Habit Dregs

“Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired.”

Jules Renard

One of the hardest moments of any daily habit — besides missing a day after a long streak of consecutive days in a row — is when you would rather do anything, anything, else than your habit.

You know what I’m talking about. When it’s time to put on your shoes and head to the gym or go for a run and then a wave of dread creeps in. ‘Maybe I should just wait until tomorrow to go…’. Or when you are on vacation and the last thing you want to do is go to bed early and wake early. Or perhaps its when you are feeling tired or under the weather and would rather eat a Amazon cardboard box than pick up your guitar and practice, or pick up a pen and write.

And yet, doing our practice is exactly what we must do in moments like these.

Practicing your habit when you don’t want too is essential to habit longevity.

Anyone can practice a skill on inspiring days where ideas are flowing out of you like lightning. But it takes true commitment to do it on days you don’t want too. Moments of reluctance, doubt and laziness can derail anyone unprepared and untrained. That’s why when we feel tempted to skip our practice we committed ourselves too, we must do it anyway, ideally right away.

Wake up tired? Practice your habit.
Wake up super late? Habit.
Have the worst day of your life? Do thy habit.
Realize you haven’t done your daily habit yet and it’s 11:58pm? Get to work.

The ability to handle situations like these takes practice. But every time we do we are honing our habit muscles.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #723


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Don’t Defeat Yourself

“Your mindset matters. It affects everything – from the business and investment decisions you make, to the way you raise your children, to your stress levels and overall well-being.”

Peter Diamandis

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

Marcus Aurelius

How often do we lose in our minds before we even have tried? There’s many ways we can defeat ourselves, but the biggest one is our mind.

Our mind is the foundation to any challenge or problem we face. Face off any two equally skilled athletes yet opposing mindsets — one who believes they can win and one who doesn’t or who has uncertainty — and the stronger, more open mind will always win.

Mindset a squishy topic, to be sure. I wonder if its because we don’t necessarily have the vocabulary or cultural rituals or norms around talking about our conscious and subconscious? Or perhaps our thoughts and self-defeating chatter is not a usual dinner topic in our society because our mind and our thoughts are not something others can hear.

Whatever the case, unless you are blunt and tell it like it is (or have a therapist or really great friend), we keep 1/3rd of ourselves usually to ourselves. This isn’t always bad, per se. Telling everyone around you that they are fat or hot isn’t the best way to live. But if that’s true, then why do we allow our thoughts to bully ourselves around internally?

We are hostile to ourselves, especially when our outside world (be it work, family, finances, stress, etc) is baring down on us in times of failure and difficulty.

When we are feeling low, our negative self-defeating mind doesn’t pull any punches.

There’s a great Richard Feynman phrase worth remember that goes “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”

We are the easiest person to defeat with our own mind if we are not careful. Replace ‘fool’ for ‘defeat: “You must not defeat yourself and you are the easiest person to defeat”.

One thing no one teaches us is that mindset is a skill to be practiced.

I think the problem is we aren’t taught how to hone our minds. Hanging up cute visualization posters of cats reminding us we can ‘do it’ doesn’t count. When we are growing up, we have to learn to crawl, then wobble, fall and then stand before we can walk. We have to learn how to talk by observe and listen to the word our parents and people around us use. We also have to learn our ABC’s and 123’s before we can write and read.

But no one teaches us how to think or visualize. Our minds are still crawling on the ground, lost to whatever squirrel peaks our interest. We can ride a bike, type 70 words per minute, drive, sing, dance, start a business, get married, have kids, without knowing a single thing about mindset.

It’s impressive we’ve made it this far…

So what can we do to cultivate our mind?

We can read. We can seek out clear and insightful thoughts written down by smarter people from today and throughout history.

We can listen and observe. It takes a lot of effort to give others your full and undivided attention. Work those listening muscles.

We can talk. We can find someone or a group of people willing to be honest with one another about what each person is struggling and going through and what each is doing to improve themselves.

We can mediate. Which really is just practicing breathing and observing. Mediation is a ritual we can cultivate to practice learning to notice our thoughts and not always be swept up by them.

