Half Measures

“The simple act of paying attention can take you a long way.”

Keanu Reeves

Whether you are aiming for a multi-disciplinary life or focusing your efforts on one thing instead, one thing is for sure—giving only a partial amount of attention and energy won’t work.

Another way of describing it is like “dipping a toe in the water”, or “dabbling”.

The question you must ask yourself is “Am I being careful/cautious, or am I making decisions based on fear?”

There’s no room for timidness when pursuing your dreams—only tenacity. Dabbling is fine for trying out new interests, perhaps. But when you know what you want to do, only giving a half-measured effort won’t bring the results you are looking for. Whatever you are going after in this life, you have to go all in.

How can you go all-in when you are going after multiple things? By going all-in on what’s in front of you and making sure the task at hand has the most priority. There’s multitasking and then there’s something I call multi-focusing (to make up a word that’s a mouthful—like a hamster eating carrots).

If multitasking is attempting to do multiple things at once, multi-focusing is giving all your focus on one thing, and one thing well, and when you are ready, switching to the next thing and, again, giving all your focus to it now.

While your consciousness is focused on what’s in front of you, your subconscious is still mulling over the previous focus, coming up with new ideas, inspirations, and connections. You are splitting your time, but not your attention. Your attention is at 100%. This allows you to learn multiple skills, or achieve multiple goals at the same time. Not as quickly if you would focus on one thing, but still quicker than your average joe/jane.

The key to success in anything in life is to give it you’re all.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #916

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Practice #1: Do The Verb

Note: This is a post pulled from my premium monthly email publication, Practices. Practices the sister publication to Considerations. Where Considerations is about creative inputs, Practices is about creative output. If you are looking to up your game, sign up for Practices.


A few years ago, I was fed up with myself. I was constantly droning on and on about wanting to be a writer (likely to the annoyance of everyone around me). My heart was in the right place, but I just wasn’t doing it.

I had recently started a blog, Renaissance Man Life (which is now Renaissance Life) around the goal of writing more and my main goal of being multidisciplinary. The problem was I wasn’t writing.

I would tell myself that once inspiration struck, I would write something worthwhile and post it. But inspiration rarely came—if at all.

I was doing a lot of dreaming, but not a whole lot of doing.

I finally had an epiphany on how to resolve this after I started my podcast around creativity and mastery, and noticed a pattern between some early guests on the show.

Josh Green (@permanentrecorddrums) a musician, mentioned how he improved his skills by creating and filming a daily drum groove for a year.

Travis Knight (@travisknight), illustrator and designer, did something similar by drawing a “creep” monster every day for years.

After hearing their stories (and also being influenced by Seth Godin’s work) I decided to start writing a blog post every day.

Today, I’ve written 900+ consecutive blog posts and counting. Not only am I writing more and honing my writing skills every day, but I also feel like a writer.

Have I written a best-selling book yet? No. But each blog post is a step towards achieving that goal.

It’s impossible to be a writer if you never write.

That goes not just for writing, but for any craft you want to become great at.

Are you a musician if you don’t practice?

Are you a potter if you don’t sculpt clay?

Recently I came across this quote from Austin Kleon that summarizes the essence at what I’m driving at:

“If you want to be the noun, first do the verb”

The noun and the verb – Austin Kleon

Or in other words, if you want to be something, you have to go do it.

Of course, you don’t have to go out and start a daily habit like me. Writing daily is just what works for me personally and helps build momentum. You can just as easily work on your craft on the weekend, or weekdays after hours.

The key is to start.

If you want to be something, go do it.

Reflection: What’s one thing you want to do that you can start doing today?

“Practice yourself, for heaven’s sake in little things, and then proceed to greater.”

Epictetus

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #904

Note: This is a post pulled from my premium monthly email publication, Practices. Practices the sister publication to Considerations. Where Considerations is about creative inputs, Practices is about creative output. If you are looking to up your game, sign up for Practices.

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Zero Motivation: Part 1

“Every day, you reinvent yourself. You’re always in motion. But you decide every day: forward or backward.”

James Altucher

Why is it that the things we want to do most are the things we feel the least motivated to do?

It’s not as if we don’t have the desire or the ability. It’s not like we have to do chores or errands. It feels much easier to mow the lawn and run to Walgreens than it is to sit down and bleeping create something, like working on your book or practicing your music.

