No More Snoozing

“Those who have compared our life to a dream were right… we were sleeping wake, and waking sleep.”

Michel de Montaigne

“I’ve stopped drinking, but only while I’m asleep.”

George Best

We all have problems in life — eventually. The thing about big problems is that 80% of the time they aren’t that way. I’m not trying to be cynical, honest. I’ve just seen firsthand how easy little problem acorns can grow into giant problem trees. Problems usually start where they are too short to ride the rollercoaster, so to speak.

All of the bigger problems I’m facing — the ones I currently have as of writing this anyway — are the accumulation of little things that have grown over my lifetime. Things like spending too much of my day sitting. Falling prey to a midnight sweet (cooooookies🍪 ) that messes up my sleep quality. Pushing off a silly medical bill, hoping it will go away.

Certain things we can’t control and shouldn’t stress over. If you fall because you’re walking in a dark room with no access to a light source to see, is it really your fault for tripping. But other things like neglect, we can control as long as we stay on top of the little things yet important things in life.

Neglect can come from anywhere. Small bills you weren’t aware of that have been growing over time. Bad habits, like walking a certain way, or abusing a component of your body (like your back, neck or feet), which leads to painful problems down the line. Friends you want to keep in touch with but just never found the time to do so. Neglect usually comes with hard lessons of humility that show us a better way to live.

Humility is one of those friends that tells it like it is. While most people compliment you what a good job you’re doing, humility is backhanding you in the face with things/realties you’re not seeing. But not because Humility is out to get you or wants to see you fail. Humility is there to show you where you had blinders on.

Remember, the biggest problems we face in life are usually not big problems at all — there an amalgamation of tiny subtle problems we didn’t notice or kept hitting the snooze button on.

No more snooze button.

Ignoring the problem doesn’t mean we are handing the problem. When we ignore a problem we’re actually just feeding the monster baby. If we keep ignoring it, soon enough that monster baby isn’t going to be a baby any longer.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #837

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Inner Work

“This is not your responsibility, but it is your problem.”
— Cheryl Strayed

We don’t get to choose what kind of problems we face in life. Big or small. Maybe if we were able to catch the problem* before it bit us in the ⓐss we could have found a way around it. But that type of wishful thinking about making our past flubs and distress better is exactly what leads to more problems in the first place.

My problems are part of my story. Even if I wasn’t the cause of them happening. (‘not my responsibility’) I can try to deny it. I can wish for different problems. I can try to cope it away through over-shopping or over-working. I can blame the world. But they are still my problems and mine to solve. I’m the one suffering because of them.

Our problems are part of our story.

Taking ownership is our responsibility. And how we react to a problem is also our problem too. I think we all know that getting angry or sad or lost in our problems is like us throwing fuel on the fire. It’s hard to enjoy a campfire when it’s catching everything around it on fire too. We have to find to take responsibility for how we react too. Therapy. Creative outlets. Communication. Positive Habits. Small steps towards healing. Whatever moves us to the next leg of our personal hero’s journey.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #834

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*I have been interested lately in figuring out ways to build a more accountable network of friends and community around me so that I can spot potential pitfalls and problems before they accumulating 💩 buckets and tip over. A community of mutually constructive feedback. I’ll write more about this soon.

Meanie Me

“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.”

Epictetus

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”

Henry David Thoreau

“The enemy is the inner me.”

Nick Miller, New Girl

I think deep down there’s a part of me that wants to fail. (And I imagine I’m not alone in this sentiment.) Of course, I want to succeed. I want to create meaningful work. I want to experience life to the utmost. I want to make enough money to add fuel to my creativity.

But there’s a part of me that doesn’t. Let’s call him Jerry.

Jerry wants things to stay the same. Jerry is lazy and doesn’t care about the future. All he care’s about is immediate pleasures. Jerry wants his gallon of ice cream. Jerry wants me to fail because Jerry (and all the Jerry’s I’ve run across in life) thinks failure is all I’m good for. But Jerry wants what jerry wants, not what I want.

We often push so hard to be who we want to be. We work late hours. We do what others don’t. All for our inner Jerry’s to grab the wheel and crash the car. It’s not Jerry’s fault. Jerry is Jerry. The fault is my own. We let our inner enemy, our resistance, our past failures, and fears drive us, we are taking our hands off the wheel of our dreams and desires.

  • Anger can get you far, but it won’t make you any happier.
  • Fear can motivate, but it usually just diminishes instead.
  • Failure (and the fear of failure) keeps us locked and stuck in place.
  • Envy separates us from what opportunity and good fortune we have within our own circumstances and journey.
  • Worry and apathy keeps us from being alive.
  • Resentment rots.
  • Anxiety is the embodiment of FOMO and convincing ourselves we aren’t good enough.

