Creativity and Chaos

“In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.”Carl Jung

“Chaos is a friend of mine.”Bob Dylan

I wonder how many songs or other forms of art will be created from the strange times of staying at home because of the 2020 Pandemic? Leon Bridges and John Mayer’s Inside Friend. Jaden’s Cabin Fever. Little Things. Exile.

I feel oddly peaceful today, despite the chaos happening in the world and the personal anxieties surrounding me. Perhaps God is shining a little ray of hope on me. Perhaps its because I’m not letting my thoughts control me today.

Looping negative or discouraging thoughts in my head is far from helpful, and adds more weight to my troubles. Despite knowing this intellectually, it’s still difficult to keep my mind running away from itself.

Presence helps. I’m walking underneath an extremely large and old tree, watching the lights sparkle through the shadows of its leaves. I wish I knew what type of tree it was. By focusing on what’s around me, I can lose all sense of my self-centered problems.

Creating helps. I feel ten times better when I push past resistance and prioritize creativity first and put in the work on my passions. Depending on the day, I might only get a chance to write in the last thirty minutes to an hour before bed. But when I actively take the time to write early in the day, lifts my mood and energy. “Actively” being the keyword here. It is almost tragic how much effort it takes to get around to working on the things you truly wish to work on. Secret dreams. Side projects. But when you finally do it’s like a weight has lifted. Why am I not doing more of this? It still takes energy, there’s still a sense of fatigue at the end of the day, but its a calming fatigue. A daily well-lived.

Taking breaks helps. It’s easy to forget that we aren’t robots. It’s not smart trying to compete with a computer. Computers never sleep, never get hangry, and never get bored. But they do crash every so often 😉 We, on the other hand, have human needs, but we also have a greater advantage of being more creative and thinking.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1002

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Day 1000

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

Bruce Lee

I started writing daily out of ambitious desperation. You see, I wanted to write, to be a writer (among other things), but I wasn’t writing. I’d squeeze out a blog post every month or so, and jot down lots of ideas, but I was doing more non-writing than writing. I made the mistake of waiting for inspiration to come, instead of seeking inspiration out through motion.

Before:

I knew something needed to change, but I wasn’t quite sure what that was yet.

Seth Godin was a big inspiration. Somewhere around this time, I was reading his book, Whatcha Gonna Do With That Duck? A compendium of blog posts from his daily blog organized into centralized ideas. It was a thick-baby, coming in at 605 pages. I had read a few other books from Seth and would read his blog every so often. I think what drew me to the book was the fun and silly book cover with rubber duckies and the title. (I’ve always been drawn to ducks and birds, but that’s a story for another day).

It was inspiring to see how a writing practice could add up to something bigger and deeper than its individual parts.

Around the same time, I was also inspired by a couple of people I knew who had challenged themselves to draw every day for a year and make a drumbeat every day for a year.

At this point, I had what you could call an epiphany (aka the obvious thing that keeps smacking you in the face trying to get your attention).

If I were to write every day for, say a hundred days, that would be like writing a one-hundred-page book. Or a full year would be three-hundred and sixty-five pages.

With a daily habit, I could quickly go from being a “wannabe writer” to a “writer”.

This isn’t exactly an original thought. Plenty of people do this in their own craft (whether they have a name for it or not). But it was original to me. Going daily planted the seed for something much greater than myself.

During:

Ideas come from Momentum

When it comes to wanting to do something (wanting to be something) it’s all about momentum. Taking a yoga class once is a fun exercise. Doing yoga every weekday is a practice. One is a pastime, the other is taking you somewhere. Where you are going depends on the habit you are cultivating. But whatever it is, you are going somewhere. That goes for good habits and bad habits. Building momentum comes from being consistent and intentional. Phoning it in is almost like standing still. You have to pour your heart and energy into something in order to make it become something alive and special. Some days, all you have to give is phoning it in. If that’s all you got today, then that’s all you got. But that just means you have to get up the next day and try harder.

One thing I noticed fairly quickly as I had no shortage of ideas, almost as if having a creative outlet gave my mind permission to open myself up to my life and let ideas flow in. I’ve noticed this before when I write songs.

