Lost in the Weeds

“A lot of times, people have something that they’re afraid of. They’ve got a client that’s mad at them. They’ve got a project that’s due. And they let that stress hang over their head. I don’t let that happen.”

Jocko Willink

Projects start clear and exciting, but once you are in the thick of it, it’s easy to get lost in things that don’t matter or get sidetracked by newer, more recently exciting ideas. A shiny idea is always going to look more appealing than the muddy middle you are currently in, but finishing what you start will be more meaningful than start yet another project.

An idea tends to grow and become more complex over time. A simple idea can quickly turn into an unconquerable beast if you let it.

That’s why its good to schedule periodic moments of pause and reflection on what you are working on, reassess your goals, and how they compare. Even when your deadline is tight, taking a moment to think things through and be intentional about what you’re doing could pay dividends.

  • Is there a better way I could do X?
  • Is this essential? Does this keep the message clear?
  • What’s working and what needs to be improved?

Reassess why you are doing what you are doing. Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons.

If you would start a project even if you never made a single dollar off of it, would you still do it? If the answer is yes, then, you’re on the right track. Most of my regrets in life are decisions based on money alone. Money is motivating, but not so much when you are in facing moments of struggle and challenge. Doing something for the right reasons, out of passion, impact, curiosity, and expression is much more motivating (and often lead to wealth) than just money alone.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #927

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Unyielding Gutsiness

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

There will be many occasions when all that separates you and your goals is a gutsy move. Being gutsy is doing what others won’t. Not forcefully. Not stupidly. Just doing it.

It starts with a queasy jittery uncomfortable buzzing feeling that comes from within. Part fear, part anxiety, part excitement. Some people feel it in the pit of their stomach right before they ask someone out. Others feel it when their heart starts to flutter before giving a speech. Whatever flavor you have, it typically shows up before you do something that may fail, or that makes you stand out from the majority. It’s a feeling that doesn’t go away—it’s something you get used to with practice.

What I find most interesting about this feeling is that it happens before we’ve made a move. Like it’s calling us forth, and testing us—are you gonna go through with it, or are you gonna back down?

I’ve backed down many times, and it doesn’t feel good. You know you should have done or said something but you didn’t. Next time though. I can’ t think of one time I regret listening to my intuition and take a gutsy action. Even when it didn’t work out as I wanted it too, I still learned something about myself and was able to work my discomfort zone muscles.

If you are looking for an extraordinary life, think of it as a compass for what you should do. As the Novelist, Chuck Palahniuk has said, “find out what you’re afraid of and go live there.”

Follow what scares you. With every bold action you may take, you are adding a little more originality and resilience to your character. Because it takes guts to think differently.

If you want to be gutsier, you have to practice being gutsy. Feel the fear. Revel in it. Then make your move.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #926

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Creative Plateaus

“If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.”

Epictetus

On your journey in pursuing your dreams, you’ll occasionally experience moments where you feel like you are making no progress at all. You’re keeping up with your practice and you’re putting in the hours, but you’ve reached your current limit.

Plateaus typically occur when we’ve used and leveraged all the resources and ideas that we know and we’ve reached a point of uncertainty. We are putting in the hard work but we are not seeing the results we were previously seeing. How do I get better at what I do? How do I reach that next level? Should I or should I do something else?

Plateaus are defining moments. They allow us to prove how committed we are. Things have slowed down, and/or your interest has waned— will you keep moving forward or will you give up? 

Sometimes all it takes is us to keep going. In this case, the plateau is a mind game. We are making progress, but the results are adding up so subtlety we often miss them. But if we stay consistent, our small improvements will eventually add up to something noticeable.

If consistently isn’t making any headway, then we need to change our approach. We could take on the challenge from a different angle by testing our assumptions and trying new things. Who’s done this before and what habits, traits, questions, and actions did they use to find a way forward? We could also reproach the fundamentals. We were a beginner when we started, so there’s likely a lot of things we missed the first time. Mastering the basics raises us to a new playing field. 

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #925

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Picking up the Pieces

“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

Bill Gates

“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”

Abraham Lincoln

In life, failure is inevitable. (And if you don’t think so you haven’t experienced it yet.) But not all failure is fatal. In fact, the only failure that you can’t build yourself back from is death. Death is pretty fatal.

Let me ask you a question:

At what moment do we fail?

Is it when we lose the game? Is it when we made a bad decision and end up running our company into the ground? Is it when our ego ruins our opportunity? Is it when we let others down? Is it when we become someone we dislike? Is it when we manipulate and drive everyone away? Is there a line we can cross that’s unredeemable?

We certainly fail when we give up—while knowing we should keep going.