We are good enough. Maybe we aren’t in an ideal situation we’d like to be, but who really is? We are good enough to use what we have to create something better. And enjoy what we have while also striving for improvement.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #833

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Creativity & Ambition

Whenever I go to a concert or festival, I can’t help but feel that I’m on the wrong side of the stage. If you see me there, I’m the weird guy (no, not that weird guy, he’s on another level) who occasionally becomes very still and stops bobbing and dancing. It’s likely because I’m watching what the guitarist or keyboardist hands are doing. I’m picking apart the drums and synths. I’m admiring the singer’s vocal palette and the band’s synchronicity. I’m still enjoying the show, but I’m enjoying it in a different way through an artist’s perspective. If you play an instrument, you’ll likely be able to relate.

I feel the same way when seeing superb broadway or watch a film, or admire good art or outfit, or underline a great word or turn of phrase in a book. I enjoy creativity at a deep level and want to go deeper still. I can see a fuzzy outline of tendrils where different creative and mental outlets weave and interconnect. It’s like discovering a language you aren’t familiar with but have moments of clarity when words of striking similarity to your native tongue pop out and identify themselves to you.

If there’s a Grand Unified Theory of the Universe, surely there’s also a Grand Unified Theory of Creativity.

(Yeah Josh, It’s called Math 🤓 you dumb dumb.)

But what makes someone creative?

Is it a feeling? Is it in our DNA? Is it the act of creating?

What separates those that do versus those that don’t? What’s the difference between a musician who makes it to the stage and a musician who creates at home?

Not that being on a stage is everything. Nor is there anything inherently wrong with only enjoying your art alone. But there is a certain special something — certain gumption — I admire for the creatives and dreamers who put themselves out there. No, I don’t mean starting an Instagram account and slapping a logo together in Canva.

I’m talking about the folks you put in the work. The ones that get down to brass tax and put in the time and effort to pursue their creativity. The ones who go out and build a business around a product or service that means something to them and provides meaning to others. The dancers, writers, poets, bodybuilders, athletes or designers who wake up early and begin their practice.

The word Ambition comes to mind. As does belief. You have to believe in yourself, at least enough to have the courage to try and the courage to breathe out the fear and walk out on the ‘stage’.

And the antithetical ego comes to mind as well. All artists who put themselves out there in some way shape or form think they are unique and have something to offer the world. Including myself! What kind of ego do you need to have a daily blogging practice as well as another dozen practices? (A BIG kahuna.)

But at the same time, at its core, creativity has to come from a place of love. Or at least a desire to be better, to do better. I would continue to play music even if I didn’t make a dime on it. I’d continue to write and practice the craft of writing because I love it for what it is and what it gives me. An outlet. A brush to paint with. A song to sing. A beat to dance. A comic to doodle.

Not because I can create, but because I can’t not do it.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #825

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Related:

“Great ambition is the passion of a great character. Those endowed with it may perform very good or very bad acts. All depends on the principles which direct them.”

Napoleon Bonaparte

“Our ambition should be to rule ourselves, the true kingdom for each one of us; and true progress is to know more, and be more, and to do more.”

Oscar Wilde

“A man’s worth is no greater than his ambitions.”

Marcus Aurelius

Channeling Pain

Moments of crisis are good for creativity if you can find a way to channel it. One look at an emotionally striking painting or one listen to a sad and heavy song will show you the power of channeling pain through creativity.

The problems and painful experiences we go through can create something positive and impactful.

We’re already there, deep in the rawness of what we are feeling, now all we need to do is express it in as a creative outlet.

And it doesn’t always have to be a painting or a song.

It could be designing a product or service that solves a personal pain-point that could help others.

It could be writing an insightful book you needed to read, but couldn’t find it.

It could be running and training for a marathon.

It could be sculpting an abstract world out of Popsicle sticks.

Art is not just canvas and paint. It’s imagination and expression.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #798

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Wind in the Sail

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

December always puts me in a reflective mood. Blame it on the cozy weather, nostalgic music or the New Year’s hustle and bustle, I’ve been thinking quite a bit recently about the ups and downs of this past year.

Honestly, this year been one of the hardest I’ve been through. I’ve worked a ton this year, but don’t have much to show for it. I spent a lot of time co-running at a start-up, working long hours, underpaid, undervalued and thinking I was an owner but in reality, was anything but. The founder said I had equity, but unfortunately, He was omitting the truth and never actually (intended to) give me ownership. Amor Fati. His loss.

