Contingency Plans

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.”

Alan Lakein

What are the common things that can derails our routines and habits the most? And, more importantly, what can we do about them?

Injury is a big one. There’s nothing like the loss of progress than a painful injury that leaves us lying in bed, sitting on the sidelines, and mentally challenging us with helplessness and negativity.

The ironic thing about injuring yourself is it’s often the people who are trying the *hardest* who end up injuring themselves. That is my story. I injured my neck, not out of laziness, but out of working too hard at the gym and at work. It’s not that working hard is bad per se, it’s hard work plus not having the awareness of what our body, mind, and spirit needs. Just going out and running hard without the proper knowledge and gear is a great way to ruin your knees. Hitting the weights at the gym without knowing what you’re doing is a short path towards hurting yourself.

Big Life changes is another common thing that can derail us. For example, moving across the country (or even across town). Talk about messing up your daily routine. You have to rush out in the morning to get everything packed and loaded—aka no coffee and reading routine. And by the end of the day, you’re exhausted and can barely move your arms.

Stress is the silent killer. Problems at work, family, friends, relationship—with ourselves (things we are doing and-or not doing). Stress can hit us on all sides (and usually all at once). There’s nothing like a stressful day to make you want to roll up to Chick-fil-a or Shake Shack and grab a large milkshake. Or Buy-click to your heart’s content on Amazon. Or just be plain lazy after work and do nothing but watch stuff and lallygag around on the internet.

Mindset. We are often our own worst enemies. If it seems like we aren’t making progress, or if we mess up once and “accidentally” eat a gallon of ice cream, we beat ourselves up about it and spiral even further away from our goals.

Many things can derail us. Avoiding them is ideal, but that’s not always possible or in our control. What we need is a game plan for when they inevitably come up. We need to create a playbook we can go to in times of pain and stress. Think of it like our personal DEFCON system—different levels of readiness and strategy depending on what’s happening to us.

If I get injured I’ll do X Y Z. When I’m moving to a new apartment, I’ll hit the “Moving Plan” button.

Here’s an example for a Big Life Change:

What do you do when you lose your job?

  1. Close the book, so to speak. Write down a list of everything you learned and enjoyed, and write down a list of why it didn’t work out or what you want to be improved at your next venture.
  2. Write down three things you want to see or accomplish in your next venture.
  3. Reach out to all your friends. Ask them if they’ve heard any opportunities and if they have any helpful connections.
  4. Reach out to a design friend, or hire a designer to help you with your resume and portfolio
  5. If #2 and #3 don’t pan out, find a job recruiter to help you find a job.

Having a go-to list takes the pressure off of us at the moment. It allows us to put aside the pain and problems that we are dealing with and focus—one item at a time—on the things we can do about what’s happening.

Note to self: Make a contingency plan for everything.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #953

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Expensive 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

An expensive habit is anything we routinely do that gives us some instant value in the short-term but cost us in the long run.

Here’s a small example: choosing to sign up for a monthly membership service—like website hosting, or an online learning platform—over a yearly membership (—or not signing up at all). 

We same money in the short term (ex/ $18 instead of $150) but after 12 months of $18, we’re actually paying $216.

Another low hanging fruit (pun intended) is food. It’s soooo much more cheap and convenient to grab a pizza to go or whip it into the fast-food line instead of planning and prepping nutritious food. Junk food is cheaper, taster, and quicker—but you’ll pay for it tenfold in the end with fat, health issues, low energy, and pain. 

Expensive habits borrow from our future to give us convince and satisfaction in the present.

The other issue with expensive habits is how short there satisfaction really is. Buying another pair of shoes will make you feel great in the short term, but after 6 months of use, they’ll start to look worn and stale.

Think about everything you do as a form of investment. You might not see an immediate return on investment if you focus on nutrition and exercise, or spend money on personal development or work daily on a new skill, but you will eventually start seeing a return.

Good habits bring joy and benefit in the future, which means if we keep investing in them they will cycle down to the present as well. Investing in your health will not only give you longevity, once you get into the swing of things it will also give you energy and other benefits in the present.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #952

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Bad Habits x 2

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

Benjamin Franklin

Bad habits define us as much (if not more than) our good habits.

They also double-dip: we get the downsides of doing them plus the negative effect of not doing the good alternatives instead.

For example, eating junky food not only has the downsides of upping your sweatpants from a large to a double xl, it also reduces your energy and abilities by not giving you the nutrients you need. The downsides of the bad and the lack of upsides from the good.

Same goods for all habits. A good habit provides benefits that lead to more opportunities for benefits—a bad habit produces side effects while taking away the benefits you would have received from doing the better opposite.

This can stack up in all sorts of unfortunate or fortunate ways.

This is the underlying pattern of why having money gives you more opportunities to create more money. And why your environment and the people you surround yourself with is so important to your overall wellbeing and success.

The key is replacing all of your bad habits with good ones before your bad habits take your lunch AND eat it too.

Make a list of all your habits. Big, small, conscious, subconscious—whatever you can think of.

Then, mark the ones you think are negatively impacting you. It’s okay if you aren’t one hundred percent sure.

Start with a win. What’s a low hanging fruit you can easily pick and feel good about?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #936

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Habit Strategies

“Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own.”

Bruce Lee

A daily habit is just one strategy. I prefer because it allows you to live your life and practice multiple things.

When you’re practicing you need to be 100% focused on what you are doing. It’s like micro-moments of immersion. Practicing daily uses time as an asset and compounds your skills over a long period of time.

