Decisions of Fear

“Quick decisions are unsafe decisions.”

Sophocles

What emotion are your decisions coming from?

Are you making decisions from joy or fear?

We mean well when we are making decisions out of emotions like desire or fear. We naturally (usually) want the best for ourselves. But if we listen to the wrong emotions we can end up making dumb mistakes. Buying something you can’t afford, for example.

If my finances suck, buying a Tesla would bring me great joy, but this is a “desire” decision, not a “joy” decision. That joy would quickly turn into dread once the bill comes due.

Decisions of fear come from the place of feeling like you “have to do something.” We pin ourselves against a wall, thinking its the only way.

“I have to stay up late and study otherwise, I’ll fail the test.” But what if you don’t? What if there was a way to prioritize sleep AND study enough to get could grades?

“I have to get an MBA before I start my own company / I have to learn X Y Z before I start my own company.” But what if you just started instead and surrounded yourself with people smarter than you?

“I’m old, I have to retire.” Do you?

It doesn’t help that may people are actively pushing us to make decisions out of fear (some people we know, others we don’t). Whenever you hear yourself say “I have to because X” pay attention. There’s always another option out there.

Our decisions make our life.

Before making any decision, make sure you’re coming from the right emotional headspace. Whenever you find yourself in a headspace of fear, failure, negativity, stress, etc., then don’t make a call right away, get into a better mindset first or even sleep on it if can.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1077

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Clarify the Problem

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

Eric Hoffer, philosopher

If I were asked to sum up yesterday’s post, The Cost of Lying to Yourself, with a single word, it would be self-honesty. (A hyphenated single word, but still…)

Avoiding or brushing off problems only makes them bigger.

But how do you solve a problem (like Maria)?

Well, first you have to look at the problem with a clear perspective. Any problem (really, anything) is the thing itself and also (additionally) how we think about it.

I’m a big fan of Kamal‘s approach to handling your mind if it’s running away from you fueled with negative and discouraging thoughts. In his book, Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It, the mental tool he discovered and found success within his own life was repeating the phrase “I love myself” over and over again. Think of it like drowning out the negativity by repeating something positive instead.

With a clearer perspective, we can get out of our own way and start making some progress towards resolving problems we are dealing with.

Next, we break the problem into non-overwhelming bite-sized chunks that we can focus our efforts on. If you’re still overwhelmed, then you haven’t broken the problem small enough yet. Baby steps. Just like that What About Bob Movie with Bill Murray.

The key is to focus only on the immediate action. Not the ten things on your todo list. Not the dozen other problems you are dealing with. Just the action in front of you. Keep the others away from your mind and physical space as much as you can.

Last we need to start catching little problems before they become big ones. This takes a lot of intentional living. When faced with anything, ask yourself, “If I ignore this will it potential become a huge pain later on?” “If I do this, what are the potential downsides and how can I prevent them from occurring?”

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1076

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The Cost of Lying to Yourself

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.”

Richard Feynman

The biggest lies are the ones we believe about ourselves.

Who you are and who you want to be aren’t the same.

You don’t have to fake it to be who you want to be. You need to start acting how you want to be, and slowly stretch your life towards that reality.

For example, think of how we can easily wash over or even boast about our lives and how we feel to others, yet the opposite is true.

“Oh hey! How are you?”

(Everything sucks) “I’m great, you doing well?”

“Yeah! things are good.” (I hate my job. My back is killing me.)

I don’t necessarily see this as lying to others. Technically yes, but these kinds of opposing inner thoughts and outer dialogue are more like a protective mechanism. Whether or not you think this is an example of lying to others, it is an example of how we lie to ourselves.

The cost of lying to ourselves is staying stuck—right where we don’t want to be.

We hold in pain and anger so we don’t have to explain how we got here and protect ourselves from looking stupid. But by brushing off how we feel to others—especially people who are close—we do a disservice to ourselves. We’re avoiding our problems by pretending like things are normal.

Think about, how many people have you actually confided in with your problems and goals? Does anyone actually know what you are going through?

Maybe that’s why no one seems to not care to help you. Because they don’t know.

How does that help you be the person you want to be?

We can begin removing these barriers that are holding us back in three stages:

  1. Acceptance
  2. Assessment
  3. Action

Acceptance

Acceptance isn’t about giving up to your situations, it’s taking a bow and respecting the good, the bad, and the fugly of your life.

Accept things as they are. Accept who you are. Accept the moment, so that you can move beyond it.

Assessment

Assessment is about turning over every rock, shining a light into every dusty cobweb filled corner, and looking head-on at the things you’ve been avoiding.

