Confidence Sandwich

“Courage is a mean with regard to fear and confidence.”

Aristotle

I find it quite difficult to jump into something new right away, like a new skill, habit, relationship, or idea.

When we start something new, it’s like we are a beginner all over again.

We’re excited, but we’re also nervous, and our confidence is unsteady.

We’re just starting out, so we’ll likely fail. And low confidence plus potential failure is a combination that usually leads us to throw up our hands and give up.

But not if you have a confidence sandwich. A confidence sandwich, or—if you prefer—a confidence burger, is stacking a low-confidence experience with two high-confidence experiences, one on top and bottom. Think Oreo—strong cookie exterior, soft gooey center.

This allows us to warm up with something that boosts our confidence, which gives us more impetus to try something new/different (aka the goal). And then we end on a high note with another confidence booster.

High confidence
Low confidence
High confidence

Or put another way —

Familiar/comfortable
Unfamiliar/new/uncomfortable
Familiar/comfortable

I use this when I’m practicing music. I’ll start with a song I’m comfortable with and have played many times. Then I’ll experiment and try new things. And I’ll end with another song I’m used to and enjoy playing.

You can use the confidence sandwich for any situation that requires an extra boost of confidence.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #962

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Fool’s Errand

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”

Richard P. Feynman

Don’t mistake action for progress. Movement is good, but if you’re going in circles you’re not going to see the results you are looking for.

For example, no amount of programming you do will make you a better guitarist. It might give you ideas, but it won’t make you better at songwriting—only practicing guitar can do that.

Here’s a subtle one—posting and commenting on social media for your business or client. Will it get you likes? Sure. Will those likes turn into sales or true fans? Maybe a few. But it won’t make your product better. That takes work and customer research.

Progress is doing the right things on the stuff that matters to you.

Everything else is either play or a waste of your time.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #949

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What’s Your Motivating Factor?

“Ever since I was a child I have had this instinctive urge for expansion and growth. To me, the function and duty of a quality human being is the sincere and honest development of one’s potential.”

Bruce Lee

Motivation can come from a lot of places. Pain, for example, is a great motivating monkey wrench. I wouldn’t wish pain on anyone, but it can be an annoying nagging friend that puts a spotlight on something out of alignment with your life.

Growing up, we think we are invincible. But if you are the parent in this equation, you know that your child is anything BUT invincible (—Try telling that to them though). It’s not until they skid their knees falling off a bike, break an arm rollerskating, or get emotionally bullied at school when they realize that pain is real as anything else.

This isn’t necessarily always a bad thing if it inspires/motivates you allow it to lift you up and make you better and forge a different path that you wouldn’t have otherwise taken. There’s nothing like a taste of death—like a heart attack or a bout with cancer, or chronic issue—that can motivate you to be more intentional and your health and how you live. Is this easy? No. But it is insightful.

Curiosity is another excellent motivator. The drive to seek answers beyond the surface of things, and unlock the secrets of the universe can motivate you to wake up and get going with enthusiasm each day. There is energy and agelessness in the joy of finding out how things work and why.

Some motivations happen to us—like pain, shame, circumstances, etc—and some motivations we can choose to cultivate—like curiosity, resiliency, success. One key aspect of a good life is to not let the bad motivations keep us down and instead allow them to teach us an uncomfortable lesson we can use and pass on to others through our story.

Questions: What’s motivating you? Is it a positive motivation (something that gives you energy vs. drains you?)

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #940

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Zero Motivation Part 7: Resources

Note: You can read this motivation series in any order, but this is the last post (7 out of 7), so you might want to read some of the others first:

“No man’s knowledge here can go beyond his experience.”

John Locke

I talk a big game, but I only know what I’ve personally experienced and seen work in my life.

I still feel fear, sweaty palms and fluttering stomach, any time I try something new and step out of my comfort zone. I’m excited, but I’m also nervous. I still worry about looking like a failure or embarrassing myself. But I’ve found ways forward, past the fear and worry. Because life’s too short to sit on your dreams.

Besides, embarrassment and failure are a part of life. Only my ego thinks otherwise.

Maybe you have a very good reason not to do what you wish you would do. But then why do you keep thinking about it? Why do you keep wishing you would?

There are times when we have to put a dream down so that we can pick up another dream.

And there are other times when we need to see the situation for it truly is: we are scared. And that little bit of fear is holding us back.

My hope that this series will help you shake off some of the shackles that fear has on you. I hope you find you find the strength to pursue the life you dream of, despite the life you may have.

