Squaring the Hole — How to Think Longterm in Life’s Fragility

“Youth is something I never wanna take for granted. I just want to smile and live life.”

Tyler, The Creator

I write a lot about daily habits. Doing something daily or consistently allows you to take advantage of the compounding benefit of time. We divide a year into 365 days (or 366 days on a leap year). 10 to 30 minutes of practice times 365 days = 3650 to 10950 minutes of practice. An hour is double that. As you can see, a little time invested can go a long way.

But what about if tomorrow doesn’t come? As Logic says in his song Fade Away, “Everybody gonna die, gonna go one day, maybe it’ll happen on a Monday. Driving to work and get hit by a Hyundai, f* it, let it all go one day.” Tomorrow, For all we know we could get hit by a Hyundai, of all things, and never get our chance to do and be all that we want to be.

It’s hard to say where life will take you. Usually where you would never expect, and yet somehow makes since when you back on things and line up the pieces. Most of it is out of our control. The more we can learn to accept that, roll with it and find opportunities no matter what comes our way, the happier and better off we will be.

Our thoughts and decisions are in our control. And while we can’t control everything that goes on outside of our own minds and actions, how we think and what we do place a big part in how our lives shape up.

There’s a lot of things I’d like to accomplish and experience in life. But having a vision or dream for your life doesn’t assure that it will happen. Having a dream is the first step. And making it happen is the second step. But somewhere in that undisclosed middle, a lot can happen.

1. We let fear control us.

“The whole point is to live life and be – to use all the colors in the crayon box.”

RuPaul

We act out of fear. We breathe and sweat fear and failure. We do the wrong thing for the right reasons or the right thing for the wrong reasons. We avoid our dreams because there’s “always tomorrow” or because there’s always something that seems to get in the way.

2. We live by other people’s dreams instead of our own.

“Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.”

Benjamin Franklin

We live a shadow dream, as Steven Pressfield calls it in Turn Pro. It looks similar to what we want, but in reality, we’re just avoiding what we really want to do out of fear or embarrassment or not being good enough or any number of other things we convince ourselves of — all with thoughts that are supposed to be in our control.

3. Or we even chase after our dreams so hard and far that we forget to be present and enjoy our lives in the process.

“Confine yourself to the present.”

Marcus Aurelius

We get everything we want, but forget to spend time with the people we love and forget to enjoy the process towards success while we are building it. Or worse — we don’t get what we want, and we still miss out on the time and experience spent with our love ones.

But luckily, all there’s are in our domain of control — our thoughts and our actions. We can learn and train ourselves not to act out of fear, but out of abundance and beginner’s mind.

There’s room in life to enjoy the present, while also preparing and building for the future.

By living life to the fullest each day.
By taking things as they are, not as they could or should be.
By not letting fear win.
By choosing our own path.
By not letting our dreams consume us.
And by living a little when we remember too.

“What really matters is what you do with what you have.”

H. G. Wells

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #872

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Time Well Spent

“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.”

Steve Jobs

“The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”

Bertrand Russell

One thing you learn very quickly when pursuing a creative skill — or any skill for that matter — is it takes more time than you think it does.

A skill isn’t just the skill itself, it’s also everything that surrounds it.

Let’s say you’ve grown up on boxed foods your entire life, and one day you decide you want to learn to cook. Great! Cooking is a useful skill to have. Not only can home-cooked food be better for you and taste 10x better than 90% of restaurants and 99% of packages foods, but you’ll also be able to share with other people who are in your life. (Food gatherings = closer family, more connected community.)

But wait, there’s more to cooking than the time it takes to crack a few eggs in a pan and call it dinner (although, some nights are like that). Cooking is multiple things combined:

  • Research
    • What do I want to cook? How do I cook it? What do I cook it with? How long?
  • Experimentation
    • What if I tried paprika? What type of acid flavor do I want to use? What happens if…
  • Pick up
    • Getting to the store, Playing where’s Waldo with each grocery item, waiting in line or waiting for your delivery, Going home from the store.
  • Prep
    • Washing, Chopping, Dicing, Salting, etc.
  • Cooking
    • Getting the oven ready, watching the food cook, etc
  • Eating
  • Cleaning
    • Dishes, Leftovers in the fridge.

