Meanie Me

“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.”

Epictetus

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”

Henry David Thoreau

“The enemy is the inner me.”

Nick Miller, New Girl

I think deep down there’s a part of me that wants to fail. (And I imagine I’m not alone in this sentiment.) Of course, I want to succeed. I want to create meaningful work. I want to experience life to the utmost. I want to make enough money to add fuel to my creativity.

But there’s a part of me that doesn’t. Let’s call him Jerry.

Jerry wants things to stay the same. Jerry is lazy and doesn’t care about the future. All he care’s about is immediate pleasures. Jerry wants his gallon of ice cream. Jerry wants me to fail because Jerry (and all the Jerry’s I’ve run across in life) thinks failure is all I’m good for. But Jerry wants what jerry wants, not what I want.

We often push so hard to be who we want to be. We work late hours. We do what others don’t. All for our inner Jerry’s to grab the wheel and crash the car. It’s not Jerry’s fault. Jerry is Jerry. The fault is my own. We let our inner enemy, our resistance, our past failures, and fears drive us, we are taking our hands off the wheel of our dreams and desires.

  • Anger can get you far, but it won’t make you any happier.
  • Fear can motivate, but it usually just diminishes instead.
  • Failure (and the fear of failure) keeps us locked and stuck in place.
  • Envy separates us from what opportunity and good fortune we have within our own circumstances and journey.
  • Worry and apathy keeps us from being alive.
  • Resentment rots.
  • Anxiety is the embodiment of FOMO and convincing ourselves we aren’t good enough.

We are good enough. Maybe we aren’t in an ideal situation we’d like to be, but who really is? We are good enough to use what we have to create something better. And enjoy what we have while also striving for improvement.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #833

Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Refocus

“Focus on what you have.”

Suze Orman

What are you doing today?

No, not the pile of todos and chores.
No, not the things you want or would rather be doing.

Your priority.
Your urgency.
Your attention.

Today is fleeting. There is no sense in trying to juggle a hundred things all at the same time. Focus in. Turn your attention to what matters and what lies in front of you. Of course, the day will likely run away from you and you’ll get lost in a distraction or a conversation you didn’t expect. That’s part of your story too. Enjoy the unexpected and uncontrollable nature of life. And focus back into what matters. There is no focus, just refocus.

…Man, someone must have hit me with the mediation stick because that was deep. Did I ruin the moment? … I think I ruined the moment. 😜

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #832

Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Creative Play

“I work very hard, and I play very hard. I’m grateful for life. And I live it – I believe life loves the liver of it. I live it.”

Maya Angelou

I was extremely into video games going up. I was into a plethora of things (sports, reading, drawing, swimming, exercising, chess, etc) but gaming was something I gravitated towards. My first console was a Nintendo 64. And If you caught me out and about then, I’d likely be carrying around a red GameBoy Advance. I enjoy games now, mostly for the incredible storytelling, but I don’t play very often because of lack of time. (Honestly, I listen to more gaming podcasts than I do play them.) There’s a lot that I’m learning and doing so I’m hard-pressed to find the time to pick up a controller. I’m more interested in creating and the principles of creativity than playing at the moment.

I’m not sure what drew little josh to gaming. My guess is it was because it combined many of my interests all in the palm — art, adventure, story, laughter, and challenge. The thought never crossed my mind at the time that someone (some team at Nintendo) created that experience. From hardware to the tiny jumping pixels on the screen was created.

Why do we like the things we like as kids?

Do you ever wonder if we are drawn to things instinctively, not because of what we see, but because what we can’t see but feel past the surface?

Music that pulls our heartstrings. A painting you can’t look away from. An idea you can’t quite shake. A spark of potential. A gleam of mystery our curiosity can’t help but follow. Buried treasure hid in a dungeon. I’m not sure if I’m smart enough to know what I’m saying.

I do know that what you do in your free time speaks loudly about what you dream about your life. What do you consider play? What would you keep doing no matter if you were never paid a dollar for? What do you find that makes you come alive inside? These are things worth pursuing.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #831

Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Intent is Powerful…

But not so much if we tell everyone about it. The power doesn’t come from speaking about it. The power comes from the energy (purpose/why/drive/desire) behind it.

When we talk about things we are going to do, we’re setting ourselves up for potential failure.

It’s not that we are lying when we say what our intent is. The problem is just because we say it, doesn’t mean it will happen. Plus there’s a lot of setbacks (usually out of our control) that can distract and get in the way of doing what we say.

