Short Term Long Term

It’s good to compare the short-term value versus the long-term value of what we say yes (or no) to.

If I say yes to a work opportunity, what’s the short-term value and long-term value, and what’s each half-life? How long does the value last? Trade for example. If I trade a logo design for a food gift card

Short-term and long-term usually comes down to immediacy. If you don’t have any money for food this week, then trading work for a food gift card would be a great idea. But if you’ve got plenty of money for your essential needs, then training your time for food is a debatable value.

Long-term benefits are almost universally more valuable than short-term due to compound interest.

It’s worth noting that consistent short-term actions lead to long-term value. You can’t have a long-term vision without the short-term actions to get you there.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #654

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The Right Stuff

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

There are only 24 hours in a day.

How do we know what’s right to focus our time and other finite resources on?

Right is part personal priority and part luck.

Knowing what’s right to invest in is too general. How do we know which conversation or person we know or will meet will one day help us land that new job, or pick us up when we are down? How do we know what to practice? How do we start? How do we make our dreams happen?

Right depends on the desired outcome. An obvious example, cultivating a daily habit of practicing guitar won’t make you a great gardener. But if your dream is to be a musician, practicing guitar every day is a great way to priorities your time. However, practice alone doesn’t quite get us all the way. ‘Luck’ has a lot to do with it too.

Luck is a vague way of saying there’s a countless number of variables that are pushing and pulling on all of us. For example, luck includes being in the right place, knowing the right people, timing, and even what others are doing (or not doing) around us. There are certain aspects of luck we can control, like who we are friends with, our attitude, or how we treat others. Then there are other things that are far from certain, like other peoples action, that are best left alone. The more we can stack the deck in our favor, the luckier we will tend to be.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #651

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Plantin’ Seeds

Big Redwood Trees
Photo by Josh Carter

If you want to grow a giant redwood, you need to make sure the seeds are ok, nurture the sapling, and work out what might potentially stop it from growing all the way along. Anything that breaks it at any point stops that growth.

Elon Musk

One observation I’ve been appreciating recently is the nuanced, yet powerful force of planting seeds. Our future is built on our past decisions, specifically, all the big and tiny things we agree (or not) during each day.

Everything we do, from how we sit, how we communicate to ourselves, how we eat, to what we read, has a butterflying effect into our future. We are who we are today because of echos from our past, and the echoes from our parents past and beyond.

On the surface, there’s rarely immediacy to planting seeds. They take time, attention, water and sunlight that we could be using elsewhere. And we can’t eat them right away. If we tried, they would be as nutritiously effect to what we are trying to grow.

A conversation here, a habit there… A week goes by and there’s not much to show for it. Progress was made, but it’s often too subtle for us to notice. This is one of the big reasons why most people don’t plant seeds. Growing is slow work. ‘I can’t invest or focus on my future problems, because all of my immediate problems are right now’ — this is something I’ve said others and told myself before.

But immediacy doesn’t equate to priority.

What separates those that do, versus those that don’t is prioritize the future today. A creator creates every day — even if it sucks, because eventually they know their investment will pay off.

Invest in the right things, and the ‘immediate’ things will fade away.

Today is always the best day to do something for tomorrow. Why do tomorrow what you can do today?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #650

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Hurry Up and Wait

Yesterday I️ talked about the idea of self-inflicted stress. Stress that we carry around like an orangutan on our back, jonesing for a banana. (…what?) This could be internal stressors we bottle up, such as anger and frustration towards our work or relationships, and this could be external stressors like

comparison (why can’t I️ have what she has?), 

stuff (I️ have too much stuff / I️ don’t have even stuff / I️ don’t have the right stuff), 

Or pursuits (money, happiness, connections, skills).

But usually its all the above, internal stressors, external stressors, twisting around like earbuds in your pocket, eventually forming into one giant life crisis that floors you and feels impossible to untangle.

I️ mentioned that a big self-inflicted stress that I️ carry is being late / hating rushing. I️ HATE rushing. It’s one of my least favorite feeling. (Did I️ say that already?) I️ want to be on time, but I️ fit so much in my day that I️ don’t have a lot of margin in between doing things. (which is an entirely separate topic I️ need to explore…)

I also live on island time 🏝 This is definitely something I️ picked up from my mom. Her parents (my grandparents) were the complete opposite. They would leave a movie before I­t­ was over just to beat the traffic. I️ think she rebelled into the opposite direction, taking her time, not beholden to it, not afraid of showing up late. My dad, on the other hand, is completely opposite from her (Which makes for regularly hilarious entertainment 🍿). He wants to be on time for everything, but when he can’t — usually because of mom — he goes through the 10 stages of grief.