All of this is worth the price of admission, but as you can see it’s going to take a lot longer than you think it might. (You can see why meal prep, food delivery, and dinner delivery companies are on the rise.) And it’s not just cooking that requires a lot of time to do it properly. Every skill requires time. There’s a hidden cost to every skill (and everything we do).

This is why the majority of Renaissance people are terrible at managing their time.

I’m bad at this. When I hear about some rad interesting skill I want to jump in immediately and learn it. Now, there’s a time for trying new things and expanding your skillsets, but if you want to master something, you’ve got to prioritize it by giving it your most valuable resource: time.

Time management is essential to finding mastery and living a meaningful life.

Which means we have to be picky about where and who we give our time too.

The best place to start is to figure out where all your time is going.

RescueTime is an automated time tracking app that will show you where you spend your time during your digital life.

Dig around in your iPhone or Android phone settings and you’ll find similar screen time averages.

I’ve also personally be thoroughly using my calendar app to track every minute of my day, so I know how much time I’m spending doing what.

Not knowing where your time is going is letting life steer you, versus your controlling life.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #862

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Creativity & Ambition

Whenever I go to a concert or festival, I can’t help but feel that I’m on the wrong side of the stage. If you see me there, I’m the weird guy (no, not that weird guy, he’s on another level) who occasionally becomes very still and stops bobbing and dancing. It’s likely because I’m watching what the guitarist or keyboardist hands are doing. I’m picking apart the drums and synths. I’m admiring the singer’s vocal palette and the band’s synchronicity. I’m still enjoying the show, but I’m enjoying it in a different way through an artist’s perspective. If you play an instrument, you’ll likely be able to relate.

I feel the same way when seeing superb broadway or watch a film, or admire good art or outfit, or underline a great word or turn of phrase in a book. I enjoy creativity at a deep level and want to go deeper still. I can see a fuzzy outline of tendrils where different creative and mental outlets weave and interconnect. It’s like discovering a language you aren’t familiar with but have moments of clarity when words of striking similarity to your native tongue pop out and identify themselves to you.

If there’s a Grand Unified Theory of the Universe, surely there’s also a Grand Unified Theory of Creativity.

(Yeah Josh, It’s called Math 🤓 you dumb dumb.)

But what makes someone creative?

Is it a feeling? Is it in our DNA? Is it the act of creating?

What separates those that do versus those that don’t? What’s the difference between a musician who makes it to the stage and a musician who creates at home?

Not that being on a stage is everything. Nor is there anything inherently wrong with only enjoying your art alone. But there is a certain special something — certain gumption — I admire for the creatives and dreamers who put themselves out there. No, I don’t mean starting an Instagram account and slapping a logo together in Canva.

I’m talking about the folks you put in the work. The ones that get down to brass tax and put in the time and effort to pursue their creativity. The ones who go out and build a business around a product or service that means something to them and provides meaning to others. The dancers, writers, poets, bodybuilders, athletes or designers who wake up early and begin their practice.

The word Ambition comes to mind. As does belief. You have to believe in yourself, at least enough to have the courage to try and the courage to breathe out the fear and walk out on the ‘stage’.

And the antithetical ego comes to mind as well. All artists who put themselves out there in some way shape or form think they are unique and have something to offer the world. Including myself! What kind of ego do you need to have a daily blogging practice as well as another dozen practices? (A BIG kahuna.)

But at the same time, at its core, creativity has to come from a place of love. Or at least a desire to be better, to do better. I would continue to play music even if I didn’t make a dime on it. I’d continue to write and practice the craft of writing because I love it for what it is and what it gives me. An outlet. A brush to paint with. A song to sing. A beat to dance. A comic to doodle.

