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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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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Hurry Up and Wait

Yesterday I️ talked about the idea of self-inflicted stress. Stress that we carry around like an orangutan on our back, jonesing for a banana. (…what?) This could be internal stressors we bottle up, such as anger and frustration towards our work or relationships, and this could be external stressors like

comparison (why can’t I️ have what she has?), 

stuff (I️ have too much stuff / I️ don’t have even stuff / I️ don’t have the right stuff), 

Or pursuits (money, happiness, connections, skills).

But usually its all the above, internal stressors, external stressors, twisting around like earbuds in your pocket, eventually forming into one giant life crisis that floors you and feels impossible to untangle.

I️ mentioned that a big self-inflicted stress that I️ carry is being late / hating rushing. I️ HATE rushing. It’s one of my least favorite feeling. (Did I️ say that already?) I️ want to be on time, but I️ fit so much in my day that I️ don’t have a lot of margin in between doing things. (which is an entirely separate topic I️ need to explore…)

I also live on island time 🏝 This is definitely something I️ picked up from my mom. Her parents (my grandparents) were the complete opposite. They would leave a movie before I­t­ was over just to beat the traffic. I️ think she rebelled into the opposite direction, taking her time, not beholden to it, not afraid of showing up late. My dad, on the other hand, is completely opposite from her (Which makes for regularly hilarious entertainment 🍿). He wants to be on time for everything, but when he can’t — usually because of mom — he goes through the 10 stages of grief.

In the army, they have a phrase for this: Hurry up and wait. You’re either 15 minutes early or your late. I️ learned this from gabriella, who, centuries before we met, was in the army. To them, I️ imagine it’s all about being prepared. You want to be where you need to be, at the right time, the right place, with the right structure and gear to be able handle anything.

Which sounds fantastic. I️ want to be in the right time, right place and have everything I️ need to handle anything. That sounds amazing!

Putting that mindset into practice starts with the level of commitment you have on your goal. You can’t be 15 minutes early if you keep hitting snooze. If you are 10 minutes away, you need at least 25 minutes to get there early.

The same is true for entrepreneurship and creativity.

Deadlines are not restriction, they are margins of time that give you (ideally) flexibility and space to be your most creative and effective self. Of course unrealistic deadlines are restriction. They are the equivalent of rushing or cramming. Without structure, work doesn’t get done. Without margin, creativity isn’t at its best. There’s a tight balancing act between island time and chronic panic.

It’s impossible to be creative if you’re not actually in the habit of creating. And it’s hard to be creative with a banana crazy orangutan for a backpack.

How to find this balance all depends on how you want to live. What you do for work, Who you work for, spend time with and surround yourself with, What types of content you consume and what principles and values you hold all add up in a big, and unique way. There is no one way, because there is only one you. I️ can show you how I️ live my life and you can be inspired and challenge by that or not. But trying to be me doesn’t mean that will work for you. Making I­t­ (dreams, passions, experiences etc) work comes from making I­t­ work for you.

The thing to be watchful of is the question: do you feel good about how you act?. When you’re actions don’t align with who you are and your aspirations / intentions / values, then you’re adding stress to the ‘I hate myself’ bucket.

Do you feel good about how you act?

If you do then you’re on the right track. If you don’t it’s time to change how you feel or change how you do things.

Being on time is great, and being late is fine — unless your stressing yourself all the time by carrying around two opposing beliefs: 

I️ should be early, 
I️ am never on time.

Should being the key word here. Our ‘should’s’ are the very core of what our self-inflected stresses are. We should be doing something, but we are not.
we want to be doing something, but we haven’t.  We wish we could, but we are not trying. 

I️ try my best to live my life by the things that I️ do, versus the things that I️ should do.

I️ hardly succeed at it, and easily fall pray to comparing myself to others, but as long as I️ reaching for the goal, I️’m better off than I was.

The more ‘should’s’ you can remove from your life, the greater life you will have.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
And wherever you are, keep smiling 🙂
Josh Waggoner

Feedback: What did you think about today’s blog post? Did it spark any insights for you? Thoughts? Outrage? Email me: josh@renaissancelife.com. Join the Renaissance Email List below for more content on creativity, mastery and life.

