Closing Threads

“Singleness of purpose is one of the chief essentials for success in life, no matter what may be one’s aim.”

John D. Rockefeller

Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I have a mental/journaling exercise I do where I imagine if I dropped everything on my todo list.

Every task, obligation, book, responsibility, dream, possession, need—I pretend that I lit a match and set all the boats on fire.

Imagine it—you have nothing required of you and your slate is empty.

After picturing it in my mind I’ll begin to feel a weight lifted off of me. We tend to put so much pressure on ourselves. The pressure to perform, the pressure to succeed, the pressure to win. And when we can’t match all of our expectations we pull on even more weight. And it’s not just the work that creates pressure but the added mental weight of our expectations that really buckle our knees.

In fact, how we think about things adds 100x the power to our actions.

Trying to do too much at once is one thing, attempting to do too much while expecting we can do it all adds 100x the weight to our shoulders.

But when you let all the expectations and mental chatter go you will feel free. The weight is gone.

After mentally removing everything from my calendar, I then ask myself two important questions:

What do I actually want to do? (Or put another way, what am I willing to carry?)

And, out of all of my needs and responsibilities, what’s one thing I can focus my efforts on RIGHT NOW that would make me feel better (not overwhelmed) and accomplished?

Overwhelm is solved by not saying yes to everything (especially if you actually want to say no) and by prioritizing and focusing all your efforts on one task and one task only. Yes, your todo list might be a mile long, but that doesn’t matter right now—all that matters is the task at hand.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #944

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Deep Dive

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

I wouldn’t be who I am if it weren’t for good books and other work from smart and creative people out there in the world (and from the past). It’s been said time and again that you are the sum of the people you surround yourself with the most. It’s also true that you are the sum of what you read, watch, listen to, and experience.

It’s truly inspiring—and a little frightening when you think about it—how one book, or one podcast, or one video can change your life. There is (and has been) a lot of chaos in the world, but there’s also a huge amount of people doing incredible and impactful work. We can be that too (perhaps you already are) if we take up the call. It doesn’t have to be big. Small changes and details are often what makes the most impact. But it does require us to seek it out and initiate it.

But first, we have to be willing to see our own faults and change ourselves.

Which leads us back to good inputs.

If you want to be an influencer, you have to first learn to be influenced by people doing great things.

We must dive deep. Whatever it is you want to be good at it. We must go beyond the latest best sellers or hot trends and find the principles that guide creativity and community.

We need to study the greats—people much wiser and smarter than ourselves.

We need to learn how to think, truly think for ourselves, versus repeating what we hear and learn.

We need to learn the fundamentals of the universe—philosophy, math, music, physics, statistics, nature—and find interesting ways to combine them.

And we need to seek out deep conversations and friendships. Liking someone’s photo is nice, but reaching out and making friends is impactful both ways.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #943

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Limiting Beliefs / Limitless Beliefs

“Expect great things, and great things will come.”

Norman Vincent Peale

“Yeah, I’m late to everything LOLs…”

That’s me. I’ve said a version of the phrase above more times than I can remember. In high school, I was late to first class so much that we (our class) started collecting my tardy slips and taping them to the wall as a joke—like a badge of honor (shame? disbelief? 🙂 to see how many I accumulated.

I try not to be late nowadays—at least when it matters. You get to a point where you realize it’s a sign of respect when you get somewhere on time because you are respecting someone else’s time. I have to fight it because as a multi-disciplinary, I have a tendency to take on too much during the day. (A topic for another day, perhaps.)

Another phrase I’ve said a lot:

“I’m terrible with direction.”

This one you still my catch me saying. I’ve learned a lot—directions aren’t one of them. It’s not that I can’t find my way around—I can tell you which direction is east and which is west—rather, I’m generalizing. The truth is I don’t bother memorizing road names or direction details. I can easily get around if I’ve been to a place before, otherwise, I couldn’t tell ya where were are or give you directions without whipping out my phone and asking my friend GPS.

There’s a huge part of our identity that’s wrapped in negative labels we adopt from others or give to ourselves.

Perhaps you weren’t aware of it until now, but once you know it, you’ll start to hear it from everyone.

“Oh yeah, I suck at math!”

