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-fulfilling Prophecy

“Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.”

Zig Ziglar

Does thinking you are lucky make you lucky?

Does having a bit of bad luck increase your chances of more bad luck?

Probably. If you think you’ve got bad luck, then you’ll be more likely to notice little misfortunes and frustration throughout the day. And the more you notice them, the more you’ll reinforce the idea that your luck is terrible.

The connection point here is thinking. We think something is true, and therefore we believe its true and seek experiences to back it up. In psychology, this is called Attentional Bias “Why, then, ’tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.“ (Hamlet)

When you think you have bad luck, you blind yourself from seeing the alternatives. Such as just happened to have parked your car under a tree where birds like to poop. Or simply forgetting your umbrella on a rainy day because it wasn’t by the door, instead of thinking the heavens are out to get you.

And it’s not just about luck—all emotions, desires, and thoughts reinforce us one way or another.

Our thoughts become self-fulfilling prophecies. We aren’t our thoughts, but the thoughts we allow in the front door of our mind change and influence us.

As the Buddha once said “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” And Marcus Aurelius, “Such as are your habitual thoughts, such also will be the character of your mind; for the soul is dyed by the thoughts.”

Thoughts translate to believes translate to actions translate to reality.

This isn’t one-to-one. There’s magic lost in translation.

Thinking “let there be ice cream!” won’t magically make a cone of ice cream pop into my hand. But it will get me thinking about ice cream. Chocolate… Cookie dough… Pistachio… Ice cream. Ice cream. Ice cream. And suddenly I’ll have an urge to go find some ice cream.

Outcomes are rarely assured. But stacking the deck in your favor (and removing the negative outcomes) makes them more likely.

When a negative/unhelpful thought creeps into your head, replace it with a positive/helpful one instead.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1017

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‘No’ is Better Than ‘Maybe’

—And that goes both ways (you saying no, or someone else telling you no).

The question is, which is scarier?

Getting a no, or never knowing because you never asked?

At least with a no, you can move on. You can try something new and different.

With a maybe, you don’t know what you need, and you feel stuck and overwhelmed. With a no, you understand where you stand and what you can do going forward.

To take charge of your life, you must fear maybe’s more than you fear no’s.

You must fear inaction — or lack of change — more than you fear action — what you might experience with action, such as failure, embarrassment, rejection, and criticism.

Otherwise where will you end up?

Exactly where you are and have been. Nowhere you want to be.

“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.”

John F. Kennedy

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1012

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Confidence Sandwich

“Courage is a mean with regard to fear and confidence.”

Aristotle

I find it quite difficult to jump into something new right away, like a new skill, habit, relationship, or idea.

When we start something new, it’s like we are a beginner all over again.

We’re excited, but we’re also nervous, and our confidence is unsteady.

We’re just starting out, so we’ll likely fail. And low confidence plus potential failure is a combination that usually leads us to throw up our hands and give up.

But not if you have a confidence sandwich. A confidence sandwich, or—if you prefer—a confidence burger, is stacking a low-confidence experience with two high-confidence experiences, one on top and bottom. Think Oreo—strong cookie exterior, soft gooey center.

This allows us to warm up with something that boosts our confidence, which gives us more impetus to try something new/different (aka the goal). And then we end on a high note with another confidence booster.

High confidence
Low confidence
High confidence

Or put another way —

Familiar/comfortable
Unfamiliar/new/uncomfortable
Familiar/comfortable

I use this when I’m practicing music. I’ll start with a song I’m comfortable with and have played many times. Then I’ll experiment and try new things. And I’ll end with another song I’m used to and enjoy playing.

You can use the confidence sandwich for any situation that requires an extra boost of confidence.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #962

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Fool’s Errand

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

Richard P. Feynman

Don’t mistake action for progress. Movement is good, but if you’re going in circles you’re not going to see the results you are looking for.

For example, no amount of programming you do will make you a better guitarist. It might give you ideas, but it won’t make you better at songwriting—only practicing guitar can do that.