I’ve had good opportunities, but I’ve also been coming into December with financial flubs (mostly from short term problems and emergencies I wasn’t able to resolve immediately) and feelings of bitterness I’m trying to shake off like a bad taste.

There are some great things happening in my life right now, but (why is there a but) honestly I feel a little like the wind has been let out of my sails. Meaning, I don’t feel as confident in myself and my dreams lately. Perhaps I just need to rest more and recover.

Perhaps we all need to rest a little more than we do.

I’m stressed, but I don’t feel stuck. Change meets us right away and adds up each day that passes. Life is to short to get stuck feeling stuck.

New work opportunities. New friends and deep connections with old friends. New confidence.

Here are a few ways we can add more wind to our sails:

Get out of your element:

  • Go to different spaces
  • Try new activities and hobbies
  • Grab a friend and go dancing

Play like a kid:

  • Do something you loved to do as a kid
  • Go outside and make up an imaginary game to play
  • Go do something nourishing for the hell of it.

Sleep and Move MF:

I don’t think we were made to sit and look at a screen all day.

  • Make time for making things with your hands
  • Make time for nature
  • Make time for conversations with friends

Eat as well as you can:

  • Eat something more than just pizza and pasta for Josh’s sakes.
  • Cook a healthy meal, salmon or lots of veggies
  • Try fasting in between all the feasting

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #766


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Creativity is the Medicine for the Soul

“Odd how the creative power at once brings the whole universe to order.”

Virginia Woolf

“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.”

Rumi

Why do we create? To express ourselves, sure. To be somebody. To highlight something important to the world. And yet, creativity goes much deeper than that.

The act of creating doesn’t just work outwardly, it’s also an act that works within us.

Creativity is an outlet of inner work and outer work. By expressing ourselves through our art, we learn and nurture our own selves.

There are moments in our lives where everything feels like a struggle. Moment where we feel stuck in the same old same old we find ourselves in again. Broken bones, childhood trauma’s, disappointment, broken hearts, loneliness, pain, injury, fear, uncertainty, apathy, burnout, brokenness, bitterness, anger… Sometimes life can be overwhelming. Creating is a great way to work through our thoughts and emotions. Because

Creativity is the Medicine for the Soul.

Why else would some of the greatest songs, books, films, poems, dances, and works of art come from sadness and pain. It’s a form of self-therapy* that releases pent-up energy. Creating something — whatever it is for you — is like a pressure valve release on our minds, bodies and souls. The more we create, the more capable we become. Creativity comes from happy places too. Happy moments need creative expressions just as much as the difficult moments do.

Whatever you are feeling, whatever you are going though. Creating something is an excellent tool in the toolkit.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #740

*that being said, always talk to a professional first if you need it.


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Limitless Creativity

“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

What would you do if you had unlimited access to time, money and energy? If this was Family Feud, then travel, would likely the first choice.

Most of us go our entire lives living in the same corner pocket of the world. Which makes since. Our family, friends and familiars grounds are there. Our lives are there. And (romanticized) travel can get expensive. We know it’s good for us, but (unless you’ve caught the travel bug) we prioritize our resources elsewhere. That’s likely why if we suddenly had access to enough financial space and opportunity, we would all jump at the chance to spend a few months in France, or take a beach month in Hawaii.

Books can take us to world away, to galaxies unknown. They can change us, open us up to new ideas and realities. The internet can do that too. But it’s not until we use our own two feet to experience the variety and spices from different cultures and ways of living from around the globe that we can ground ourselves into who we are and what we stand for. Of course, after experiencing the world, we find ourselves coming back home or finding a new place to call our home.

The next choice could be spending time with the people we love. (But with unlimited resources you know we would be taking our friends on globetrotting adventures too)

But I think the second thing we would choice to do with unlimited resources is get back to work on our ideas. Or at least, if you are like me, that’s what gets me jazzed in the morning.

If you are reading this, then there’s likely a creative expression, a passion, an art, a creative pursuit burning inside you. It’s a business idea that popped into your head one day. Or a thing you did when you were a kid but stop doing while experiencing the growing pains of life. It’s something that you gravitate towards in your free time, or talk about (with way too much) enthusiasm to your friends. This is your art. This is a piece of who you are.

