creative solutions to problems.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

Boxed In

Gabriella has been diving DEEP into the Enneagram. If you are unsullied, it’s a personality type system that characterizes us based on certain traits we have and don’t have. According to the philosophy behind it, each person has a core personality type (a number between 1 and 9 that represent various characteristics.)

I’ve taken a few of the personality tests, but I’m not quite sure how I feel about it all. (At least I’m not head-over-heels about it.) When I first took the test I had like three wings (associations) in addition to my core number. Giving myself a number feels like boxing myself in and I don’t like boxing myself in.

I’d rather look at all the useful/positive traits from each number and adopt them for my own. And get rid of all the unhelpful traits. As Bruce Lee once said, “Absorb what is useful. Discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own.”

But I’m speaking out of pure ignorance here. (Which is never a phrase you should write and put on the internet.) I’ve only started reading The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery, so there’s a lot I don’t know.

Gabriella is using it as a tool for self-discovery and self-love, which I think is fantastic. Anything that can give you better access to who you are and what you want is a worthy pursuit.

For some — like her — having a personality system to help navigate your inner world is quite profound. I feel like I have a good sense of who I am and the kind of person I’m aiming to be. So I suppose I’m more interested in learning how I can apply the Enneagram to better communicate and impact the people around me.

To me, the Enneagram is one tool out of many we can use to better understand ourselves and the world. If you find the Enneagram useful, use it by all means. You’re not limited by what number you are (or aren’t). You are limited (or limitless) by how you apply that information to yourself and your life.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #824

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Work on Yourself

“There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.”

Malcolm X

It’s quite easy to see the flaws in other people. You have a friend that would be killing it… if only they would put in a little more effort. Or you have a parent who would be so much better off if they would stop worrying all the time about everything. Or you strike up a conversation with a randoe person and notice exactly the things they could improve.

It’s harder to see the flaws in ourselves.

We don’t see ourselves from the outside perspective. We don’t know what we don’t know. What’s easy for you to solve might be difficult for me, because we’ve experienced life in different ways through different experiences.

Although, I think people growing up today with social media might have a better sense of it, but not in a good way. Everything is styled and curated. If something’s wrong, they notice. But they don’t use it to try to improve themselves (or learn to accept their flaws as a part of what makes them who they are). Instead, we see waves of self-loathing and anxiety.

It’s alright to be flawed. No one is flawless, even the people that tell/show us they are. We all have things we are great at and things we need to work on.

One insight I found help on my journey is to think about yourself as a work in progress. If you don’t like something about yourself, then change it. If you want to be better, then be better. You are a blank canvas waiting to be painted and repainted. You can change. And you can change your mind over time too.

And if you want to help others, begin by helping yourself. Take the lead. Live the example first. Don’t just shout advice like you have a clue what you are talking about when you don’t. Give advice on what you do know, or examples of who does.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #823

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Related:

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

Me No Thinky But Happy

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

Seneca

I’ve been traveling most of the day and my brain has turned into banana pudding. Instead of trying to squeeze out some pudding-brained insight, I’m going to just write a quick announcement.

I’m excited to officially be joining the Southside Creative team as a full-time developer. I’ve been working with them for the past two months and it’s been a wonderful experience. Southside is a branding and marketing agency based in Chattanooga. The work and clients have been great so far, but the real magic is the team. Everyone is super talented across the board, dedicated to their craft and also extremely thoughtful, which is honestly a breath of fresh air. (Plus they are a bunch of silly coconuts too, especially when you need a good laugh.)

I’m excited about bringing my creativity and strategic thinking to the mix. Personally, I want to elevate my coding and design skills as well as expand into other interesting skillsets.

I’ll be continuing to write and post my daily blog, of course. 😉

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #820

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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 (@renaissance.life).

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

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