Finding Space for Solitude and Companionship

We often know what we need, before we think we need it.

Put another way, we often know what decision we need to make, way before we decide to take the steps to make it. We may go ask someone for advice, but it’s like our heart (soul/spirit / inner-self ) knows exactly what we need to do instantly.

Meanwhile our outer, critical, overthinking self wants to know 100% that we are making the right decision.

Sometimes we need space. Sometimes we need connection. Life is a mixture of both.

I have this tendency to check out whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or under the weather.

All I want to do is crawl away from all the noise and find somewhere quiet to be with myself.

Vegging out is a tempting mistress (and I find myself marathoning random shows more than I care to admit) but what I’m really seeking is a silent place to be alone with myself. I’m not checking out of myself, I’m checking out of the world.

I’m checking out of the external and checking into the internal.

So, I’ll avoid responding to texts. I’ll be more reluctant to answer emails, and more reclusive to going to events or friendly invitations. Even if it’s something I’d normally love doing, I’ll avoid it. Because what I know I need is space and breathing room to be alone.

Ask yourself, when was the last time you were alone with yourself? No phone. No tv. No distractions. Just you and you. (And maybe a notebook and pen.)

Whether we know it or not. We all need solitude. Our best ideas come from giving ourselves space. That’s why all great ideas happen when you are driving alone in your car, going on an early walk, or standing in the shower as the sound of water drowns out the outer world.

There are other occasions, usually, when things are tough or sour, where all we want to avoid people (particularly the prying people closest to us), and yet we know (and try to ignore) we need help and the only way we are gonna get that help is to be around people (again, particularly the prying people closest to us). We don’t want to show that we are hurting. We don’t want to show our weakness. And yet we all know that’s exactly what we need to do.

Better to rip the bandage and reveal our wounds early, otherwise, they might fester and become worse.

Sharing our weaknesses and scars is a part of what being a human being is about. It’s a shared connection of pain.

I think it’s a component of storytelling that’s built into our DNA. Your story connects to my story and vice versa.

You might not always get the reaction you were hoping for, but you at least likely won’t get the reaction you are expecting.

The difference between needing space and needing people is subtle. It takes some time (and a lot of patience) to be able to listen to yourself and figure out what you need. I think what we are seeking is similar — a level of clearheadedness or balance — but what drives each comes from different things. Whatever you think you need, it’s usually the opposite. Unless you are extremely in tune with your emotional wellbeing. If you are like the rest of us emotionally unintelligent work’s in progress(es), there are road signs you can watch out for —

Loneliness. Isolation. Feeling like you need to do and take care of everything yourself. These are signs that you need to be around people. Ideally, people that are smarter than you, care about you, and what to help and see you succeed.

Overwhelm. Overstimulated. Grumpy and feeling like everyone in the world is an idiot or out to get you. These are signs that you need to be alone with yourself. Ideally in nature. Or in a quiet place, you won’t be interrupted.

Ignore these signs at your own peril.

Ask yourself, do I need alone time right now? Or do I need companionship?

The answer is rarely at the bottom of a bottle, or in the taste of an indulgence.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1688

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How to Tell Distractions from Opportunities

It’s not that loose threads and rabbit holes are inherently bad or good—like many things it depends on context.

On the road to success, there will be many opportunities we could say yes or no to.

The problem is most opportunities look pretty great! And they usually come in fast and without a complete picture of information.

How do you know what’s a good opportunity versus a bad opportunity?

By comparing it to yourself and what kind of life you want to have.

The question is whether it is leading you towards or against what you’re looking for.

Is this opportunity/obligation distracting me from what I actually want to do?

Is this yes (a true yes) or more like an easy distraction?

Of course, in order to answer questions like these you have to know who you are. And, equally important, you have to learn to act on them (while a dozen other opportunities hit you at the same time).

If someone is dangling money or fame In front of you, but it doesn’t align with who you want to be, will you take it or turn it down?

Tough call. Knowing what you want, no—discovering what you want through experience and practice will make tough decisions much easier.

For me, it’s seeing money as an outcome of following true values and passions. If I decide to do something just for the sake of money, I’m likely doing it for the wrong reasons.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1687

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Anything is Better than Nothing

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.”

Walter Elliott

One of the hardest things to do for any habit is to keep going.

A habit is a collection of engrained small actions done consistently. While the work is still working, the need or desire to do the work is automatic.

But it doesn’t take much to derail a habit.

Inconsistency kills habits.

No matter how much we may want it, if we don’t continuously work at our habits, they’ll eventually be replaced by something else (something easier and more convenient).