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Related Insights

“Your best ideas, those eureka moments that turn the world upside down, seldom come when you’re juggling emails, rushing to meet the 5 P.M. deadline or straining to make your voice heard in a high-stress meeting. They come when you’re walking the dog, soaking in the bath or swinging in a hammock.” — Carl Honore

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” — Albert Einstein

“A broad margin of leisure is as beautiful in a man’s life as in a book. Haste makes waste, no less in life than in housekeeping. Keep the time, observe the hours of the universe, not of the cars.” — Henry David Thoreau

Book Pairings

Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

Play It Away: A Workaholic’s Cure for Anxiety by Charlie Hoehn

It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be by Paul Arden

 

Next Level Pursuits

“Nostalgia is denial – denial of the painful present… the name for this denial is golden age thinking – the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one one ‘s living in – it’s a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present.”

Midnight in Paris

Sometimes it can be frustrating to do so much, yet feel so far away from where you want to be.

Wherever you are, whatever you are aiming to do, there’s always going to be that next level. 

A place where you’re smarter, better, more connected…
more ______  than you already are. And the more you do, the more there is to do.

There’s always a level up you can climb and a level down you can atrophy. That goes for every aspect of your life too:

Money:
Working at Starbucks for minimum wage > working at a 9 to 5 for 10k a year > 50k > 100k > Becoming a millionaire, Billionaire >

Connections:
Having no friends > having a friend > groups of friends > online following > deeper friends > nationwide connection > global network > super-connector >

Business:
Bootstrapping a startup > Getting your first client/customer> Making a profit > Growing your team > Exiting or IPO > Becoming the next Amazon, Google or Apple >

Loving the process

The next level is a lifelong pursuit. Striving for greatness is a fine balance between being good with where you are while pursuing a better you (and life). In our connected world of follows, downloads, likes, and shares, you have to have the right intentions — personal growth, helping others, making deep connections etc.— behind your actions. Pursuit, with the right intentions, can be a fun process of striving for the next level of performance. However with wrong intentions — for personal gain (money, power, attention) — will be a nightmare and leave you in a cycle for wanting more more more and being miserably unhappy. Growth vs. Greed. Passion vs. Dissatisfaction. Happiness vs. Longing

So the question is where will you plant your flag?

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Insights I’m Thinking About:

“Excellence is being able to perform at a high level over and over again. You can hit a half-court shot once. That’s just the luck of the draw. If you consistently do it… that’s excellence.” — Jay-Z

You’re a Slacker McFly, Just Like Your Old Man

How many of us go through our entire life living passively

We spend most of our time hoping for a better life while taking part in a life that doesn’t align with our core self. We work, interact, read and exist as if we will live forever and that we have the option to slack off. We avoid who we want to be, in service of who don’t want to be.

All the while, we could die tomorrow in a freak hotdog accident.

I don’t want to live a life of a slacker and wake up one day when I️’m fat and 85 and wonder what happened.

Slacking isn’t having negative ‘nothing’ space or spending time with what you love. Slacking off is distracting yourself from what you should or want to be doing. It’s the fidget spinner of our humanity. 

Do people plan to be apathetic?

No, I️ don’t think so. Living asleep happens gradually and it’s hard to notice unless you’re  already out of it­ looking back to the bizarro world you lived in.

How do we keep ourselves from being apathetic and complacent?

1. Have a reminder that life is short.

A phrase you read each morning or a memento you carry as a reminder.
Read I­t­ in the morning, feel I­t­ in your bones.

2. Create weekly, monthly check-ins to review what you’ve been doing.

 What’s working, what’s not?
 Are you giving time for the important things?
 Are you taking steps towards accomplishing your goals?

3. Make a plan for what’s important, and take daily actions that challenge your status quo.
    What are you afraid to do?
    

We must live in our discomfort zone to create radical change in our lives.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Related Ideas I’m thinking about:

Fear Setting from TF
The Tail End, from Wait But Why
Guilt, Happiness and Honesty, from Ryan Holiday (Feb. 2008)

Expectations

I tend to create high expectations for myself when I­t­ comes to goals and visions of who I want to be and how I want to live. (Who doesn’t?)

Actually, scratch that. I tend to have high expectations for myself about EVERYTHANG. I’m not seeking perfection, but I don’t want to live my life at 11.

High expectations can backfire.

One big problem I need some improvement in is having huge expectations of how much I can take on at once, and how much I can fit in a day. Sometimes packing your day in with 30 – 50 different things work, but you’re not left with a feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day. You feel tired and empty like a container of squeezed toothpaste. And on the days where things do NOT work, everything sets on fire. (AHHHHHH!)

When I expect more for myself, and I don’t reach that expectation I’m a ball of anxiety, frustration, and discouragement (probably a little hungry too). All that these negative emotions give me is the exact opposite of what I wanted and why I had high expectations in the first place.