There are many mistakes we can make that aren’t recoverable. When you and your former partner are dragged through the mud of anger and divorce, recovering is unlikely. When you ruin your reputation by lying, or being flaky or saying something overwhelmingly offensive, it’s going to take a lot of convincing to get back to square one. When you dig yourself into debt the size of a Mars crater, it’s going to be a lot of hard work to get back to zero. But even so, we’re still alive. We are still breathing. The show must go on!

When our failure burns out and leaves ashes in its wake, we still have the chance to rise up, pieces together our life and change into something better than we were. (And make it a part of our story and a lesson to share with others.)

But not if we give up. Not if we give in to despair forever. Not if we drown our sorrows in ice cream and beer. Numbing the pain and failure doesn’t take away the pain and failure.

Failing and being unable to recover doesn’t mean that it’s over for us. It just means that the unbalanced, and unstable life we were living is officially over. Now we have to find a new one—a better way of living. A life that makes us better and helps make others better too.

There’s always away forward.

Picking up the pieces is far from fun. But it does give us something. Something to do with our hands. A past life to let go of. A way forward towards something new. And as scary as new can be, it can also be exciting and lead us to unexpected places.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #924

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Get it Done

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

Bruce Lee

Ideas last longer when you work on them before you talk to them.

It’s not that your ideas will get stolen.
It’s not that sharing your ideas with others is bad.

It’s because talking about an idea before do it takes away its momentum. You lose the drive to act upon it because talking about it feels like you’ve already done it.

There’s a great insight from Marcus Aurelius that hits on this idea nicely, “Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.”

Your idea is awesome! Now go work on it some. Test it out with customers. Make the first draft and then discuss it with friends and colleagues.

I’m saying this to myself as much as I am to you, my friend. I’ve had countless ideas in the past that I never did because I lost the motivation and momentum after talking about it but never put it into action.

No more. Now I do my best to only discuss what I’m actively working on, and save the discussion of ideas I haven’t started until I’ve put pen to paper, so to speak.

In my mind, the best ideas are the ones that get done.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #923

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Value for Value

“Takers believe in a zero-sum world, and they end up creating one where bosses, colleagues and clients don’t trust them. Givers build deeper and broader relationships – people are rooting for them instead of gunning for them.” — Adam Grant

Clients, like any relationship, are two-way streets. It’s a give-give relationship. Even if the work you are giving is free of charge, and the value the client giving is only experience.

Value for value. Trust for trust. Respect for respect.

when the balance leans too much towards one side or the other the client relationship eroded and starts to become unbalanced and un-valuable.

I’ve been both a client and a freelancer, so I’ve been on both sides of the seesaw, and have experienced every good, bad, and crazy situation you can think of.

As a freelancer, you have to put in the work. The quality has to be the highest you can give, every project you get. Be smart. Time actually is money (and more important than money). But if you are taking shortcuts that compromise your work, you won’t make the client happy nor will you improve your skills. Procrastination. Shortcuts. Half-*ssed work. Poor communication. No communication. This is how you can disrespect (intentionally or not) your client. You’ve got to put in the time and effort to make your client shine. Otherwise, your work will fall flat and won’t lead to more work or referrals.

As a client, you don’t own who you hire. They are a partner whose job is to do great work in their area of expertise—not to do whatever you tell them.

Unrealistic deadlines. Last-minute changes. Underpaying. Paying late or refusing to pay, Revisions upon revisions based on personal taste versus thinking of your customers. These are just a few ways you can disrespect your hired worker (again, intentional or not) and make yourself look unprofessional. Whether it’s a logo, or video, or business consulting or marketing strategy, 99% of the time, when you hire someone, they want to create success for you. Give them the benefit of the doubt that they know what they are doing and have the expertise you are looking for to improve your business. Trust that. Have an opinion of course. But be open to trusting their guidance.

You may be their client, but they are your client too. Or put another way, reputation goes both ways.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #922

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Balanced Freedom

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.”

Thomas Merton

I think personal freedom most of us want—the flexibility to do whatever we want when we want it—isn’t what truly gives us freedom.

True freedom is a balance between flexibility to create the life you want, and constraint and challenge to do so by our own hands rather than something given or easily bought.

Without challenge, life feels dull. Too much challenge (at once) and life becomes unbearable. Personal freedom lies within those boundaries.

This plays out on the micro-level of life as much as the macro.

I love reading and I think I want an infinite amount of time to read, but I’d probably burn myself out if that’s all I did. 

I love traveling, but if all I did was travel I would eventually feel like a ragdoll.

I desire more wealth, but if all I did was work I would have no life outside of work. 

Like everything in life, too much of anything has diminishing returns and becomes harmful. Absolute freedom leads us to Netflix in chill our way to oblivion. it’s the equivalent of having a diet of only eating ice cream. Not only is this harmful, but its also increasingly satisfying.