We can visualize. We can practice mentally visualizing ourselves winning a game, owning a speech, doing the things we dream of doing.

Resolve yourself to hone your mind. Think better thoughts. Thoughts beget actions beget habits beget results.

“To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.”

Buddha

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”

Henry Ford

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #712


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Expensive Tastes…

“Good taste is as tiring as good company.”

Francis Picabia

“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

Red Adair

It’s easier to require expenses tastes than to get rid of them.

Naturally, this is a first world problem. It’s usually the people in the world who have next to nothing who are the happiest. There’s likely many reasons why, but my guess is that their happiness is less about owning fewer things and more about not knowing that they are “missing out” on better things.

We naturally seek excitements and challenges. We crave new things and new experiences, while at the same time love habits and routines. And one thing lead to another and what was once exciting becomes our new normal.

Cars, for example. Your first car is usually a used piece of junk you were barely able to afford — but you loved it. It didn’t matter that it would barely start and had a scratchy speaker system. It gave you what you wanted — freedom.

It was only in comparison to your a friend’s nicer car, or a particularly great ad that made you want something shinier and better. Once we have enough of these moments and eventually we can rationalize our way up to becoming unable to own anything but new cars, or even sports cars.

This type of spectrum is happening in every area of our life we are interested in. Get used to certain ways of living and it’s difficult to go back.

Air Condition is another good example. My AC has been broken this past week and it’s been almost impossible to get a good night’s sleep because of the heat. I’ve had the privilege to live in AC the majority of my life. Even most cars have temperature control. But now I’m reliant on an external thing. One week in, and I’m a mess.

Reliance isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, it’s usually not a bad thing at all. We like what we like. We lean on what we have to lean on. We find joy in quality. And the deeper we go into a hobby, interest, experience, the more quality we gain.

Start eating healthy with higher quality, unprocessed foods and you’ll gain more energy and health than you know what to do with. But try going back to a fast food life and you’ll feel terrible. You know too much now. You’re no longer a food muggle. Maybe you’ll crave a McFlurry from Mickey D’s every once in a while, but you’ll won’t want to give up the benefits you gain from eating healthy.

But it’s a trade off, because in order to rely on great food, or a new hobby like learning to play the guitar or experiences like travel, you have to use up some of your limited resources (time, money and energy).

What’s the lifetime cost of this habit? What’s the lifetime benefit of this habit?

Does the benefits outweigh the cost?

It’s always good to way the benefits and the long term costs of anything we decide to do or own.

And it’s also good to regularly test what you think you need and must have to live a good and happy life. Sometimes setbacks and circumstances prevent us from having or living life like we were used to. It happens. The goal is to not let setbacks get in the way of our joy in life.

At the end of the day, a place to rest, clean air and water, good food and good company is all we really need.

…And maybe a book or ten. (Or maybe that’s one of my expensive tastes 🙂

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #709


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Related:

Schitt’$ Creek

Slow and Steady

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at
the end of the day whispering, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’”

Mary Anne Radmacher

Not every one of these blog posts will be great. Go peruse the archives (The Archives sounds like a great fantasy novel title) and I’m sure you’ll find a couple stinkers.

Was I trying to make something mediocre? No. I was doing the best I could with what I had to give. But some of them being bad ideas in retrospect less important. Sometimes things are so bad, they are good. But often our so-so works of creativity are steps towards greater ideas later.

When it comes to creativity, motion is what matters. Motion gets the gears turning and ideas flowing. The best way I’ve found to practice this is taking your art — what you feel called to do — and making it a daily habit.

Think of it like planting a tree each day. One tree might be well. One might not grow at all. Another might grow into a massive redwood. But each tree we plant teach us something for the next one we plant tomorrow. And as time passes, our weird daily tree habit turns into a forest of work and creativity. The single planted tree matters, but the forest is the goal. This is what a daily habit can do for us.

Picture yourself 20 years from now.