In the army, they have a phrase for this: Hurry up and wait. You’re either 15 minutes early or your late. I️ learned this from gabriella, who, centuries before we met, was in the army. To them, I️ imagine it’s all about being prepared. You want to be where you need to be, at the right time, the right place, with the right structure and gear to be able handle anything.

Which sounds fantastic. I️ want to be in the right time, right place and have everything I️ need to handle anything. That sounds amazing!

Putting that mindset into practice starts with the level of commitment you have on your goal. You can’t be 15 minutes early if you keep hitting snooze. If you are 10 minutes away, you need at least 25 minutes to get there early.

The same is true for entrepreneurship and creativity.

Deadlines are not restriction, they are margins of time that give you (ideally) flexibility and space to be your most creative and effective self. Of course unrealistic deadlines are restriction. They are the equivalent of rushing or cramming. Without structure, work doesn’t get done. Without margin, creativity isn’t at its best. There’s a tight balancing act between island time and chronic panic.

It’s impossible to be creative if you’re not actually in the habit of creating. And it’s hard to be creative with a banana crazy orangutan for a backpack.

How to find this balance all depends on how you want to live. What you do for work, Who you work for, spend time with and surround yourself with, What types of content you consume and what principles and values you hold all add up in a big, and unique way. There is no one way, because there is only one you. I️ can show you how I️ live my life and you can be inspired and challenge by that or not. But trying to be me doesn’t mean that will work for you. Making I­t­ (dreams, passions, experiences etc) work comes from making I­t­ work for you.

The thing to be watchful of is the question: do you feel good about how you act?. When you’re actions don’t align with who you are and your aspirations / intentions / values, then you’re adding stress to the ‘I hate myself’ bucket.

Do you feel good about how you act?

If you do then you’re on the right track. If you don’t it’s time to change how you feel or change how you do things.

Being on time is great, and being late is fine — unless your stressing yourself all the time by carrying around two opposing beliefs: 

I️ should be early, 
I️ am never on time.

Should being the key word here. Our ‘should’s’ are the very core of what our self-inflected stresses are. We should be doing something, but we are not.
we want to be doing something, but we haven’t.  We wish we could, but we are not trying. 

I️ try my best to live my life by the things that I️ do, versus the things that I️ should do.

I️ hardly succeed at it, and easily fall pray to comparing myself to others, but as long as I️ reaching for the goal, I️’m better off than I was.

The more ‘should’s’ you can remove from your life, the greater life you will have.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
And wherever you are, keep smiling 🙂
Josh Waggoner

Feedback: What did you think about today’s blog post? Did it spark any insights for you? Thoughts? Outrage? Email me: josh@renaissancelife.com. Join the Renaissance Email List below for more content on creativity, mastery and life.

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Related Insights

“Your best ideas, those eureka moments that turn the world upside down, seldom come when you’re juggling emails, rushing to meet the 5 P.M. deadline or straining to make your voice heard in a high-stress meeting. They come when you’re walking the dog, soaking in the bath or swinging in a hammock.” — Carl Honore

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” — Albert Einstein

“A broad margin of leisure is as beautiful in a man’s life as in a book. Haste makes waste, no less in life than in housekeeping. Keep the time, observe the hours of the universe, not of the cars.” — Henry David Thoreau

Book Pairings

Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

Play It Away: A Workaholic’s Cure for Anxiety by Charlie Hoehn

It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be by Paul Arden

 

Preparation: Rules of the Game

Preparation brings up many emotions for me.

Not Good Enough: Sometimes preparation stops you from starting.

The first thing to note about preparation is to ask yourself, “does this preparation get me where I️ want to go effectively and help me avoid common pitfalls or is this just excuses and laziness in disguise?” Often times, preparation is really just excuses you have to delay yourself from doing something that scares your butts off.

I’ve felt, and I’m sure most of us have, that I️ was unable to take on something new because I️ didn’t know enough yet. “As soon as I️ take this second online course, I’ll start executing my idea.” “As soon as I️ finish school” “As soon as I️ have the right equipment” “As soon as have more $….”