Remember, it’s not zero-sum. The pursuit of your dream exists on a spectrum. Even a piece of it is better than never trying. (This is getting a little too self-help-y, so I’ll stop there.)

“The most effective way to do it, is to do it.”

Amelia Earhart

Here are some great resources from smarter people than I:

Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual by Jocko Willink

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win by Jeff Haden

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #901

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Zero Motivation Part 6: Build Discipline

Note: You can read this motivation series in any order, but if the thought of reading something out of order makes you want to tear off your shirt hulk style and run naked in the streets, then here’s are links to the others in order:

Motivation Part 6: Build Discipline

“Right discipline consists, not in external compulsion, but in the habits of mind which lead spontaneously to desirable rather than undesirable activities.”

Bertrand Russell

If I were to boil down this motivation series to one thing—when you think about it, motivation isn’t very useful on its own.

If motivation was a tool in our toolbox, it wouldn’t be very good at its job.

It’s like using a flat head screwdriver (—) to screw in a Phillips screw (+)—it will do the job (…eventually,) but we’ll waste a lot of energy doing it. 

Or maybe it’s like using a dull bandsaw when what we really need is a chainsaw. 

What we need is discipline.

Discipline is a chainsaw to creativity and making our dreams happen.

Why rely on motivation when you can have the discipline to practice your craft at any time, no matter how you feel nor what’s going on in your life?

Ever since I started eating healthier and pursuing a Renaissance Life, friends and family have occasionally commented on how disciplined I am. ‘Josh, you are so disciplined, I don’t see how you do it…’

I’m not sure if there’s a “secret” behind having discipline. 

Pain could be one. When we experience pain (like from a breakup or loss or, in my case, injury) we have the opportunity to practice and hone our discipline. We *could* sit in the sadness or numbness, and sometimes we do in the beginning. But usually, we sleep it off and eventually pick ourselves up out from the misfortune and find the strength to carry on and live our best lives we can muster.

Taking Action could also be one component behind discipline. Movement takes us away from letting our worrisome and negative thoughts cloud our judgments.

I had discipline, but I didn’t have the vocabulary to what discipline meant or what it was until I listened to Jocko Willink, retired Navy SEAL on The Tim Ferris Show and eventually read his book, Discipline Equals Freedom.

If you are looking for a go-to primer on how to have discipline, I would highly recommend this book and his podcast.

Discipline is doing what needs to be done, what you know that needs to be done, despite how you are feeling at any given moment. 

As Jocko says,

“Don’t expect to be motivated every day to get out there and make things happen. You won’t be. Don’t count on motivation. Count on Discipline.”

“Is this what I want to be? This? Is this all I’ve got—is this everything I can give? Is this going to be my life? Do I accept that?”

“Question yourself every day. Ask yourself: Who am I? What have I learned? What have I created? What forward progress have I made? Who have I helped? What am I doing to improve myself—today? To get better, faster, stronger, healthier, smarter?”

We don’t need motivation to do something. We just need a plan that gets us going, removes temptations to be lazy and complacent and allows us to show up every day with the discipline we need to create the life that we want to live.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #900 🎉

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Zero Motivation Part 5: Remember Why You Do What You Do

Note: You can read this motivation series in any order, but if the thought of reading something out of order makes you want to curl up into a fetal position and stare off into space here’s are links to the others in order:

Part 1: Start Small
Part 2: Use the Fear of Inaction to your Advantage
Part 3: Creating something each day.
Part 4: Change your approach

Motivation Part 5: Know Your Why.

“Know yourself to improve yourself.”

Auguste Comte

It’s difficult to muster up the energy to do anything if your heart isn’t in it. No amount of trickery or cajoling will motivate you to do something you ultimately don’t want to do. At least without consequences.

The problem is sometimes we don’t know that our hearts are not in it. Or even worse, someone else does everything they can to convince us this is what we should be doing — despite how we feel.

You see this all the time with parents forcing their kid(s) into a particular job, like being a lawyer or engineer, when the kid(s) clearly would rather focus on dancing, music or running.

I don’t blame the parents. 98% of the time a parent is doing because they want the best for their kid(s). The parent is older and more experienced in the hardships of life than the bright-eyed kid who thinks (s)he’s invincible.

There’s much more to it, but I think it comes down to a difference of strategy. The parent wants their child to be happy and they know that safety and security is the best way for them to do that. The kid wants to be happy and they know that creative expression and pursuing their passions is the best way for them to do that.

Happiness likely is the balance between just enough safety and security and just enough passion and challenge.