20 years is 7300 days. Can you imagine what 7300 days of working on our creativity would do for us? That’s 7300 paintings, 7300 songs, 7300 days of practicing woodwork, 7300 written pages or 7300 days of coding… Not only would that amount of time invested in our pursuits gives us a massive library of work, it would also hone us into masters of what we do.

Remember: we don’t have to always go big to improve and reach big. Going small and persisting long also gets us to big too.

Besides, unless we get hit by a bus tomorrow (knock on wood), we’ve got the days to do it, we just need to start and keep going.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #687


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Intentional Habits

Whether we think about it or not, we all have good and bad habits we run our lives by. A habit is an action or decision that we have integrated into our lives as a practice. What makes a habit good or bad really depends on the kind of outcome we are expecting (or neglecting) to see. To use a biological term, a habit creates ‘receptors’ to allow us to tune into certain aspects of life.

Inputs leading to outputs; Outputs leading to inputs. Sometimes this is physical. When you smoke cigarettes, for example, the brain develops additional nicotine receptors to deal with the larger doses of nicotine rushing in, opening you up to becoming addicted to it and wanting more. Putting aside the health concerns for smoking, I consider it a harmful habit because it takes the steering wheel out of our hands and eventually controls us, versus us controlling it.

A habit’s ‘receptors’ can also be philosophical and squishy. What does being optimistic instead of pessimistic do to (and for) us? It’s difficult to say with certainty. On the surface, pessimism, negativity, and worry doesn’t really do much to our lives. Or does it? When we have to make small decisions, we negate their potential with doubt and dismiss their validity, we think something like ‘this will never work’ or ‘this is a terrible idea’. When big decisions or possible problems crop up, we worry them to death, and if our fears never come true, we don’t notice because we are on to the next big thing to worry about. What does a habit of negativity do to our careers, our friendships, and community? I’m not sure. Does optimism create for us a better headspace and open us up to more opportunities that we wouldn’t have if we were pessimistic? In my personal experience, I’d say 100% yes. But again, this is all fuzzy logic.

Regardless, these are good things to consider.

How are all of your habits — good, bad and ugly — affecting your life? Which habits are enabling your dreams and which ones are making you sink?

Where things get really tricky is knowing that our habits don’t live in isolation. Each habit we have connects and stacks upon one another. Benefits of one habit might outweigh or cancel out the negative effects of another. An obvious example: You could exercise like a champion every day, but if you are pounding cookies, ice cream and whatever pastries you can get your hands on, the potential gain you would get from exercise is canceled out by your sweet tooth. And if all our habits are mingling and dancing the night away, how do we know which habits are good for us and which are bad?

This question requires so series thought and intentional alone time. It’s difficult to run towards your dreams in life with your hands and feet tied behind you. By finding which habits are holding us back and replacing them with better ones, we can finally start creating momentum in our lives.

Here are some questions to get ya think’n:

  • What habits do I know I have?
  • Which habits do I think are helpful and beneficial to me? Why are they beneficial?
  • Which steps (daily or consistent habits) are getting me towards accomplishing my goals? And why?
  • Are there any unhelpful or bad habits that I’m doing?
  • What habits do I have that I know I should stop doing?
  • What are the benefits and downsides for each of my habits?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #682

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Too Much of a Good Thing

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

Bruce Lee

I tend to overdo it when it comes to books. I’ve currently knee deep in 6 (okay, okay — 8) books I’m reading simultaneously. I find it useful to read a variety of books at the same time because it allows ideas to cross-pollinate (what a fancy word… two words?) and muddle between each other and create new and interesting ideas from the mix. Plus I’m just into a lot of subjects. (Hey, if it works for having multiple classes in school, why not for life…school? ) However, even good things need balance.

If I spend too much of my time and energy reading, I’ll have less time to act and work on my various interests and commitments. But, if I don’t read enough (or at all) I’m missing out on insights and knowledge that could help enable me to do my work better and could add more value to my life.

Habits exist of a spectrum, and somewhere on that spectrum — potentially a unique place on that spectrum for each of us, depending on our life and circumstances — there’s a Golden mean where we find benefits with minimal downsides.

