Markable

For over eighty percent of my life (I’m currently thirty) I wouldn’t dare think of writing or underlining in a book. I even loathed opening a book to wide, hating the idea of messing up its pristine structure. Folding a book halfway was blasphemous. I know, I was weird (aren’t we all).

I honestly don’t know where this quirk came from. I just really had the desire to take care of my stuff, and treat my books like they were brand new.

Now I’m the opposite. My younger self would feel whiplashed from the amount of underlining and writing I do in my books. The flip was a gradual process, but there were three defining moments shot me out of the canon.

One was a simple thought: there are thousands—sometimes even millions—of copies of books. My scribbling in a hardback now-and-again isn’t going to marginal have much of a difference.

The second defining moment was learning about the marginalia libraries of grand figures, such as Isaac Newton and Oscar Wilde.

And this leads us to the final defining thought: writing, highlighting, and underlining is like a time capsule of your mind and life at a particular time. And every time you revisit a book, you are layering in another version of who you are in a given moment. By writing out thoughts and underlining passages that stand out to you, you are leaving a lasting impression of who you are for your future self.

Does that mean I’m going to scribble in my signed copy of The Name of the Wind? No! Of course not. But I am going to use the books I own and get the most meaning out of them as I can.

Marking up your books is a small thing, but it highlights (pun intended) a big idea:

Making your mark doesn’t require permission.

Perhaps it used to, before the internet age. But now, anyone can pursue an idea or passion and share it with the world. Of course, being able to share doesn’t mean everything is high-quality. Put it does give us a direction to setting higher standards for ourselves and going after big ambitions.

If there’s something you dream about doing, what’s stopping you?

Are you stopping yourself?

What if you got out of the way?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1167

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On Being Better

Better is the tension between being okay with accepting where you are and yet driven to live up to a higher calling and ideal code.

But live up to what, exactly?

That depends on what you value and gravitate towards.

For example, perhaps let’s say you value simplicity and clean design.

Then it’s looking at breaking down every single little piece of thing into it’s smallest components and removing the inessential pieces. In this case, Better, in this case, is creating something simple, but not over-simple, clean, but not devoid of it’s intent.

Let’s say you value communication and want to be better at community and connecting with others. Then learning storytelling, emotional intelligence, social skills, humor, and (last but not least) listening are important skills to hone to be a better communicator.

Pretty much Everything is a skill that can be improved. The first step to becoming better at anything is believing that you can. After that, it’s putting in the work, turning over every rock and discovering what works, what doesn’t, and doing it because you love it.

The hardest part of pursuing better is accepting where you are. Acceptance isn’t defeat, it’s humility. And humility gives us room to grow.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1162

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Reacting to Lemons

Every year I like to buy a nice big calendar poster to keep track of my focuses and daily habits.

Last year I had just got my freshly crisp, 2020 calendar in the mail. I gently took it out of its tube and rolled it out on my bed. Brand new. Clean. Not a mark out of place. And then all of a sudden my dog comes rushing at me, excited to see me, and, of course, jumps on the bed and rips a paw print through my new calendar.

I could have been angry. I had barely looked at the thing, let alone used it! Or more likely, I could have been frustrated and let it ruin my whole day.

But I didn’t.

I had recently been reading a lot of Ryan Holiday’s work and Stoic philosophers, such as Seneca and Marcus Aurelius.

In that perfect moment to practice being a better person, a quote from Epictetus came to mind—

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”

So instead, I rolled the calendar up, played with my pup, and later playfully labeled the holes as paw prints, hung it up, and went on with my day.

This is such a small moment, but it highlights our reactions can influence, and make-or-break the circumstances we find ourselves in.

I don’t also react well to what life throws at me, but each time I do I mark it as one more step to being the person I want to be.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1147

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Creative Barriers: Starting (Part 3)

If creativity was like a flight from NYC to Japan, then the barriers we may face before we start our journey are like a preflight check, and the barriers we encounter while we are starting are like roadblocks in our path as roll down the tarmac and pick up speed.

After you’ve made it past the preflight check, now you must navigate the potential obstacles while starting.

The two biggest are:

  1. Sucking.
  2. Expecting it to be easy.

1. Newbie

I tend to pick up things pretty easily (brag). I chalk it up to patience and steady attention.

But not always, not everything. It took me a while before I grokked programming, for example. There were just certain aspects I just couldn’t comprehend until I stuck with it for a while.