Too much safety and you boredom yourself into conformity. Too much challenge and you are stressed out of your gourd. And both conformity and too much stress lead to unhappy campers.

First, we must know what we are passionate about. otherwise, we’ll try everything wastes our energy or let others dictate our lives for us. Then, we can begin to find a way to pursue our passions while also figure out how to live, save money and eat.

That could mean our passion is our job or we find a way to support our passion through selling our work or find patrons. Or it could mean our passion is what we do in our free time. By day, we are accountants, by night, we are YouTubers!

Once we have a good idea of what we like, finding out why we like it is a whole other matter. There’s some great work out there on this, particularly Simon Sinek’s writing.

Knowing why you create is slippery. Maybe it’s because you like to express yourself and the way you’ve found to do that is through design. Maybe a goal is driving you, like to be one of the best or to be admired. Maybe curiosity it’s what drives you. You can’t help but ask another question and figure out what’s behind the metaphorical mountain in front of you.

Whatever it is that drives you, make sure it comes from within. Don’t let external drives like fame, fortune, and power be your only motivator. Each one of those can take you far, but I hear they can leave a bad taste in your mouth if that’s all you care about. Fame, fortune, and power are side effects to impactful work, not the ultimate goal.

Once you know your why, you can remind yourself every day what you must do.

Knowing yourself also allows you to avoid any pitfalls or temptations you know will trip you up. If you want to avoid eating ice-cream, then having it in the house and serenading your name every time 10 PM rolls around. Get it out of the house! The same with anything that is taking you away from your craft. If Netflix is distracting you from creating, then unsubscribe. Don’t think of it as a permanent decision. You can always resubscribe next month. Think of it as an experiment to improve your practice.

One of my big goals is to be someone worthy of the title “Renaissance Man”. I want to be a true multi-disciplinary — a master of many skills. That drives me to always keep learning and challenging myself. This is one reason why I write. This is why I can create and learn all day, and never get tired. My body and mind may fatigue, but my spirit doesn’t.

What’s your driving goal?
Why do you feel called to your craft?

If you want to be an incredible guitarist, what’s stopping you?
If you want to be a regarded programmer, then start coding.

Knowing yourself also allows you to avoid any pitfalls or temptations you know will trip you up. If you want to avoid eating ice-cream, then having it in the house and serenading your

Always remember why you do what you do.

And then get to work practicing it.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #899

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Zero Motivation: Part 4

Note: You can read this motivation series in any order, but if the thought of reading something out of order makes you want to scream sweet-sweet profanities to the sky, here’s are links to the others:


One thing that can often drive up our motivation to create is feeling blocked or stuck in the mud with no great ideas.

We want to build something spectacular and new (be it a company, song, article or new piece of art), but for whatever reason, we can’t motivate ourselves to do it.

Can you see what’s wrong with this picture already? Our approach is wrong. We haven’t even started and we are putting expectations on ourselves to perform and produce great work. Which technically is the outcome we want to produce. However, because we are putting pressure on ourselves to create something amazing when we haven’t likely even come up with one idea yet, we psyched ourselves out. Believe me, I’ve been there. Ah, I haven’t come up with any new ideas in a while… I really should practice today, but… Maybe tomorrow…

Most often this looks like comparing our current subpar ideas to some of our past ideas that turned out great. Ugh. Am I ever be able to write something as good as that was again?

Instead of comparing ourselves to our younger and better past selves, we need to start with a blank slate each time we sit down to create.

Going small helps lower the barrier to entry to just have fun and make something. And a change of scenery is also a great way to get yourself out of a creative rut.

Solution #4: Change Your Location

— Of course, right now, it’s not exactly easy or recommended to get outside of our houses. (Ah, remember the old days where we could go to coffee shops and give each other high-fives?)

But there are ways to change our scenery without having to leave your home. Even subtle things can help, like sitting on the floor instead of at your desk to get yourself out of your element. Avoid your usual nooks and crannies and get creative. What if you pulled up a seat near a window and daydream before you start writing? Why not try sitting on your kitchen counter. Try bringing a lamp into your closet and try sitting in there to create. Start playing your guitar sitting in your bathtub (empty of course). Forget how silly this sounds. Silliness can spark imaginative ideas.

Another kind of way to “change your scenery” is to change your approach or work with different tools than you normally do. If you are used to charcoal, use Sharpe’s. If you writing on your computer, try using a pen and paper instead. If you are used to a pen, try swapping it with a crayon or use an Exacto-knife to cut out your ideas.