Excuses excuses. 98% of this is BS. A disempowering belief of “I’m not good enough yet” that’s wrapped in a shiny gold ‘someday’ that never comes. I­t­ took me a while to understand, but here’s honest truth: You will never know enough. You will always think you’re not good enough. Even if you know more about music than anyone else you know, you’ll still feel inadequate. Unless you try I­t­ and go after I­t­.

Too Much Info For Your Own Good: Something I­t­ hinders you and muddles your ability to see and think clearly 

The second thing to note about preparation is too much preparation can actually be a bad thing depending on your goal. Ask yourself, “Is this preparation a requirement?”
If you’re studying to be a doctor — you need to prepare. No one in their right mind would let you be their surgeon on your first day of medical school. You can cover a bad tattoo or haircut, but you can’t recover from a bad surgery.

But if you are trying to do something new by piecing together commodity types of thinking, you’re shooting yourself in the foot before you even leave the starting point. No about of reading is going to make you a better public speaker. I­t­ can inform you on certain arts like how to tell a great story, but becoming a great speaker requires you to speak, and get up there and fail.

There have also been people I’ve known who just know too much for their own good. You probably know someone that is so smart and wise, yet they never do anything that they want to do. They know too much about the negative side of what might happen if they try, so they never try at all.

They learn and understand so much — usually narrowly focus in one area — that they’ve completely thrown out everything else about how to live. 

Some of the best programmers in the world would become even better if they also actually knew how to talk to other human beings. Some of the most outgoing and connected people can’t even stand to be by themselves and alone with their thoughts for more than 5 minutes. They’ve learned to be great about connecting. They suck at connecting with themselves. We need both to make a real impact in the world.

Being too narrowly focused makes you top heavy. And one thing leads to another and you find yourself unable to reach higher levels of performance.
Unless you start working on counterbalancing your knowledge.

Life’s emergency kit / Batman’s toolbelt: Sometimes I­t­ takes you higher than you thought was possible.

The third note about preparation I️ want to close with is just the right amount of preparation might be exactly what you need to become great in your endeavors. What’s the right amount? I️ have no idea.

What I️ do know is adopting and creating systems and principles will put you in the right margin of having the right amount of information.

Take applying for a new job, for instance. If you send your resume to a company that you know nothing about, whose employees or values you haven’t gotten around to yet, with a resume you haven’t updated in 2 years, you’re not gonna get that job. Even just 20 minutes of preparation might have shown you that a friend of yours actually knows someone who works there. And reaching out through that channel would have dramatically improved your odds of getting a job, even with an outdated resume. 

Another example is learning. Do you really need to learn the entire worlds knowledge archive about photography, before you even purchase a camera? No! You just need to read a Wirecutter article on which camera to buy. And after you buy a camera, you need to learn how to turn I­t­ on. Then you can learn how to shoot I­t­ automatic mode. Then you can play around with lens. And so on and so on, chipping away at a skill on curious step at a time.

Takeaways:

If it’s an excuse, start immediately.

If you know too much for your own good, start immediately if you’re holding yourself back, while learning other life skills you’ve been neglecting in your thirst for knowledge.

If it’s not an excuse, and you’re looking for ways to avoid common pitfalls and to have the clearest path to your destination, then start seeking systems and principles to keep in your toolbelt. What is a toolbelt, after all, but a set of instruments you curate, for just the right types of needs or emergencies.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

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 The Magic’s in the Micro

Micro isn’t as sexy as macro.

You have this desire to do something big, but in order to make that happen you must live in the micro and act with a granular focus. Which is muddy and labor intensive and comes with a high probability of failure. It’s the equivalent of wanting to big your own TITAN like Elon Musk and build rockets that tear into space and light the atmosphere up like it’s the second coming, but with your current level of knowledge and resources, all you’ve got to work with are bottle rockets.

You want the FLASH but all you’ve got is the fizzle.

It’s like you have Step 1: Learn Japanese, and you have the Last Step: Go to Japan and have fluent conversations with natives, but all the steps to get there are question marks. ???? In fact, you don’t even know what number the last step is! Step 10? 100? And in order to get to step X you have to practice and consistently work towards the unknown question mark each and every day.

Your the kid and all you want to do is fight and protect, but all Mr. Miyagi tells you to do is wax on and wax off. How will doing this, help me do that?