We all naturally gravitate towards things we are good at. Nobody likes to bad at something.

When we try something new, we’re more likely than not going to suck at it at first. This is a natural part of learning. Sucking at something doesn’t mean you aren’t passionate about it. It takes time to get good, and even more, time to get really good at something.

So if you suck in the beginning, know that you’re in good company. A naturally talented person may be great at tennis, but be terrible at public speaking. Remember that the next time you get Aced on the court

2. Hard work

Sucking and hard work are why the majority of people who resolve to lose weight in January, end up quitting before the month ends.

It’s not a lack of desire. It’s a false expectations that it will be easy.

Creativity isn’t easy. It’s fun, but it’s still work. Someone has to sit down at the desk and draw. Someone has to pick up the guitar and practice. If not you then who?

It takes a lot of work to be a high-output creative. It takes dedication to pursue something new.

But if we go in with the right mindset and expectations, we can be ready for the work we have to do.

The best solution I know for Starting barriers is—

Commit. If this is something you really want to do, then vow to yourself to stick to it no matter what.

Even if you get sick, or you’re too busy, or if it’s Sunday, or if you don’t feel like it.

Sticking to it is how you’ll succeed.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1125

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Waste of Time

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to live a meaningful and intentional lifestyle. The details would look different for each of us (depending on what’s important to us) but there’s gotta be some overarching principles for a meaningful life.

Let’s look at the opposite of a meaningful life—wasted time.

If our life is made up of time (our most valuable resource) then wasting our time leads us down a path of regret and unhappiness.

But what does wasted time look like?

Again, not so easily answered universally. We all value certain things over others.

Here are some questions to reflect on whether or not you are using your time wisely:

Q: Am I spending my time or investing my time?

Entertainment is incredible. But it’s also about balance. Enjoy the things you love, but not let your love of short term pleasure and experience crowd out the long term benefits of investing your time more wisely. Ask yourself, “Am I enjoying this? Am I gaining some value from this experience?”

Q: Will I care about this a month from now? How about a year? 3 years?

If not, then it’s likely a waste of valuable resources. For example, if you’re angry about something critical or hateful someone said to you, are you really going to care about it a year from now? Not really—you likely won’t even remember the mean spirited comment. Then, it’s not worth the time to dwell on it! Easier said than done, of course. But even knowing that it’s a waste of time is a helpful way to reset yourself and give yourself the space to move on from it.

Q: Is this part of my current environment’s lifestyle? Or, put more generally, is this something in my immediate control or not?

If you live in New York, then taking the subway, walking long distances, paying for a taxi or a Lyft, and/or paying top dollar for parking is a way of life. In this case, commuting isn’t a waste of time, because it’s a necessity for living in the city. That’s not easily changeable. But the upsides of living in a thriving city might be worth it for you. Otherwise, why are you there?

If so, then I should either stop stressing or regretting the cost or change my environment that aligns better with what a meaningful life looks like for me.

Q: What can I learn from this experience?

There’s always going to be moments in our lives where we cave or unintentionally waste our time. We aren’t perfect. Mistakes will be made. But failure isn’t a waste of time unless we stubbornly refuse to learn from our mistakes and misfortunes.

Wasted time is only wasted time if we refuse to learn from it.

This requires our ego to take a knee and humble itself enough to be open to change, to moving forward, to emotion, to uncomfortable conversations and hope for a better version of ourselves going forward. But if we loop our wasted time over and over again in our heads, not only are we not learning from the past, we aren’t moving forward (aka we’re wasting even more precious time.)

Am I running on default or am I living intentionally?

Default is:

  • Doing things other people tell you without regard to why.
  • Not making decisions (allow other people to make them for you.

Living intentionally is having an active say in who you want to be and how you want to live.

A meaningful life is a well-invested life.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1117

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TMI

I’m currently surrounded by over a dozen books and a dozen gadgets and gizmos I’m actively using andor could be using right now.

I’m guessing your environment looks similar to mine unless you’ve become a minimalist and sold or donated away your things.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m neither humble-bragging nor complaining about the things surrounding me, I’m just observing how easy it is to overcrowd our spaces—physical and digital—with todos.

The disease (dis-ease) of our time is TMI—too much information.

News is an obvious one. I’ve read (somewhere) that the human mind wasn’t made to hold a worlds worth of bad news.

Another is the work-related todos (that we often put on ourselves) pile around us. Overcrowded schedules. Pulled in a million directions except for the one you want to be focusing on.