Here’s a subtle one—posting and commenting on social media for your business or client. Will it get you likes? Sure. Will those likes turn into sales or true fans? Maybe a few. But it won’t make your product better. That takes work and customer research.

Progress is doing the right things on the stuff that matters to you.

Everything else is either play or a waste of your time.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #949

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Get it Done

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.”

Bruce Lee

Ideas last longer when you work on them before you talk to them.

It’s not that your ideas will get stolen.
It’s not that sharing your ideas with others is bad.

It’s because talking about an idea before do it takes away its momentum. You lose the drive to act upon it because talking about it feels like you’ve already done it.

There’s a great insight from Marcus Aurelius that hits on this idea nicely, “Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.”

Your idea is awesome! Now go work on it some. Test it out with customers. Make the first draft and then discuss it with friends and colleagues.

I’m saying this to myself as much as I am to you, my friend. I’ve had countless ideas in the past that I never did because I lost the motivation and momentum after talking about it but never put it into action.

No more. Now I do my best to only discuss what I’m actively working on, and save the discussion of ideas I haven’t started until I’ve put pen to paper, so to speak.

In my mind, the best ideas are the ones that get done.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #923

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The Undo Button

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.”

Bruce Lee

It’s easy to make tasks grow into monsters in your mind. A large and heavy goal can become too impossible to start. There’s just too much pressure riding on it.

Sometimes the desire of something so badly becomes the reason that stops you from getting it.

This goes for love, to be sure, where we fantasize about being with someone who really isn’t that person we are making up in our heads. It also rings true for any outcome or success we wish to achieve.

The desire to become healthy, and the tightly held tension in the attempt (or vision) to make it happen becomes the stressor that leads us to being unhealthy. Or, more often, we become more healthy in how we were striving, becoming a runner for example, but become unhealthy in areas we aren’t paying attention too, such as always eating junk food.

It’s good to pause every so often and look at the whole playing field of your good habits and bad habits you currently have. Our bad habits are often hampering or subtracting our good habits, leaving us feeling like they aren’t helping us, or that we aren’t making any progress.

For example, having a good habit of doing great work at your job, but having a bad habit of mis-communicating or even not communicating what you are doing and why. Nothing kills a project like forgetting to stay in touch with the client and updating them on your progress.

To make a goal possible, we need to take the pressure of it off our shoulders. What would it look like if you were doing it for fun, rather than doing it because you need or really want to? Think about how you can break the goal into smaller and smaller components. It’s difficult to act on something that isn’t tangible and easy to grasp.

Instead of trying to accomplish this giant scary thing, why not start with this tiny un-scary thing first? Remember—on a micro level, there’s very you could do that you couldn’t immediately undo if it doesn’t work out. Didn’t work out? No problem—undo it. Get in trouble for trying something new? Apologize and go back to where you were before. Small decisions add up on a large time scale, but here in the daily actions of today, small decisions are rarely permanent and can easily be rolled back into something that works better for you if need be.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #917

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Zero Motivation: Part 2

“I never worry about action, but only inaction.”

Winston Churchill

There’s a lot of things that I fear. I fear of making the wrong decisions and never recovering. I fear complacency. I get nervous whenever I talk in front of a crowd, or sing and play music in front of others. I even get nervous every time I’m about to record a podcast interview. I play it off easily, but my heart is thumping loudly in my chest. But there’s one thing I fear more than anything and that’s inaction.

One thing that really kicks me into high gear is considering the consequences of inaction. 

Perhaps its because I enjoy many disciplines (art, music, design, programming, dancing, health, etc), but I’m keenly aware of how little time I actually have to focus on learning and creating. 

After a relationship, job, friends, family, dog, eating, exercise and rest, there are only a finite amount of hours remaining to pursue creativity and learn new skills. It’s easy to forget and fall into a spiral of endless tv and movies on the dozens of (and growing) streaming platforms vying for our time. Don’t get me wrong— I love entertainment. I love a good story. I watch TV and movies and read fiction and occasional play games. For example, I’m obsessed with the limited series DEV’s right now, from FX on Hulu. But is entertaining myself at the same level of importance as pursuing my dreams? I think not. Otherwise, my priorities are misaligned.