“Yoga?! I’m as stiff as a board. You won’t see me bending like that”

“Cooking? You mean takeout?”

“I’m so unlucky!”

“I”m terrible at finances lol.”

It goes on and on. We wear these labels like a badge of honor, but in reality, we are just holding ourselves back from being a better version of ourselves.

The reason I’m usually bad with directions because I don’t prioritize learning it. In fact, my mindset is an action AND reaction that devalues me from wanting to be good at it.

The same goes for other negative traits we feel about ourselves.

Something bad happens—like we spill coffee on our brand new white pants—and then we mentally tell, no convince, ourselves we are unlucky. At that point, two things occur 1. We become aware of our “unluckiness”. We start seeing out validating reasons why we are unlucky to prove to ourselves we are right. And 2. we view the world through our “unlucky” mindset and start making decisions that lead us to be more unlucky.

The interesting thing is the reverse can happen too—we can convince ourselves that we are the luckiest person in the world—and find ways to validate it and we start taking action that makes it true.

In a word—we are all biased by our “badges of honor”, so to speak.

The real question is who do you want to be? What kind of person do you want to be?

By thinking through the limiting believe’s you have, you can slowly begin to convert them to limitless beliefs instead.

What do you believe about yourself that isn’t doing you any favors? What can you replace them with?

What do you believe about yourself that you want to be true? What can you start doing to make that happen?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #941

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What’s Your Motivating Factor?

“Ever since I was a child I have had this instinctive urge for expansion and growth. To me, the function and duty of a quality human being is the sincere and honest development of one’s potential.”

Bruce Lee

Motivation can come from a lot of places. Pain, for example, is a great motivating monkey wrench. I wouldn’t wish pain on anyone, but it can be an annoying nagging friend that puts a spotlight on something out of alignment with your life.

Growing up, we think we are invincible. But if you are the parent in this equation, you know that your child is anything BUT invincible (—Try telling that to them though). It’s not until they skid their knees falling off a bike, break an arm rollerskating, or get emotionally bullied at school when they realize that pain is real as anything else.

This isn’t necessarily always a bad thing if it inspires/motivates you allow it to lift you up and make you better and forge a different path that you wouldn’t have otherwise taken. There’s nothing like a taste of death—like a heart attack or a bout with cancer, or chronic issue—that can motivate you to be more intentional and your health and how you live. Is this easy? No. But it is insightful.

Curiosity is another excellent motivator. The drive to seek answers beyond the surface of things, and unlock the secrets of the universe can motivate you to wake up and get going with enthusiasm each day. There is energy and agelessness in the joy of finding out how things work and why.

Some motivations happen to us—like pain, shame, circumstances, etc—and some motivations we can choose to cultivate—like curiosity, resiliency, success. One key aspect of a good life is to not let the bad motivations keep us down and instead allow them to teach us an uncomfortable lesson we can use and pass on to others through our story.

Questions: What’s motivating you? Is it a positive motivation (something that gives you energy vs. drains you?)

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #940

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Bad Habits x 2

“Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.”

Benjamin Franklin

Bad habits define us as much (if not more than) our good habits.

They also double-dip: we get the downsides of doing them plus the negative effect of not doing the good alternatives instead.

For example, eating junky food not only has the downsides of upping your sweatpants from a large to a double xl, it also reduces your energy and abilities by not giving you the nutrients you need. The downsides of the bad and the lack of upsides from the good.

Same goods for all habits. A good habit provides benefits that lead to more opportunities for benefits—a bad habit produces side effects while taking away the benefits you would have received from doing the better opposite.

This can stack up in all sorts of unfortunate or fortunate ways.

This is the underlying pattern of why having money gives you more opportunities to create more money. And why your environment and the people you surround yourself with is so important to your overall wellbeing and success.

The key is replacing all of your bad habits with good ones before your bad habits take your lunch AND eat it too.

Make a list of all your habits. Big, small, conscious, subconscious—whatever you can think of.

Then, mark the ones you think are negatively impacting you. It’s okay if you aren’t one hundred percent sure.

Start with a win. What’s a low hanging fruit you can easily pick and feel good about?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #936

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You Are What You Want to Be

“What I have is a malevolent curiosity. That’s what drives my need to write and what probably leads me to look at things a little askew. I do tend to take a different perspective from most people.”