Things like looking at where your money is going and how much debt you owe. And journaling about what values and principles you’ve been living by. And assessing where you’re time is going. Comb through every aspect of your current life and see how it relates to the life you want to have.

It isn’t fun, but it can often be a relief, because at least now you know and have something specific to work towards, versus a mystery blob of problems and fears.

Action

After accepting where you are and looking at the state of things, the last step is to take immediate action.

Make a list, prioritize that list, then focus on knocking out one thing at a time.

The key is building up momentum. The more momentum we have, the easier it is to keep stepping forward.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1075

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Self-Helpy Nonsense

My blog posts have been trending towards self-helpy, motivation pieces lately. Mostly because I’m writing things I need to hear myself.

I like writing content that helps motivate and nudges you to improve and change, but I’d rather not be another “self-help guy.”

The self-help I find worth reading is always ground in practical application.

You can tell me “you can be successful if you put your mind to it” but I find that less appealing and impactful compared to if you show me how and back it up with your own experiences.

I admire great writers and thinkers like Adam Grant and Maria Popova (there are so many, but those are the two that come to mind) who can take an idea or a connection of ideas and combine them with personality, research, and history.

I’d like to go beyond my personal observations and take Renaissance Life to the next level. What that looks like precisely is still out of focus, but it’s something I’m going to be continuing to put some time and energy toward. It’s also another reason why I’m doubling down on podcasting and having good conversations with people smarter than me.

If you have ideas for what you would like to see from me and the Renaissance Life, shoot me an email: Josh [at] RenaissanceLife [dot] com.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1074

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Today’s the Day

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
Mother Teresa

Freedom is one of those invisible things you can easily take for granted until you experience the opposite. Seeing the persecution of others who live outside of a free society, for example. Or personally feeling the restrictions of debt or the anxiety of saying yes to too many things,

I don’t normally consider decisions as freedom, but they are. We are free to choose what we say yes or no to. Responsibilities, obligations, desires, dreams, persuasion, and incentive sway us one way or another. But at the end of the day, our decisions are our own.

The frightening thing about decisions is we can’t take them back—good or bad.

Most of the time, anyway.

A few years ago I was helping a friend decide between taking a job opportunity in town or taking a job in a different city. Both options were equally solid. Both were something worth doing. And my friend wasn’t sure what to do.

While we were discussing the options with the other people around us, a thought occurred to me that ultimately helped him make a decision:

Which decision was less permanent? What’s a way you choose option B if you decide not to enjoy option A?

In my friend’s case, the job out of town was actually an open invitation. Meaning, he could test out the job in town and if he found it not a good fit, he could call up the other one instead. So he took the job in town.

Was it the right call?

Impossible to say.

Even when we strategize and lessen the risk, we can still end up making the wrong call sometime.

“Wrong” applies to our failures, but failures often become turning points and opportunities to be better. Unless we let our mistakes drown us and keep us living in the past.

Failure is only a moment. And even when dealing with the fallout of failure, we still can find a way forward. But first, we have to start looking forward. Otherwise, we are enslaved to our past.

What are you willing to give up in order to be free?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1073

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Fun to Make

“Necessity may be the mother of invention, but play is certainly the father.” Roger von Oech

Not every aspect of any job will be fun, but if you’re not finding joy or value in what you’re doing, then why are you doing it?

Life is too short to feel dissatisfied eight hours a day, five days a week.

Work is about making a living—and sometimes when you’re in a bad place you gotta do what you gotta do. But work is also about joy and play. Without it, our lives feel stuck and stale. Maybe you don’t even realize that’s what’s been bothering you. There’s time for playfulness just like there’s time for seriousness.

But if every thing we work on is for money—we’ve got a problem.

Maybe not right away, but only grinding through unfulfilling work we’ll burn ourselves out—into the ground.

If you can’t find joy in your job right now, then add it elsewhere. Start a no-pressure project you want to do for the sheer fun of it. Maybe it’s something in your industry or maybe it’s something completely new. By “no-pressure” I mean something that doesn’t directly involve your financial wellbeing. Your fun project can still have challenges and deadlines—it’s still something you want to start and then complete—but it’s not necessary some time to immediately turn into a side business.

We spend our entire childhood playing and learning and then when we transition to adulthood and work somewhere along the way we lose that sense of play and end up only working. Most of us go from play to no play. No wonder all we end up doing is partying, drinking andor stream shows!

So have fun with it. Go make something. Build something with your hands.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1072

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Advice vs. Criticism vs. Critiques

“The best advice comes from people who don’t give advice.” — Matthew McConaughey

Advice is what you get from people who you know andor admire. It’s something you ask for or it’s built into the DNA of y’all’s relationship. Candor and honesty are words that come to mind. Advice comes from an inner place of wanting to see the other person succeed and be happy.

