Analysis Paralysis

“Our nature consists in motion; complete rest is death.”

Blaise Pascal

Momentum requires movement. Think of a fire—a spark is nothing and 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 #1004

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Creativity and Chaos

“In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.”Carl Jung

“Chaos is a friend of mine.”Bob Dylan

I wonder how many songs or other forms of art will be created from the strange times of staying at home because of the 2020 Pandemic? Leon Bridges and John Mayer’s Inside Friend. Jaden’s Cabin Fever. Little Things. Exile.

I feel oddly peaceful today, despite the chaos happening in the world and the personal anxieties surrounding me. Perhaps God is shining a little ray of hope on me. Perhaps its because I’m not letting my thoughts control me today.

Looping negative or discouraging thoughts in my head is far from helpful, and adds more weight to my troubles. Despite knowing this intellectually, it’s still difficult to keep my mind running away from itself.

Presence helps. I’m walking underneath an extremely large and old tree, watching the lights sparkle through the shadows of its leaves. I wish I knew what type of tree it was. By focusing on what’s around me, I can lose all sense of my self-centered problems.

Creating helps. I feel ten times better when I push past resistance and prioritize creativity first and put in the work on my passions. Depending on the day, I might only get a chance to write in the last thirty minutes to an hour before bed. But when I actively take the time to write early in the day, lifts my mood and energy. “Actively” being the keyword here. It is almost tragic how much effort it takes to get around to working on the things you truly wish to work on. Secret dreams. Side projects. But when you finally do it’s like a weight has lifted. Why am I not doing more of this? It still takes energy, there’s still a sense of fatigue at the end of the day, but its a calming fatigue. A daily well-lived.

Taking breaks helps. It’s easy to forget that we aren’t robots. It’s not smart trying to compete with a computer. Computers never sleep, never get hangry, and never get bored. But they do crash every so often 😉 We, on the other hand, have human needs, but we also have a greater advantage of being more creative and thinking.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1002

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Chase Your Interests

Here’s a surefire way to feel unfulfilled and miserable:

Do things you dislike/don’t want because other people tell you too.

I’m not talking about the little things—like taking out the trash or unloading the dishwasher. Little things like this keep us humble. No, I’m talking about the big things, like what school you want to go to, what you want to do for a living, or where you want to live.

Opinions can be helpful, but if they go against what you feel is right, then they’re actually hurtful instead. Making a decision because it’s “the right move”, “the smart thing to do”, “most economical” or “the safe choice” is a terrible thing to base a decision on. Anything we do, no matter how safe it may seem, has the chance to fail. The only thing certain is nothing is certain.

I don’t think it’s a good idea to make decisions out of fear and fear alone. When I’m scared, I’m rarely in a clear and rational headspace, am I’m usually ignoring what I feel as well.

Does this opportunity make me feel joy and excitement? Does this get me jazzed at the possibilities?

If it doesn’t, take some more time to think and journal it over. I’ve learned the hard way that making decisions that’s rational but ultimate against what’s right for me will ultimately come back to haunt me in weird emotional ways.

For example, taking a job for the shear money alone (even though you have no interest in taking it) might solve your immediate needs but strange problems and unlucky circumstances will start popping up. You’re listening to your mind, but you are ignoring your heart.

Emotional / Heart problems manifest in odd ways —

Your immune system won’t be as strong and you randomly start catching colds more often. Or you wake up feeling tired and don’t understand why. Or you wind up spending all of your free time too exhausted to do much of anything besides eat, watch tv and play video games. Nothing is inherently wrong with any of those things. I love watching new enthralling shows (like Dark on Netflix). However, what’s wrong is masking how your feeling—i.e. dissatisfaction with your career or current group of friends—by veggie tailing out and avoiding having to change.

But what happens if you don’t change?

Things won’t stay the same—things will get worse, meaning you’ll feel worse and not know why. You’ll keep digging yourself in a hole of dissatisfaction, listening and valuing everyone but yourself.

Enough is enough.

