Lost in the Weeds

“A lot of times, people have something that they’re afraid of. They’ve got a client that’s mad at them. They’ve got a project that’s due. And they let that stress hang over their head. I don’t let that happen.”

Jocko Willink

Projects start clear and exciting, but once you are in the thick of it, it’s easy to get lost in things that don’t matter or get sidetracked by newer, more recently exciting ideas. A shiny idea is always going to look more appealing than the muddy middle you are currently in, but finishing what you start will be more meaningful than start yet another project.

An idea tends to grow and become more complex over time. A simple idea can quickly turn into an unconquerable beast if you let it.

That’s why its good to schedule periodic moments of pause and reflection on what you are working on, reassess your goals, and how they compare. Even when your deadline is tight, taking a moment to think things through and be intentional about what you’re doing could pay dividends.

  • Is there a better way I could do X?
  • Is this essential? Does this keep the message clear?
  • What’s working and what needs to be improved?

Reassess why you are doing what you are doing. Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons.

If you would start a project even if you never made a single dollar off of it, would you still do it? If the answer is yes, then, you’re on the right track. Most of my regrets in life are decisions based on money alone. Money is motivating, but not so much when you are in facing moments of struggle and challenge. Doing something for the right reasons, out of passion, impact, curiosity, and expression is much more motivating (and often lead to wealth) than just money alone.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #927

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Value for Value

“Takers believe in a zero-sum world, and they end up creating one where bosses, colleagues and clients don’t trust them. Givers build deeper and broader relationships – people are rooting for them instead of gunning for them.” — Adam Grant

Clients, like any relationship, are two-way streets. It’s a give-give relationship. Even if the work you are giving is free of charge, and the value the client giving is only experience.

Value for value. Trust for trust. Respect for respect.

when the balance leans too much towards one side or the other the client relationship eroded and starts to become unbalanced and un-valuable.

I’ve been both a client and a freelancer, so I’ve been on both sides of the seesaw, and have experienced every good, bad, and crazy situation you can think of.

As a freelancer, you have to put in the work. The quality has to be the highest you can give, every project you get. Be smart. Time actually is money (and more important than money). But if you are taking shortcuts that compromise your work, you won’t make the client happy nor will you improve your skills. Procrastination. Shortcuts. Half-*ssed work. Poor communication. No communication. This is how you can disrespect (intentionally or not) your client. You’ve got to put in the time and effort to make your client shine. Otherwise, your work will fall flat and won’t lead to more work or referrals.

As a client, you don’t own who you hire. They are a partner whose job is to do great work in their area of expertise—not to do whatever you tell them.

Unrealistic deadlines. Last-minute changes. Underpaying. Paying late or refusing to pay, Revisions upon revisions based on personal taste versus thinking of your customers. These are just a few ways you can disrespect your hired worker (again, intentional or not) and make yourself look unprofessional. Whether it’s a logo, or video, or business consulting or marketing strategy, 99% of the time, when you hire someone, they want to create success for you. Give them the benefit of the doubt that they know what they are doing and have the expertise you are looking for to improve your business. Trust that. Have an opinion of course. But be open to trusting their guidance.

You may be their client, but they are your client too. Or put another way, reputation goes both ways.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #922

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Why Do We Work?

“It is the working man who is the happy man. It is the idle man who is the miserable man.”

Benjamin Franklin

To eat? To buy nice things? To occupy our time? If you didn’t have to work another day in your life, would you able to?

Personally, I would go crazy without work. Even when I’m not working I’m working. I’m learning and making things. I’m dreaming about making other things.

Even when we are on vacation, we work. We work our way through a good book. We work on our tan. We work up an appetite after a workout. We learn and play, which are just other forms of working.

I think most picture ‘work’ as something to hate. Something they have to do to live. I know, because I’ve been there too. There was a point on my journey where I liked what I was work on, but didn’t like where I was doing it and who I was doing it with. But when I refer to ‘work’ I’m talking about the things we enjoy doing.

I think we work because we want to be somebody.

We want to make something special. We want to ‘put a dent in the universe’.

We work to be somebody.

That’s why we’re disappointed when we don’t like our job and find it dull. It’s also why we hesitate to pursue what we love. Because what if we fail? What if we are bad at it? We’d rather stick to a boring job than fail.

Work is part of who we are. It’s not all of what we are, but it’s certain a large part of our lives. Work can make you feel good too. There’s nothing quite like making things with your hands, such as woodwork or putting brush to paper. Sometimes it’s frustrating but more often than not it’s rewarding.

But if you’re working make you feel bad, then you might be climbing the wrong ladder, as they say. It happens to the best of us. You could spend twenty years climbing and only after so much time and effort you realize what you’ve been doing isn’t meant for you. That’s a difficult thing to consider. But that doesn’t mean your time was completely wasted. Some go their entire lives without realizing it. They’ve ignored their dreams in the pursuit of other things — without even noticing! Noticing you’re on the wrong path is a good thing. Catching it earlier is better, but catching it at all is better than not.