Unlimited resources would be nice… I sometimes fantasize about getting stuck in a time loop like Phil (Bill Murray) on Groundhog Day. Imagine having unlimited resource to master the piano or read every book in the universe. (Although, in Groundhog day everything resets each day, so notes, artwork, businesses would likely poof back to nothing each day, and we’d be stuck in Punxsutawney.) But having limited resources doesn’t mean we should give up on our creative pursuits. Let go of the things you can’t have, focus on what you’ve got to give. Theodore Roosevelt once spoke “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” All that matters is that we give it our all with what we’ve got.

The goal, for any pursuit, is to not let the unimportant things in life crowd out the important things (whatever that is for you). When we do the best that we can with what we have now, as we keep pursuing and preserving, over time our resources grow. The longer we keep going, the more time, money and energy we can give to what we love, and the more quality we can squeeze out of efforts.

Limitless creativity doesn’t come from unlimited resources. Limited resources comes from working with what we’ve got, and find clever ways to use our ‘limitations’ or constraints to our advantage.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #739


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Worth it

Essential should take priority over immediate. And yet, we often allow ourselves and feel driven to do the opposite. There’s many reasons we could point to — we didn’t sleep well last night, we are distracted by pain or distracted by shiny things, etc.

What’s easier: answering a few emails and clearing out your inbox or working on your app?

What’s more appealing: watching Netflix or sweating at the gym?

What’s more exciting: going out for drinks or putting butt in seat and writing?

Essential over immediate.

The essential takes more time, energy and intention. No wonder we struggle to get anything important done! We trade short-term pleasures for long-term success and happiness. Not that we have to give up happiness in the present in order to have it in the future. Rather, happiness comes from the process of spending our time and energy in ways that we love and find meaningful. Even an ounce of effort spent on what we love creates massive returns on the rest of our effort (which we might have to give to our other responsibilities, such as working to afford food for our family).

There’s another big reason that the important things tend to get benched:

The important things become too important. Or in other words, the essential things we want to do are so important that we end up not doing them. We idealize and fantasize them into a undefeatable monster in our minds. We (consciously or subconsciously) delay, avoid, distract, procrastinate and psych ourselves out from doing them. And eventually we end up filling our time and energy with everything BUT the things we want to do.

I’m making it seem clear and cut-and-dry, but it’s usually anything but. In reality the tradeoffs are so subtle. We hardly even notice we are selling ourselves short and are feeding the wrong things. We trade what we really want to do, for second or third-best options because we think that’s all we desire or are capable of doing.

Because what if we fail?
What if we waste all this time and energy for nothing?
What if we succeed and are still unhappy?

Ultimately it comes down to giving yourself some space and asking yourself is it worth it or not.

Is this worth my finite amount of time and energy?
Is this going to add value to my life AND the lives around me?
Is this going to provide me meaning and happiness in the present, regardless if I fail or succeed in the end?

Failing at something you love is better than succeed at something you hate or find mediocre.

Because failure is recoverable. But we can’t get back wasted time on things that don’t matter.

The road to mediocrity is born from hesitation and feeding ‘what you are supposed to do’ instead of what you feel called to do.

What do you feel called to do in this life?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #734


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Resolve to Fight

“Better to fight for something than live for nothing.”

George S. Patton

“The truest wisdom is a resolute determination.”

Napoleon Bonaparte

There will be times in your life where you must fight.

Perhaps not with fists or weapons, but an exchange of blows just as real.

Sometimes, you may have to battle for your intuition and truth. Do you take this job because the money is good, or do you listen to your instincts and pass? Do you partner with this person because his / her idea is great, or do you decline because your gut is telling you?

Sometimes, you may have to battle for your beliefs and freedom. How likely are your convictions wrong? A lot of people believed that slavery was right, but the belief didn’t fly in the face of reality. The belief contradicted itself. Wanting something to be true, and something being true are completely different things. If you discover you are wrong about something, then change. Change for the better. Do like the wisest people from history did — follow virtue in every step. But if your convictions are right, then don’t back down. Stand for character and truth.

Sometimes the battle is negativity and despair. Sometimes the battle is in your mind. Defeat them with hope. Hope is the best weapon. The past may be the past, but that doesn’t make the future determined. Only we can do that with how we decide to think and act today. And, with a little luck, we can make a better future for ourselves and others.

There are so many important battles — keeping great friendships strong… pursuing your dreams… healing from an injury… accepting fate with honor… taking the higher road… choosing life over apathy… finishing what you started… and handling fear, lots of doubt and fear…

Not everything is worth fighting for, but the things that are we’ll be ready for.

At any moment, we have the opportunity to transform into better selves, and do the things we know we need to do.

Take heart.

The fights will be challenging, but that’s part of life too.

In the end, the best things in life worth the challenge.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #720


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