Learning to Love Uncertainty

Facing the unknown is uncomfortable. It can be terrifying and can make us feel frozen in fear.

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

The likelihood of failure is always there. Even if we do everything we can to succeed.

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, 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 helps 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?

Here’s the thing about fear and uncertainty— it doesn’t go away. No matter how successful we become, or how many hours, years even, we put in. But. But—our relationship with fear and uncertainty can be healthy.

Fear and uncertainty are there for a reason. To keep us safe. But sometimes—especially when it comes to social fears—being safe is stopping us from growing.

If we see uncertainty and fear as a friend and acknowledge them, we can learn to push through when we need to. Because mostly our uncertainty and fears are just ghosts. Ghosts dancing in our mind’s eye.

If we embrace our fears, we can learn to love uncertainty. What’s gonna happen? I don’t know, but it’s gonna be exciting and interesting.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1855

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What Owns You?

What Are You Beholden To?

What are the things you can’t live without?

Coffee?

Beauty products?

Morning bagel?

TV? Books?

Daily exercise?

For me, it was coffee (among others). I once traveled a week Island hopping in Thailand with a full coffee set up—French press, kettle and butter, and MCT Oil to make it bulletproof.

I find that hilarious and ridiculous.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting nice things, especially if they add value and energy to your life.

“The things you own end up owning you. It’s only after you lose everything that you’re free to do anything.” — Chuck Palahniuk, [Fight Club

That goes for our habits, goal, and dreams too.

I find it helpful to challenge myself on what I think is normal, what I’m reliant on, and periodically take away what I “need”.

For example, how many monthly subscriptions are you plugged into right now? How many do you use consistently? More importantly, what values are they adding to your life?

This isn’t an exercise about getting rid of things we love, rather an exercise to challenge our assumptions and build up a knowledge of resilience to our extra luxuries and desires we carry around on our shoulders.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1854

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One Percent

Think of something big you want to accomplish in life. It can be anything:

Create a successful business, write a well acclaimed book, go to mars, learn 5 languages…

Whatever i­t­ is we set our minds on, there’s a gap between us, our goals, and a bunch of unknown, terrifying, exhilarating, rock bottom, uncomfortable things standing in between where we are and where we want to be.

Big picture goals are like a large realistic painting you view at a distance. When you get closer, you realize the picture was made from dabs of different colors and strokes of movement.

Mistakes, creative epiphanies, techniques and layer and layers of work and expression are what turns stretched canvas and some tubes of paste into a masterpiece that resonates through time.

It’s the same with our big goals. It’s hard to see how a BIG goal is accomplished, when you’re starting at ground zero looking up at this looming mountain, lacking a Sherpa to guide the way. You want to get to the top, but how?

1%

Doing even just a tiny amount of consistent and deliberate work dedicated towards accomplishing your goal will accumulate up over time.

1% doesn’t just add up, it multiplies. The more consistent and good you get at something you love, the more you’ll want to do it.

What’s one small thing you can do today—right now—to get you one step closer to your goal?

It doesn’t matter if it’s an hour or just ten minutes.

Start with 1%, Stick with at least 1%, and one day you’ll be in the top 1%.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1853

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Small Right Things

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 begin 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 #1852

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Take Care of What’s Yours

HEALTH Starts and Ends with You

Your health is your responsibility.

As much as I️ would love to just be able to give my health problems to someone else to take care of for me, that’s not how I­t­ works. (Jane, you’re in charge of exercising my muscles. Steve, you’re in charge of meditating, meanwhile, I’m going to lay on this couch and watch YouTube. Alright, ready…go!)

I grew up not knowing that food not only affects how you look but also how you feel.

Most of my “education” early on was just marketing. “Milk builds strong bones”. Sure sure. But what about kale and spinach? And that quality counts.

Our circumstances might not have been ideal, but that doesn’t change the fact that we can do something about it now. We can do better today.

Or am I️ just going to give up? Lay in bed for the rest of my life, never write a book, release a music album, travel the world? Hell No.

This is my responsibility.

The only person who can care 150% about your wellbeing is yourself.

Others can care, but you should care even more. Some doctors care, but there’s only so much they can do with a 20-minute consultation. Plus if a doctor cares more about your health than you do, then something needs to be changed. You are the one who has the power in your hands to change your life trajectory.

I’m not a doctor (nor do I️ play one on the Internet), I’m not telling you to do something stupid. I’m telling you to do the opposite — be smart about your health. Your health directly affects everything you do, including your creativity and success. If you want to be a high performer in what you do, you’ve got to go beyond the basics and learn to take control of what ails you.

You must be the one to take charge, gain knowledge, and master health and wellness.

Somewhere out there, there is someone who has been through what we’re going through. It’s up to us to learn from them and smartly experiment with what works for ourselves.

You’re health — and ultimately your life — is in your hands.