Sometimes the music comes first and then inspires lyrics, other times coming up with lyrics naturally gives way to musical ideas. Regardless, the songs that come are a reflection of what I’m feeling, observing and-or experience at the moment.

Creativity needs an outlet, whatever that is for you. It’s not enough to want to be a dancer or want to be an Entrepreneur. You have to go out and live it. Your creative outlets are like lightning rods to ideas. But if you aren’t in motion ideas come much more slowly (if at all).

Another observation was that a writing idea could come from anywhere. A conversation. A new book. An old book. A walk in the park. Frustration. Anxiety. Anger. Random objects. Writing made me more observant of the world around me. I would have to pick and choose which writing idea I wanted to grab onto for the day.

Creativity is a mixture of conscious and subconscious influences. I can have a writing idea—call it a prompt or a question—in the morning, go about my workday without thinking about it, and have an answer to it by the evening when I sat down to write.

Of course, not every idea will be a masterpiece. But each day gave me the chance to work on my skills and hone my ideas. For every six decent to bad ideas, there was bound to be one good idea worth more than the rest combined.

Mistakes Lessons Learned

Mistake #1 Not Sharing Enough

One thing that took me an embarrassingly long time to do was to write one day in advance. Early on, I would could up with an idea, write, edit, upload, publish, and share all on the same day. This works but takes up a lot of mental space and the work doesn’t come out as nicely as I would like. Probably about a year in I took the initiative and wrote two posts in one day so that I schedule a post to go out in the morning instead of publishing it in the morning. If I were to go back and start over again, I would have done this from the beginning (people are more likely to read your work in the morning than in the evening). Writing the post that would go out the next day also gave each one a little room to breathe. I more time an idea has to stew, the more I could hone the message into a succinct idea.

Now I’m working on writing multiple posts in advance so that I can give each of them more time and attention. I’m still writing and editing every day, I’m just building on top of my craft and experimenting with ways to improve my skills, have better ideas, and provide more impactful and meaningful work.

Mistake #2 Not Leading with Story

Another thing I would do differently (and am working on improving now) is adding more storytelling to my blog posts. Storytelling is one of (if not the) most powerful ways to teach or get a message across to others. When we listen to a story, whether fantasy or reality, we put ourselves into the equation and are much more willing to listen and discover the knowledge and wisdom buried in the tale. A lot of my blogs are just straight up insights or observations. This type of writing has its place, but if you want to make people feel and care about what you have to say, you have to tell it in a way that they will want to listen.

Mistake #3 Dropping the Ball

The last thing I’ll mention is if I could go back and improve things, I would have kept up with my newsletter and podcast. I had a tiny newsletter even before I started daily blogging, but I just couldn’t stay consistent with it. And the same goes for my podcast. My life was in turmoil at the time, and those were the things that I had to give. But I’m kicking myself because they are powerful ways to connect with likeminded people and ways to share what you doing.

I’ve more recently reworked both my podcast and have started a few newsletters. My plan is to double, triple down on both of them.

Streaks are a powerful motivator

I’m not sure what the exact number is—it’s likely different for each of us—but perhaps around thirty days of doing something in a row, you build up a streak that you don’t want to break. Take walking for example. Walk today, and you might not think of anything if you didn’t walk tomorrow. It gets interesting when the day starts adding up. Walk six days in a row and you’ll likely want to walk on day seven. But what about thirty days? Ninety days in a row? A full year? You better believe that when day three-hundred and sixty-six rolls around you’ll do anything and everything to make sure you don’t miss it.

Here’s what one day of a habit looks like in star emojis:
⭐️

Here’s a full week:
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A year:
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

And here’s one thousand days:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Days add up. Whatever it is you want to do, whatever you want to be good at—make them work for you. It’s not easy, but if you stick to it it’s worthwhile.

After:

Daily blog has been a guiding force in my life for the last year plus years. Just as a daily habit can be your too if you take up the challenge. What better way to prove to yourself that you have ideas worth sharing and that you can help others by sharing your story.