We want to do it. We dream about being great at it. And yet we do everything but. Steven Pressfield calls this The Resistance. A force within us is doing everything in its power to stop us from practicing our art.

I think the reason we often have zero motivation to get up and create is that we want it too badly. We tell ourselves we need to do it. We know we should be practicing. We build it up so much in our minds it feels too massive and difficult to start.

In this series of posts, I’ll discuss a few solutions I’ve found that have worked for me. At this

Solution #1: Start Small.

“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.”

Henry Ford

Do one tiny thing. It doesn’t matter what it is, just as long as it’s. Think of it as a motivation warm up. Trying to go from couch to flat out sprint isn’t going to go well. We’ve got to warm up our muscles first. The same is true for any practice or activity, not just exercise.

Go small. Start by setting a ridiculously tiny goal. (I think I might have stolen this concept from Tim Ferriss. Thanks, Tim.) The lowest of the low hanging fruits. Instead of “practice guitar for an hour every day” reduce it “If I pick up my guitar from it stands and hold it, I’ve won today.” Instead of “write five pages of my novel” change it to “If I get out my notebook and pen (or if I open up my writing app) I’ve won today.” Or replace “go on a five-mile walk” with “Put on my tennis shoes and workout clothes.”

If I want to learn something, I’ll look for one video, not a hundred. I’ll find one good book and work my way through it. If I want to practice something, I start small but leave room for big.

That’s it. Make it as easy as possible. Because it’s so easy and silly to just pick up our guitar, well, now that we’re holding it, we might as well strum a little right?

An alternate approach is to build momentum through physical movement. Let’s say you are trying to motivate yourself to draw, but you can’t quite pull yourself away from your phone to do it. Instead of immediately trying to jump into drawing, start with tidying up your desk to draw. Clean your entire room if you feel the urge to. Sure, you’re spending a lot of time not drawing, but that’s okay. Remember, this is just the warm-up. What we are doing is trying to switch ourselves from relax mode to create mode.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #895

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For The Hell of It

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”

Michael Jordan

A great sign you are on to something you should be doing every day is whether or not you could live without it.

What’s something creative you just can’t not do?
Something you would do even if you never got a dime (paid) for it in your life.
Something you think about often and talk about enthusiastically.

At the end of your life, what would you regret the most never doing?

This is a question that’s great for finding a driving factor in life.

This is art. This is your creative pursuit.

A creative pursuit is an amazing way to clarify your actions and priorities. Like lightning rod to lightning discovering within yourself work you can’t live without is an obvious answer to what you should spend your time doing.

Perhaps you won’t spend your entire life doing it. We are continuously changing, responding to the world around us and loving new things as we grow. We naturally live multiple lives — or book chapters — as we get older.

However, if we feel a passion for something, we should just add it to our lives first and foremost, instead of trying to fit it in to an already stuffed life.

We have to make the time. No-one is going to do it for us.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #637

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Creative Flow

“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.”

Jack Welch

There’s an interesting trend right now in technology (that you will begin to notice everywhere) where some apps and operating systems no longer have large update cycles. Instead of 2.0 to 3.0 massive updates that address problems and add new features in bulk, we are now seeing a steady stream of continuous updates. These updates are instant, and usually happen without notice. Google’s Chrome Browser for example. I don’t remember a single time I’ve had to actively update it. New features, tweaks, bug fixes, they just flow in while we aren’t looking or while we are sleeping. And, with more and more of our gadgets being connected over the Internet. This is a powerful shift in computing. Kevin Kelly calls this trend ‘flowing’.

What if we were to apply the same incremental, continuous approach to our own skills and creativity?

We aren’t computers. I can’t Matrix download Kung Fu into my brain in a couple of minutes (…yet). But there are ways we can learn and improve more optimally in this fast changing world. Daily habits, for example.

I’ve been talking to death about daily habits this year, but they are a great conduit to creating daily steps of improvement.

Habitualizing* our creativity enhances our creativity.

Whether my arguments of practicing daily habits persuades you, adding a ritual, a practice, around your work gives you access to an endless flow of ideas. Instead of creating something every now-and-then when the feeling strikes, you are putting pen to paper (so to speak) every time you practice.

Creative flow is our direct line to a stead stream of ideas, portfolio of work, momentum and community.

