A Little Extra

What are you willing to give up in order to gain what you dream?

Some people give up their sleep so they can go to night school, or work on their business in the evenings.

Some push aside their fears and possibly embarrass themselves so that they can keep stepping up on stage, or so they can pursue their dreams in illustration.

In order to have an extraordinary life, we need to put in extra work.

Extra work meanings working smart and efficiently, not working ourselves into the ground. No energy equals no extra. That won’t do.

Giving extra effort doesn’t mean giving up our essential needs.

We have to be smart about what thoughts we allow rent in our minds.

Thoughts that others tell us.

Thoughts we tell ourselves.

For Example, what does looping a negative thought do to us? Thoughts like “I’m bad at writing / I’m bad at money” or looping a past mistake “I wish someone had helped me make a better decision about school…”.

Quantitatively, I’m not sure. But, intuitively I know I feel more tired and drained on days when I’m stuck in my head, looping an unhelpful thought, or overwhelming myself with a mental checklist.

We have to be smart about what we eat and handle our bodies.

Leaning over a laptop all day with poor posture without a break is only contributing to our back-aching-life, not our extraordinary one.

Ask yourself: How is this helping me?

How is this ice cream helping me? Sure it super tasty, but is it helping me accomplish my goals? Is it giving me energy? Or is it stressing my body out of nutrition and adding a new pant size to my wardrobe?

To be extra, we have to act, think, value, and live in the ways that get us where we want to be.

Giving extra effort means getting rid of the nonessentials, so we focus on the essentials.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1087

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Stick-to-itiveness

“The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.”

Emile Zola

There are many strategies you can employ on the road to becoming a successful artist or entrepreneur.

They aren’t mutually exclusive—you can try multiple creative strategies—but it’s often better to experiment with one at a time, otherwise, you’d be dividing your time and potency between too many things.

A classic example is product-market-fit. PMF was concept was created by Andy Rachleff (who is the CEO and co-founder of Wealthfront, and was the co-founder of Benchmark Capital.)

The essential idea is how well does your product meets the demand of the market you are selling it to. What value does your product need to match what the market wants? What’s a market you can address that really wants your product?

Another creative strategy is having exceptional skills. This is the strategy that Cal Newport talks about in his book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You*. (The title says it all.)

I’m a big fan of stick-to-itiveness, aka persistence or perseverance as a creative strategy. If you can consistently show up, day after day, despite whatever curveball, storm, or complacency life throws at you, you have a big chance of being successful.

Sometimes the ones that win the game are the ones who keep playing the longest.

Imagine, for example, Joe Rogan stopped doing his podcast after a hundred episodes. Maybe he got too busy, or he didn’t like the quality of his work, so he stopped. He would have missed out on being the podcasting powerhouse that he is. There are many reasons why his podcast his great—honest conversation, humor, personality, variety of ideas and perspectives—but one of the biggest ones is the consistency.

Of course you want to make double-dang sure you are in the right game.

And with stick-to-itiveness comes challenging yourself and always upping your game. You can’t get lazy and rest on your morals if you want consistency to work. Plateaus and dips are natural, but after every plateau and ever drop there needs to be a rise. Dwayne Johnson sums it up well,

“Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.”

Question: Are you being consistent with your work?

Action: Take some time to think about how you can more consistent this week, starting today.

Share: What’s something you have consistently done for a long time? What’s something you struggle to be consistent with?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1083 ☕️

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Clarify the Problem

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

Eric Hoffer, philosopher

If I were asked to sum up yesterday’s post, The Cost of Lying to Yourself, with a single word, it would be self-honesty. (A hyphenated single word, but still…)

Avoiding or brushing off problems only makes them bigger.

But how do you solve a problem (like Maria)?

Well, first you have to look at the problem with a clear perspective. Any problem (really, anything) is the thing itself and also (additionally) how we think about it.

I’m a big fan of Kamal‘s approach to handling your mind if it’s running away from you fueled with negative and discouraging thoughts. In his book, Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It, the mental tool he discovered and found success within his own life was repeating the phrase “I love myself” over and over again. Think of it like drowning out the negativity by repeating something positive instead.

With a clearer perspective, we can get out of our own way and start making some progress towards resolving problems we are dealing with.

Next, we break the problem into non-overwhelming bite-sized chunks that we can focus our efforts on. If you’re still overwhelmed, then you haven’t broken the problem small enough yet. Baby steps. Just like that What About Bob Movie with Bill Murray.

The key is to focus only on the immediate action. Not the ten things on your todo list. Not the dozen other problems you are dealing with. Just the action in front of you. Keep the others away from your mind and physical space as much as you can.