Time’s too precious to not pursue what you love. There’s too many occupations, skills and things you could do instead. Don’t waste your time doing something you hate (and/or are doing because it was there.)

Do it because you want to, not because you have too.

Do it because you want to be it.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #818

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But What’s My Motivation?

Some years ago, I made several poor work decisions based in the need of money. Money wasn’t the desired outcome, rather, money was the resource I needed to use to help heal health issues I was facing.

Motivator(s) <—> Decision

Health problem > knowledge/expertise/healing > $ > work for money instead of value and meaning. 

Scratch that. It’s not just motivators that drive us to make decision, but motivators seen from the lens of our perspectives and mental/emotional states that lead down certain paths.

Motivator(s) <—> Perception <—> Decision 

I pushed a lot of important things aside in the desire to become healthy and whole again. I found out the hard way that doing something just for money alone is rarely a good idea. It’s often as the opposite effect you we’re looking for. I don’t blame myself for making poor work decisions. But in hindsight, I was not thinking clearly about why I was feeling like I needed to make certain decisions.

Every decision we make has driving factors or a motivator behind it. Before making any rash decision in a moment of anxiety that go against who we are, it’s health to take some time to think about why you want something.

What is motivating this decision?

What are the driving force behind this action?

What are the potential downsides to this?

This is good to do before small tactical decisions and large strategic decisions. When you feel like a certain decision is your only option, its good to pause and consider everything and open yourself to other potential opportunities. There’s always another possibility. 

Why do I want to go pound some ice cream and what will happen if I do? Why do I want to take X job? Why do I want to go to Y school? If I buy Z, what are the potential downsides?

Why do I want to go pound some ice cream and what will happen if I do? Why do I want to take X job? Why do I want to go to Y school? If I buy Z, what are the potential downsides?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #772


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Naming Ideas

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

William Shakespeare

Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.

Oscar Wilde

When you think of the word ‘apple’, what comes to mind?

Perhaps you are picturing a red fuji or granny smith fruit we call an ‘apple’. Or, if you are tech nerd like me, maybe the first thing that pops in your head is a sleek glass and metal iPhone or MacBook pro made by the company called ‘Apple’, which makes you wonder when that new gadget that’s been rumored to come out soon will be launched.

Naming is likely the first thing humanity did with words. Is a thing really a thing without a name? Likely not, or at least collectively we call it ‘undiscovered’. (You can see this taking shape with our online persona’s we create today on social media and the web. Are you really a person or business if you don’t have an Instagram presence or a website or search results? Crazy. But I digress, that’s a topic for another day.)

When learning a language, we associate a word with a picture of what that word represents. It’s crazy to me that a few simple shapes on a paper or device screen can instantly become an associate of an imaginative idea or idea that exists in reality. This is something you learn early on when studying design, specifically brand design. An brand identity isn’t just a name or logo of a brand, like Nike, Moleskine or Topo Chico, its a feeling, a mission, traits — the whole caboodle.

Think about the brand name ‘Disney’. Before Walt started his dream of an animated studio, ‘Disney’ was just a last name: ‘Hi, I’m Walt Disney’ (albeit a great last name). It’s difficult for me to even grasp what Disney meant before Disney was Disney. It’s like us having the name Jane Chimbee (made that up) and calling our company Chimbee. It means something to us (aka what our PE teacher would call us) but it doesn’t mean anything to the world yet. Disney has a vastly different identity, emotion and motivation than just a last name now.

Give your idea a name.

An name starts as a singular idea, morphs into the passion and purpose and characteristics behind the name and becomes a collective identify in the minds of people everywhere, sometimes even around the globe.

Giving an idea a name is a powerful way to make it more real in our minds.

In the beginning, an idea is just a silly thing that lives inside our imagination / head. It’s potentially quite a long path towards taking an idea and making it something real and tangible, but that starts with giving it a name.

Names aren’t permanent, they are constantly evolving (in words and in meaning), so don’t feel stuck if you aren’t sure if the name you come up with is the right name for your idea. You can always change it later as the idea is honed.

Names give us direction.

Giving ideas names is one of my favorite things to do. (…wow, get a life josh). At the very least, naming infuses a little magic into your idea and makes it a step closer towards something real. Of course, we still have to make the idea real (we aren’t done yet with just a name alone) but its a step in the direction we want. Naming our ideas also helps us define what an idea is, and likely more importantly, what an idea isn’t. For example, I knew that I had a passion for learning many things, but it wasn’t until I learned that a person that is a master of multiple things is called a ‘Renaissance Man’ (Renaissance Human) or ‘Polymath’ that I finally had the ability to express what I wanted and find insights on how to achieve it. By naming an idea, we being to discover what the idea is and means.

Names are one of the first steps towards giving your idea an identity.

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”

Robin Williams

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #741


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Creativity is the Medicine for the Soul

“Odd how the creative power at once brings the whole universe to order.”