Personally, I don’t worry about writers block anymore, because I know that when I sit down (stand up) to write, I’ll have something to say. Because of my daily commitment to the craft, ideas flow.

Tapping into our creative flow also heightens our awareness of the world around us.

Our experience influence our work (and vice versa). By subconsciously / consciously knowing that we are going to create something, our mind seeks out the interesting out of our experiences.

One could argue that our job as creatives is to tell our story through our work. A part of that job is seeing the world as it is, seeing it as it could be, seeing what we like and dislike or find amusing or interesting — seeing the magic in the ordinary — and saying something about our observations with our work. (Or just creating stuff because it’s fun and we can’t not do it 🙂

Continuously creating gives us the abilities of creative flow.

It also elevates our skills faster than otherwise and gives us the freedom to pursue a life of creativity.

*Not sure if this is a word.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #636

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Life Principle #4: Input == Output

When I was growing up, the thought that food had any connection to how you felt was nowhere in the stratosphere of my brain.

I don’t think my parents — and probably their parents — didn’t understand it either. 

I’m sure someone out there knew that eating Eggos for breakfast every day before school would put you in a catatonic grumpy food craving rollercoaster all day, but I didn’t.

Side tangent: perhaps people who are apathetic just need a little more spinach and a little less breaded macaroni? 

My parents meant well, they just didn’t know. I think there was an inherent trust in food brands and government food opinions.

Honey Nut Cheerios, Coke a cola, McDonalds, Pizza Hut. They were helping you save a buck, right?

Another side tangent: perhaps food business didn’t know the effects of eating their products on your health either. Bottom line, not your bottom size.

It wasn’t until way after high school that I began to unlock the power of healthy eating. I started gradually. I didn’t immediately start eating all organic, making smoothies or avoiding restaurants depending on what kind of oils they cooked with. In fact, I started terribly! I probably did everything wrong in the book. But over time my understanding and intuition grew. And oddly enough, my allergies went away. I stopped getting sick ALL the time. I slept better. I felt better and didn’t feel so much like a walking zombie all the time. 

If there is anything you could point to that kick-started my journey towards pursuing a Renaissance Life it was health.

Renaissance Life Principle #4: Input == Output

In a way, the old adage “you are what you eat” is true. What you eat determines how you feel. It determines your strength, energy, liveliness, quickness. 

Your input equals your output.

And it doesn’t stop with food. Everything you consume, be that what you watch, read, listen to, surround yourself with and do directly effects how you think, believe, feel and see the world. 

Imagine it like someone who buys a dog. If you look at dog owners, slowly but surely the dog and her owner begins to look and act exactly the same. Does the dog change the owner or the owner change the dog? 

Both.

Not only does inputs determine our outputs, outputs reinforce what we input.

That’s why an outsider looking in might make fun of someone who only shops at Wholefoods and eats gluten-free, sugar-free cookies, and why that same wholefoods patron might make fun of the person who’s eating at Applebee’s.

The more you surround yourself with people, activities, and things you love, the more in love with your life you will be.

The higher quality of input you have, the higher quality of output.

Putting it into practice

Spend a day living normally, but writing down everything you do, see, eat, listen to, watch and surround yourself with.

Do the people you hang out with talk about ideas or just gossip about people?

When’s the last time you read a book that challenged you?

Becoming smarter, more creative, capable, ALIVE begins with doing and surrounding yourself with inputs that ARE smarter, more creative, capable and energetic.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursing,

— Josh Waggoner

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Related Insights

“Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.”— Oprah Winfrey

“If you want to become healthy, you have to surround yourself with a group of people that are getting healthy, and you have to be connected to a community that is doing what you want to do.” — Henry Cloud

“Be yourself, but always your better self.” — Karl G. Maeser

Making Time for the Most Important Things

How do I motivate myself to do the important things when I don’t feel motivated?

“I’ve noticed that my motivation to start my own freedom business is always at an all-time high when I’m at work, sitting at my desk, with the realization staring me in the face that I do not want to spend the rest of my life sitting in a cubicle all day every day… I feel a burning desire to take immediate action towards a freedom business. The only problem is that I’m at work so I can’t! When I’m finally on my own time and can focus on learning and creating the motivation is still there but not nearly of the same caliber.

Have any of you experienced a similar situation? If so, do you have any tips or tricks to channel, on command, that same level of motivation that I feel when I’m face to face with the reality of what my life will continue to be if I don’t take action now?”