You’re the fat, sick and lovable chub in the group and all you want to do is change and feel and look like your 22, but all you’ve got is questions, discouragement from yourself and everyone around you and a blitzkrieg of conflicting opinions telling you what you ‘should’ do. You know that this green spinach stuff and this thing that ancient Greeks called ‘exercising’ would help, but all your mirror tells you is ‘nothing’s happened.’ (Mirror: hmm… you still look the same fat *ss. Scale: I️ agree with Mirror, would you mind getting off of me? I️ can’t breathe because of your fatness.)

On a micro level, everything is confusing and uncertain. When you’re in the moment, you don’t feel like you are making progress towards success. Everything at best is fuzzy and at worst overwhelming. Your pain is still there. Your problem hasn’t gone away. You still look/feel fat, or skinny, or your bank account is still telling you that you are broke, or your back still aches like you’re wearing a backpack made out of a porcupine, or your relationship is still shattered in pieces on the floor, or your business is still sinking and you’re going down with I­t­…. So you want to avoid the micro, numb the micro, ignore the micro and do everything but the micro, instead of realizing the micro is exactly what you want to be doing.

Success happens in the micro. I­t­ isn’t massive BOLD dream that gets’ you there, it’s your daily actions, decisions and habits that you preserve through consistency and intentionally, day in and day out.

Every next step you decide to do instead of not do is a win.

Even if fail or go the wrong direction and have to turn around, you’re still making progress. You’re doing more for yourself today than most do in a lifetime. The magic is in the micro.

A large life is built one daily stumble towards you goal at a time.

However, no one tells you that. the micro where 80% of us drop out.  We see that work is involved and we opt out. And it’s not just because doing the thing is tough (I­t­ is), there’s also external and internal wars raging on.

My typical internal battle:

Am I️ better today? No.
Am I️ better today? Still no.
Am I️ better today? No stupid your worse.
Am I️ better today? No, but your friend Sam is. She’s killing I­t­. Why can’t you be more like Sam
Am I️ better today? I️ think so! …. but it’s probably just a fluke.

And external battles (which turn into internal skirmishes) are even vaguer. They can sometimes derail you without you knowing it:

“The Kardashian’s do this, so I️ should do this…”
“My teacher says I’ll never be able too…”
“The weather is so bad today, I️ guess I️ won’t exercise…”
“My doctor says I️ can’t…”
“My partner doesn’t believe that I️ can…”
“I’m on vacation so I️ guess I’ll go back to my only eat ice cream diet…”
“I’m working so much and exhausted afterwards. I’ll start when things calm down…”

Takeaway: LIFE NEVER CALMS DOWN FOR YOU

Even if you’re on island time at a beach somewhere, your days are still counting down. Someone somewhere is doing similar things you wish you were doing.

Of course, comparison isn’t the objective here and isn’t going to help you. But I­t­ will open your eyes to yourself. Jealousy won’t bring you happiness, but underneath the surface level of your jealousy, there might be a string you can follow that leads you to a truth you want to live or a better person you want to be, and which doesn’t currently align with the life you currently have. 

Being jealous of someone’s bestselling book is superficial. But underneath that is the truth that maybe you want to be a writer instead of a construction worker. Which leads us back to the micro.

Dream big, yes.
Think moonshots, also yes.
Act bold, always.
Believe you can, even on your worst days.
But in order to achieve your goals, go small.

Go Small.

It’s the little humble micro changes that does. Not the big lofty ideas that should or could.

Small intentional strokes, fell Goliath and bred the Mona Lisa.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
And wherever you are, keep smiling 🙂
— Josh Waggoner

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Related Insights

Book: Own Your Day, Own Your Life — Aubrey Marcus

“The secret of your success is determined by your daily agenda.” — John C. Maxwell

“The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.” — Mike Murdock

“If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work.” — Nhat Hanh

1%

Think of something big you want to accomplish in life.

Create a successful business, write a well acclaimed book, go to mars, learn 5 languages… 

Whatever I­t­ is you’ve set your mind on,  there’s you, your goals, and a bunch of unknown, terrifying, exhilarating, rock bottom, uncomfortable things standing in between of where you are and where you want to go.

Big picture goals are like a large realistic painting you view at a distance. When you get closer, you realize the picture was made from dabs of different colors and strokes of movement. Mistakes, creative epiphanies, techniques and layer and layers of work and expression are what turns stretched canvas and some tubes of paste into a masterpiece that resonates through time.