All this to say, that a balanced life is more than just work, or more than just your art, or more than just your friends or just your family. 

A life in balance is all these things and more. Failure needs success. Loneliness needs love. Money needs a purpose. Happiness needs contentment. (Yin needs Yang.) And vice versa.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #921

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Smart Work

“We work to become, not to acquire.”

Elbert Hubbard

Hard work alone doesn’t get you wherever you want to go. In fact, all that hard work your doing doesn’t ensure anything if you are working towards the wrong things *and/or* doing it for the wrong reasons. 

I know because I’ve done it. I worked a long time on the wrong things for the right reasons. Why were they wrong? Because they didn’t align with my goals and vision for my life. I was putting in work for a company that I thought I needed but didn’t see that it was a one-sided deal without real reward or enjoyment—aka they needed me more than I needed them.

It’s easy to get so worked up with the day to day of what you’re doing that you don’t notice that you actually don’t want to do it. And because you are in it, and stressed and tired, you keep going because that’s the thing in front of you.

The first step to smart work is knowing yourself and what you want and periodically checking in with those desires and comparing it to reality. Just like money how money is impossible to manage unless you are tracking it and paying attention to where it’s going, it’s difficult to bug e happy and creating fulfilling work if you aren’t paying attention to who you are and how you are living.

The next step to smart work is focusing your efforts on the *right* things. 

As a small example. Say you want to be Instagram or YouTube famous. Well, you’re off to a rocky start because you’re already focused on the wrong things. Being a star on an online platform is a byproduct of doing great work. That comes from loving your craft and connecting with likeminded people. (Fame has its perks, but I’m sure it has its downsides as well. For one, not being able to leave your house without someone wanting a selfie. Fame replaces your anonymity and pricy. Regardless, if fame is what you want, seeking it isn’t going to be how you get it.

Smart work is a win-win relationship. It’s worth it to you (to put in the time and effort and worth it to the people who consume it (worth their time and attention). 

Another great smart work strategy is making sure the work you are doing is truly necessary. There are a countless number of great ideas that have never been started or never been finished because some little fear or todo got in the way. Don’t get caught in unnecessary work that keeps you stuck in a loop. Ask yourself,

Is this necessary?

Is there a better way? 

Has someone else done this that I can emulate?

Lastly, smart work is also choosing purpose over immediate gratification.

Don’t let little wants and distractions keep you from what you really want. 

If your dream is to start your own company, then why are you spending all your money on booze and fancy toys? 

Ask yourself, is this thing (item, person, habit, another idea/ goal, want) moving me towards or away from my dream?

If it isn’t — pass on it. 

If it is — full steam ahead.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #920

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Giving In

“Happiness can exist only in acceptance.”

George Orwell

“The only way out is through.”

I’ve heard that phrase here and there (—heck I’ve probably said a couple of times too) but I don’t think I really understood what it meant until recently.

I assumed it meant tough it out. Keep pushing. Grit your teeth and make it happen. Don’t give up. Don’t back down. Anything that resembled the country musician Rodney Atkins’s lyrics “If you are going through hell keep going.”

But I don’t think that’s the true meaning, or at least not the whole story.

Realizing that “the only way out is through” is actually about acceptance.

Acceptance feels like a word that means giving up, but the opposite is true. It’s standing up for yourself by giving in to your problems and circumstances and letting go of the outcome. Again, which to some people might sound like failure, but really its success wrapped in confidence.

When you accept where you are, you can find progress forward. The process isn’t the goal, but a byproduct of accepting whatever life throws at you.

You get sick, and that becomes part of your story.

You lose your job, and that becomes a stepping stone on the life you were meant to live.

It leads you to not only sympathize with others like you but allows you to impact others with your personal story. It leads you down a path you wouldn’t have taken.

When you accept the path you must take, suddenly opportunities start springing up everywhere you look.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #919

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This post was inspired by the book The Surrender Experiment: My Journey into Life’s Perfection

How to Be Miserable (In 10 Easy Steps)

If you’ve stumbled upon this post looking for new tactics and strategies on how to be miserable, welcome, you’ve come to the right place.

There are so many wonderful examples from history and today that we could apply to our own lives in the pursuit of being miserable. Fortunately, we don’t have to go into those or even list the most miserable humans alive because history is for the birds. No one really learns from history anyway.

Instead, Let’s. Get. Miserable. (…In 10 Easy to Follow Steps.)

Step 1: Count Your Misfortunes

Focusing your attention on all of the positive things that happen to will make you happy and grateful for what you have, but that’s not what we’re about here. If you want to be miserable, focus on everything that goes wrong, and ignore anything that goes right. For every ten good things that happen, there’s an eleventh that ruins them all.