Artificial Limitation is another useful strategy to get out of your own way and spark new ideas.

Setting a timer is a classic method of artificial limitation. What painting can I come up with in the next twenty minutes? What story can I create in the next 15 minutes?

Another way to limit yourself is to take away options.

What if you could only use the top three strings of your guitar to create a song instead of the usual six? (One time I’ve gone so far as to remove strings intentionally and remove temptation)

What dance can I come up with if I had to stay seated in a chair?

What dish can I whip up with if I had to use oregano and lemon?

Limitations are anything but limited. They can give us the structure and foundation we need so that we can think differently.

Remember—there are always ideas out there. We just have to shake up our routine every so often and change our approach to get them.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #898

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Zero Motivation: Part 3

“Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”

Lao Tzu

Note: You can read this motivation series in any order, but if the thought of reading something out of order makes your teeth hurt from clenching your jaw in rage, here’s Zero Motivation Part 1 & Part 2.

If you’ve been reading some of my blogs this past year, then you likely know I’m a massive fan of daily practices.

Cultivating a daily creative practice has an interesting side effect: you don’t need to rely on motivation to create. Once you get started and have built up a little bit of momentum, you are letting disciple drive you, not motivation.

There are a few psychological reasons why daily practices are effective:

1. Autopilot. Building the up the habit makes it a thousand times easier to sit down and write or paint or play guitar or whatever it is you want to do. Momentum carries you forward. Once you put in the practice enough times, you expect yourself to practice.

2. Micro-Immersion. You don’t have to put your life on hold to learn something or practice. A daily practice lets you fit it in and around your life, instead of completely resetting your life. It allows you to immerse yourself where you are, with what you have. Instead of waiting for the right time or place to create, you can carve out a little time each day to work on yourself—your skills or your art.

3. Streaks. Doing something daily is a quick way to build discipline into your art. The first day is the most difficult, but that’s why it’s important to start small. But after the first day, you’ve already begun to build up a running streak. Now you’re on the second day in a row. And soon enough once the next week rolls around, you’ve been practicing for seven consecutive days in a row. Your streak is starting to get a little more powerful. After seven days in a row, do you really want to miss day eight? No! Day eight is as good as done. Now imagine a month passes. Then two. Now you’re up to sixty days in a row. Are you going to miss day sixty-one? H to the LL no. Not even if you’re sick or had a terrible day. And that’s what’s most powerful about daily practices, the more days you do them, the less you will want to stop.

There’s a key insight here though — you want to make sure you keep track of how many days you’ve practiced consecutively. Use a calendar, mark it in a notebook, do what you need to do to keep track of your daily number.

Solution #3: Go Daily

“Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character.”

Stephen Covey

Going daily isn’t for everyone, but it’s worth experimenting to see if its right for you. The essence is simple —

Start doing something you want to do every day. How many practices? It doesn’t matter. But seriously, how much practice? If you need a starting point, I’d recommend thirty minutes. If you have time to eat three meals a day, get on Instagram for hours a day and rewatch six episodes of Community, then you have time for a thirty-minute creative session.  

If you can, it’s easier to do in the morning, because our minds are most recently refreshed from sleeping. But it doesn’t matter when you do it. If you’ve got a job, kids, chores, and other responsibilities, then fit it in wherever you’ve can. Once you build up your daily streak, it doesn’t matter if you do it in the morning or if you have to do it 11:58 PM while everyone is sleeping. Don’t sleep deprive yourself, of course. Just know that you can make it work within your schedule. And, honestly, if you can’t make it work, then your priorities are misaligned. 

Remember — you are doing this for yourself. Structure aside, the reason you are trying to motivate yourself to create its because deep down this is something you want to do. You are trying to add a creative practice because it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, or you feel driven to do, but for a million reason can’t find the motivation to do it.

Going daily cuts away any excuse. 

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #897

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Zero Motivation: Part 2

“I never worry about action, but only inaction.”

Winston Churchill

There’s a lot of things that I fear. I fear of making the wrong decisions and never recovering. I fear complacency. I get nervous whenever I talk in front of a crowd, or sing and play music in front of others. I even get nervous every time I’m about to record a podcast interview. I play it off easily, but my heart is thumping loudly in my chest. But there’s one thing I fear more than anything and that’s inaction.

One thing that really kicks me into high gear is considering the consequences of inaction. 

Perhaps its because I enjoy many disciplines (art, music, design, programming, dancing, health, etc), but I’m keenly aware of how little time I actually have to focus on learning and creating. 