Chase your interests instead. Don’t compromise on your values. If you end up being wrong, then apologize and change. But better to be wrong than to dislike your life.

What do you enjoy doing more than anything?

What skills/hobbies have been tickling you in the periphery? What do you want to try?

Forget whatever one else wants for your life. Who do you want to be?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #960

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Make a Plan

“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”

Pablo Picasso

Change starts with a plan. …Well, actually it starts with a desire and commitment to change (usually because you’re fed up with something—our you’ve hit rock bottom). But then, a plan!

Otherwise, we can get distracted by other ideas and inspirations that pop in our heads while we are working.

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.”

Alan Lakein

Planning—or at least the kind that I have in mind—isn’t about following your roadmap to “down to the letter”, more like giving yourself clarity by having a strategy on what direction you want to go.

Dwight D. Eisenhower said it eloquently “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” Planning gives us a direction and a willingness to act. A plan gets us moving. Unexpected things will inevitably happen, and we’ll have to do so freeform jazz to keep going, but that’s fine and doesn’t surprise us because we’ve planned for that to happen too.

You know you’re at A, and you want to get to E, and you think B C and D will get you there. But along the way A ends up leads to G and then C, H, M, U, and finally E. Sometimes we might not even get to E because we find H much more fun and rewarding.

One thing to note: Planning isn’t doing. Don’t mistake dreaming up plans as actually putting in the work to make them happen.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #959

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Get Active in Your Own Rescue

I love this quote from Marcus Aurelius:

“Get busy with life’s purpose, toss aside empty hopes, get active in your own rescue—if you care for yourself at all—and do it while you can.”

I read it recently in The Daily Stoic. I love it because it sums of own of my life principles so eloquently. Get active in your own rescue.

There have been quite a few quotes I’ve encountered on my journey that rings with a similar tone:

“To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.”Bruce Lee

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”George Bernard Shaw

“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

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

My version pales in comparison, but it’s —

You are Your Own Renaissance.

Meaning, change starts with you. No one wants it more than you. Perhaps you’re dealing with problems, perhaps you dislike habits and things about yourself, perhaps you wish your life was different—well no one is going to make that happen for you.

Waiting for someone to change our lives for us won’t get us anywhere.

As much as I wish someone would do it for me, it’s not going to happen. I’m the one who has to get active and take steps to make the change happen. If with (generous) help, I still must be willing to change and stick to that aim.

It’s not about refusing help, or going it alone—it’s about owning up to your life and the kind of person you want to be.

If you care for yourself at all—then to hell with problems, fears, and circumstances—go out and create yourself and make it happen.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #950

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The Opportunity to Change

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Have you noticed that there’s always this tension inside us between who we are, who we were, and who we want to be?

Each day, our choices define us. Some days are certainly better than others. 

Yesterday, I had all these ambitions about what I wanted to accomplish after work, but in the end, I mostly found myself feeling bored and spent the evening not doing much.

Some days it’s easy to look at yourself—your problems, your personality, your looks, your circumstances, your surroundings—and dislike what you see. But I don’t think dis-liking ourselves is inherently a bad thing. The key is to not blame yourself—as in who you are—rather, look to what you are doing that is causing you outcomes you don’t want. By noticing something we dislike, we become aware of a part of ourselves that we want to change. Dislike is only detrimental when it turns to hate. When dwell on something we can’t change, or wish we would change but fear to do it, our self-distaste becomes self-loathing. It’s difficult to do or change anything when you hate yourself.

Why was I feeling bored and undisciplined? Because I ate an unhealthy meal and spent too much time watching shows on my phone. I’m wasn’t the problem. The problem was what I was doing. Giving into easy—avoiding the things I really wanted to do instead.

It’s okay to be flawed. We are all flawed in some form or fashion.

For me, it’s taking on too many things at once. I know that I do it, I know when I’m about to do it and becoming aware of our challenging behaviors is how we can begin to turn them into something positive. The practice I’ve taken on is saying yes to things that matter to me and saying no to things that don’t. This is my practice. This is how I can get better.