Step 2: Focus on What You Can’t Control 

Your thoughts and your actions (and reaction) might be in your control, but there’s so much that’s not in your control so why even bother? Remember, to be miserable, you need to focus only on how you wish things would be versus how they are. You can’t change the weather. The only thing you can do about your age is increase it. You can’t change your past. You can’t change who you are. You can’t improve yourself. You can’t improve your circumstances. You can’t change other people. You can’t change anything. Ah— doesn’t that make you just feel so hopeless and miserable! Music to my ugly ears.

Step 3: Dwell. Stew in Your Mistakes 

Ah, the sweet smell of failure. Remember all of those mistakes you made in the past? Good. Just keep on regretting them. You made so many mistakes—it’s hilarious. Don’t you dare think about letting them go. Dwelling on them is the key to being miserable. Don’t worry. Your past is a great indication of your future. You’ll get another chance to make more mistakes soon enough. But in the meantime, just keep looping over and over again all the mistakes and failures you’ve made.

Step 4: Complain as Much as Possible

The more you complain, the more everyone around you will *love* you. Did I say love? That was a typo. I actually meant hate. They’re going to hate you for all of your complaints—which is exactly what we are looking for. The nice thing about complain is the more you do it, the more you hate yourself and your life too! Isn’t that great?! So worry to your hearts un-content. Complain like the world is ending. If it’s made of molecules and matter, there’s something to complain about it. Don’t forget to seek out other complainers too!

Step 5: Ghost Your Friends and Community

This step is easy. Whenever someone invites you to something, don’t go! Make up an excuse! Be as flakey as possible. Oooooh, I have an idea. Better yet, why not say you are going to go, and then don’t show up. To be a good friend, all you have to do is show up and be there for people when they need you the most. Luckily, we don’t have to do that! Do as much as you can to alienate yourself from your friends. What are friends, anyway? Do people even like you? It doesn’t seem like it. Better to be alone, that way you can hate yourself in peace.

Step 6: Bottle It Up 

Emotions should be suppressed and choked down. Never, I repeat, never tell anyone what you are really feeling. Bottle that sh💩t up baby!

Step 7: Become a Professional Dessert and Pizza Eater

An essential step in being miserable is to consume copious amounts of processed foods and sugar. Ice cream is a great place to start. But make sure you have a wide variety of unhealthy desserts and foods. There’s nothing quite like eating fast food every day to dull your senses and numb your problems with an extra serving of pie. Don’t worry about exercising—chewing is exercising. The great thing about processed foods is it also raises your blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, ache, allergies, and a plethora of unfavorable ailments. Eating unhealthy is also a fantabulous way of zapping your energy and will to live. Nothing is more miserable than an under-slept grumpy WALL-E human-blob.

Step 8: Ignore Your Dreams

Some countries teach their kids that they can be whatever they want to be.

Losers.

Luckily, in our country, we know the true—you can only be what other people tell you to be. You could pursue your dreams of being a photographer or a writer, but that’s just too much work, you know? If it’s not going to be easy, then why do it at all? Besides, your work isn’t that could, and you’re too fat from all of that ice cream you’ve been eating. Our brains are fixed, so you are never going to get any better than you are now. It’s better to be safe and just become a lawyer or something. What you want to do doesn’t matter. Ignore that crab. Just do what everyone else is doing.

Step 9: Surround Yourself with Naysayers and Superficiality

There’s an ancient quote that says, “believe everything you hear, test nothing for yourself, and never do when you can talk instead”. It’s a breathtaking quote. I cry tears of miserable bliss every I see it on unmotivational posters I have pinned to my office walls. Don’t worry about the shade and criticism your haters are throwing your way. We both know you are far worse. Your work sucks therefore you suck. And as long as you stay a failure, I’ll feel better about not doing anything for myself. Your misery equals *my* success. The key is to being joyously miserable is to surround yourself with people who don’t want to see you succeed.

Step 10: News and Booze 

And finally, spend as much time as you possibly can catching up on the latest breaking news and gossip going on in the world. Don’t worry about reading the full articles, just the headlines will do. As long as you stay up to date on every crisis, scare, failure, disaster, fire, and affair going on across the globe, then you’ll know exactly how miserable you should be. Also, don’t forget to drink— a lot. (When in doubt, pinky out.)

Follow this guide and you’ll well be on your way to misery!


P.S. This is a joke ha. Please don’t actually do this, otherwise, you really will become miserable. You desire all the happiness and success in this life and you have the power to improve and change any circumstances, no matter how miserable or dire it may seem. Focus on what’s in your control. Let go of what isn’t.

“We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already.”

J.K. Rowling

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #918

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