So what are we supposed to do about this?

For starters, we can live by the principle “out of sight out of mind.” If we remove the options around us, we can focus in on the priority in front of us. If you’re reading a book, don’t surround yourself with a hundred other books you want / should be reading.

But generally, if you have a task to do, limit your scope to that task and only that task. Everything else should be removed from your site or reach if possible. We’re not banning things, just simply taking away the option of use for the next 30 minutes or so.

If something is bothering you or weighing on you, remove it from your mind temporarily so you can focus on what’s important.

Another thing we can continuously do is ask ourselves, “Is this helpful or unhelpful?

Does having 100+ browser tabs open at one time helpful or unhelpful with what I’m trying to do right now?

Does checking Facebook every 5 minutes improving my life or making it harder. Moderation and minimal-ization are key.

The problem isn’t necessary TMI, but too much information all at once. If we’re trying to focus on a dozen things we end up focusing on nothing.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1115

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The Path

You don’t choose the path, the path chooses you.

You decide which direction to take, but you don’t control what discoveries, wonders, monsters, and misfortunes you find along the way.

If there’s a trick to life, it’s our reactions. The better you are resting well to what life throws in front of you, the more meaningful and worthwhile your life will be.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1114

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No Guarantees

There are no guarantees that your creative work will succeed.

But neither are there guarantees of success if you take a more traditional career path.

One thing you quickly learn after starting your own company or work at a startup is the fine line between success and failure.

When you are working as an employee at an established company, the need to make a profit is present, but abstracted away from you. You don’t need to know how to fix or make a car in order to drive it. As an employee, your paycheck is abstracted away from the need to sell your product or service. It’s there in the cultural atmosphere—especially if the company isn’t doing well—but it’s not your direct concern. Instead, it’s the founder(s) and leadership role to make sure everything runs smoothly and that you get paid on time.

Or in other words, there’s no assurance that you’ll always be at the level of success or a higher level of success working at a company (We’ll, the exception being incredible successful companies like Apple or Google. But even then it’s not inevitable. Apple was doing poorly until Steve Jobs came back after being ousted from Apple early on.)

Success isn’t inevitable.

That’s why loving the work you do matter even more.

If you don’t love the work you are doing, or you don’t align with the values of the company you are working for, you are neither doing yourself or the company a favor by continuing to work there.

Passion is longevity. We should always be striving to love what we do, and continuously tweaking and honing our skills to align with the type of work we want to do.

Even the best idea in the world could be poorly timed or be met with an apathetic market.

And having lots of money of investment doesn’t mean you’ve actually created something people find helpful and love.

So if nothing is guaranteed, then why wouldn’t we choose work that we love?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1113

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Make It Count

“Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.” Elbert Hubbard

I read a great quote recently by Alexis Ohanian, entrepreneur, investor, co-founder of Reddit—

“Lives Remaining: Zero”

On any given normal day, life feels infinite. It feels like we have all the time in the world to do and be who we want. And so we often push off the important things (things that usually require hard work and discomfort) in favor of entertainment and nothing burgers.

The significance of our time really only shows up in moments of difficult or life and death situations. If you’ve survived 2020, then you know the feeling of how quickly time passes. Getting older does it too. Time seems to speed up in our brains.

Have you ever heard given the response, “Just killing time until…such and such.”

But do we really have time to waste or kill time?

Whether or not you believe in live after this one—this is the only life you’ve got right now.

I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes by the poet Mary Oliver, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

This is it. Better make the most of it.

Better make it count.

“You’ve got zero lives remaining, don’t squander this one.”

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1111

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Reboot

There’s a lot of… gunk that we accumulate in our lives. As we go about our days, it’s like we are building up plaque in our mind, body, and spirit.

Work comes first. Other people come first. Todo list and doings often usurp quality time with ourselves.

When was the last time you took care of yourself? When was the last time you did absolutely nothing—no work, no tv, no books, no agenda—just you.

We are always going, always striving, always push towards something.

I think every now and then we need to shut down our human OS and reboot ourselves.

Hold down the power button, so to speak, and do a hard reset.

It doesn’t have to be much. A little can go a long way.

Go to bed a little earlier.
Sleep a little longer.
Get outside.
Move a little more.
Eat something healthier today.
Do nothing.
Tap a nap.
Breathe.
Do something that matters to you.
Try something fun.
Try a new hobby.
Reflect. Reassess. Remind yourself what’s important.

Nourish what you’ve been neglecting.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1110

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