Play to Learn

Passion is a choice as much as it is in your DNA.

The more we spend our quality time on something, the better we get at it. And the better we get, the more we love what we do.

Of course, there’s always doubt (and sometimes reality) that what we are doing is only something we like versus something we love. This usually comes up when we are choosing a career.

In America, you grow up thinking you do any job you want to do in the world.

And oddly enough, what you gravitate towards as a child has hidden hooks into what your passions are later on in life when you’re faced with picking a career.

Play connects us to our passions. It’s the best tool to figure out what makes you feel alive. There’s no better way to figure out what you love than by “playing it out” of you. And when you’re playing crosses with a way to earn a living, you just might have stumbled upon what you should be doing.

Play strikes to the heart of our inner self. It cuts away all the ego and fear and status and wealth attached to the skill. But playing is a choice. Sometimes we lock up, especially turning times of stress and difficulty, and become more rigid and serious. Too serious to take playing seriously. So, the thing we want, passion, direction, meaning, is overlooked by the very thing that we show us what matters to us.

When you find yourself lost, and stuck on where to go (as we often all do at some point) give play a chance. Let yourself relax into whimsy and silliness. Follow the laughter, follow what makes you smile. Learn for the sake of curiosity, rather than because you feel obligated to.

The things that seem trivial that lighten our spirits are our way forward towards a meaningful life.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1459

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Anchors

My Mind is spinning today.

From all the things I’m trying to learn, and all the things I don’t know.

From decisions, I’m following through with, and future plans I’m beginning to wireframe in my head.

I don’t think anyone born comes out thinking, “I really want to be bad at life. I want to suck at living.”

We are born with pure, 100% grade optimism and curiosity for the world.

And very quickly the world tries to beat it out of you.

Perhaps you were born prematurely and immediately have to begin fighting back the obstacles that pepper your lives. Or maybe you’re like me, a late bloomer, who faces his (or her) obstacles today.

Those obstacles guide us forward. They feel like wrenches in the gears, but in reality, they are the levers that lift us further and farther to heights we didn’t even know about.

This is a perspective that can easily be masked by the struggle with negativity and self-doubt and fear that shoots holes in us. And without something to look forward to, without a plan to anchor us into the present, we can quickly burn ourselves from the inside on the anger, resentment, regret, or even shame that clouds up our minds.

What we need are pieces of hope. An idea or mission that guides us forward and gets us up in the morning, one more day, to keep going and improving and living meaningfully. For some, that’s faith in God or faith in science. For others that is a business or a passion that guides them. For others, it’s a helpful friend or even the little surprising things of life, like a lovely sunset or the sound of rain.

Find your hope.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1458 (draft #2)

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How Well Can You Follow Your Intuition?

Intuition is a little like the game of darts. You might not be 100% right—in fact, your aim could be completely off — but if your gut is telling you something, you’re probably close to hitting the bullseye.

There’s nothing worse than having a gut moment of intuition, not following it, and it ending up true. (Well, some things are worse. Like allergies.)

That feeling of knowing you should do something — usually something BOLD — but don’t out of fear or sympathy or not wanting to be wrong is certainly not my favorite emotion.

As you are reading this, think about your own intuitive situations.

Intuition comes from life and from our experiences. It’s not something most of us grasp or even think about normally, but it’s something we all feel a taste of sooner or later. From my observations, I’d say that intuition is part nurture, part character. Its voice is determined by who we’ve been and who we want to be. It can get out of wack sometimes, and it’s always good to check in with yourself, but more often than not it’s leading you where you want to be pulled. I don’t know for sure. For all I know we are born with it. Whatever the case, what we do with it is the more practical thing. Will you ignore it, or use it?

Feeling your gut is learned through listening for its pull and leaning into it.

Following your gut is learning to take a bold step and trust yourself.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1458

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Playing it Safe (is usually not in the long run)

There’s a razor-thin line between fear and safety.

Making decisions out of fear can sometimes look like decisions made out of concern for safety and avoiding risk. We might even choose something safe born from fear without realizing that’s what we are doing.

You make the call to not move across the country. But was it because of fear or because you’re playing it safe?

It depends on what’s driving you.

Fear might give you a hundred reasons why you shouldn’t.

Safety might give you an additional hundred ways things can go wrong.

Safe actions get you safe results…sometimes. Playing it safe doesn’t automatically mean better results.

