Be a Product Designer For Your Own Life

Product design is the act of creating a new product or refining a product.

It’s the ability to take an idea and make it a reality—whether that’s an app, book, backpack, telehealth system, DeFi chain, etc.

Ideally, that’s a product that people actually want and find value in.

(Otherwise, we are just wasting time and resources… but I digress.)

One thing about product design is it’s a very intentional process. every little thing is considered and thoughtfully crafted.

(Well… maybe not EVERY product, but the great ones at least.)

Imagine if we treated our lives like that? Or like a business (which is also, like a product.)

Considered. Cared. Every decision thought-full and aligned with who we are and what we care about.

Goal-oriented? Sure.

Perfect? Eh no—too brittle.

If there’s something you dislike about your life—does it really have to be that way?

Are there habits you wish you would change or start?

Are there types of friends/people you wish you had in your life?

Are you working in the career you love? Spending your time in meaningful ways?

No? Change it! Build it!

And if it’s something impossible to change—then change your attitude about it.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1389

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Missing the Mark

Perfection often takes shotgun whenever we step into the world of creativity. Perfection stops most of us poor saps before we’ve even started.

‘If I can’t do something perfectly, then why even bother?’ or ‘I’d love to do X but I don’t want to embarrass myself.’…

Or it’s Perfection combined with Comparison—

”I’m never going to be good at this as so-and-so, I might as well quit now”

Reading these, you might think this is obviously untrue. But when you are in your head, thoughts like these are much more subtle and we might not even know we are running away or psyching ourselves out.

Perfection is a lie. Being immediately awesome at something is luck. Learning and become great at something starts with uncertainty and not knowing.

Embarrassing yourself isn’t embarrassing. In fact, embarrassing yourself in the act of learning or doing something new and bold is a right of passage.

Most people suck when they are starting out with something new. (And the ones that say they were great right away are either lying or misremembering their past and adjacent skills that helped along the way.)

Missing the mark isn’t fatal—it just means you have more work to do.

Sometimes that means refining what you already have. Other times you have to start from scratch with what you’ve learned. Either way, continuing is what matters. Failure is only failure when we stop caring, or when we just stop. Knowing you are missing the mark is just the natural part of progress and aiming for mastery.

Nothing is perfect right out the gate.

Imperfections are features.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1388

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Quick Fixes

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.

Michelangelo

If you’ve ever worked on software or a SaaS product (in any capacity—developer, manager, C-suite) you know how easy it is to solve short-term needs/problems (usually from the request of a client/customer) instead of spending time on what you actually want to do (aka make a great product).

Quick fixes work in a pinch. But if all we are doing is constantly relying on quick fixes, then we are just reacting to problems from the seat of our pants, versus making good decisions that erase the problems, to begin with.

That goes for products, business, and even for ourselves.

The thing is that quick fixes don’t address the real problem (the origin problem behind the other little problems). Instead, we solve short-term needs by delaying long-term solutions. And that leads to more fixes down the road (refactoring, as they say in computer science).

What we need to focus on instead is figuring out what kind of problem we are dealing with here.

First: Understand What the Problem is.

What kind of problem are you dealing with here?

Is this a money problem? A skill issue? Priority? Hubris? Fear? A mindset thing (…isn’t everything lol)?

For example, ignoring your money (or lack thereof) doesn’t fix your money problems (and neither does worrying about them either). Money fixes money problems.

But money doesn’t fix inner problems (like personality, attitude, relationships, and friendships).

Once you know what type of problem you are dealing with here, then the next thing to do is do what you have to make space for the long-term.

Next: Do the Easy and Immediate thing(s).

Not because quick fixes will solve all your problems. Rather, because you need to make some space so you can give time for long-term solutions.

What’s the easiest thing you can do right now that will help dissolve the problem at hand (or at least relieve some immediate stress around the problem)?

Do that immediately.

Low-hanging fruit is not always a bad idea. Value is one thing. But choosing difficulty for the sake of difficulty is unnecessary.

And after you’ve given yourself some breathing room:

Focus on Long-term Solutions.

Imagine a future where you weren’t dealing with X problem. It’s more than possible if you start focusing on creative solutions today. Even if that’s just 20 minutes a day. Or whatever you’ve got to give. Something is better than nothing. Because big problems are usually just things we put off when they were small weeds and not much to think about…at the time.

For example, buying oil for your car is nothing compared to having to fix an engine problem down the road (pun intended).

Small actions today prevent long-term problems tomorrow.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1387

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What’s Holding You Back?

Does personal change happen externally first or internally?

Better question: how do we initiate change?

Wanting it isn’t enough. Plenty of people go their entire lives wishing they were doing something else/better or wishing they would just do X Y or Z.