Having the public accountability could give us the butt fire we need to follow through, but it could also leave us publicly displaying how bad we are at following through sometimes — even with every intention of doing it well.

Better to let our intention speak through our actions.

Better to only talk about things we are doing or have done.

“The smallest deed is better than the greatest intention.”

John Burroughs

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #830

Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Your Enthusiasm Is Showing

“Enthusiasm is everything. It must be taut and vibrating like a guitar string.”

Pele

I always enjoyed math in school, but it wasn’t until I explored the subject on my own and discovered all the interesting tidbits and people you don’t hear about in class. You have time to learn how to solve for X, but only had a vague idea who Rene Descartes or Galileo Galilei was (and others like them) and intrigue surrounding their ideas.

To be enthusiastic, you have to take a genuine interest in what you are talking about. On the surface, some things (pick your poison: gardening, construction, Math, geology, DMV’s, etc) can seem boring, but there’s usually a hidden gem or two that allows you to go deeper into the subject and find what’s exciting or unexpected about it.

Enthusiasm is a power resourceful. And when it’s backed by skill, it can dent universes. Even when you can’t back your enthusiasm with skill, it can’t lead you towards gaining skill rapidly and also create the illusion of skill.

Put two people with identical ideas next to each other but one person is enthusiastic and the other is boring and there’s no question which idea stands out more.

Like a moth to a candlelit flame, we are drawn to enthusiastic people.

And like any resource, enthusiasm can be used well or poorly. Enthusiasm can also be used at you to convince you of ideas and perspective, which isn’t necessarily a bad or good thing.

When enthusiasm used for good, it allows us to open up and grow into better people. By surrounding ourselves with enthusiastic people, we can feed off their energy and charm and feel more energized and enthusiastic ourselves. We learn new things, find interesting stories and opportunities.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #829

Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Eat Your Wealth

“What is called genius is the abundance of life and health.”

Henry David Thoreau

I love a good thick, crisp health book as much as the next health nut, but I always run into the same issue every time I read one:

How in the bleep am I going to make enough money to live like this and experiment with optimizing my health?

And, more importantly, how can I make more money without spending all my time working and stressing myself out to make money to be healthier?! (Talk about a Catch 22)

I’m reading a fantastic, knowledge-packed book by Ben Greenfield called Boundless. If you can’t tell I’m loving it so far, but I also feel severe cash limited just a couple of chapters in. I don’t have to try all (nor should I) of the recommendations discussed, but if I did I’d already been spending thousands of dollars after page one.

This isn’t a criticism towards Boundless or Ben (love ya bro I don’t know). It’s more of an observation about myself and my current limitations. Limitations I imagine are all too familiar with a lot of the folks out there reading this.

To be super healthy, we need to afford it. And to work on the creative ideas, products, connections, and businesses we need to build to create wealth, we need to pay for better health.

There are no easy answers.

All we can do is:

Do what we can.

Sleep is free. Walking is free. Breathing is free. Water is freeish. Fasting is free. Cold showers are free. Pushups are free. It doesn’t make them easy to do, but we do have access to them.

We can start with the essentials. By focusing on eating a variety of whole foods and treating our bodies and minds right with rest and downtime, we can optimize over time.

Build over time.

We might not be able to afford all the nifty health bells and whistles, but we can at least do what we can start with the essentials and as we figure out ways to build wealth, we can put back more into our health and well-being.

Prioritize health.

Of course, don’t be stupid. (I’m telling myself this more than you) Don’t spend money you need for bills to buy another supplement or a bag of spirulina. Any benefits you gain from investing in your health on a budget you don’t have will inevitably be null and void from all the stress and anxiety from not having enough money to pay for rent.

But at the end of the day, health can be a more finite resource than money. I only was able to see that after I had injured myself… expensively.

There will also be another way to make some money, but you can’t also get back your health.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #829

Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

A Problem Half Solved

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

Albert Einstein

A Problem isn’t just a problem itself. It’s also the baggage we stack onto the problem. How we think, perceive and what we believe changes how the problem looks. (If a problem was like a sweater we wear, our thoughts, beliefs about the problem would be us wearing 10+ extra sweaters on top.)

Depending on how much stuff we pile on top of our problems, the heavier it becomes. (Think of it like an exponential: Problem^x)

But by stripping away everything but the original issue, we can more easily tackle it and not let it get the best of us.

Getting to the essence of a problem starts with understanding it. Asking questions is a great way to do this. It’s difficult to see something when you don’t have a full picture of what it is. Questions get to the heart of the issue.