Virginia Woolf

“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.”

Rumi

Why do we create? To express ourselves, sure. To be somebody. To highlight something important to the world. And yet, creativity goes much deeper than that.

The act of creating doesn’t just work outwardly, it’s also an act that works within us.

Creativity is an outlet of inner work and outer work. By expressing ourselves through our art, we learn and nurture our own selves.

There are moments in our lives where everything feels like a struggle. Moment where we feel stuck in the same old same old we find ourselves in again. Broken bones, childhood trauma’s, disappointment, broken hearts, loneliness, pain, injury, fear, uncertainty, apathy, burnout, brokenness, bitterness, anger… Sometimes life can be overwhelming. Creating is a great way to work through our thoughts and emotions. Because

Creativity is the Medicine for the Soul.

Why else would some of the greatest songs, books, films, poems, dances, and works of art come from sadness and pain. It’s a form of self-therapy* that releases pent-up energy. Creating something — whatever it is for you — is like a pressure valve release on our minds, bodies and souls. The more we create, the more capable we become. Creativity comes from happy places too. Happy moments need creative expressions just as much as the difficult moments do.

Whatever you are feeling, whatever you are going though. Creating something is an excellent tool in the toolkit.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #740

*that being said, always talk to a professional first if you need it.


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Worth it

Essential should take priority over immediate. And yet, we often allow ourselves and feel driven to do the opposite. There’s many reasons we could point to — we didn’t sleep well last night, we are distracted by pain or distracted by shiny things, etc.

What’s easier: answering a few emails and clearing out your inbox or working on your app?

What’s more appealing: watching Netflix or sweating at the gym?

What’s more exciting: going out for drinks or putting butt in seat and writing?

Essential over immediate.

The essential takes more time, energy and intention. No wonder we struggle to get anything important done! We trade short-term pleasures for long-term success and happiness. Not that we have to give up happiness in the present in order to have it in the future. Rather, happiness comes from the process of spending our time and energy in ways that we love and find meaningful. Even an ounce of effort spent on what we love creates massive returns on the rest of our effort (which we might have to give to our other responsibilities, such as working to afford food for our family).

There’s another big reason that the important things tend to get benched:

The important things become too important. Or in other words, the essential things we want to do are so important that we end up not doing them. We idealize and fantasize them into a undefeatable monster in our minds. We (consciously or subconsciously) delay, avoid, distract, procrastinate and psych ourselves out from doing them. And eventually we end up filling our time and energy with everything BUT the things we want to do.

I’m making it seem clear and cut-and-dry, but it’s usually anything but. In reality the tradeoffs are so subtle. We hardly even notice we are selling ourselves short and are feeding the wrong things. We trade what we really want to do, for second or third-best options because we think that’s all we desire or are capable of doing.

Because what if we fail?
What if we waste all this time and energy for nothing?
What if we succeed and are still unhappy?

Ultimately it comes down to giving yourself some space and asking yourself is it worth it or not.

Is this worth my finite amount of time and energy?
Is this going to add value to my life AND the lives around me?
Is this going to provide me meaning and happiness in the present, regardless if I fail or succeed in the end?

Failing at something you love is better than succeed at something you hate or find mediocre.

Because failure is recoverable. But we can’t get back wasted time on things that don’t matter.

The road to mediocrity is born from hesitation and feeding ‘what you are supposed to do’ instead of what you feel called to do.

What do you feel called to do in this life?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #734


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A Job to Love

“Don’t let a bad day make you feel like you have a bad life.”

Hustling can only get you so far. No matter how much blood, sweat and pixels you give to something, if your heart’s not in it, you’ll eventually burnout.

The ideal form of work is loving every second of it, even the parts that suck. How can you love something that’s difficult, painful, tedious and occasionally stressful — because it’s fun.

Sometimes we decided we want to separate our passion from money. I think that’s okay, as long as your day job isn’t getting in the way. But to make your passion your living is also a path you can pursue.

Work is play when it’s something you love, even the difficult parts. And it’s yours. It’s something to plant your flag on.

Sometimes we have to go through a lot of turmoil and crap to get to a place where we can make money playing, but when you do it makes the effort even more worth it. Perseverance and determination are key. To do the work we love, we have to give it our everything.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #679

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Directed Intent

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

Steve Jobs

Work is how we make our dreams happen. But not all work is equal.

We can do a whole lotta work for the wrong reasons, and still end up where we started or worse. We can also do a lot of work for the right reason, but for the wrong people.

There’s nothing wrong with giving your time and energy to helping others and making their dreams happen, if they are willing to do the same thing for you.

Work can also be unequal when we are working in circles. the wheels are spinning but the car isn’t going anywhere. There’s effort, but no thought to the method. Work is like a tool, and tools require direction.

We have to point our work towards the reality we want to create. That’s direction. That’s movement. That’s how dreams are made.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #676

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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

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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