Consider exercising*. Not enough exercise can increase our chances of poor health, such as becoming overweight, Heart Disease, strokes, leave us breathless, little energy, poor posture. Over-exercising can tax our system, potential suppress our immune system and increase our chances of injuring ourselves. The Dose is the poison. Somewhere on the spectrum between being a couch potato and an American Ninja Warrior, there’s a healthy dose of exercise that works for each of us. How much you need versus how much I need might be different. And figuring out what works for you is part of your journey (*I just write stuff on the internet. Consult your doctor.)

I guess that means that habits are a lot like Goldilocks and the Three Bears —“Too big, too small and just right”. We need to find the right balance of our habits that works for us and bring us value.

Of course, I’m not going to stop reading (what a silly idea). But I am going to set a limit and make sure that my ‘learning’ doesn’t get in the way of my ‘doing’. (At least until I can figure out how to read for a living 😜.)

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #681

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Bad Habits

“Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.”

Benjamin Franklin

I find it good to have a healthy pulse on if, when and where you are getting in your own way. It’s often that our thoughts, decisions and habits are the real culprits behind our missteps.

The tricky part is figuring out which habits we have are good and which habits are holding us back.

Here’s a few prompts to get us started (Note: think objectively, not critically. Being negative and down on ourselves isn’t going to get us anywhere healthy.):

  • Look at what you and your friends do compared to the lives of the people you admire. (i.g. So and so writes daily. So-and-so is always exercising, and my friends and I are always coach spudding.)
  • What habits / decisions are you making when you feel terrible versus when you feel great? (i.g. I feel great when I go to bed early and get enough sleep / I feel terrible when I sleep less then 7 hours)
  • Watch what you say to others (or yourself) after you do a thing. (i.g. ‘I know I should eat late and watch tv all night but….’ ‘I normally wouldn’t buy X, but it was on sale…’ — ‘But’s‘ are a great sign of bad habits and bad mindsets.

Once you figure out what is the bad habit, then it’s a matter of replacing it with a better habit until it sticks. Start by looking at the triggers that tempt you to enable your bad habit mode. For example, if you are eating ice cream daily, maybe its because you keep buying ice cream and having it in the house. But if you stop buying it, replace with something else — like dark chocolate, or fruit — then you are removing yourself from it’s hooks. Sure, you could still go out to an ice cream shop and buy a scoop or twenty, but by putting barriers in front of you and your bad habits, you are less likely to act on them.

We all have shortcomings to overcome. The thing that will separate us from the masses is actually stepping up and doing something about them. Change starts with you.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #678

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Wanting to Change Before We Feel Like We Can

‘I can’t workout until I lose twenty pounds’

‘I’ll start saving money when I have money to save’

‘When I know more, I’ll start writing my book’

Why do we feel like we have to fix ourselves before we can fix ourselves?

This is a great example of getting in our own way.  We’ve all said or thought similar lines like the ones above some point in our lives. We desperately want to change, but if it’s not perfect, if we can’t drop everything we’re doing and go all in, we’d rather not even try.  Change isn’t perfect. It usually doesn’t happen the way we want it to, or when we want it to. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t change.

We need to upgrade our way of thinking and approach to change.

We’ve got lives to live. We have jobs or school work or family responsibilities or one hundred other things we need to take care of — we don’t have time to wait for the perfect moment to start.

The perfect moment to start is too late. The best time to start something is now.

Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, starting gives you the outlet to learn what to do.

You’re living your life this very second. If you don’t like what you see it’s time to start making small, daily changes to reach for something better.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner
IG: @Renaissance.Life

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Related Insights

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” — Mahatma Gandhi

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” — William Arthur Ward

“Change is the end result of all true learning.” Leo Buscaglia

Break The Pattern

Patterns, Routines, Habits… Call it what you want, there are systems in our lives that we live out as we go about our day. Some patterns are good and lead us to where we want to go — happier, healthier, more financially free, more creative etc. Some patterns are bad and keep us stuck reliving our past or keep our car barreling towards a cliff.