It’s the same with our big goals in life. It’s hard to see how a BIG goal is made when you’re starting at ground zero looking up at this looming mountain, lacking a Sherpa to guide the way. You want to get to the top, but how?

1%.

Doing even just a tiny amount of consistent and deliberate work dedicated to accomplishing your goal will accumulate up over time.

1% doesn’t just add up, it multiplies. The more consistent and good you get at something you love, the more you’ll want to do it.

What’s one small thing you can do today — right now — to get you one step closer to your goal?

Start with 1%, Stick with at least 1%, and one day you’ll be in the top 1%.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

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Confident Amateur

I think I come across as naive more often than not to people I connect with.

Maybe I am, maybe I am not.

To me, they mistake naivety for my beginner’s mindset.

You have to be an amateur first — and be okay with it — to become a master at what you do. That’s one of the big reasons why I pick up on things rather quickly. I’ve had friends comment on how frustrating it is that I can learn skills so easily. That I’m just “disciplined” or “talented”, but the honest truth is I’m not. I’m no smarter nor better than the average person working at Starbucks. I’m just open to new experience and opportunities for learning because I know it will upgrade my performance faster.

I put curiosity first (and wear it on my sleeve).

Ping-pong for example. 

I barely played ping pong growing up. Just wasn’t my thing. Every time I picked up a paddle I felt like the ball was completely out of my control.

Late last year I started playing a lot of ping-pong because there happened to be a table at the office. I sucked at first. Could barely keep the ball on the table. And if you had thrown a curve at me, I would have immediately hit it straight into a game over.

But I kept playing. Kept improving. I was open to failing because failing gave me instant feedback on what not to do.

Now, I can play. I’m not going to win any international tournaments any time soon, but I feel confident in my game.

Without curiosity, without a beginner’s mindset, without being okay to kneel down and bend the knee towards someone who is better than you at something, there’s no chance of learning or reaching mastery.

Pretending to know all that you need is closing yourself off from becoming better at what you love. Faking it helps build confidence, but it doesn’t help build skill. That takes practice and the curiosity to absorb lessons from success and failures.

And if you do fail, and look like a bubbled-boy idiot, who cares? At least you’re not boring. I’d much rather look like a goof and keep improving my skills and performance, over never trying because I might fail.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
And wherever you are, keep smiling 🙂
— Josh Waggoner

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Related Insights

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” — Shunryu Suzuki

“You can learn new things at any time in your life if you’re willing to be a beginner. If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you.” — Barbara Sher

“I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.” — Steve Jobs

A Little Goes A Long Way

You don’t need to already be great, in order to learn to be great. Yet, we default to treating skills like that.

“Oh, I’m not good at this, I guess I’ll stop…”

No! Don’t stop because you’re not good, if you really want it, keep going because you’re not good yet.

I don’t care what your genes say, or how much talent you have or don’t have. Mastering a skill requires effort and persistence. If you practice those and are willing to put in the time, greatness is inevitable.  

Daily habitual challenges make the master.

Even a little effort done consistently goes a long way towards greatness.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

IG: @Renaissance.Life

Plant Your Flag

“Distractions will do you in” — Drake

Rich Roll picked health.

Josh Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus picked Minimalism.

Sophia Amoroso picked fashion.

Tim Ferriss picked optimizing work.

Elon Musk picked online finances.

Jeff Bezos picked books.

They all have dozens of interests but they started with one.

It’s hard (maybe impossible) to build a personal brand or company around multiple interests when you’re at the beginning (I️ know, I’ve tried). It’s too confusing to your audience.

Trying to be all things to all people leaves you with nothing to show and no people. To rally fans around your ideas, you must first plant your flag into ONE thing you love.

Q: What’s the main cause behind what you do?

Plant your flag in a category you love, make it a lifelong pursuit, and as your audience grows to expand into your other passions.

Lifestyles aren’t made in a day, they’re made with consistent actions each day. Huge difference.

The biggest creativities and entrepreneurs didn’t start by doing and knowing it all. If you want to build your own unique lifestyle similar to who you look up to, plant your flag. Become really good at what you do, then expand into other interests. Your fans will follow. Eventually, your fans will love you for you (your weird, eclectic, quirky self), not just what you do. They come from what we do but stay for our personalities.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursing,

— Josh Waggoner 

IG: @Renaissance.Life

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Related Insights

“The whole secret of life is to be interested in one thing profoundly and in a thousand things well.” — Horace Walpole

BOOK: The One Thing by Gary Keller