Me Time

I tend to be an over-giver.

If someone I love needs something, I’ll do what I can to help (even if I’m not in a place to do so.)

I’m not a “yes man.” I can easily say no to things that don’t align with my core values. And I also have a visceral feeling of time, and how precious every second is, so I try to say yes to only important things and no to everything else.

But if a friend needs someone to talk to, I’m there. If someone I love needs my help, I’ll do what I can—and then some.

It’s the and then some that sometimes comes back to bite me. Because If I give too much and forget to give to myself, I’ll start to prune up (so to speak.)

If you’re like me, it’s easy to forget your needs and instead focus on the needs of others. And it’s always easy to pour your energy into things that don’t fulfill you.

It’s not necessarily the giving that’s the problem, but the lack of receiving. Giving can be just as energizing as receiving. But if you aren’t giving yourself the time and space you need to refuel, then

Whether you’re giving energy to others or giving it to unrewarding things, sooner or later, too much and you’ll soon burn out.

Give time for what *you* need.

We all need rest, clean food, movement, solitude, fun, and nourishing community.

Without it, we turn into pale imitations of who we want to be.

It’s hard to give when you’ve got nothing left.

Do what you need to do to thrive so that you can help others at a whole new level of strength and enthusiasm.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1144

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Advice vs. Criticism vs. Critiques

“The best advice comes from people who don’t give advice.” — Matthew McConaughey

Advice is what you get from people who you know andor admire. It’s something you ask for or it’s built into the DNA of y’all’s relationship. Candor and honesty are words that come to mind. Advice comes from an inner place of wanting to see the other person succeed and be happy.

+Criticism can sometimes be from people who you know, but it usually comes without you asking. It lives in the same apartment as negativity and complaining. It could be incredible advice—perhaps the best advice you’ve ever heard—but it usually comes from an inner place of fear and worry. Combine that with the fact you didn’t ask for it, you likely want to listen to it because of how it’s being given. And if you do listen to criticism and it turns out to be not true, it can be easy to jump to anger and resentment.

Criticism can also come from people we don’t know and don’t admire—this type of advice should be quickly ignored and discarded.

+Critique is advice you receive from your colleagues and peers. If you’ve taken an art class of some kind, then you’re likely all too familiar with critiques of your work. Another word we use is feedback. Having good clean feedback from people who are playing the game (or who have hands-on experience with the game) can help you improve and create better work. Critiques come from a place of mutually desired growth.

There can also be critics who judge your work by their own personal perspectives and standards. Sometimes critic feedback can be good, sometimes it can burn. There’s a lot of variables, so use your best judgment on what advice/feedback you deem worth listening to.

Which goes with advice, criticism, and critiques. Good advice should make you pause and consider yourself and your options. At the end of the day, you are the one that gets to decide what actions to take.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1071

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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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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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Fun to Be Around

I am a silly person. If there’s an opportunity, I’m always going for a laugh. I’ve asked some friends about me and they told me they like hanging with me because I’m charismatic and interested in who they are and what they do.

I’d agree with that, I am usually the guy in the group asking a lot of questions. I think curiosity needs to be genuine though. I’m curious about others because I want to be, not because I’m forcing myself to listen to other people’s ideas.

I’m not much for small talk. If you’re telling me about a project you’re working on or something you’re learning, I give you my full attention. Your ideas are important to me. I want to see you succeed.

A lot of people see the world through a scarcity lens of “me vs. you vs. them.” If your idea succeeds then my idea fails. But this isn’t true. Everyone can be successful, just not in the same way. Originality is hard, but it pays dividends.

There is a limit of course. I can give someone enthusiasm, but I can’t do their work for them. Your goals in life are that—yours. I can help point you in the right direction, I can help motivate you and encourage you, but it’s still up to each of us to take these dreams and ideas we have in our head and make them a reality. It’s not my job to do your job. Nor is it your job to do mine. We can share, but we still need to individually contribute.

Our reality is a reflection of our mind.

This sounds like a line from a Matthew McConaughey Lincoln commercial, but it’s true. I’m not talking about magic. Wishing for a banana to magically appear in your hands or a briefcase full of money to appear under your bed isn’t what I mean. What we think reflects what we do and how we perceive the world around us and by extension our reality changes. Thinking about eating a banana in pets you want a real banana. Does the banana in your mind exist? Not yet. But it correlates.

This kind of thinking can get woo-woo fast. There are just too many variables to predict all the details of what life will throw at you. But whatever comes our way gives us choices that are in our control.

Failure is an opportunity to do better in the next round. Or not.

Setbacks are an opportunity to grow into a better person. Or not.

Negativity, obstacles, toxic environments, unhelpful thoughts, criticism—these are all things that can help us or hold us back. It just depends on how you look at things. This is a very Jocko mindset.

I’m not telling you to enjoy your toxic work environment, for example. I’m saying see it as an opportunity to stand up for yourself and find something better.

Experiencing failure doesn’t mean you are a failure.

Being negative doesn’t mean you have to stay negative.

We may think about our past and envision our future, but we live life moment to moment. Each moment can change for the better if you own it.

A big part of building a thriving life is letting go of what you can’t control (i.e. your past mistake) and aiming for a better future while staying flexible in the present.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1054

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Regret-free Decisions

Plenty of folks would look at my plate (interests/projects/dreams) and say that I say yes to too many things.

I’ve always been someone who has been interested in many subjects. Art, music, sports, exercise, technology, learning, etc. I also occasionally feel slightly envious of the people who can stick in one lane for most of their lives (for example, just graphic design). But I enjoy too many things to be that kind of person.

But you can’t do everything (at least not all at once 😜). So there’s always a matter of which pursuits to spend your time on.

I try to say yes to as much as I can tolerate without sacrificing health or quality. And if I walk outside of that tolerance range I rebalance.

Right now I’m less concerned about quantity and more about quality. Meaning, how can I say yes more to the right things (and no to the wrong things) instead of saying yes to things that don’t matter?

Ultimately what we decide is worth our time comes down to each of us. A question I ask myself is what I’ve found helpful is “would I regret not doing this in a year (or five years) from now?” Or said the opposite way, “would I regret saying yes to this after a year has passed?”

Pay attention to where you’re answers are coming from. Make sure they are coming from the heart and not from your wallet or from someone else’s mouth. Not that there is anything wrong with making money or following the path of another great leader—quite the contrary. And yet still. When it comes to making important decisions, make sure you know why or why not you’re saying yes.

Think of a decision like it’s not yours but a close friend making them. What would you advise them? Would you give them the same advice that you are giving yourself?

Consider all sides. And at the end of the day, if it turned out to be a bad call, then learn from it. Mistakes are scars earned. They can be something we try to hide and ignore, or something we learn from and wear like a badge that tells a story for others.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1050

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What Kind of Friend are You?

“We’re all just walking each other home.”

Ram Dass

One of my favorite categories of friends is the type that no matter how long it’s been since you’ve seen them, you pick up right where you’ve left off. Time has passed. You both have changed in hundreds of ways, but the friendship hasn’t.

I went hiking yesterday with some friends I’ve known since middle school and high school. Two whom I’m close to and see practically every week. And two I hadn’t seen in a while (for no other reason than life coming between us). We hung out, made dumb jokes, waxed poetically, swam in a creek, and got caught in torrential rain. It was great fun.

Some people crisscross through your life like planes trailing in the sky. Teaching you lessons (some good, some bad). Influencing your tastes in music and how you spend your time. Informing you more about yourself.

Some people fade out of choice. A difference in values. Crossroads. Convenient “friends” who peace out ✌️ when you’re going through a rough spell.

Some people exist in different stages of life. High school. College. Marriage. Big moves and changes.

Some people stick around and become daily companions. You see each other grow, but you often overlooked it because day to day change is happening so slow you miss it.

I want to be the kind of friend who is genuine and who can pick things up right where we left off, no matter how long it’s been. And I want to be the kind of friend who you see frequently, (maybe not every day) but even if it’s been a while you know you can call and I’ve got your back.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1049

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Breathing Room

“That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

Steve Jobs

Clutter is a very visible thing. You can see it stuffed on bookshelves and overflowing on dressers. You can see it pilled in closets, hanging off unused at-home exercise machines, and clustered in junk drawers. You can even see it in our digital lives: overflowing emails, apps, friends, tabs, Desktop screens, notes, and files.

But what makes clutter feel like clutter?

Is it because things are unorganized and ‘out of place’ compared to where you would expect them? Or maybe it’s because things are too many things compared to the space available?

My vote is on clutter feels like clutter because it doesn’t have the space it (whatever it is) needs to be useful and comfortable (for lack of a better word).

Think about it—

A desk isn’t very useful if you’re stuff is everywhere and so overpowering and distracting that you can’t actually sit down (or stand up) and work unless you wade through all the clutter first.