“Use it or lose it”. Our brain prioritizes immediacy.

This is especially true when it comes to creative habits. Making stuff takes intentional work.

Sitting down to code your app, taking time to write a few pages of your novel, grabbing your iPad, and spending an hour drawing—these things may sound simple, but they are not easy.

Consistency is what it takes to succeed.

There’s a natural ebb and flow when it comes to the quality of our daily habits.

But the key is to keep going and strive for high quality. Maybe today that means only 20 minutes of work.

Well, that’s still 20 minutes more than nothing (if you decided to skip today). 20 minutes might not seem like a lot (and perhaps it’s not from a granular perspective). But 20 minutes adds up when looked over a long period.

Even if the 20 minutes of work is garbage, we’re greasing the creative wheels for future attempts.

At the end of the day, even a little bit of effort done consistently adds up to something meaningful.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1686

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Practice is Free

If I won the lottery today, I’d be investing a lot of it in learning.

Tools. Gear. Books. There are a ton of great premium ($$$) online courses I’d love to take. Companies, Colleges, individuals. Music, Design, Engineering, Film, you name it. If you had the cash, you could take Product Design from SCAD and music production courses from Berkeley, and an animation course from the School of Motion all at the same time.

Pretty amazing time we live in!

Of course, there are also plenty of things at our disposal that don’t require us to pay to play.

Khan Academy, EdX, not to mention the juggernaut of free resources: YouTube.

There’s great premium knowledge out there, but if you can’t (currently) swing that, there’s always another path, another way forward.

Practice is free, of course.

Some of the best minds have been forged by observation and figuring out how things work on their own. And figuring out how to get scrappy, and make do with what you have.

Finding a clever, underdog approach to creativity and success make for better stories anyway. Don’t let lack of resources stop you from building the life you want.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1685

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Life Happens in The Trenches

If you don’t know who you are or what you should be doing in life, remember:

Who you want to be is built over time.

We are expected to know what we want to do for a career fresh out of high school. (A career for the rest of our lives, I might add.)

I could barely even navigate to find the mall when I got out of high school, let alone what I wanted to be.

Many years later, I’ve got closer to who I want to be, but it’s always a work in progress.

Sure, there are goals to hit and things to strive for, but life is more than hitting your goals.

It’s what happens on the days before and on the days after. It’s what happens when you don’t. It’s what happens when your expectations of what should be get the better of you. It’s what happens after you succeed in one goal.

You don’t have to know who you are. You just need to be curious and live life to the fullest every day. (And sleep off the bad days.)

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1684

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Grow Your Forest 🌲

“A solid routine saves you from giving up.”

John Updike

“With consistency and reps and routine you’re going to achieve your goals and get where you want to be.”

Mandy Rose

Before I started writing every day, I would inevitably do it sporadically. My intention was to write when inspiration struck—which I assumed would be frequently—but in reality, I rarely put pen to paper. I squeezed out a handful (at most) of mediocre blog posts a year.

The interesting thing about inspiration is it doesn’t find us, we have to go out and make it ourselves. Feeling follows action. We don’t get motivated to act, we act and in the motion of action, our motivation is born.

It wasn’t until I committed to writing daily that I started having better ideas. I started seeing the world around me differently. Everything was potentially for story and potential for insight.

You’d think habit would stifle creativity, but it actually does the opposite.

Developing a daily routine gives us structure and our imagination breathing room to run wild. It’s the foundation we need to create consistently.

Not that quantity of work is what I’m after, however, quantity of work typically leads to quality.

Quantity leads to quality.

It likely won’t come together right away. Starting a new habit is like trying to get rusty gears to turn. It takes time and experimentation to find your grove.

The more we do something, the better we get at it (as long as we aren’t phoning it in of course).

And the more ideas we have.

It’s a number’s game, really. One great idea out of ten so-so ideas might seem like a poor average, but if you keep creating them then those great ideas start adding up. Digging up nine stumps isn’t so bad if the ten trees grow into a massive orange tree of impact and wealth (and not just financially).

Of course, we’re not trying to grow stumps. We’re trying to grow trees. So the more we practice the better we will be.

Whatever it is you want, whatever you’re trying to cultivate in your life, if it’s something important to you, then adding it to your every day is a simple yet powerful way to make it important and meaningful.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1683

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Start Small. Start Anyway

Sometimes the fear is too strong.

I­t­ can overwhelm us and prevent us from going forward.

That’s where low barriers of entry can be a godsend.

Low barriers are ways we can put our toes in the water. It’s a half step towards making the dream happen. Is it better than total immersion? A whole step? No. But half of something is better than a whole lot of nothing. Essential we are breaking down our big hairy goals into executable bite-sized chunks.