You Have Ideas Worth Sharing.

Hitting a thousand days in a row doesn’t make me want to quit—in fact just the opposite. I want to do more, help more, connect more, tell better stories, and challenge myself to make The Renaissance Life something truly special.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1000 🎉

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Find Out For Yourself

“Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art.”

Leonardo da Vinci

One of the best ways to learn is to teach yourself. While having a personal coach or an online course can accelerate learning, it’s hard to beat hands-on experiences.

(Not that these are mutually exclusive—stacking experience on top of mentorship is a fantastic way to learn if you have the opportunity to do so.)

One pattern I’ve noticed (in myself and in others) is how easy it is to watch someone do something, like woodworking, programming, or dancing, for example, or read a great book on a particular skill, but not actually practice the skill yourself. It’s like second-hand learning. We watch a YouTube video of someone making music or handmade pasta, but we never actually get around to doing it ourselves—even though we want too! We’re already on to the next video, next course, or next book.

Lately, I’ve been trying to avoiding doing it, but in the past, I’ve gone through many books back to back without actually testing and applying them in my own life. What’s the point of reading a business book, for example, if you aren’t going to use it or at least try parts of it out? So we can talk big and be more informed? As if.

Better to not read, then read not apply.

Finding things out for yourself is part of the joy that comes from learning new things. Without experience, you lose some of the passion and drive that comes with learning. It’s the classic phrase “Use it or lose it”. Without visceral experience, our new information isn’t all that important to our brains, and will quickly fade out of our noggin’s, replaced by newer and more exciting information.

All that being said, get dirty. Practice what you learn. Test things out yourself. Cut out some paper. Practice some scales. Make it your own.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #981

Recommended Reads:

Hell Yeah or No

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Money as an Excuse

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

Thomas A. Edison

I often find myself using a lack of money or lack of the “proper” equipment as an excuse to be unable to do something.

‘Oh—I’d love to take up leather-working, but I would have to buy all the tools, and leather supplies and have a workspace…’

‘Oh—I’d love to create more music, but first I need a b c d e f g…x y z equipment…’

‘Gee—I’d love to take Seth Godin’s altMBA, but I just can’t afford the tuition right now.’

On and on—mooo. I’m like a cow in a field wishing for a cloudy day. It’s easy to distract yourself so much on what you can’t do right now that you are obvious to all the opportunities in front of you.

Lack of money or other resources can be limiting—for example, it’s difficult to start an online business if you can’t even afford to pay for a Squarespace or Shopify website—but limitations are an opportunity to think outside of the box and find a way around barriers.

Lack of money is an opportunity to think differently and more creatively.

This is a very stoic mindset. If X doesn’t work—what else can you try? What’s a way around this barrier? How can I turn this into an advantage?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #977

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Loose Threads

“It is the loose ends with which men hang themselves.”

Zelda Fitzgerald

There’s this concept of loose threads (or loose ends) in film (and muuurder?) where certain details are left unfinished or unresolved. Loose threads could happen in the film’s story (i.e. We have some loose ends we need to cut) or the film itself, where there are storylines that feel unbuttoned and left hanging.

These unresolved/unfinished happen in our own lives too—good and bad.

Let’s start with good threads.

Good threads:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

Steve Jobs

A good thread is what I call anything you put out into the world that’s positive, good-natured, or could become an opportunity (for you andor for others). The classic example is good karma. Things like anonymously donating to a charity, leaving a tip for a podcaster you enjoy, helping an old lady change her flat tire, etc. Good threads can also be investments you put out into the world that could bloom. Content, monetary investments, relationships, optimism, ideas, etc.

You never know when something you do or something you create will have a massive impact on your life or the lives of others.

That’s why it’s good to try to always be on our A-game and give one hundred percent with whipped cream on top of everything we say and do.

But what about bad threads?

Bad threads:

“I know the sag of the unfinished poem. And I know the release of the poem that is finished.”