Clearly high expectations don’t work for me.

If a sound vision and specific goals and sticking with it make the dream happen, what do we do with our expectations during the rollercoaster ride on the way?

What if low expectations + high self-esteem is the winning formula for happiness and achievement?

Here’s a small example: I’m a big superhero fan. When the movie Man of Steel came out, I was pumped. After the string of great and good Marvel movies, and the Dark Knight movies by Nolan, I was expecting this D.C. movie would be killer. I wanted I­t­ to be good, but the more I watched the more disappointment I was. Cut to this year past year, I had low expectations for Wonder Woman and Justice League. Yet Wonder Woman was fantastic! And Justice League — all be I­t­, not the greatest thing in the world — was a fun ride too! Now, I’m not saying the quality of these movies was determined by my expectations (You still have to create excellent work), I do think that our perception of a result/outcome we have in our head can skew how we paint the world.

Expectations is another word for perception. It’s perceiving a future value in the outcome.

Expectation is another word for perception. It’s perceiving a future value in the outcome.

 

Putting in a different light, it’s like saying, ‘I can’t be happy unless X happens.’

Perhaps the old adage, ‘expect the worst, hope for the best’ is actually wise. Low expectations are not about living based on negative attitude toward life, it’s about fundamentally understanding that anything can happen to us, good or ill, and what really matters if we stay true to who we are.

In essence, high self-esteem could be believing that no matter what happens, I’m still complete.  I’m still me. My life is still worthy and full. (worthful?) It’s saying I have this vision of what I want to look like, and knowing that no matter what happens, If I stay true to me, trust those I look up to, consistent in my actions and pursue my life with fire and gusto everything will turn out okay in the end. (No matter the setback or failure I may face).

 

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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Related Insights:

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.” — Steve Jobs

“The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.” — Confucius

“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”Bruce Lee

Be Intentional

How do you become a writer?
A designer?

Musician, Dancer, Speaker?
A better friend, connector, brother/sister?

How do I align my words with my actions?

Show up.

Even if you don’t want too (especially if you don’t want to) Because when you show up you’re telling the world — and more importantly yourself — that you are serious.

Sometimes I write a motivational blog post like this and feel like I’m just reiterating ideas with different words. Same message, different day. But really I’m reminding myself of my values and why it’s important to live intentionally.

Do you ever catch yourself scrolling through Instagram or the web while you’re surrounded by friends or family? I could be right next to them, yet a million miles away. It’s easy to notice this pattern once someone tells you, If fact, you’ll probably start seeing it everywhere now. Parents ‘playing’ with their kids, while they’re on their phone, Couples on their devices at dinner, and on and on. The technology itself isn’t bad (in fact it’s incredible we’ve come so far!) it just depends on the context. And being a design and developer, I know most apps are created to be as addicting as possible. That way you’ll keep using it.

Are you using it, or is it using you?

One principle of a Renaissance Life is living intentionally.

Living intentionally means giving all of your attention on what you’re focusing on. 

It means having plans for what is important to you and giving your time and attention to them every day. Intentionality is the opposite of phoning i­t­ in. It’s being active in your decisions vs. being passive. It’s knowing your macro while narrowing in on the micro (which will lead to the macro).

What does this look like?

Intentionally friendships are based on respect, deep connections, and care.

An intentional relationship is knowing your person and his or her needs. It’s being spontaneous and affectionate with all of your beings. 

Intentional work is knowing when you’re doing too much, knowing when to say yes and no, and caring for your customers, clients, and employees as if they were you.

The more intentionally we are, the more happier and capable we will be.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Wisdom:

“The quality of your commitments will determine the course of your life.”Ralph Marston

An Intentional Life: Zen Habits

Death By Opportunity

I’ve talked about how I️ went through some difficult failures and setbacks on a recent post here. My solution? When the world keeps slapping you with No’s, you start saying yes to opportunities.

Your No’s could be a job loss, a bad breakup, financial meltdown, health problems, crippling fears, burned bridges and everything in between.

It is Imperative to say YES to every* opportunity when you’re going through rough times and setbacks.

(* the exception being it’s a good opportunity, not a stupid opportunity that can get you killed, maimed, or worse)

How do we say yes to opportunity?