A bookshelf isn’t very enlightening if you can’t find the book you are looking for, or worse—you see the book but its under a hundred things and can’t be removed unless you want to be squashed like a bug as books and piles of crap fall on you to your doom.

Our possessions need breathing room—otherwise, they lose their usefulness.

The same is true for most (if not all) things in our lives too.

It’s hard to be a good freelancer if you juggling a dozen clients while also working on two side hustles.

It’s difficult to create anything if you spend all your time doing everything but working on your art.

It’s impossible to get work done if you spend all your time jumping from meeting after meeting or spending half the day sporadically responding to email.

And most importantly, it’s tough being a good friend, or skilled professional, or partner, or sibling, or father, if you spread yourself too thin.

Everything needs a little breathing room to work properly. Without it, we’re also gonna be running late, busy, overworked, and unfulfilled.

Q: How can you add more breathing room into your life? Alt: What can you remove to give yourself more breathing room?

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

Albert Einstein

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1020

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Express Yo Self

“If I didn’t have my films as an outlet for all the different sides of me, I would probably be locked up.”

Angelina Jolie

“Training gives us an outlet for suppressed energies created by stress and thus tones the spirit just as exercise conditions the body.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger

I’m sipping coffee out of a thick, off-white unassuming diner mug. I like these types of mugs because each sip is like a gentle kiss on your lips.

(You’re welcome for the lovely visual of me making out with a coffee mug ☕️💋 xoxo.)

My 1000th consecutive blog post is coming up and I’ve been thinking a lot about how grateful I am for having started a daily writing habit.

Having an outlet to channel ideas, observations, and work through life has been a worthwhile endeavor.

Ideas flow when you have an outlet to direct them to.

And it doesn’t have to be writing, any creative outlet can be rewarding—martial arts, dancing, electronics, comedy, singing, watercolor, etc.

Some days have been harder than others. But in many ways, it’s the hard days that make expressing yourself through something all the more rewarding. I’ve begun to feel better after I write. Perhaps it’s because I’m checking an important todo off my list, but I think it’s more than that.

I know I have a long way to go—I far from the master writer and storytelling fiend I want to be—but every day I hit publish I’m one step closer.

I would highly recommend expressing yourself creatively in some form or fashion. It starts with simply being about the work but quickly grows into something deeper.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #994

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To Feel Known

“Instead of being concerned that you have no office, be concerned to think how you may fit yourself for office. Instead of being concerned that you are not known, seek to be worthy of being known.”

Confucius

“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”

Mark Twain

I think one of the big reasons we are drawn to social media is the desire to be known, and all the associated feelings and desires that come along with it. At a fundamental level, to be known is to be heard. To be someone who matters.

When you are lonely, or in pain or different, the lie we tell ourselves is we don’t matter.

No one is seeing us, therefore we aren’t worth being seen. Some people collapse inward. Others lash out (which can be in a million different ways). But we all tend to be drawn to groups, tribes, communities where we feel heard, or at least feel useful and valuable. People like us. Whatever that looks like for you. Navy SEALs. Entrepreneurs. Artists. Athletes. Dog lovers. Weirdos. Zoom yoga chats. People you just met who like the same jokes you like. We all want to belong and feel a part of something.

Making someone feel like they belong is one of the greatest gifts you can give anyone.

It doesn’t take much. Just let them speak and give your complete attention and interest. Be curious about what they like and don’t like. Don’t worry about what you are going to say. Listen to what they are saying.

But what about yourself? What about me?

To be known is to be yourself. Forget what everyone else is telling you to be.

Forget the 20 habits I find helpful and enjoy doing. Forget the habits and routines of the people you respect and look up to. Instead, build the habits that work for you. Maybe they are similar, but the key is they don’t have to be. It’s up to you to experiment and figure out what works for you and discard the rest. Maybe reading and drawing is what gets me in the right mind space but for you its a morning run. That’s good. Stick to it. Be open and try out mine and see if they work for you too. (The same goes for me with yours) But if drawing or writing every day turns out not to be your thing, that’s perfectly reasonable.

To be yourself when everyone wants you to be them is true strength.

To be known is also to care about yourself. Finding friends and family to share life with is what’s life is about. But you don’t need the approval of others to be known and the be someone who matters. You already are. You matter to yourself. That’s all that matters. Once you realize that, it doesn’t matter if you are alone on a desert island—you love who you are and what your dreams are. And then you have the power to share that with someone else.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #907

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