Low barriers to entry can show us that ‘hey, this isn’t so bad after all’.

Want to start a blog/vlog or podcast? Start with making one episode. You don’t have to post it, you just have to hit record and show yourself that you can.

Want to start a freelance business? Start by becoming your own client. Design or code something /you/ want to create first.

Want to get healthy? Start with breakfast. Eat what ever you want during lunch or dinner and focus on making one healthy breakfast (or try Intermittent Fasting).

Make the first step easy. Experiment. Commit to a few months. Show yourself how good it can feel to do good for yourself and your aspirations.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1682

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Don’t Half-*ss It

The biggest hurdle to any habit or skill you are learning is an overloaded system.

It’s often that we fail because we are trying too hard and too much at once, not because we aren’t trying enough.

Not trying enough is a pitfall that can keep you from starting.

If you ever find yourself never quite being able to get started or find yourself consuming a ton of books, courses, and videos but never putting them into practice, then you have a problem starting.

Maybe it’s fear of failure or repeating past mistakes or not living up to your exceptions of yourself.

Whatever the case, put all your strength into taking a step forward, however small.

Starting is a physics problem. Things at rest tend to stay at rest. What we need is something that pushes us forward, even just a tiny bit, that gets the ball rolling. Start and build momentum.

But if you’re trying but making no headway at all, then you’re likely trying too hard or trying too many things at once.

Getting results requires focused energy. You can’t reliably half-*ss success (unreliable success is called luck).

We need a strategy that gets us to the end goal 90% of the time and on the right track (or at least somewhere interesting) the other 10%. That starts with limiting your focus.

I can’t tell you how many times I unintentionally derailed myself because I attempted too many things at once. There are only so many things we can do at once (…I’m mostly in permanent denial about this). Even if I had all the energy and money in the world, I’d still run out of time at the end of the day. Focus and priority are our best friends here.

The thing we need to remember is success and opportunity stacks. Neither is assured, but both success and opportunity tend to build upon one another. One success leads to more opportunity leads to more (potential) success etc.

So where do you want to succeed?

What’s a problem you are struggling with that would wipe out most of your other problems if you were to solve it?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1681

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Always Relearning

“We have learned how to do a lot of things. We must try to relearn why.”

Flora Lewis

One important aspect of learning is relearning. Refreshing our skills, even going back and studying the fundamentals, is an important part of improving our skills and taking things to the next level.

We become a different person when we learn something. And as we improve, we gain clarity and depth in our skills. Things might have seemed new, challenging, or perhaps even a little hard to fully grasp. But then, over time, we change. Ever so slightly it may be.

Relearning allows us to go deeper. Relearning the fundamentals allows us to solidify our foundational knowledge and go beyond our current level of skill.

By re-approaching the basics—or what we (think we) know—we can compare our more developed mind and skill to where we started with a different perspective.

Perspective is everything and will improve our skills even more. Of course, we don’t want to let our relearning distract us from taking action.

The goal is to remind ourselves:

• where we started and how much we’ve learned.

• see what gaps we’ve been overlooking.

• And why we decided to learn it in the first place.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1680

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Good Advice

Everyone is going to have an opinion about your creative work.

Some genuinely want to help you improve and succeed; Others are critiquing just to tear a new hole into your face.

Not all feedback is created equal.

It feels weird saying that too much advice can be a bad thing. The fact that people are giving us advice at all is awesome, but not all advice is created equal.

Advice comes from: experience, creativity, opinion, and or adoration.

And also comes from extreme places: jealousy, fear, caution, recklessness, and a bunch of other emotions they might not know they are pumping out.

An older, wiser person who has been through what you are experiencing or something similar should have more weight than an older person who has never been through it.

Experience doesn’t always necessarily mean the advice is correct (advice stuck in the past, for example) but it does have weight and value.

Advice can be tricky to verify, because you don’t always know where the advisor is coming from (experience or opinion? both?).

I think experience and creativity have a higher level of quality than opinion or adoration.

The biggest place where advice loses its equality is in opinion.

A hundred people’s opinion on what you should do will be all over the place. One person will tell you that you should do X. Another person will tell you that you should do the opposite of X.

The thing that can cut through most advice is making your own decisions.

Taking advice doesn’t mean you have to follow it.

We ultimately decide what’s best for us and for our work.

If a hundred opinionated people give you hundreds of things to try, you have no obligation to do it. Listen, then decide what you think is best.

And if someone experienced gives you advice, it’s always good to pause and take it honestly. then consider how and if it applies to your life.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1679

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