Last we need to start catching little problems before they become big ones. This takes a lot of intentional living. When faced with anything, ask yourself, “If I ignore this will it potential become a huge pain later on?” “If I do this, what are the potential downsides and how can I prevent them from occurring?”

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1076

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The Cost of Lying to Yourself

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.”

Richard Feynman

The biggest lies are the ones we believe about ourselves.

Who you are and who you want to be aren’t the same.

You don’t have to fake it to be who you want to be. You need to start acting how you want to be, and slowly stretch your life towards that reality.

For example, think of how we can easily wash over or even boast about our lives and how we feel to others, yet the opposite is true.

“Oh hey! How are you?”

(Everything sucks) “I’m great, you doing well?”

“Yeah! things are good.” (I hate my job. My back is killing me.)

I don’t necessarily see this as lying to others. Technically yes, but these kinds of opposing inner thoughts and outer dialogue are more like a protective mechanism. Whether or not you think this is an example of lying to others, it is an example of how we lie to ourselves.

The cost of lying to ourselves is staying stuck—right where we don’t want to be.

We hold in pain and anger so we don’t have to explain how we got here and protect ourselves from looking stupid. But by brushing off how we feel to others—especially people who are close—we do a disservice to ourselves. We’re avoiding our problems by pretending like things are normal.

Think about, how many people have you actually confided in with your problems and goals? Does anyone actually know what you are going through?

Maybe that’s why no one seems to not care to help you. Because they don’t know.

How does that help you be the person you want to be?

We can begin removing these barriers that are holding us back in three stages:

  1. Acceptance
  2. Assessment
  3. Action

Acceptance

Acceptance isn’t about giving up to your situations, it’s taking a bow and respecting the good, the bad, and the fugly of your life.

Accept things as they are. Accept who you are. Accept the moment, so that you can move beyond it.

Assessment

Assessment is about turning over every rock, shining a light into every dusty cobweb filled corner, and looking head-on at the things you’ve been avoiding.

Things like looking at where your money is going and how much debt you owe. And journaling about what values and principles you’ve been living by. And assessing where you’re time is going. Comb through every aspect of your current life and see how it relates to the life you want to have.

It isn’t fun, but it can often be a relief, because at least now you know and have something specific to work towards, versus a mystery blob of problems and fears.

Action

After accepting where you are and looking at the state of things, the last step is to take immediate action.

Make a list, prioritize that list, then focus on knocking out one thing at a time.

The key is building up momentum. The more momentum we have, the easier it is to keep stepping forward.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1075

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Fun to Make

“Necessity may be the mother of invention, but play is certainly the father.” Roger von Oech

Not every aspect of any job will be fun, but if you’re not finding joy or value in what you’re doing, then why are you doing it?

Life is too short to feel dissatisfied eight hours a day, five days a week.

Work is about making a living—and sometimes when you’re in a bad place you gotta do what you gotta do. But work is also about joy and play. Without it, our lives feel stuck and stale. Maybe you don’t even realize that’s what’s been bothering you. There’s time for playfulness just like there’s time for seriousness.

But if every thing we work on is for money—we’ve got a problem.

Maybe not right away, but only grinding through unfulfilling work we’ll burn ourselves out—into the ground.

If you can’t find joy in your job right now, then add it elsewhere. Start a no-pressure project you want to do for the sheer fun of it. Maybe it’s something in your industry or maybe it’s something completely new. By “no-pressure” I mean something that doesn’t directly involve your financial wellbeing. Your fun project can still have challenges and deadlines—it’s still something you want to start and then complete—but it’s not necessary some time to immediately turn into a side business.

We spend our entire childhood playing and learning and then when we transition to adulthood and work somewhere along the way we lose that sense of play and end up only working. Most of us go from play to no play. No wonder all we end up doing is partying, drinking andor stream shows!

So have fun with it. Go make something. Build something with your hands.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1072

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Giving a Damn

Some days all we need to do is show up. And some days showing up is the hardest thing to do.

But showing up on the hard days is everything. Every action we take ripples out into our corner of the world, but more importantly, it also informs ourselves about what kind of person we are.

Our actions point inward and as much as they direct outward.

For example, if I start acting lazy—avoiding my work, mentally checking out wherever I get the chance—then I start becoming lazy. My actions convince myself that I am a lazy person. Which feedbacks in on itself and causes me to continuously act lazier.

The same is true for practically everything, good and bad.

Do something tells the world and our inner world what kind of person we are.

That’s why we need to show up and give a damn on days when we don’t feel like it. We are training ourselves into being the kind of person that shows up no matter what.

There are simple ways we can practice this:

• Hold the door for someone else.

• Take back your grocery cart to the store after you’ve unloaded your car.

• Give a generous tip to a good server.