Not because I can create, but because I can’t not do it.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #825

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Related:

“Great ambition is the passion of a great character. Those endowed with it may perform very good or very bad acts. All depends on the principles which direct them.”

Napoleon Bonaparte

“Our ambition should be to rule ourselves, the true kingdom for each one of us; and true progress is to know more, and be more, and to do more.”

Oscar Wilde

“A man’s worth is no greater than his ambitions.”

Marcus Aurelius

One and Done.

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”

Alexander Graham Bell

Question: If you could only do one thing next year, what would it be?

Of course, there are hundreds of things we want to do, become and experience, but trying to do it all at once is a surefire way to end up doing nothing.

Focus on one thing first, then start the second if you finish the first.

What’s one thing you want to do that will make your life better than before?

And don’t wait until tomorrow, if you can. Start immediately. Jan. 1st feels like a nice clean slate, but honestly, we can start at any moment. Why not this one?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #794

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Cutting the Unessential

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Find a way forward. The best way to cut through the nonsense is to keep going. Sometimes it will look like you’re going in circles, and sometimes you have to go back to the beginning. But we never really go back to the start. We have our hard earned experiences to guide us, and our open mind to see what matters to us and what doesn’t.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #790

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Change at Any Moment

“When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.”

Viktor E. Frankl

“Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots.”

Victor Hugo

Transformations occur all the time, everywhere. We can change in an instant, and also gradually. Usually, we’re experiencing both.

The question is: does transformation ever stop?

Where does a hurricane start? When we can see it from a satellite swirling below? Or when cold air molecules get blasted with warm evaporated water molecules?

What is money? is it a mule and three bushels of grain? Is it a Roman aureus coin? Is it SUPREME clothing? is it a collective human idea? is it 1’s and 0’s on a computer somewhere?

Who are we? Our likes? dislikes? Our personality? Our soul? Our job?

Things are continuously moving. We live in continuous cycles and forces, which mostly we aren’t aware of. History rhymes, as they say. For all we know, we’re experience things right now that have already happened in the past. Or maybe everything right now is completely new.

What ultimately matters is what are we doing to do? How do you want to change? If everything is constantly changing, so can we.

If you could change something about yourself (or your life) instant, what would you change? Do it. Why not? Maybe you don’t like where you are. It’s okay. I’ve been there many times too. The ending is just the beginning. Accept where you are, find a way forward. Change starts with you.

If you could change something gradually over the next year, what would it be?

Do that too. Use time as your ally. Spend five minutes a day on it. Go up to twenty minutes if you can make room for it. There’s no sense in waiting for change to come — it’s already here.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #789

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Maybe We Should All Dress Up Like Steve Jobs

“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.”

Steve Jobs

One thing Christmas presents has taught me over the years is that stuff doesn’t bring you happiness. Sure, new gadgets and gear can enable our creativity. Sure, those new jeans do make our butts look good. Sure, that new record player will be fun to have.

But when all is said and done, we’re still going to want more. As soon as I carefully unwrap my presents (yeah I’m that guy who spends twenty minutes opening a gift), I’m almost immediately itching to get on my laptop and search for deals on the other things on my wishlist.

Wishes don’t end. There’s always another cool thing to buy. If not now, then tomorrow.

I think that’s why people like Steve Jobs only wear one outfit (in his case it was black turtle-neck and 80’s Levi jeans). He put away the distractions and nice things to focus on his creativity.

Am I going to stop giving people gifts? No! I love finding the perfect present for the people I care about. Does that mean I’m going to stop wanting gifts or stop asking for them? Heck NO.

But I will remind myself to focus on what matters and truly makes me happy, versus the things that only give small fleeting moments of comfort.

Related:

The Gift of Nothing — Patrick McDonnell

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #788 🎅

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