+Criticism can sometimes be from people who you know, but it usually comes without you asking. It lives in the same apartment as negativity and complaining. It could be incredible advice—perhaps the best advice you’ve ever heard—but it usually comes from an inner place of fear and worry. Combine that with the fact you didn’t ask for it, you likely want to listen to it because of how it’s being given. And if you do listen to criticism and it turns out to be not true, it can be easy to jump to anger and resentment.

Criticism can also come from people we don’t know and don’t admire—this type of advice should be quickly ignored and discarded.

+Critique is advice you receive from your colleagues and peers. If you’ve taken an art class of some kind, then you’re likely all too familiar with critiques of your work. Another word we use is feedback. Having good clean feedback from people who are playing the game (or who have hands-on experience with the game) can help you improve and create better work. Critiques come from a place of mutually desired growth.

There can also be critics who judge your work by their own personal perspectives and standards. Sometimes critic feedback can be good, sometimes it can burn. There’s a lot of variables, so use your best judgment on what advice/feedback you deem worth listening to.

Which goes with advice, criticism, and critiques. Good advice should make you pause and consider yourself and your options. At the end of the day, you are the one that gets to decide what actions to take.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1071

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Learning to See

I recently found my old sketchbooks from middle school and high school. Back then, I remember thinking my art was pretty good. I would get compliments on them too (and not just from my mom.)

Looking at them now, I see how raw my skills were, how little I knew. Rough sketches of keyblades, characters from my favorite shows, still life sketches, all drawn with a heavy hand. Not to belittle my younger inexperienced self. I don’t see his (my) work as terrible or cringe-worthy. It’s more nostalgic than anything.

A big part of creative work, be it art, film, music, writing… is progressing to new levels of understanding and seeing.

At each stage, we use the knowledge and experience we’ve got to work with. It’s only until we reach a new level of understanding that we glimpse the flaws in our previous work. No—not flaws. It’s more like we go from standard definition to high definition, and then from HD to 4K, and so on.

SD only looks blurry and muddy in retrospect. At the time, it was sharp to our inexperienced eyes.

When you look at your previous work and see the flaws and what you would do differently, then you are in a good place. Because you’re able to observe what you couldn’t before shows how much progress you’ve made.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1070

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Naive-like Mind

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” — Henry David Thoreau

Sometimes more knowledge isn’t what we need.

Would you have ever built your company if you knew how hard it was going to be?

Would you have ever learned photography if you knew how many hours it would take for things to start working?

Sometimes all we need is a little faith in our current abilities, and enough chutzpah to do something that might not work.

Sometimes being naive is exactly what we need to be. Not stupid or gullible—I don’t think anyone grows up hoping they will become an idiot when they’re older. We can be smart and naive at the same time. Just like we can be an adult but have a childlike mind.

Being naive is like being a blank canvas or piece of paper. While everyone else is marked by fears and preconceptions about how things are “supposed” to work. You, on the other hand, don’t know any better and end up creating something no one has thought of.

The goal isn’t for us to give up knowledge—learning is an essential part of life—The goal is for us to be bold enough to try new things without holding ourselves back.

Q: How have you been holding yourself back lately? What’s something you think you can’t do because of X Y Z reason? Explore that.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1069

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Blood, Sweat, and Tears

“Take no thought of who is right or wrong or who is better than. Be not for or against.” — Bruce Lee

If you could go back in time and change your past would you? I reflexively think I would, but if I pause and dig a little deeper, I’m not so sure. If I changed things—rewrote mistakes and make a different decision—then the me I am now wouldn’t exist. (Now I have a sudden urge to rewatch Back to the Future, I wonder why?)

As much as I dislike some of the mistakes from my past, they’ve helped shape me into who I am.

Failure is an inflection point—a chance for us to change who we are.

Sometimes our mistakes can lead us to a better path.

Not always—a few too many wrongs turns and wrong crowds and we could easily be living life behind bars. And not always right away. But they do take our self-centeredness and giant egos down a few decibels and point us towards change.

It’s like the quote from the American actor Orson Welles, “If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.”

Perhaps you’re in the thick of it. Perhaps mistakes in your past are biting you right now. Well, dwelling on them won’t change anything. You may not be able to change your past, but you can change your future. Not immediately, but soon enough.

Imagine your life in a year. Who do you want to be? What does it look, sound, taste, smell, and feel like? Reverse engineering your way to that goal. Don’t aim for perfect—aim for better.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1068

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