We often know that we need to change, but knowing isn’t enough either.

Knowing you need to eat healthier isn’t the same as actually eating healthy.

A lot of things can keep us from changing but fear is one of the biggest reasons of all. The problem is we are so good at being scared, that our fears often don’t look or feel like fears. They are just things we feel like we can’t do or can’t do right now because of blah blah reason.

Overcoming our fears is how we change. Not all at once. Slow and steady. Inch by inch. Until what we used to fear (and/or feel limited by) suddenly disappears and is no longer holding us back.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1386

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The Disease of Comfort

Comfort is bad for you in excess.

There’s a big difference between having comfort and staying comfortable.

Being comforted makes us feel safe and at peace.

Staying comfortable makes us soft and un-resilient to the inevitable discomforts of life we may face.

I’m not saying we should sell our beds and sleep on the floor, or get rid of our TVs, or any number of things that add a little extra comfort in our lives.

I’m saying watch out and don’t get too comfortable.

What are you reliant on? Do you need to be?

  • Challenge your assumptions.
  • Experiment with going without your “essential needs”.
  • Don’t take “can’t” as a reality.
  • Push your personal boundaries of what you believe is possible/impossible, true/false.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1385

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Do What Scares You

Life expands when you do something that scares you.

The fear doesn’t go away, rather diminishes behind your newfound resilience. Put another way, as our resilience increases, our fear decreases.

So when you are giving a speech, you are still scared—but you do it anyway.

Or when you are climbing a rock wall—and you are scared of heights—your muscles shake, but you keep climbing anyway.

Or you raise your hand in class, despite what others may think or the chance you might have the wrong answer.

The goal is not the lack, rather the drive of fear.

This isn’t about risk (although there’s always a little risk in everything we do). This is about taking control of your life.

The most capable and successful people I know use fear as a litmus test. Fear is a motivator to do something. They do what scares them. They act on their fears (despite what they may feel) because that’s where growth and success happens.

So what current fear is holding you back?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1384

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Successful Failures

“A strong, positive self-image is the best possible preparation for success.”

Joyce Brothers

Not all failure is fatal.

In fact, the majority of failure is merely an opportunity to improve. (It doesn’t feel like that when we fail, but it’s true.)

Once you understand failure isn’t fatal, then the next step is to realize failure is just an arbitrary line we create in our minds (and as a culture).

  • Failing an exam is final. Or is it recoverable? There’s always a chance to make it up the next exam and/or do the extra credit. Or even retake the class if necessary.
  • You are a failure if your business fails. True—but are you a failure if your next business is a massive success?
  • A breakup is a failed relationship. But does that mean your next relationship is doomed to fail too? (Not if you learn the lessons from the previous failed one).

Do you see how simple failure can become steps towards new opportunities?

Can we regain what we lost? Can we un-burn the ships we set on fire? No—but we can build new ones from the ashes.

Adding the word “yet” or “right now” or “but what if” to the end of your thoughts and dialogue completely shifts the meaning of what it means to fail.

In my mind, success is continuing after we fail.

Even when that failure sucks.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1383

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Boat Anchors

A boat anchor keeps you stable and safe for a time.

But it also keeps you from moving.

They keep you alive when need them, otherwise, they hold you back.

What are some past boat anchors holding you back right now?

What are the anchors you need right now?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1382

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Self-Kindness

“Your mind is always eavesdropping on your self-talk” Jim Kwik

Success and good habits start with being kind to yourself.

Or at least train yourself out of the negative self-talk.

If you’re always talking down to yourself, telling yourself you can’t do things, that you are stupid, that you always mess up, that you aren’t smart enough, rich enough, skinny enough, how will you ever be motivated to change, take action and live your best life?

Good self-talk is a solid foundation for a better future. And it can make your present self immediately feel better, even just a little.

Because who is going to treat you well and give you what you need if you aren’t willing to do it yourself?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1381

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Consistency is a Superpower

Time is our most valuable asset. We trade our time to live—to eat, to work, to learn, etc. And we give our time to the people who we care about most. But we sure do waste it on a bunch of things we don’t care about.

Consistency is a way to capitalize on the power of compound interest. Even if you are dirt broke (financially or time-poor) you always have the power to use consistency to build a better life for yourself.

Most people don’t because the better life you are building isn’t for you. Well, it is—but it’s you in the future.

The future is uncertain. But the future is also inevitable. We never know when our time is up—but not knowing goes both ways! For all you know, you are going to live to 90!

Why not take a little time today and focus it towards a dream you have for yourself.

Put in the reps today, and your tomorrow will be a little brighter.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1380

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