Mary Oliver

Bad threads are unresolved sentiments live. Todos left undone. Things we said (sometimes even bragged about) but never did. Abandoned or sidetracked dreams. Projects unfinished. There are some bad threads that you can’t pick back up. Bridges burned, reputations tarnished.

Other bad threads are things we leave unfinished and yet still think about often. In Practice you’ve moved on to something else, in mind, you have unfinished business rummaging around in your head that pops up. These can be super harmful because they can zap our energy—in what we are currently doing AND from what we aren’t doing but wish we were. And they add up over the years. One thread unravels to two, then three…

I find it good to take some time to think and list out (if any) threads I’ve left open unresolved. After that, it’s a question of if it’s something I need to finish, something I really want to do or something I should let go of.

What are some projects or ideas left open that I need to resolve?

What are some asks/favors/tasks/opportunities I need to say no to?

What are some things I need to let go of?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #976

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a coffee ☕️ or a new plant. 🌱

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Use What You’ve Got

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

Theodore Roosevelt

According to a quick google search, the top two most sold ice cream flavors are vanilla and chocolate. Out of the thousands of favors and options out there in the world, the humble vanilla and chocolate are still the most popular.

You have everything you need to create what you need. Everything you can and will eventually add to the mix (experiences, higher quality gear, knowledge, the latest gadgets, and gizmos, etc) are extra flavor to your toolkit.

But for now, you have what you have—so make do. Think of it as a creative limitation, something that gives you the opportunity to think differently and come up with a clever solution.

More tools doesn’t equal more creativity or originality.

There’s no sense in waiting for the right tools and gear. Nor for right time for that matter.

Be resourceful. Make do with what you have and make it shine.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #963

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Fortitude

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’m always torn between staying up later to have a little more time to learn and work on my passion projects, versus going to bed on time so that future josh will feel fresh in the morning.

Should I grit my teeth and push a little bit more, or do I let go and rejuvenate?

I’ve read Dr. Matthew Walker’s book, Why We Sleep, I understand how vital good sleep is—not just for creativity— but for everything. Yet still, I’m torn. I don’t know what my future looks like. Would future Josh wish that past Josh tried harder or does he wish that past Me didn’t focus so much energy on doing more?

More doesn’t always bring you the results you are seeking.

As Seneca once wrote, “We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.”

I suppose it doesn’t matter as long as I’m living a life true to myself. My dreams in life aren’t going to realize themselves. There’s a reason most people don’t do what they want to do—they convince themselves it’s not possible. As long as we are making decisions for the right reasons—based on value, connection, joy, love, meaning, passion, curiosity, etc— it doesn’t really matter how long it takes for my day to come, or even if it does. Because if you live true to yourself, and treat yourself and others with respect and care, then the life that we end up living will be 10x as meaningful, compared to a life spent in fear, doubt, and by someone else’s rules.

It’s a simple idea, but it’s far from easy. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. It takes strength and perseverance to surrender to the moment while also never wavering on who you are and who you want to be.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #929

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The Undo Button

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.”

Bruce Lee

It’s easy to make tasks grow into monsters in your mind. A large and heavy goal can become too impossible to start. There’s just too much pressure riding on it.

Sometimes the desire of something so badly becomes the reason that stops you from getting it.

This goes for love, to be sure, where we fantasize about being with someone who really isn’t that person we are making up in our heads. It also rings true for any outcome or success we wish to achieve.

The desire to become healthy, and the tightly held tension in the attempt (or vision) to make it happen becomes the stressor that leads us to being unhealthy. Or, more often, we become more healthy in how we were striving, becoming a runner for example, but become unhealthy in areas we aren’t paying attention too, such as always eating junk food.

It’s good to pause every so often and look at the whole playing field of your good habits and bad habits you currently have. Our bad habits are often hampering or subtracting our good habits, leaving us feeling like they aren’t helping us, or that we aren’t making any progress.

For example, having a good habit of doing great work at your job, but having a bad habit of mis-communicating or even not communicating what you are doing and why. Nothing kills a project like forgetting to stay in touch with the client and updating them on your progress.