If you’re learning French you won’t likely be able to speak fluently over the weekend, but what about 6 months of consistent intention practice? Or how about after a year worth of daily practice? C’est top!

Same with any skill, whether you want to be a great guitarist, speaker, chef or painter. The more you practice over time, the better you get.

But daily is just one approach.

Another strategy is total immersion. The classic example of this is moving to another country to immerse yourself in learning the language and culture.

…But most of us can’t pick up and move. Another way of utilizing total immersion is to learn one skill (either with a full-time job or not) and focus all your energy on that one thing.

By focusing your efforts, you’ll have more time and energy to dedicate to learning. Which means if you’re working hard you’ll become better at it much faster. Maybe you want to try other skills, but you hold off on those until you’ve mastered the focused skill. Then, you use the lessons you’ve learned and brought them to the next skill.

These are just two strategies — a daily practice or total immersion — out of many. What strategy you take (or mix together) is all about priority.

For example, if you need to quickly learn something to get a new job, then taking a total immersion, boot camp style approach makes sense.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #880

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Daily Habits Aren’t Sexy (…Until They Are)

“Wisely, and slow. They stumble that run fast.”

William Shakespeare

There’s nothing sexy about taking the slow and steady approach.

The spectators watching the hare 🐰 and tortoise 🐢 run were definitely rooting for the sleek and energetic rabbit, not the slow lumpy turtle. But starting a race isn’t the same as finishing one. And what about the skills and traits we want to cultivate over our entire lives?

For example, An index fund is so boring compared to the ups and downs of the daily stock market. But an index fund is a fantastic way to build wealth overtime with very little effort. All you have to do is keep adding some in and let it grow.

There’s nothing glamorous about bookending your day with a daily writing habit. It’s difficult to find the time and energy to sit down and work on your dreams. When the time comes to write, I often want to do anything but.

But that’s what’s powerful about a daily practice. Every day you are proving to yourself that you’ve got what it takes. You are training yourself to practice no matter what’s going on in the world or what mood you are in.

After you build up a streak, you don’t want to stop.

Day 1: a habit is fun —but not sexy. It might even be a little hard or confusing.
Day 15: you are getting into the grove — but still nothing to glance at.
Day 50: Things are starting to take shape. Your practice is having a noticeable effect.

But when you have 365 consecutive days in a row? When you hit 1000 or 5000 consecutive days of practice? There’s no way you are going to miss today’s practice and break your streak.

All from just a simple 15, 30 to an hour of your time (whatever you have to give). Less than the time it would take you to cook and eat a meal, or watch one episode of a show.

Now we are cooking. Whenever someone finds our I’ve meditated over 2000 days in a row, they usually exclaim, “wow! No wonder you’re so calm and level-headed all the time”.

Now that’s not the reason I’m meditating, nor does it mean I’m a pro at meditation. But each day contributes to my wellbeing. And each day ripples into the next.

The crazy thing is it doesn’t take much effort or discipline as you think. You just need enough to practice today. Starting today gets you to tomorrow.

With each day’s practice, you are doing your daily allotment of work today. It’s just a little bit and it doesn’t look like much. But it’s deliberate. It’s progress towards something. And it adds up quicker that you might think.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #871

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Habit Breakers

“Character is simply habit long continued.”

Plutarch

Something will inevitably try to get in the way of a habit we are working on.

We catch the flu…
We have to go out of town for work…
Or even we don’t feel like doing it…

Something will inevitably come up. The key is planning on what you’re going to do when it does. Executing a habit is a tactic. Planning a habit is a strategy.

What will you do if things go wrong?
What will you do when you’re not getting the results you want?
What will you do when things go right?

A little bit of time and forethought could be the difference between a longstanding habit and a backsliding wish.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #803

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Hello 2020

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

Walt Disney

You ever see someone attempt to determine which way they are facing (north, south, etc.) by licking their finger and pointing to the sky to feel the direction of the wind?

That’s how I see New Years Resolution.

Our goal should be to check off a dozen things all in a year. Instead, we should see a new year as a way to sense whether or not the direction our life is pointing in the direction we want to go.

A lot can happen in a short amount of time. And so much of our lives are out of our hands. Our path in life is rarely a straight line, nor does our expectations parallel our experiences. But if we can at least know which way is north, we can get to our destination — and enjoy the journey that comes — eventually.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #795

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Daily Habits: Missing a Day

“Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.”

Julie Andrews

Daily streaks are a powerful way to keep a habit going daily. When you have 7 days in a row on a habit, you’ll likely do it the 8th day. When you have 50 days in a row, you’re no doubt going to check off day #51. And when you’ve got 300 days under your habit belt, there’s no chance you’re going to skip day 301. But…. life?

But what do you do if you miss a day?

Simple: Start again the next day.

Streaks give motivation to not want to miss a day, but doing a daily habit isn’t about doing something daily. That’s right – a daily habits value isn’t because it’s daily. Just because you have to start your streak count over doesn’t mean all the hard work you put into cultivating your habit disappears.

The value is the accumulation of days and the consistency of time and effort put into something you love and want to get better at.

The goal is to master the skill, not to check off boxes. Mastery is the strategy. Daily action is the tactic. It’s not the only way to reach mastery, but it’s an excellent way to do it while continuing to go about your life where you are.

When you miss a day, start again immediately. Start before disappoint creeps in. Start before the day to day distractions of life derails you from your daily habit.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #754


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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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