Besides starting small and building momentum, another great way to motivate yourself to do something is through fear of inaction. 

Solution #2: Fear Inaction Over Action

Having a dream by itself isn’t enough. How many countless people over the centuries have come and gone without fulfilling their dreams or living a life true to themselves. It’s sad but true. And it can happen to us too. Having a dream doesn’t mean it will happen. That takes work and the discipline to work even when you don’t feel like it at the moment.

Is this something you want? Is this goal of yours something you are passionate about?

Then take a good long at what’s preventing you from doing it. Passion is the true motivator. But fear of inaction is what get’s the engine revving. 

Fearing inaction essentially means paying attention to what your life could look like if you didn’t act. Imagine yourself learning how to write and practicing writing every day for the next five years. What kind of writer would you be then? Would you have a bestselling novel? Would you impact not only your life but the lives of others everywhere? Now imagine yourself not writing for five years. You wanted to, but you never made the time for it. Things always seemed to get in the way. And now, five years have gone by but your dream of being a writer hasn’t moved an inch. This is the heart of fearing inaction.

Replace “writing” with whatever it is you desire to do— dance, practice guitar, calligraphy, run, become a vegan, etc.

This isn’t about patience. This is is about complacency. By fearing not taking steps towards our goals, we learn to push through our lack of motivation and what we are feeling like at the moment (lazy, tired, bored, achy, sore, depressed, sad, scattered, etc) And find a way forward. 

We take action because if we didn’t we would regret it.

Now ask yourself, “if I didn’t do _____ today, would I regret it?”

“In a year from now, what would I regret not having done?”

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #896

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A Whole Lotta Learning. Not A Whole Lotta Doing

“He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast.”

Leonardo da Vinci

Learning is a double-edged blade. It can be your greatest opportunity to knowledge and becoming the person you want to be, but it can also be your biggest hindrance. Without practice and application of what we are learning, we are essentially wasting our time. If all we do is jump from one interest to another without using them, we might as well be binging TV.

Skills, values, character, dreams, goals, ideas—none of these things amount to anything without putting them into practice.

Reading a book is the start.
Taking a course is a great way to learn.
Watching tutorials on Youtube can save you a load of time.

That’s more than most will ever do.

But that’s just the first step. Learning doesn’t replace doing. And learning doesn’t get us anywhere by itself. Sure, we can talk big, but one look at our work and any professional will be able to see that we don’t have anything tangible to back up our words.

We need both learning and application to succeed. Now we have to put our knowledge to the test.

The tricky thing is we keep staying in learning mode because we think our skills are good enough. We want to be a professional, so we keep learning but never practice or show the world what we have to offer. This is a lie.

The best thing about practice is its learning in motion. When you practice something, you are both learning and doing at the same time. You might not be as good as you want to be (…yet). But every time you pick up the guitar, or pen or paintbrush, you are getting in your reps.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #893

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Initiative

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.”

Amelia Earhart

The only thing that separates those who are successful and those aren’t yet is the willingness to act on their ideas. (Well, that and a lot of good luck.)

Initiative is —

  • Listening to your gut.
  • Figuring out how even when you are unsure where to start.
  • Pursuing your dream, instead of being idle
  • Not only having ambition but putting it into practice.

Initiative is putting your ambition into practice.

It’s tasing your hand in class or speaking up when the opportunity strikes. 

Initiative is seeking opportunities versus waiting for an opportunity to magically come to us. If you don’t ask- if you don’t try- if you don’t act- if you don’t speak out- then who will?

Everyone will tell you how you should live your life. But it’s up to each of us to choose who we want to be and what we want to do.

If there’s an idea you feel driven to try — Go for it.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #884

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