Thirty, Flirty and Thriving (part 2)

“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”

Bruce Lee

30 goals for my 30th year:

  1. Get married and go on a ballin honeymoon
  2. Nanowrimo
  3. 1000 Email Subscribers
  4. 2 podcasts episodes a week
  5. Start a side business that makes an extra $1000/mo
  6. Become a confident singer
  7. Resign the Renaissance Life website
  8. Create and ship an app
  9. Become a YouTuber
  10. Create an online course
  11. Find / Build an incredible work environment
  12. Earn $10,000 / mo
  13. Get Nutritionist License
  14. Self-publish a book
  15. Debt-free lifestyle
  16. Surround myself with a solid group of friends and communities
  17. Piano music theory, Learn Jazz
  18. Get better at music production
  19. Release a music ep
  20. optimize my mind, body, and spirit
  21. Take an acting/theater/performance class
  22. Take an improv class
  23. Be more decisive
  24. Become a better decision-maker. Plan. Prep. Perceive.
  25. Learn a martial art
  26. Increase my RAM: Learn accelerated learning/ memory techniques
  27. Improve storytelling/communication skills
  28. Make stuff with my hands
  29. Learn to “greet what comes my way with gratitude”
  30. Learn Japanese

For the last couple of years, instead of doing New Years Resolutions, I do them on my birthday and come up with a list of goals I want to pursue during the year. (Part 1 was a brief look back at my twenties.)

The plan is to add one more goal each year, until I (God willing) reach a certain age (50 or 55) and then start removing one goal per year. So at age 55 I’ll have 55 goals, but at age 110 I’ll only have one goal (aka get out of bed lol.)

Ambition isn’t always about reaching for more. Often it’s more ambition to pick a big idea and go deep on it.

One thing you might notice about my 30 list is I’m a little all over the place. I feel like I’m still in the discovery phase of who I am and what’s possible. The two big themes that stand out are creativity and fear. Put another way, my list may look scattered, but each item is driving toward the goal of pushing me to be bold, put myself out there and try things that scare me.

Fear is a powerful motivator. It’s something that can motivate us to keep our heads down and shy away from attention. Yet fear is also something that can show us what we need to do. A flashing signing telling us we need to do this. Taking an improv class terrifies me—that’s why I know I need to do it.

Some of these are specific and concrete, others are a little too vague for my liking, so I’ll be thinking about how I can refine them into tangible actions.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1095

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Serious, But Not Too Serious

They say the loss of innocence is when you become an adult.

I’ve also considered it as the moment when you realize you aren’t invincible. A few stitches or a broken bone will knock it out of ya real good, but most bounce back to their old enthusiastic, slightly more cautious, selves. (When pain doesn’t go away though, that will do it.)

Another possibility is you become an adult when you start to feel and understanding how quickly time passes.

But being an adult doesn’t mean you can’t be a child. Some of the great minds from history—Einstein, Walt Disney, Richard Feynman—were people you also had a sprinkle of childlike mischief about them.

Just like too little water dehydrates us, and too much water overloads us, being too serious has a detrimental impact on our lives.

It’s wonderful to take things seriously (most people don’t care at all) but if we take things too seriously, we start to lose our magic.

To others, we look stern and too intense. To ourselves, we start burning out. There’s a playful balance between being serious, but leaving room to laugh at ourselves and our experiences.

This childlike playfulness detaches us from difficultly and also gives us room to come up with clever ideas and perspectives. It gives us the humility to see that life is much bigger than ourselves and grounds us to be more capable of handling uphill battles.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1094

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Personal Commitments

Whether we realize it or not, every day is a commitment to something.

To family, to specific work, to a lifestyle.

As many have saved, our time is our most important finite resource. And our schedule highlights what we deem important.

That is if we think about it. Often there are things our calendars we do, that given a thought or alternative, we would choose something different.

We want to prioritize friends, but we feel the need to prioritize more work instead. Sometimes because it’s necessary (for food and stability.) But sometimes we prioritize the inessentials because we feel like we don’t have a choice or the day to day stresses of life blind us from taking stock of our lives and whether or not it’s how we want to live.

Taking a break and stepping outside of your normal is a great way to slow down and gain perspective on what you want, what you’re doing, and where you are going.

Deciding to change is the first step to change. This is a personal commitment we make with ourselves.

Personal commitments are:

Commitments usually stem from the heart and align with (at least in clear moments) the mind.

  • Deliberate
  • Catalysts for change and personal development
  • Internal but have a great chance of success with outside help (accountability, incentive, constraints, consequences)

What makes you fall in love with the person you fall in love with? So many deep things that words can’t quite describe. But staying in love is a daily act.

Commitments can come from both positive and negative circumstances and feedback. They usually begin from a place of calm and stillness (link to Ryan Holiday)

When you find a passion or dream or stumble upon a calling, you make an internal decision to pursue it with all you’ve got, for as long as it takes.

When you are so fed up with something, your current job, or the way you’ve been living, that you make a pact with yourself to change no matter what it takes.

Commitment is a verb. It starts with a declaration, but because sometimes real with daily action.

Commitments take belief. Believing in yourself, believing that change or a dream is possible is essential to making it happen. Belief is the prerequisite. Without it, there’s no chance, because the minute things get hard, or you fall off the tracks, you derail yourself and give up.

But through belief, anything is possible with the commitment and consistent action to make it possible.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1093

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Seeing in Slow Motion

“The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.”

Stephen McCranie

From the outside looking in, an hour of writing or guitar doesn’t look like much of anything. Sometimes practice doesn’t feel like progress either. 

But it is. Every time you sit down and work on your daily practice, you are accumulating skills.

But unless you are tracking and sharing your progress, it will appear as though nothing has changed because we are experiencing change on a day to day, minute to minute level.