To make a goal possible, we need to take the pressure of it off our shoulders. What would it look like if you were doing it for fun, rather than doing it because you need or really want to? Think about how you can break the goal into smaller and smaller components. It’s difficult to act on something that isn’t tangible and easy to grasp.

Instead of trying to accomplish this giant scary thing, why not start with this tiny un-scary thing first? Remember—on a micro level, there’s very you could do that you couldn’t immediately undo if it doesn’t work out. Didn’t work out? No problem—undo it. Get in trouble for trying something new? Apologize and go back to where you were before. Small decisions add up on a large time scale, but here in the daily actions of today, small decisions are rarely permanent and can easily be rolled back into something that works better for you if need be.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #917

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All I Know is that I Know Nothing

“To know, is to know that you know nothing. That is the meaning of true knowledge.”

Socrates

The realization that you don’t know much as you think you do is a humbling and important experience.

There’s a great line by Richard Williams, Director of Animation for Who Framed Roger Rabbit that encapsulates this feeling perfectly. He was finishing up his first animated film, The Little Island, and around that time Disney’s Bambi came out in theaters. “… I saw Bambi again and almost crawled out of the theatre on my hands and knees. ‘How did they ever do that?’ I’d learned just enough to realize that I really didn’t know anything!”

You have to be a little naive and arrogant in the beginning when you are just starting out on a new venture (be it a business, project, prototyping an idea, learning a new skill, etc). Otherwise, you’ll know too much to start and overwhelm yourself.

Knowing what you know now, would you have started if you knew how hard it would be to get where you are?

You have to be naive and inexperienced enough to try new things.

Zen Buddhists describe this is having a beginner’s mind. A beginner’s mind is open and ready to learn.

Eventually, you learn a thing or two about your craft. You start making things, designing things, selling things, and get good enough to move things forward. Product sales role in. Your design clients like your work. Your art gets praise. Your song gets applause.

But then you see a professional at work. You see someone who does what you do, but a hundred times better. Heck, you didn’t even realize your guitar could do that. For example, take one look at some of the designs on Dribbble and you’ll realize your designs are garbage designs. “Are they using the same app I’m using?? How do they even make colors and shapes look like that??” The same is true for any skill, venture, or activity. And you realize that—

There’s a lot of incredible creatives and entrepreneurs out there.

It’s painful when you realize you aren’t as good as you want to be.

(It’s also painful when you see someone doing things worse than you are, but they are getting all the praise and attention—Topic for another day.)

But this is a great place to be in. This is another one of those pesky turning points that separate those that succeed and fail. You could stop. You could let someone’s brilliant work make you feel down about yourself and lead you to quit. Or—

You can let it lift you up and inspire you to do better.

Knowing that there’s a lot you don’t know is a great mindset to be in. You’ll learn must faster and more effectively. Humility leads to growth. Once you get past the initial ego-sting of realizing you aren’t the best, you can use the brilliance of others as an experience to seek out advice and to get better.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #913

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Encouragement

“Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s souls.”

Daniel Burnham

There will always be ups and downs on every creative journey. Moments of doubt. A day where all you want to do is quit. And on that day when you are teetering on the edge of giving up your dream, you have a choice—keep going or give in. There will be many days like this. This is an inflection point. This is what separates those that succeed and those who give up and go on to and doing something else.

Success isn’t assured. Even if you do everything right, there’s still the chance of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But that doesn’t mean you are destined to fail either. Perhaps the right place at the right time is in your future if you push through the difficulty and have the courage to continue forward. No one said pursuing a creative life would be easy. But if you love what you do, and you really want it, then you need to find the encouragement to keep pursuing.

Remind yourself why you are doing this.

Collect memories of encouragement and compliments to help you preserve on difficult days. (See Tim Ferris’s Jar of Awesome)

Remember that your work has the power to encourage and lift others. (Which also means other people’s work has the power to encourage you too.)

Related:

BOOK: Brave Enough by Cheryl Strayed

“A good director creates an environment, which gives the actor the encouragement to fly.”

Kevin Bacon

“I’ve always thrived on the encouragement of others.”

Patti Smith

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #912

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