A greater understanding of health is a certain roadmap to a better all-around YOU.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1849

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Something is Better Than Nothing

Starting is the most important thing we can do when we feel stuck by fear or uncertainty. Motion. Forward momentum.

Otherwise, all we are is talk. And we all know talk is cheap. Action is authentic.

Starting creates momentum. There’s always going to be uncertainty, fear, and failure. That shouldn’t stop us from living.

So what if we fail.

So what if we look dumb.

At least we did something, unlike 98% of the world.

There will be a thousand important things we need (should / could) do and a thousand more after that, but without that first step, none of those things matter.

The first step doesn’t have to *right* either. So what if we fail immediately. At least we are falling towards something versus being sucked into the quicksand from standing still.

We need to be bold (or naive) enough to try.

Obviously, I’d rather do it ‘right’ (whatever that means) and do everything I can to ensure my ideas will succeed, but success isn’t assured (nor inevitable, just because I want it). A lot of people have ideas.

What’s the probability of success? What can I do to make it more likely to succeed?

Start now. Start before you are ready. Start anyway.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1848

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Passion Comes Second

Finding your passion(s) isn’t about knowing, it’s about trying.

Curiosity comes first. Passion comes second.

It’s giving a bunch of things a go and seeing what brings you joy and challenges you.

I think the big problem people struggle with is the put too much pressure on themselves to find something they love while also allowing them to make a living. Or finding something they love that they are good at.

It’s like betting the farm in a game of poker when you don’t even know how to play.

How can you be passionate about something you haven’t tried or know anything about?

It’s better to always be trying new things for the sheer fun of it, with little or no expectations of money or reward.

Approaching something with no expectations usually makes the experience more enjoyable. Think about the last time you went to the movie theaters (remember those?). Maybe you had low expectations for the movie because an online review said it wasn’t great, and they were right, but after watching it you ended up having a great time. What gives? Was the movie bad or good? The movie was bad, but what changed was your expectations. On the other hand, if you had gone in with massive expectations and it ended up being bad, you’d be disappointed.

Piling the fate of the universe on finding your passion will just overwhelm you from ever finding or choosing it. Better to approach things with wonder and playfulness than come from a place of pressure and worry.

Seeing Progress

I recently found my old sketchbooks from middle school and high school. Back then, I remember thinking my art was pretty good. I would get compliments on them too (and not just from my mom.)

Looking at them now, I see how raw my skills were, how little I knew. Rough sketches of keyboards, characters from my favorite shows, still life sketches, all drawn with a heavy hand. Not to belittle my younger inexperienced self. I don’t see his (my) work as terrible or cringe-worthy. It’s more nostalgic than anything.

A big part of creative work, be it art, film, music, or writing… is progressing to new levels of understanding and seeing.

At each stage, we use the knowledge and experience we’ve got to work with. It’s only until we reach a new level of understanding that we glimpse the flaws in our previous work. No—not flaws. It’s more like we go from standard definition to high definition, and then from HD to 4K, and so on.

SD only looks blurry and muddy in retrospect. At the time, it was sharp to our inexperienced eyes.

When you look at your previous work and see the flaws and what you would do differently, then you are in a good place. Because you’re able to observe what you couldn’t before shows how much progress you’ve made.

Every new level of understanding is a new level of seeing.

Accepting The Path

“The only way out is through.”

I’ve heard that phrase here and there (—heck I’ve probably said it a couple of times too) but I don’t think I understood what it meant until recently.

I assumed it meant tough it out. Keep pushing. Grit your teeth and make it happen. Don’t give up. Don’t back down. Anything that resembled the country musician Rodney Atkins’s lyrics “If you are going through hell keep going.”

But I don’t think that’s the true meaning, or at least not the whole story.

Realizing that “the only way out is through” is actually about acceptance.

Acceptance feels like a word that means giving up, but the opposite is true. It’s standing up for yourself by giving in to your problems and circumstances and letting go of the outcome. Again, which to some people might sound like a failure, but really its success wrapped in confidence.

When you accept where you are, you can find progress forward. The process isn’t the goal, but a byproduct of accepting whatever life throws at you.

You get sick, and that becomes part of your story.

You lose your job, and that becomes a stepping stone on the life you were meant to live.

It leads you to not only sympathize with others like you, but allows you to impact others with your personal story. It leads you down a path you wouldn’t have taken.

When you accept the path you must take, suddenly opportunities start springing up everywhere you look.

– Bad + Good

It’s good to pause every so often and look at the whole playing field of your good habits and bad habits you currently have. Our bad habits are often hampering or subtracting our good habits, leaving us feeling like they aren’t helping us, or that we aren’t making any progress.

For example, having a good habit of doing great work at your job, but having a bad habit of mis-communicating or even not communicating what you are doing and why. Nothing kills a project like forgetting to stay in touch with the client and updating them on your progress.