After a relationship, job, friends, family, dog, eating, exercise and rest, there are only a finite amount of hours remaining to pursue creativity and learn new skills. It’s easy to forget and fall into a spiral of endless tv and movies on the dozens of (and growing) streaming platforms vying for our time. Don’t get me wrong— I love entertainment. I love a good story. I watch TV and movies and read fiction and occasional play games. For example, I’m obsessed with the limited series DEV’s right now, from FX on Hulu. But is entertaining myself at the same level of importance as pursuing my dreams? I think not. Otherwise, my priorities are misaligned.

Besides starting small and building momentum, another great way to motivate yourself to do something is through fear of inaction. 

Solution #2: Fear Inaction Over Action

Having a dream by itself isn’t enough. How many countless people over the centuries have come and gone without fulfilling their dreams or living a life true to themselves. It’s sad but true. And it can happen to us too. Having a dream doesn’t mean it will happen. That takes work and the discipline to work even when you don’t feel like it at the moment.

Is this something you want? Is this goal of yours something you are passionate about?

Then take a good long at what’s preventing you from doing it. Passion is the true motivator. But fear of inaction is what get’s the engine revving. 

Fearing inaction essentially means paying attention to what your life could look like if you didn’t act. Imagine yourself learning how to write and practicing writing every day for the next five years. What kind of writer would you be then? Would you have a bestselling novel? Would you impact not only your life but the lives of others everywhere? Now imagine yourself not writing for five years. You wanted to, but you never made the time for it. Things always seemed to get in the way. And now, five years have gone by but your dream of being a writer hasn’t moved an inch. This is the heart of fearing inaction.

Replace “writing” with whatever it is you desire to do— dance, practice guitar, calligraphy, run, become a vegan, etc.

This isn’t about patience. This is is about complacency. By fearing not taking steps towards our goals, we learn to push through our lack of motivation and what we are feeling like at the moment (lazy, tired, bored, achy, sore, depressed, sad, scattered, etc) And find a way forward. 

We take action because if we didn’t we would regret it.

Now ask yourself, “if I didn’t do _____ today, would I regret it?”

“In a year from now, what would I regret not having done?”

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #896

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Zero Motivation: Part 1

“Every day, you reinvent yourself. You’re always in motion. But you decide every day: forward or backward.”

James Altucher

Why is it that the things we want to do most are the things we feel the least motivated to do?

It’s not as if we don’t have the desire or the ability. It’s not like we have to do chores or errands. It feels much easier to mow the lawn and run to Walgreens than it is to sit down and bleeping create something, like working on your book or practicing your music.

We want to do it. We dream about being great at it. And yet we do everything but. Steven Pressfield calls this The Resistance. A force within us is doing everything in its power to stop us from practicing our art.

I think the reason we often have zero motivation to get up and create is that we want it too badly. We tell ourselves we need to do it. We know we should be practicing. We build it up so much in our minds it feels too massive and difficult to start.

In this series of posts, I’ll discuss a few solutions I’ve found that have worked for me. At this

Solution #1: Start Small.

“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.”

Henry Ford

Do one tiny thing. It doesn’t matter what it is, just as long as it’s. Think of it as a motivation warm up. Trying to go from couch to flat out sprint isn’t going to go well. We’ve got to warm up our muscles first. The same is true for any practice or activity, not just exercise.

Go small. Start by setting a ridiculously tiny goal. (I think I might have stolen this concept from Tim Ferriss. Thanks, Tim.) The lowest of the low hanging fruits. Instead of “practice guitar for an hour every day” reduce it “If I pick up my guitar from it stands and hold it, I’ve won today.” Instead of “write five pages of my novel” change it to “If I get out my notebook and pen (or if I open up my writing app) I’ve won today.” Or replace “go on a five-mile walk” with “Put on my tennis shoes and workout clothes.”

If I want to learn something, I’ll look for one video, not a hundred. I’ll find one good book and work my way through it. If I want to practice something, I start small but leave room for big.

That’s it. Make it as easy as possible. Because it’s so easy and silly to just pick up our guitar, well, now that we’re holding it, we might as well strum a little right?

An alternate approach is to build momentum through physical movement. Let’s say you are trying to motivate yourself to draw, but you can’t quite pull yourself away from your phone to do it. Instead of immediately trying to jump into drawing, start with tidying up your desk to draw. Clean your entire room if you feel the urge to. Sure, you’re spending a lot of time not drawing, but that’s okay. Remember, this is just the warm-up. What we are doing is trying to switch ourselves from relax mode to create mode.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #895

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