Small things add up. Think of it like sharpening a pencil. A few turns of the sharpener will get you to the point (pun intended), but you only start noticing how much those little shavings of wood start adding up until all that’s left is a little nub of a #2 and an eraser, barely big enough to hold. 

Or maybe it’s more like watching a movie, frame by frame. A movie frame by itself is a picture, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

That’s the nature of daily practice—a tiny piece adds up when you look at the whole.

A day of practice is nothing; A day of practice is everything.

It just might not look or feel like it in the moment. But don’t let that discourage you or prevent you from practicing. Every single practice counts—even the mediocre ones. And soon enough, your progress will be so noticeable it will feel like it came out of thin air.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1092

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So Embarrassing

We often go through life saying yes to things we don’t want to do and say no to things we do. But I’m the moment, it’s not so easy to make the right call.

Embarrassing myself doesn’t bother me (because embarrassing yourself is usually the courageous thing to do—conversation for another day) but I struggle with not wanting to bruise people’s feelings.

I’m an empathetic person, I can usually feel what other people are feeling and thinking to some degree. Not enough to for them to affect my mood—I can usually firewall that—but enough for me to be keenly aware of what people’s opinions are about me and what I should be doing.

This is related to saying yes out of obligation to someone. Your parents expect you to go to law school, but if you could do anything you wanted, you would choose theater instead. Which, in a way, is a variation on saying yes to something you don’t want to do, but do anyway to avoid embarrassing others around you.

But at the end of the day, this is your life and life is quick.

Would you rather feel embarrassed in the moment or unfulfilled in the future?

There are ways to be smart and still pursue something you love, even if it’s something that doesn’t pay well, or very few people can get to the top 5%.

The decisions I’m most happy about are the ones where I choose to play and fulfillment over monetary or acclaim.

The same goes for skills too. The skills that have come in handy the most are the ones I learned on my own for fun.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1091

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Thirty, Flirty and Thriving (part 1)

Yesterday was my 30th birthday.

I’m feeling good about it (not panicking, promise) and excited about the future—but it’s still crazy to think that I’m 30.

For the last couple of years, instead of doing New Years Resolutions at the end of the year, I do them on my birthday. (That will be in part 2).

“Resolutions” has such a bad wrap and follow-through, so I rarely think of it in those terms. I think of it as more like specific, tangible goals and a lifestyle I want to aim for.

30 goals for my 30th year.

My idea is to add one more goal each year until I’m 57 and then start counting backward. 50 goals when I’m 50. (Which is a lot!) 56 goals when I’m 58—down to 1 goal when I’m 115 (keep breathing).

Of course, I don’t exactly know my expiration date, so this is more of a fun way to reflect on where I’ve been and where I want to be.

Today I want to talk about my twenties.

I’m not gonna lie, my twenties were tough. Health, work, community, finances—you name it. But it’s so easy to focus on the negative things and lose track of all the good.

Instead of being negative, or the opposite—annoying positive, I want to highlight great experiences and lessons learned from difficult experiences.

Great things that happened in my 20s:

  • I started eating healthily and exercising.
  • I met Gabriella (now my Fiancée.)
  • We adopted Ren—the best dog I didn’t know I needed.
  • I met a lot of new people and made some great friends.
  • I started taking writing seriously and have written every day for 1000+ days in a row.
  • I started a podcast.
  • I taught myself design, marketing, entrepreneurship, cooking, yoga, and so much more.
  • I picked music back up.
  • I found my voice and started learning how to sing.
  • I traveled to LA, Austin, Thailand, New York, London, and Ireland.
  • I went to the beach a million times with my family.
  • I freelanced, worked at a couple of startups, and worked at a creative agency.
  • I started a YouTube channel.

Lessons Learned From my Twenties:

  • Health needs to be your number one priority. (Don’t wait until something is broken to take care of it.)
  • Not knowing what you want to do is part of the process.
  • Don’t Half-Ass anything, (especially decisions).
  • Don’t let fear keep you from doing what you want.
  • Get it in writing.
  • Compound Interest works for more than just money.
  • Reach out first. Jump on the dance floor first. (If everyone is waiting for someone else to go first, then no one will.)
  • Surround yourself with people who’ve got your back.
  • Aim for something big: it’s impossible to create a meaningful life you want by staying where you are.
  • Speak up. Don’t be afraid to ask. Don’t be afraid to raise your hand. Embarrass yourself. Because it’s such a small thing in the grand scheme of things.
  • Think through big decisions. (Just because you want something new, doesn’t mean you need it.)

It’s okay to wish you to go back and change things. It’s a sign that your heads on a little straighter than it was and that you are learning and growing.

Just don’t your mistakes keep you stuck in the past.

Allow your mistakes to improve your decisions and priorities going forward.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1090

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Better Now Than Never

I have a rule for myself, where if anything that takes me less than five minutes to do, I’ll do it immediately.

If I’m making lunch, I don’t leave the dirty dishes in the sink, I eat and then immediately clean them (sometimes I managed to clean before I eat.) there’s nothing worse than having a full day of work and then coming home to a mountain of todos.

Not just dishes, but all the little “chores” and habits we tend to ignore or put off because of not feeling like it.

I like to think of it as a gift to my future self. In a way, it’s also a gift to my present self too, because I’m trading a few minutes of my time for feelings of accomplishment.

Just because I don’t feel like doing something, doesn’t mean I should give in to that feeling.

Often success is the accumulation of small actions and key decisive moments done well.

A “Do It Now” is a great habit to get you there.

It’s one thing to want to do or be something, it’s another to be able to do it when it counts.

This can also improve the lives (and attitudes) of the people around you. When your significant other asks you to do something, doing it immediately will not only make them happy and cared for, it will help you build the discipline to make sh*t happen.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1088

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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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