These systems are ingrained in our mental makeup. It’s hard for people to quit smoking because they like it. They know its probably killing them (or at least ruining their teeth) but they do it anyway because it feels good, and that feeling outweighs the long-term side effects. It’s much easier to ignore problems when there’s an eventual-maybe-not-right-now major downside sometime in the near future. (My pithiness is on point tonight! :P) 

And smoking is just one, easy go-to example. There are a lot of other patterns that we may be doing that are holding us back and we don’t even know it yet.

The question is, how can we break the bad patterns?

Start with developing your self-awareness.
It’s hard to change things when you don’t know if you’re doing something detrimental to yourself and your goals. And if you don’t know what is bad vs. good for you, start with asking yourself who you want to be.

Who do you want to be in 6 months? What positive traits, habits, and lifestyles do you want to create?

For me, I want to increase my confidence, energy (or liveliness!), boldness, risk aversion, and ability to enjoy challenges (despite fear, failure or embarrassments that may occur). I want to work less and smarter while making more money to spend on learning and creating. I want to master finances and know where every penny goes. I want to prep food, while still eating as healthy as possible, and earn my way to zero debt.

Change Your Mental State

Positive mindsets and perspectives lead to positive outcomes. I’ve yet to meet anyone who was incredibly self-defeating and incredibly lucky at the same time. I don’t know if Luck with a capital L is a real thing, but I do know that the more you push positive thoughts towards yourself, the more capable you will become. And the more capable you are, the luckier you’ll be.

Affirmations is a fantastically silly way to start. Silly, because it sounds very woo-woo, born on a full moon kind of outlook. Fantastic because it works. A great primer on the positive benefits of affirmations is the book Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It by Naval Ravikant. Think of a phrase you want to be more of and repeat it over and over in your head. Write it down in the morning and the evening. Embody the phrase. Feel it in your moon bones. 
“I am confident. I am confident…”
“I will enjoy challenges. I will enjoy challenges…”

Change Your Physical State

Are you hangry? When’s the last time you ate something good for you?
Are you thirsty? How much water have you had today?
Are you tired/anxious/achy? Move your body!

Change your physical state can dramatically increase your mood and mental state. Our physical state directly affects how you think. If your life and work are stressing you out, your not going to be in the best state to do positive habits, or work on your dreams. Sometimes, a few rounds of pushups and a nice walk outside is all we need to increase our happiness. Do some burpees, dance like no one is watching, splash some cold water in the face — do what you need to do to break the bad patterns.

Our path in life is determined by the patterns we choose (or let happen to us). Anxious daily habits create an anxious life. We don’t get fat by eating one fry 🍟, we get fat by eating one fry mindlessly every day. Once you realize that you are on your way to a better you.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

IG: @Renaissance.Life

https://forms.convertkit.com/273691?v=6

Related Insights

Book: Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It

“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” — Norman Vincent Peale

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” — George Bernard Shaw

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” — Mahatma Gandhi

Future You 2.0

What would you the future you want you to do?

What would he or she wish you would do right now?

Worry more?
Watch more tv?
Eat another round of donuts?

We see our future as some far off event but really it’s happening right now.

What we do today determines who we will be tomorrow.

In a weird, mind exploding time travel movie way, we are all time travelers.

The best way to begin answering the question above is asking if you could go back in time to your past self, what would you change.

You can do that right now with your ideal future you.

From this long-term perspective, some things aren’t worth your time and some are.

Imagine what you look like in 5, 10, even 20 Years. What would a habit of working out do to your body and longevity? What would saving and investing do for your financial freedom? What would taking challenges — even though fear — do to all the place you will go because of it? What would cherishing friendships do to your happiness and peace of mind?

Your future is written in the stone of what you do each day. So what are you going to do?

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Insights

“The difference between an amateur and a professional is in their habits. An amateur has amateur habits. A professional has professional habits. We can never free ourselves from habit. But we can replace bad habits with good ones.” —  Steven Pressfield, The War of Art, Do the Work

“Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character.”Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Winning is habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.” — Vince Lombardiwas an American football player, coach, and executive in the National Football League.