• Return a smile with a smile (or if you’re wearing masks—a nod with a nod).

• Be on time when you’re planning to meet someone (This is a hard one for me).

• Stand up to a-holes.

• Reach out to friends first.

Do something, not because you have too, but because that’s the kind of person you want to be.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1064

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Advice Mired in Fear Vs. Advice Rising From Love

There’s advice and then there’s “advice.” (Note the quotation and the italics.)

The two separate pieces of advice might be equal sound. But the problem is advice is coming from different places— one from a place of love and “advice” is coming from a place of fear.

“You shouldn’t take that job because it doesn’t pay enough.” Is different from “You shouldn’t take that job because you are worth 5x more than what they are offering.” Can you tell which one is coming from love and which from fear?

It’s really all about the packaging. Packaging and presentation make all the difference. I could give you the same birthday gift but wrap it in a garbage bag or wrap it in thick clean paper and tie it with twine in a nice bow and you’ll feel the difference.

There’s a book called Words that Work, that has a great subtitle: “It’s not what you say, It’s What People Hear.” I haven’t read the book, only that title. But I completely agree with the subtitle.

I could give you the best damn advice in the world—advice so good that it would light your ears on fire—but it wouldn’t mean a hill of beans if I said it with criticism and fear. You would likely listen, say “okay Josh” and then throw it in your new garbage bag gift wrapping and leave it on the side of the road for the next trash pickup.

I can think of many mistakes that I’ve made (you know, 20/20 and all that jazz) and advice I was given but didn’t take because of the way it was given.

It’s hard to override this. I’m not even sure we should override it most of the time. But perhaps if advice is coming from someone we know or even someone we admire then despite the packaging, maybe we should try to take a moment and listen objectively.

I have found it helpful to identify where a piece of advice is coming from. “Is this advice that I’m getting coming from a place of fear or love? Is this person saying this because he or she has personally experienced this too or are they saying this—subconsciously or not—out of envy or embarrassment or failure or conformity?”

The worst kind of advice is advice we didn’t ask for from people we don’t know. This type of advice should be thrown in a dumpster fire. This is different from the advice we receive from people we know or admire or advice we seek out. For example, consider all the content you consume—podcasts, articles, books, videos—whether you are looking for it or not, sometimes little tofu nuggets of insights will pop out at you. The other day I was listening to a podcast with Jason Fried and he said something that I wish I had learned five years ago, it was something along the lines of “You can’t make a sandwich out of equity.” Meaning, its good to work somewhere and have a stake (equity) in the company but it’s also important that they are paying you enough for what you need to live. You can’t eat a sandwich made out of equity. Brilliant! I wish I had learned that sooner!

So advice is good. Seek out insights like they are your full-time job. But be wary of advice that comes from fear. Even if it’s good advice, going with your intuition instead is usually a better choice.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1063

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Testing Dependencies

“Success is dependent on effort.”

Sophocles

I’ve written before about how it’s easier to acquire tastes than it is to get rid of them. Something normally that’s exotic or saved for special occasions can quickly become our new normals. Instead of saving that delicious Italian restaurant for your birthday, you start having it once a week.

For me, that’s amplified with a personal tendency to overdo it. A cheat “meal” turns into a cheat “weekend”. Or instead of one newsletter, I make three.

But do we really need our “needs”?

I don’t consider myself a minimalist. I related to some of the core values of minimalism, but I wouldn’t label myself as a minimalist. I’m more of a… “essentialist” “practicalist” “intentionalist” something along those lines (semantics, to be sure, but still).

It’s helpful to put things in perspective. In five years, all of the technology you and I use will be obsolete. Five years is generous. There’s a lot of new and exciting gadgets coming out right now. It’s more likely every piece of tech we own will be obsolete in a few months.

It’s good to test your dependencies regularly.

For example, taking a break from social media or swearing off coffee for a year.

Dependency aren’t evil. But they do make us reliant on them. Once you get used to having a certain quality of something, it’s hard to go back. I think that’s why people in third world countries are so happy with very little. It’s not the stuff that they have or don’t have, it’s the knowledge that something “better” is out there. 

This feeling is what I want to resist. I love luxury, but I don’t want to *need* it to be happy. I want to test my dependencies because you never know what fate my take of you. I’d rather be happy and healthy than rich. But if I can be happy, healthy, and rich that would be great too 😉. As long as that money isn’t controlling me.

What are other things we are reliant on? What are your crutches? 

Clothes? New technology? Habits?

Action: Make a list of things you need and use every day. If you forced yourself to give them up for a month, or six or a year, could you?