  1. Go out and look for it. It’s like when you want a particular car and then you start seeing that car everywhere — so too, with opportunities. You’re not going to find opportunities sitting alone in your room watching Netflix. Break up the mundane by going out and doing things you don’t normally do.
  2. Create it. Start building your idea muscle. Pitch ideas to business and friends. Taking classes in something you’ve always wanted to learn. Find groups and organizations you can join. Talk to people who do something you admire or would like to do yourself.
  3. Ask for it. There’s nothing wrong in seeking help, by that socially or professionally. In fact, asking for help will not only keep you sane, but it will also shorten the gap between having no opportunities and finding an abundance of opportunities. When I️ was feeling burned out, I️ asked my friends for advice. When I️ was going through some financial problems last year I️ ask friends if there were any work opportunities they knew about.

How can we expect something to happen if we don’t go out looking for it, asking for it and creating it? 

The closer we can align our mind with our actions the better our life will be.

However, when you’re life becomes less volatile, there is such a thing as too much opportunity. If you say yes to everything, regardless of whether it aligns with your values our not, you’re setting yourself up to overwhelmed. (dun dun daaaaaah)

Too much of a good thing will kill you.

Saying yes to more and more opportunities at once will split your time and attention into a million different directions and will keep you from doing what you’re passionate about.

When should I say yes, when should I say no?

I️ can’t tell you whether to say yes or no to a dancing opportunity versus a traveling opportunity. Ultimately, that decision is up to you based off what matters most to you. Once you choose, never look back. (Alternatively, sometimes there are ways to make both opportunities work if you can find a clever solution. It’s like Peter Diamandis says, “When given a choice – take both!”)

I️ can teach you one thing I️ learned recently from Kyle Maynard in Tim Ferriss’ book, Tribe of Mentors. Kyle is the best selling author, award-winning mixed martial artist, entrepreneur and ‘known for becoming the first quadruple amputate to reach the summits of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Aconcagua without the aid of prosthetics.’

Here’s Kyle’s solution: 

“My biggest shift came after listening to a successful CEO talk about his philosophy of hiring people. When is the company grew and he ran out of time to interview people himself, he had his employees rate new candidates on a 1– 10 scale. The only stipulation was they couldn’t choose 7. It immediately dawned on me how many invitations I was receiving that I would rate as a 7 – speeches, weddings, coffee, even dates. If I thought something was a 7, there was a good chance I felt obligated to do it. But if I had to decide between a 6 or an 8 it’s a lot easier to quickly determine whether or not I should even consider it.”

When you’re facing an opportunity does it lean towards a 6, or an 8? Again, this is a fantastic way to make sure what you say yes to align with what actually matters to you. What does gut say?

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Learning Playbook: Resources on How to Master Learning — Part 1

Yesterday I made a list of the micro-skills of mastery, skills that if mastered will create massive improvements in all areas of our lives.

Tonight I want to talk about learning. My aim here is to start building a master learning playbook to teach myself (and anyone like me) how to master the art of learning. Why learn how to learn? Because learning is a universal skill that affects all aspects of our lives. By becoming a more effective learner, you will be able to develop any skill, trait or habit you desire.

Questions I have:

Q: How can we teach ourselves to learn? (Learning how to learn — or meta-learning if you want to get fancy pants-y)

Q: What are the books, blogs, courses, tools and other resources we can add to our learning playbook?

Q: Who are Masters of Learning that we can learn from? How makes learning look easy?
    What resources do they recommend?
    What questions do they ask?
    What habits do they have?
    Who do they learn from?

Here’s what I’ve found so far:

Books baby, booooooks:

The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance by Josh Waitzkin 

Learning How to Learn by Joseph D. Novak and D. Bob Gowin

Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter C. Brown and Henry L. Roediger II

The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything . . . Fast! by Josh Kaufman

The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life by Timothy Ferriss (A learning book disguised as a cookbook)

How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens by Benedict Carey

How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer

A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra) by Barbara Oakley

The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less by Richard Koch

Teaching Smart People How to Learn (Harvard Business Review Classics by Chris Argyris

The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. by Daniel Coyle

Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys To Transforming the Way We Work and Live by Tony Schwartz

The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization by Peter M. Senge

Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella H. Meadows and Diana Wright

 Learning, Creating, and Using Knowledge: Concept Maps as Facilitative Tools in Schools and Corporations by Joseph D. Novak

How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens by Benedict Carey

So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love by Cal Newport

Mind Mapping: Improve Memory, Concentration, Communication, Organization, Creativity, and Time Management by Kam Knight

15 Invaluable Laws of Growth by John C. Maxwell

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

 

I’ve started reading Be Excellent at Anything, and have read The Art of Learning and I’ll be diving into these in the coming months so expect full reviews here on the Renaissance Life.

Did I miss any books? Let me know.

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner