Today’s the Day

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
Mother Teresa

Freedom is one of those invisible things you can easily take for granted until you experience the opposite. Seeing the persecution of others who live outside of a free society, for example. Or personally feeling the restrictions of debt or the anxiety of saying yes to too many things,

I don’t normally consider decisions as freedom, but they are. We are free to choose what we say yes or no to. Responsibilities, obligations, desires, dreams, persuasion, and incentive sway us one way or another. But at the end of the day, our decisions are our own.

The frightening thing about decisions is we can’t take them back—good or bad.

Most of the time, anyway.

A few years ago I was helping a friend decide between taking a job opportunity in town or taking a job in a different city. Both options were equally solid. Both were something worth doing. And my friend wasn’t sure what to do.

While we were discussing the options with the other people around us, a thought occurred to me that ultimately helped him make a decision:

Which decision was less permanent? What’s a way you choose option B if you decide not to enjoy option A?

In my friend’s case, the job out of town was actually an open invitation. Meaning, he could test out the job in town and if he found it not a good fit, he could call up the other one instead. So he took the job in town.

Was it the right call?

Impossible to say.

Even when we strategize and lessen the risk, we can still end up making the wrong call sometime.

“Wrong” applies to our failures, but failures often become turning points and opportunities to be better. Unless we let our mistakes drown us and keep us living in the past.

Failure is only a moment. And even when dealing with the fallout of failure, we still can find a way forward. But first, we have to start looking forward. Otherwise, we are enslaved to our past.

What are you willing to give up in order to be free?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1073

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Surface-Level Needs

“The first essentials, of course, is to know what you want.”

Robert Collier

“Surface-level needs” is a fancy term I use for anything that provides us instant happiness or gratification, but ultimately drains us from true joy and fulfillment.

For example, Ice-cream makes me very happy. Everything I’m partaking I want to do a little dance while I’m stuffing my face. But… ice-cream-happy quickly fades to dissatisfaction. I want more. My body starts to ache and complain. My mind turns into a wet pool noodle.

Think of surface-level needs as the equivalent to small talk. I wouldn’t say I enjoy small talk, but it has its places. But if all I gave and received small talk, I would be miserable.

Instant gratification only goes so far. Eventually, it stops working, and worse usually adds up to us feeling malnourished in one form or another.

We all want personal freedom, but another pair of jeans isn’t going to give us that.

It’s better to go deep and cultivate our foundational needs—self-love, compassion, wisdom, confidence, purpose, laughter, financial flexibility, close friendships—that way we no longer feel the desire to gratify our whims and-or stir the pot because we’re bored or unhappy.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1038

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RL Personal Freedom is

  • Health
  • Wealth
  • Wisdom
  • Happiness
  • Belonging
  • Creativity
  • Impact

We all want some version of these seven things.

You might have a different perspective on what each means and what’s more important to you, but, after all, that’s what makes freedom so special and personal.

Their definition is difficult to nail down because they are foundational and old as humanity itself, but they also change as you change. Your definition of what “health” as a teenager will be completely different (aka nonexistent) compared to your thirty-year-old self.

They are each tailored to who we are too. For you, that might be expressing your creativity and making an impact through art.

Each freedom (for lack of a better word) mixes and mashes in interesting ways and also affect each other. They are independent but also connected. Think of it like they’re all driving the car and they all have a hand on the steering wheel.

For example, lack of wisdom can lead to poor health and wealth, which could ultimately lead to unhappiness.

But I don’t think I need to write a blog post to tell you that.

What I want to focus on today is what happens when one or many of these escapes you?

What do we do when our health fails us? What to do when our wealth and health are poor?

What do we do when we make financial mistakes and are suddenly struggling?

What do we focus on when life gives us a bad hand or our circumstances take one of these personal freedoms away?

Well, luckily these personal freedoms aren’t an all or nothing thing. You don’t need all of these to have a meaningful life.

I don’t think I’m wise enough yet to say which ones take priority over the others.

I do know that holding on to something you’ve lost/once had will only increase your problems.

The key is letting go of what we don’t have control over, and narrowing our focus on any one of these things will get you back on your feet.

“Take things as they are. Punch when you have to punch. Kick when you have to kick.”

Bruce Lee

If I were a betting man, I’d say that happiness and wisdom are the best ones to focus on.

Get Happy

By focusing on happiness, you become resilient to difficulty. You’re not Superman—you’re just not as phased by problems. Happiness protects you. If you’re happy, truly happy, not because of the material things you have, but because you love yourself, care about life and others, then nothing can touch you. Hardship rolls off of you. Your happiness is a shield.

Happiness leads to — wisdom.
which leads to health.
which heightens your creativity.
And adds to wealth.
And draws people in.
All while leaving everything and everyone you interact with better than you found it.

Get Wise

By focusing on gaining wisdom, then every other personal freedom increases too. Wisdom reminds you to be more healthy. It shows you how to build wealth. It fills you with impactful ideas. It teaches you how to be kind and loving and patient and happy.

When in doubt—

Focus on happiness.
Focus on gaining wisdom.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1037

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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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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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Own It

The only things we are entitled to are:

  • Our problems
  • Our actions (or put another way, our right to change)
  • And our freedom (of speech, beliefs… at least in the US)

Everything else must be earned.

Let’s start with the last and most important. In the US, we are entitled to freedom, but that doesn’t diminish the effort and resistance from those who have fought for us to have our freedom. People laid down their lives for us, we should do our part to remember and respect that.

I”m a white dude in his late twenties, living in America. This is my baseline — I didn’t choose any of this. Compared to the rest of the world (and the subtle / not-so-subtle persecution other people have to deal with) — I’ve got it made in the shade.

Everything on top of that, any financial, work, relationship, mindset, time-mismanagement, bad habit, setbacks and injuries are mine to own.

To fix my problems, to create a meaningful life, I’ve got to own it.

There’s no way forward but to own it.

That also secondarily includes everyone’s else problems that I surround myself with too. For example, if my good friend is in debt, I’m secondarily also in debt to his / her mindset and choices. Their problems are theirs to own, but by the very nature of being around them makes them effect me too. Just like on an airplane, in case of an emergency, you are supposed to put on your air mask first. The problems of the people around me shouldn’t come before my own.

I have the right to solve my own problems. It’s a responsibility, but also a privilege. We get the opportunity to change our circumstances and tell our own story through our trials and triumphs.

  • Did your parents pay for your college education?
  • Did your parents buy you a car?
  • Is your health not great?
  • Did your startup fail?
  • Are you talking more than your walking?

No one owes us anything. Generosity is a gift, but not assured, either. The choice we continuously have to make in life when setbacks and bad things inevitably happen is either:

A. We don’t accept it, we dwell on it and use it as an excuse to stay stuck where we are, or

B. We own it, and go to work, just like all the greatest people of today and yesterday have done.

Own it and get to work.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #589

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Life Principle #8 Act Boldly Live Boldly

Give me even ONE successful idea that changed the world that wasn’t crazy or “impossible” before it became reality.

Ideas that change the world are BOLD ideas. They capture the hearts and imaginations of generations. They resonate with all age groups and ethnicities. They are a piece of the human experience. 

Before there was print, people copied books one at a time by hand.

Before electricity, light bulbs, heat & air, computers, and space travel were mere fantasies.

Flight was only for the bird until the Wright Bros soared.

Look at all the things around you are right now and I’d make a strong bet that 80% of it would be impossible a century or two ago.

And yet someone was bold enough to try.

Bold enough to try.

Impossible is just an excuse for the rest of us to say until someone does it.

Life Principle #8 Act Boldly Live Boldly

In order to create the life that we desire we must act boldly, and live boldly.

Boldness is a lifestyle.

Being bold is taking smart risks while mitigating the downsides. To live boldly, we must do things that most won’t. Are you complacent with your life? Your job? Your body? Your friends? Act like the person you want to be, and you’ll become the BOLD person you were meant to be.

Boldness is freedom.

You have to be bold when you step into your discomfort zone. People are going to criticize you. They are going to tell you’ll never make it. That your dreams are impossible. Fear will be a constant companion in your pursuit of creativity. But the difference between someone whose bold and whose not is what you do with your fear: Give in to it and never pull yourself out, or see fear as a challenge. A challenge to do something different. Boldness means not hesitating.

We can plan, prepare, talk and research until the cows come home 🐄 🐄 🐄, but at the end of the day, if we are going to create our own Renaissance we need to act.

How to Practice Boldness

Do that thing you’ve been putting off because of fear.   

Ask him or her out. (or go on a dating fast)
Take that trip you been dreaming about.
Apply for a job that doesn’t suck the life out of you.
Start a YouTube channel.

The only thing that separates you and your dreams is a little boldness

People might think you are crazy. But you know what, 

We all need to be a little crazier.

Crazy as in, I’m probably definitely gonna die if I do this? 

No.
 
But crazy as in, I might fail, look like a fool, go against what people say, tear a hole in the fabric of the universe know as the ‘status quo’, or do something against the norm?

Abso-friggin-lutely.
 
Because being BOLD requires you to be different. And for me, at the very least, 

I choose to be different.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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Related Insights

“Freedom lies in being BOLD.”Robert Frost

“Boldness doesn’t mean rude, obnoxious, loud, or disrespectful. Being bold is being firm, sure, confident, fearless, daring, strong, resilient, and not easily intimidated. It means you’re willing to go where you’ve never been, willing to try what you’ve never tried, and willing to trust what you’ve never trusted. Boldness is quiet, not noisy.” —  Mike Yaconelli

“Make bold choices and make mistakes. It’s all those things that add up to the person you become.” —  Angelina Jolie

“Though we may have desires or bold goals, for whatever reason, most of us don’t think we can achieve something beyond what we’re qualified to achieve. Why, I ask, do we let reality interfere with our dreams?”Simon Sinek