To live an unconventional life we must do unconforming things.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1062

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Embrace Uncertainty

“You create your life, and you can recreate it, too. In times of economic downturn and uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to look deep inside yourself to fathom the sort of life you really want to lead and the talents and passions that can make that possible.” — Sir Ken Robinson

Pain is an interesting sensation. It hurts, obviously. Even small pains can sting—like burning your hand on a hot pan on the stove, or whacking your funny bone while closing the bathroom door. Sometimes pain lingers, and we are left to pick up the pieces while also continuing to preserve in the face of a feeling that doesn’t know when to leave. But despite the discomfort, pain also is a signal.

A sign that something needs to change. Or a moment of healing. Or a lesson and story that enables us to grow.

Not that I’d wish pain on anyone of course. Nor is all pain an “opportunity” or a good thing. Caveat caveat. But when we are personally facing pain, we have to do something with it. If not healing then what? If not a chance to change or help others change then we just what? Give up? No. It won’t be an overnight change, but gradually we will move forward, day by day until we find a way to use the pain.

One flavor of pain is uncertainty. We try to avoid uncertainty. But forcing uncertainty to be certain is like wearing a two-sizes too small sweater—half of you is still cold, you’re still stressed and uncomfortable and everyone is in on the joke but you.

2020 has been anything but certain. Personally and culturally. But if you’re reading this, you’re still alive. And if you’re still alive there are endless opportunities you can take.

Recently I was not chosen for a job opportunity. I had three rounds of solid interviews and ultimately someone else was chosen. I asked for feedback, but there wasn’t really any. There was no reason I wasn’t chosen—I just wasn’t. There was only room for one. Their intuition choose someone else. Good. I’m happy for that other person. The company is great, so I’m happy for them as well. Again, there are plenty of other opportunities out there. Now I can focus on them.

There’s very little in life that is truly certain. And many things we deem as certain, such as our career or direction in life, are only certain at a surface level. I’m not trying to be pessimistic. Once you realize that the unexpected is normal, then you have room to embrace all aspects of life and let go of the outcomes.

There’s a difference between external and internal certainty. Just because the world is shaky doesn’t mean we have to be.

Are we focused on our personal essentials? Eating clean. Moving and exercising. Surrounding ourselves with good books and good friends. Meditating. Sleeping well.

Are we making intentional decisions? Choosing work because we want to be, not because the money is good. Hanging out with friends that lift us up instead of tearing us down. Standing for our values.

Are we prioritizing what matters to us?

Part of being a creative person is turning uncertainty into something new and different.

Original ideas are built from uncertain outcomes. We can stack the decks in our favor, but it still takes a leap of boldness to pursue a dream.

Ironically embracing uncertainty makes everything certain.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1061

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Same Same

“The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well.”

Alfred Adler

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about travel recently (I’m guessing a lot of us are these days). Part of me feels like I’ve seen so little of the world. And the other part of me is grateful for the handful of adventures I’ve had the opportunity to take.

A few years ago I went on a trip across the world to visit Thailand and do some island hopping. My friend Marco had cooked up the trip because at the time he was thinking about starting a co-working business and he wanted to scope out a few places with decent wifi and cheap living.

At the time, I was feeling a little burn out at my software development job, so I jumped at the chance to take a breather, explore, and work from somewhere other than my at-home desk.

Our environment influences us more than we think. I think most of us intuitively know that the people we surround ourselves with, and the content we consume have a big impact on who we are and the life we lead, but our surroundings are just as influential. 

Or maybe we know, but we get so used to it that we take it for granted. 

Take the American South, for example. I grew up in Georgia (about an hour and change away from Atlanta) and a lot of folks in the south have a southern accent. Accents aren’t really something you think about until you run into someone or visit another place where everyone has a different way of speaking. 

People move at different speeds in different places too.

There’s nothing quite like the energy of a New Yorker. Personally, I love their straightforward, get sh*t done, we can handle anything style of living. Energy is something else I think about often. I’d like to surround myself with people who are bursting at the seams with creative and enthusiastic energy. Enthusiasm can move mountains.

There was an expression that you would hear often from native Thailanders (Thai?), typically when you asked the question, “How’s it going?”

They’d say: “Same same.”

To them, tourists like me where how they make a living. I was on my adventure on the other side of the globe—but the folks living they’re where just going about their day to day lives. Mopeds, Elephants, Jungles—everything around them was their *normal*. My unordinary was their ordinary

This is true for all of us. It’s so easy to take for granted things we have in our daily lives (like going out to restaurants).

A gratitude practice is a good way to remind yourself to open your eyes to the little (and big) influences surrounding you. The characteristics of the places we live—The weather, sounds, smells, walkability, nature, choice and so much more —subtle influence our minds and how we create (and why we create it). These are all good things to think about if you’re trying to add more creativity in your life.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1055

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