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

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

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.

Timing Important Decisions

I’m adopting a new decision policy with potential opportunites.

When opportunities arise, instead of immediately blurt out an answer each time someone pitches me on a project or idea,  I’ll say something equivalent to:

“This sounds interesting! I have a policy to never make decisions on the spot when it comes to projects like this. Give me 24 hours — same time tomorrow — and I’ll reach out with a response. I say this with every opportunity.”

Adding a buffer of space gives you time to mediate on whether or not the idea aligns with the life that you want to have / create.

Every decision I’ve made on the spot has a ‘UGH!’ moment attached to it afterward. Things I didn’t consider. Even with great decisions I can usually think of 3+ things I wish I had clarified instead of assumed (or not even thought about). Maybe you, my reader, are better at making decision on the fly than I am.

Even so, I think it’s good to pause and look at all the angles of what saying ‘Yes’ means.

Opportunities are abundant. But if we say yes to things we don’t honestly care about (or care enough about), opportunities can easily become burdens.

Not only does a 24 decision making policy give you time to let the opportunity stew, it also gives you a deadline to decide. In 24 hours, you either have to say Yes, or No.

And if they refuse to give you the 24 hours to decide, then it’s a good sign it’s probably not a great fit for you in the first place.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Insights

“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” — Tony Robbins

“There is no decision that we can make that doesn’t come with some sort of balance or sacrifice.” — Simon Sinek

“Think 100 times before you take a decision, But once that decision is taken, stand by it as one man.” — Muhammad Ali Jinnah

Embrace New Beginnings

I think New Years, and New Year Resolutions, in particular, feel good because we see them fresh starts. New Years is the ultimate clean slate. Last year was.. well sooo last year. This year will be different. It’s brimming with possibility. 

So we set multiple goals and stick with them for a week or so, but when we fall off the treadmill, we give up on the year. Maybe next year. (Well, I missed one day of working out, I guess I’ll go eat some cheesecake)

There are multiple problems with this mindset:

We expect the new habit, skill or challenge will be easy.

We try to do everything all at once, 90 miles a minute.

We see the New Year as our one chance for redemption and give up if we don’t perform perfectly.

We expect the new habit, skill or challenge will be easy.

During school, I always loved when the new school year came around. (Well, first I dreaded it and wished dragons would rain down fire on the school building, but I came around to the idea once I saw a new semester was inevitably going to happen.) New classes, books, and classmates. New opportunities to learn and connect. But then the class would sink in. Oh, wait we actually have to *study*… what did I sign up for… or God, please save me, why is this class/ teacher so boring.

Changing our life requires putting in the time, attention and work. The sweat, blood, and tears are the cost of admission but are well worth it. The results and our lives will be amplified by the amount of effort we put In!

We try to do everything all at once, 90 miles a minute.

I’ve been updating my 27 goals for my 27th year by rewriting out my goal list for 2018. 

I’ve got 5+ pages of goals I want to accomplish which even just looking at overwhelms me (I can’t imagine what my friends or Gabriella would do if I tried walking through them.) I’m bad about getting past wanting everything all at once. If not properly prioritized, prepared and tamed, your ambitions will kill your drive and ability to take actions.

Remember, your not competing against others, you’re competing against yourself. Instead of trying to lose weight, AND learn photography AND start an online business, start with one. The others will be waiting for you to accomplish them. And by focusing on one goal at a time and chaining each win, you skyrocket your motivation to do the others once you achieve each goal you set out to do. 

We see the New Year as our one chance for redemption and give up if we don’t perform perfectly.

But every second you are still alive is an opportunity to reset and change your life.

I’m here to tell you that you can push reset at any moment. You can’t turn back the clock, but you can move forward. Even when we hit rock up there’s always a way to find our way back up. It’s cliche to say, but every new day is a fresh start and opportunity to improve. All it takes is one little step in the right direction. 

And when we fall off the treadmill as we will inevitably do, know that falling is a natural part of living. We fall when we learn to walk. We fall when we learn to ride a bike. We fall when life punches us in the face.

But we can always choose to get back up and keep going. Hit reset. Grab a fresh sheet of paper, and start again.

Embrace new beginnings: anytime, anywhere.

Happy New Years everyone!

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Insights

“New Year’s Day. A fresh start. A new chapter in life waiting to be written. New questions to be asked, embraced, and loved. Answers to be discovered and then lived in this transformative year of delight and self-discovery. Today carve out a quiet interlude for yourself in which to dream, pen in hand. Only dreams give birth to change.” — Sarah Ban Breathnach, best-selling author

“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” — Steve Jobs

Priority of Day

Are you lashing onto what others think is important or are you sticking with your own priorities?

I was having trouble prioritizing what’s most important to me. On paper, everything felt like a priority. I could picture all these future versions of myself, but being so far from those realities what do you prioritize?

Do I choose music or writing? Entrepreneurship or art? Speaking or programming? Is it possible to choose them all?

Here’s the secret:

Priorities are what you spend your daily time on.

So does your daily priorities align with your future self? 

Dreams stay in your head unless you’re working towards them consistently, day in day out.

Visualize where you want to be, then take small moments towards that vision.

If you are already pushing yourself to the limit and have 0 time to spare, then you probably shouldn’t be adding more to your plate. Too much food piled on a plate is eventually going to fall down. Knowing when to say yes, when to say no and when to say not right now is directly related to how much progress you’ll make on your priorities. If you end up having no time to spare yet you’re focusing NO time on your priorities, do what you can to slowly remove todos from your plate.

When the desire doesn’t align with the execution, your priorities are out of alignment.

Desiring to be healthy yet eating unhealthy day after day.

Saying yes to todos instantly without a whim of consideration devalues your time and wipes away your ability to prioritize.

Know your goals and your compatibility. Know who you are and where you want to be. And then compare notes to what you spend your day on.

Study a day in your life and your actions will tell you what’s a priority or not.

StayBOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Insights

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” — Stephen Covey

“Action expresses priorities.” — Mahatma Gandhi

“Our life is the sum total of all the decisions we make every day, and those decisions are determined by our priorities.” —  Myles Munroe