David Bowie

What makes you you?

Is it your likes and dislikes? Is it your culture or your heritage? Is it where you go to school or what you do for a living? What about your taste in podcasts or your ironic mug collection? Is it your fashion style (or lack thereof)? 

There’s a lot that goes into making a person. Sure, you’ve got your blood, muscles, and bones, but there’s a lot that we naturally absorb as we live our lives. We absorb what’s around us and either accept, ignore, or reject everything in millions of ways. 

Music plays a large part in our foundational makeup. We identify who we are by the music we are interested in. Lack of music defines us too. Every so often I’ll run into someone who doesn’t like music, or at the very least doesn’t listen to it. To me, this is baffling (This emoji sums my reaction up nicely: 😧) — how can someone not like music?! But it’s true, and that’s a piece of what makes them who they are. 

I wouldn’t say that I grew up in a musical household per-sé. My first concert was likely a Christian pop or rock band like the Newsboys or Audio Adrenaline… I definitely got my taste in the 60s, 70s music from my parents. Creedence, Thin Lizzy, The Bee Gees, and AC/DC — from my dad. Prince, Tears for Fears, The Beatles, Michael… — from my mom.

Friends and other people I looked up are a huge influence on my taste in music. One key influence was from my friend Jake Lemons. (Hey Jake 👋) Being a killer guitarist, he’s the one who lit the spark for my interest in learning to play music (him and my grandfather). He’s also the one that helped me find Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, and Ozzy — the kind of people who take music to a whole new level. (Def Leppard: Pour Some Sugar On Me — Jimi Hendrix: “…Hold my beer”)

It’s funny how a single person, a small moment, or a passing conversation can have a massive impact on your trajectory in life.

A spark is the best analogy I can think of at the moment. Influences are like little threads that lead us down a path towards who we are. One second we are seeing in low-resolution standard definition, and the next second we are seeing in 1080p. We’re not quite at 8k HDR yet, but if we keep searching we’ll get there before we know it. 

And at the heart of it all— music tastes, personality, dreams, etc— is discovery. I discovered who I was by taking an interest in things. 

Or put another way —

You are what you want to be.

Curiosity makes us who we are. *Deciding* to do, like, or be a certain person makes us who we are. Allowing ourselves to be influenced by the people around us makes us who we are. Most of the time this isn’t a conscious decision we make. Rather, something we just do and notice (or not) afterward. Oh, wow. It looks like I just ate the weight of a triceratops in ice cream — again.

Invisible scripts run a lot of our lives. But not if we decide to do something about it. If there’s something you don’t like about yourself, or how your life looks, you can change it. Depending on what it is, it might not be easy — but it’s possible. You have the power to own your life. And it starts with seeking it out.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #935

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Growing Well

“Wisdom is the one thing that makes growing old worth it.” — Jiraiya, Naruto: Shippuden 

I’m in that weird age of not being old, but not being young either. In my head, I picture myself like I’m college young, but I’m definitely no longer in that demographic. In fact, my younger sister just graduated from school with a photo-media degree, and when I look at who is in college right now and I’m like—Nah bro. You old.

Age is not something I ever think about. Mentally, I’ve always felt like an old man. someone who can talk to anybody, no matter how old or young they are. And someone who would prefer a good book or deep conversation than a night out drinking or hitting the town.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy having fun and playing. But my play looks different than most muggles. I get kicks off creating things, learning, and trying new things and exercises.

Each year of our lives brings something new. (Each second, really.) It’s up to each of us to make it mean something.

Do you know who you want to be when you grow old? Because the things we do now have a big impact on us later on. How we move, eat, what we watch, what we do for work, who we hang out with, what we do in our free time, etc.

I’d like to be some who grows wiser each day, and learns to say no to what doesn’t matter to me, and say yes to what does. I’d like to be the kind of person who stands up for what we believe and apologizes for when he’s wrong.

Wanting it—that’s the first step towards being a better version of ourselves.

The next step is figuring it out to the best of our abilities as we go.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #934

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Creative Clutter

“Simplicity is not the absence of clutter, that’s a consequence of simplicity. Simplicity is somehow essentially describing the purpose and place of an object and product. The absence of clutter is just a clutter-free product. That’s not simple.”