 

Dear Creative Like Me,

I usually find myself in the same situations after work. A burning desire to work my pursuits — to write, learn, connect, code, design, write songs and build successful business — but also the need to rest.

Such a paradox —When I finally have time for what my soul is pining to do, I feel unmotivated to do them. (Heck!) Even more so recently since my energy hasn’t been great, and my three-headed demon.

The need of rest is good, but after resting, it’s easy for me to slide into mindlessness, which is the enemy.

Rest is equally important as effort, but mindlessness is the enemy to creativity.

I know I need to spend time creating and pursuing my goals, but I feel exhausted, obligated to other things and others, and reluctant to do so. (Even though I know doing so would create a better reality for me!) ‘Maybe Tomorrow’, I think. (But you know what they say about tomorrow.)

So what’s an motivated unmotivated creative to do?

One solution I’ve found is to

first re-energize yourself.

  • Go for a walk
  • Mediate
  • Talk to a friend / loved one
  • Read
  • Workout
  • or do something you enjoy that’s restful yet mindful

and second, sit down and

Start with purpose and intention.

It doesn’t have to be the best thing you’ve ever done, it just has to be something.

You just have to start and stick with it for as long as your able.

Oddly enough that lazy, tired feeling I have fades away once I start and keep pushing through. I think this idea goes along well with one of Dale Carnegie’s strategies for removing worry and despair by ‘losing yourself in doing.”

Taking action consumes your mind and leaves no space for exhaustion. 

My feeling of reluctance and fatigue doesn’t completely go away, but I become more comfortable with it, each day I do it. I think that’s how most people find their success, they learn to thrive in un-comfort. They make the uncomfortable, comfortable and do so continuously.

Personal success comes to those with the largest comfort zone.

 

Keep Pursuing,

Josh Waggoner, Renaissance Man.  April 18th 10AM EST, Chattanooga TN

If this article helped, let me know in the comments below, or via email: josh@renaissanceamanlife.com.

Dear Creative Like Me, If you are struggling with something and want some advice, email me your thoughts, and you question might be featured on the RL.

 

related wisdom

 

The secret of being miserable is to have leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not. The cure for it is occupation.

— George Bernard Shaw

People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.

— Zig Ziglar

Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.

— Mario Andretti

illuminate <

To be brilliant,

and therefore do brilliant things —

We must ask great questions.

 

“A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.” — Sir Francis Bacon

 

Thousands of questions and decisions surround us every day. Big and small.

We are all looking for answers.

Who am I? What’s my why? How do we improve? Can I make ___ better? What’s most important?…

What should I do today? How do I make new friends? What should I eat? 

The best way to find great answers is to ask great questions + 

Asking questions illuminates who we are and what we do. It shines a light on our inner world and gives us a view where we fit in the external world.

Action Step — Great questions lead to great answers. Ask great questions every day.

Ask at least one a day.

Keep a list of questions.

Periodically review them.

When you feel compelled to, answer and re-answer them.

Ask others to give you their answers too.

#KeepPursuing  Josh Waggoner

‘Brevity is the soul of wit.’  Email me your thoughts on this post. Can you reduce the essential idea further?

related wisdom

“I’m always looking, and I’m always asking questions.” — Anne Rice

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”  — Albert Einstein

Consistency

Consistent action —

is one of the (if not the) most important aspects of Mastering any skill +

To be brilliant,

We need to be deliberate about practicing and doing so on a daily basis.

deliberate — meaning we have to find the most impactful thing of the skill to learn — what’s going to get us to brilliance more efficiently.

For guitar, it’s learning scales.

For language, it’s learning the most frequently used words. (or if possible, immersion).

For programming, it’s problem solving and puzzles.

And then we keep practicing at an uncomfortable level — always just past our current skill level.

Practice Every day — Even if all you have to give is five minutes.

Five minutes is better than no minutes.

5 min a day = 35 min / wk

2 hrs / mo — 

28 hrs / yr —

140 hrs / 5 yrs —

700 hrs  / 10 yrs —  And that’s just Five minutes!

Small Consistent Actions Lead to Big Change +

This is the Renaissance Way

 

#KeepPursuingJosh Waggoner

‘Brevity is the soul of wit.’  Email me (josh@renaissancemanlife.com) your thoughts on this post. Can you reduce the essential idea further?