The key is to not let fear pressure you to make bad decisions. Worst-case scenarios can be prepared for in advance.

If fear is the only thing holding you back, then it’s time for a bold action.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1457

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Getting Past Analysis Paralysis

Momentum requires movement.

Think of a fire—a spark is not much yet also everything. A spark can keep you warm, it can take out a house, a forest, even cities. It doesn’t take much, but a little is enough.

The hardest parts are:

1. Starting

2. Restarting (another form of starting)

Starting something new can feel like quicksand, particularly when we are scared or worried. But once you get moving, fear turns into excitement. Water starts to flow. Ideas pour out. Dust and cobwebs start to clear. Muscles warm up in anticipation.

Restarting is similar to starting, but harder. Whenever you stop doing something, like a diet or journaling, or an online design course, not only you lose momentum, you also add weight to your shoulders. How many times have you thought of the past when things about your life— your health, happiness, finances—were better? We pine after the “good old days” and whenever we attempt to restart our habits we fail because we put too much pressure on ourselves.

The key to starting is starting fresh. Don’t focus on what you had and what you’ve lost. Focus on what you can do right now and the potential of where you can be once you begin again.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1456

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“Fear is the Mind Killer”

I think hoping for the best but planning for the worst is a (relatively) helpful mind-tool to put things in perspective.

Often, however, we say we are “planning for the worst” but in reality we are just spending our time worrying about the worst, expecting the outcome to end horribly. And when the worst doesn’t happen, we ignore the good outcomes and immediately start focusing on the next worrisome possibility.

After the last few years, I don’t blame (or judge) anyone doing this.

The problem is what does all this worrying get us?

More worry.

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

Marcus Aurelius

How often do we lose in our minds before we even have tried?

There are many ways we can defeat ourselves, but the biggest one is in our minds.

A solid mindset is the foundation of any challenge or problem we face.

Put any two equally skilled athletes together in a competition and the one with the trained mindset will win.

Mindset is a squishy topic, to be sure. I wonder if it’s because we don’t necessarily have the vocabulary or cultural rituals or norms around talking about our conscious and subconscious? Or perhaps our self-defeating chatter is not something we are proud of, so we keep it to ourselves or release it to the world via complaints and social media comments.

Whatever the case, unless you are blunt and tell it like it is (or have a therapist or really great friend), we keep 1/3rd of ourselves usually to ourselves. This isn’t always bad, per se. Telling everyone around you that they are fat or boring might not be the best way to live.

But if that’s true, then why do we allow our thoughts to bully ourselves around internally?

If we hold back negative thoughts against others, why do we subject ourselves and allow negative thoughts directed towards ourselves?

When we are feeling low, our mind doesn’t pull any punches.

There’s a great Richard Feynman phrase worth remembering that goes “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”

We are the easiest person to defeat with our own minds if we are not careful. Replace ‘fool’ for ‘defeat: “You must not defeat yourself and you are the easiest person to defeat”.

Mindset is a skill to be practiced.

That’s not something we are taught.

I think the problem is we aren’t taught how to hone our minds. Hanging up cute visualization posters of cats reminding us we can ‘do it’ doesn’t count. When we are growing up, we have to learn to crawl, then wobble, fall and then stand before we can walk. We have to learn how to talk by observing and listening to the word our parents and people around us use. We also have to learn our ABCs and 123’s before we can write and read.

But no one teaches us how to think or visualize. Our minds are still crawling on the ground, lost to whatever squirrel piques our interest. We can ride a bike, type 70 words per minute, drive, sing, dance, start a business, get married, have kids, without knowing a single thing about mindset.

It’s impressive we’ve made it this far…

So what can we do to cultivate our minds?

We can read. We can seek out clear and insightful thoughts written down by smarter people from today and throughout history.

We can listen and observe. It takes a lot of effort to give others your full and undivided attention. Work those listening muscles.

We can talk. We can find someone or a group of people willing, to be honest with one another about what each person is struggling and going through and what each is doing to improve themselves.

We can mediate. Which really is just practicing breathing and observing. Mediation is a ritual we can cultivate to practice learning to notice our thoughts and not always be swept up by them.

We can visualize. We can practice mentally visualizing ourselves winning a game, owning a speech, doing the things we dream of doing.