Is the problem something within my control? Can I do something about it? (Sometimes problems are bigger than we are (i.e. changing the weather) and are better let go.)

What is the problem exactly? How many pages can I write about the problem? Can I describe it in a few sentences? Can I describe it in the size of a tweet? Can I describe the essence of the issue in one sentence?

What’s contributing to the problem? Is something else I’m doing (or not doing) making the problem (seem/become) bigger than it should be?

Who can help me with this problem? Who has found a way past this trouble before? Are there any books or resources I can use to solve this? (Help can come from anywhere, not just people we know.)

How can I use this problem to my advantage?

We can also look out for is negative or unhelpful feedback loops. Meaning situations where I can’t do X because of Y I can’t do Y because of Z and I can’t do z because of X. We’ve thought ourselves into a corner. Nothing useful happens when you are stuck sitting in the negative corner. To break the cycle, we need to find a different way to approach the issue. The best way I’ve found to do this is to ask a friend — ideally someone who you admire or you consider smarter than you. If we’re trapped in our perspective, then we can seek someone else’s (or multiple people).

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #828

Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Creative Downtime

“I have the habit of attention to such excess, that my senses get no rest – but suffer from a constant strain.”

Henry David Thoreau

One thing I’ve learned the hard way is that I need a healthy amount of downtime (Josh time) during the week. Otherwise, I’ll turn into a Granny Smith apple (aka sour and don’t talk to me vibes). Ideally, I try to have at least an hour each day to myself — but that depends on the week. And if I can, I try to have a full day of creativity where I can focus on personal projects and learning.

The weekend is technically supposed to be our downtime, but since everybody’s off, it’s like nobody’s off. Chores to do, places to be and people to see. But what about us?

Are we giving ourselves what we need to thrive? Are we nourishing our minds, bodies, and spirits? Or are we just running from one thing to the next like our hair is on fire, completely putting ourselves last? Are you even giving yourself downtime?

It’s not selfish to put yourself first.

There are a time and place for giving (your time, energy and other resources) to others. But if you’re emotionally and energetically bankrupt from giving too much of yourself, then what good are you to others?

Prioritize downtime for yourself, whatever that looks like for you.

Here are some ideas:

  • Daily walk with your thoughts
  • Journalling
  • Taking a dance class
  • Drawing
  • A hot bath
  • Practicing music
  • Writing
  • Doing something with your hands — pottery, woodwork, origami, etc
  • Exercising
  • Cooking for yourself

Choose something that rejuvenates you. (And ideally, something you don’t do for money).

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #827

Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Related:

“It’s very important that we re-learn the art of resting and relaxing. Not only does it help prevent the onset of many illnesses that develop through chronic tension and worrying; it allows us to clear our minds, focus, and find creative solutions to problems.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

One Success

“Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them.”

Henry Ford

The biggest hurdle to any habit or skill you are learning is an overloaded system. It’s often that we fail because we are trying too hard and too much at once, not because we aren’t trying enough.

Not trying enough is a pitfall that can keep you from starting.

If you ever find yourself never quite being able to get started or find yourself consuming a ton of books, courses, and videos but never putting them in practice, then you have a problem starting. Maybe it’s fear of failure or repeating past mistakes or not living up to your own exceptions of yourself. Whatever the case, put all your strength into taking a step forward, however small. Starting is a physics problem. Things at rest tend to stay at rest. What we need is something that pushes us forward, even just a tiny bit, that gets the ball rolling. Start and build momentum.

It’s often that we fail because we are trying too hard and too much at once, not because we aren’t trying enough.

But if you’re trying but making no headway at all, then you’re likely trying too hard or trying too many things at once. Getting results requires focused energy. You can’t reliably half-*ss success (unreliable success is called luck). We need a strategy that gets us to the end goal 90% of the time and on the right track (or at least somewhere interesting) the other 10%. That starts with limiting your focus.

I can’t tell you how many times I unintentionally derailed myself because I attempted too many things at once. There are only so many things we can do at once (…I’m mostly in permanent denial about this). Even if I had all the energy and money in the world, I’d still run out of time at the end of the day. Focus and priority are our best friends here.

The thing we need to remember is success and opportunity stacks. Neither is assured, but both success and opportunity tend to build upon one another. One success leads to more opportunity leads to more (potential) success etc.

So where do you want to succeed?

What’s a problem you are struggling with that would wipe out most of your other problems if you were to solve it?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #826

Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

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

Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

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