Jonathan Ive

Clutter is in the eye of the beholder. One person’s organization is another person’s junk. What matters, of course, is what works best for each of us. Different places can inspire/offer different ideas.

What makes you feel the most creative in your environment?

Is it having everything exactly in its right place?
Is it having everything stacked in piles?
Is it having a thread-bare room with nothing in it except the task at hand?

For me, I feel the most creative when my tools are easily accessible, within reach and ready to go.

Personally, nothing kills a moment of inspiration more than a guitar closed off in its case. Paper needs to be ready. Pens, notecards, post-its, and other supplies are all on stand-by. Instruments are out and plugged in. When an idea strikes, all I want to do is flip a switch and start creating. It may sound silly, but it’s true. Anything between the idea/feeling and the act of creating is friction that could lead to reluctance or inaction.

Am I just being lazy? Perhaps. I think of it more as being ridiculously practical. Do what works for you. Your home, your office, your desk, your garage—whatever you have access to—this is something you can change and control.

You want to set up your environment for success. If you find yourself unmotivated to work on your art, then there’s something behind the scenes causing that feeling.

The things that we surround ourselves with can either enable or distract us from our calling.

Think of it like putting a plate of cookies in front of you and then telling yourself not to eat them. You’re either going to be thinking about cookies all day (and wasting time and energy) or you’re going to be eating cookies even though that wasn’t what you wanted. Neither of which— cookies, no cookies— was the work you were hoping to do.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #928

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Unyielding Gutsiness

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

There will be many occasions when all that separates you and your goals is a gutsy move. Being gutsy is doing what others won’t. Not forcefully. Not stupidly. Just doing it.

It starts with a queasy jittery uncomfortable buzzing feeling that comes from within. Part fear, part anxiety, part excitement. Some people feel it in the pit of their stomach right before they ask someone out. Others feel it when their heart starts to flutter before giving a speech. Whatever flavor you have, it typically shows up before you do something that may fail, or that makes you stand out from the majority. It’s a feeling that doesn’t go away—it’s something you get used to with practice.

What I find most interesting about this feeling is that it happens before we’ve made a move. Like it’s calling us forth, and testing us—are you gonna go through with it, or are you gonna back down?

I’ve backed down many times, and it doesn’t feel good. You know you should have done or said something but you didn’t. Next time though. I can’ t think of one time I regret listening to my intuition and take a gutsy action. Even when it didn’t work out as I wanted it too, I still learned something about myself and was able to work my discomfort zone muscles.

If you are looking for an extraordinary life, think of it as a compass for what you should do. As the Novelist, Chuck Palahniuk has said, “find out what you’re afraid of and go live there.”

Follow what scares you. With every bold action you may take, you are adding a little more originality and resilience to your character. Because it takes guts to think differently.

If you want to be gutsier, you have to practice being gutsy. Feel the fear. Revel in it. Then make your move.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #926

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Creative Plateaus

“If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.”

Epictetus

On your journey in pursuing your dreams, you’ll occasionally experience moments where you feel like you are making no progress at all. You’re keeping up with your practice and you’re putting in the hours, but you’ve reached your current limit.

Plateaus typically occur when we’ve used and leveraged all the resources and ideas that we know and we’ve reached a point of uncertainty. We are putting in the hard work but we are not seeing the results we were previously seeing. How do I get better at what I do? How do I reach that next level? Should I or should I do something else?

Plateaus are defining moments. They allow us to prove how committed we are. Things have slowed down, and/or your interest has waned— will you keep moving forward or will you give up? 

Sometimes all it takes is us to keep going. In this case, the plateau is a mind game. We are making progress, but the results are adding up so subtlety we often miss them. But if we stay consistent, our small improvements will eventually add up to something noticeable.

If consistently isn’t making any headway, then we need to change our approach. We could take on the challenge from a different angle by testing our assumptions and trying new things. Who’s done this before and what habits, traits, questions, and actions did they use to find a way forward? We could also reproach the fundamentals. We were a beginner when we started, so there’s likely a lot of things we missed the first time. Mastering the basics raises us to a new playing field. 

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #925

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