Resolve yourself to hone your mind. Think better thoughts.

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

Frank Herbert, Dune

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1455

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Learning to Live

We go through life like we know everything, that we’ve always known what we know, but the majority of what we understand has been learned.

We weren’t born knowing how to walk; We learned how to walk. Our legs were made to walk, but we still had to learn how to use them. Yet, today it feels natural to me. Maybe your family recorded your first walk on video, so you have a less vague sense of learning to walk, but most don’t remember actually learning how.

The same is true for everything.

Knowledge is earned (and absorbed through experience).

Which makes it silly that there’s a lot of important knowledge in life we are just expected to know and be good at. School and parents teach us many great things, but how to live well is usually not one of them… or at least there’s a lot that can, unfortunately, fall through the cracks.

Health

Money

Friendships

Love

Sleep

Breathing

Posture / Movement

Happiness

So many things we are just expected to… be great at.

I could say that I wish I was taught more essential life skills, and I could complain that I’m bad at this and that …. or

I can become a self-starter and teach myself what it means to live.

We are the ones most affected by not knowing how to be great at life skills.

If we want to live a meaningful life, we need to teach ourselves how to live.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1454 ( draft 2)

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Embracing Change

Everything is constantly changing.

Just now, the earth spins on its axis moving forward through space on its path around the sun.

Just now, our cells are recycling themselves to give their materials to generate new cells.

Bugs, clouds, ocean waves, animals, people in cities across the world, all moving at their own rhythms. (Talk about serious FOMO)

Everything can change, and so can we.

With change comes chance and a new purpose.

“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”

Wayne W. Dyer

Change usually happens on the micro-level, so small you barely enough know it’s happening.

Change is a conversation, or even the willingness to have a conversation.

Change is an input, inspiration, or insight that evokes a mental door opening.

Change is an action, a small step towards something. Or the next step past failure.

If you can’t stop it embrace it.

Embrace change.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1453 ( draft 2)

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Creative Outlets

Creativity is a lot like a pressure valve on life. Every time I make something, be it music or art or building something with my hands, the pressure releases, and I feel better about my day.

If you go too many day’s without doing something you love, you get creatively hangry.

On the days when I have less time to give to making stuff, I can feel the difference. My body is more tense. I’m crabby and have a short attention span. I feel more overwhelmed and anxious.

And it’s on days when I’m feeling completely overwhelmed, almost to the point of mental paralysis, I eventually realize ‘oh, I haven’t picked up my guitar in a while’ or ‘oh, I’ve stopped sketching’.

We all need an outlet. Something that allows us to play, slow down and see the world, and take a second to remember what matters most to us.

Making stuff can give you that. Whatever that looks like for you, whatever you are drawn to.

Therapy works too. 🙂

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1452 ( draft 2)

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Building a Meaningful Life

What would you do if you could do anything?

Would you move to a different city?

Would you quit your job and do something you actually want to do?

Would you start doing something you’ve always wanted to do?

Now for the hard question:

Why aren’t you doing it now?

What’s blocking you from the life you want to live?

Often, the answer is money. (It usually is my first response when I think about these questions for my own life.)

Or maybe it’s fear. Fear of trying. Fear of failing.

Every day is a chance to add to your calling.

There are two things we can do simultaneously to make this calling our reality:

1 Remove the Barriers

2 Do it anyway

Remove the Barriers

If you feel called to do something, then removing the barriers stopping you should be one of your biggest priorities. If money is the problem, mastering money is part of the solution. Read every insightful book on money you can get your hands on. Apply what you learn. Live below your means, while also increasing your means.

You might find that money was a problem but was masking the real barrier (such as fear). That’s good. Now you know. Now you can master this one as well. Keep going down the list until there are zero barriers/excuses left.

Do it Anyway

The second thing we can do simultaneously while we are working on breaking down our barriers is do it anyway.

How can I pursue my calling despite not having money?

What’s a creative approach that allows me to side pass my barriers and do it anyway?

If moving is what you want to do, then what would you do if you *had to* move next week? What would you need? A new job lined up? A place to stay? Who do you know that lives there? Who do you know that knows someone who lives there?

Barriers between us and a meaningful life exist. Obstacles take us off the path we were supposed to be on. Our journey is rarely ever a straight shot. But the only thing really keeping you from the person you want to be is you.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1451 ( draft 2)

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