Flaws show that we are human. Nobody likes a perfect busybody with great hair and style. In some ways, flaws are interesting personality quirks. Perhaps your constant tardiness is endearing and makes others smile. Maybe your ability to continuously get parking tickets is part of what makes you YOU.

—To a point, of course. There comes a point where a bad habit or a flaw becomes something that’s holding you back. When you want something to change—when you feel like something needs to *give*—then it’s time to make a plan and let change happen.

Things will change—and change gives us the opportunity to make things better.

Better for ourselves, sure. But also better for everyone we come into contact with.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #946

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You Are What You Want to Be

“What I have is a malevolent curiosity. That’s what drives my need to write and what probably leads me to look at things a little askew. I do tend to take a different perspective from most people.”

David Bowie

What makes you you?

Is it your likes and dislikes? Is it your culture or your heritage? Is it where you go to school or what you do for a living? What about your taste in podcasts or your ironic mug collection? Is it your fashion style (or lack thereof)? 

There’s a lot that goes into making a person. Sure, you’ve got your blood, muscles, and bones, but there’s a lot that we naturally absorb as we live our lives. We absorb what’s around us and either accept, ignore, or reject everything in millions of ways. 

Music plays a large part in our foundational makeup. We identify who we are by the music we are interested in. Lack of music defines us too. Every so often I’ll run into someone who doesn’t like music, or at the very least doesn’t listen to it. To me, this is baffling (This emoji sums my reaction up nicely: 😧) — how can someone not like music?! But it’s true, and that’s a piece of what makes them who they are. 

I wouldn’t say that I grew up in a musical household per-sé. My first concert was likely a Christian pop or rock band like the Newsboys or Audio Adrenaline… I definitely got my taste in the 60s, 70s music from my parents. Creedence, Thin Lizzy, The Bee Gees, and AC/DC — from my dad. Prince, Tears for Fears, The Beatles, Michael… — from my mom.

Friends and other people I looked up are a huge influence on my taste in music. One key influence was from my friend Jake Lemons. (Hey Jake 👋) Being a killer guitarist, he’s the one who lit the spark for my interest in learning to play music (him and my grandfather). He’s also the one that helped me find Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, and Ozzy — the kind of people who take music to a whole new level. (Def Leppard: Pour Some Sugar On Me — Jimi Hendrix: “…Hold my beer”)

It’s funny how a single person, a small moment, or a passing conversation can have a massive impact on your trajectory in life.

A spark is the best analogy I can think of at the moment. Influences are like little threads that lead us down a path towards who we are. One second we are seeing in low-resolution standard definition, and the next second we are seeing in 1080p. We’re not quite at 8k HDR yet, but if we keep searching we’ll get there before we know it. 

And at the heart of it all— music tastes, personality, dreams, etc— is discovery. I discovered who I was by taking an interest in things. 

Or put another way —

You are what you want to be.

Curiosity makes us who we are. *Deciding* to do, like, or be a certain person makes us who we are. Allowing ourselves to be influenced by the people around us makes us who we are. Most of the time this isn’t a conscious decision we make. Rather, something we just do and notice (or not) afterward. Oh, wow. It looks like I just ate the weight of a triceratops in ice cream — again.

Invisible scripts run a lot of our lives. But not if we decide to do something about it. If there’s something you don’t like about yourself, or how your life looks, you can change it. Depending on what it is, it might not be easy — but it’s possible. You have the power to own your life. And it starts with seeking it out.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #935

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Creative Plateaus

“If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.”

Epictetus

On your journey in pursuing your dreams, you’ll occasionally experience moments where you feel like you are making no progress at all. You’re keeping up with your practice and you’re putting in the hours, but you’ve reached your current limit.

Plateaus typically occur when we’ve used and leveraged all the resources and ideas that we know and we’ve reached a point of uncertainty. We are putting in the hard work but we are not seeing the results we were previously seeing. How do I get better at what I do? How do I reach that next level? Should I or should I do something else?

Plateaus are defining moments. They allow us to prove how committed we are. Things have slowed down, and/or your interest has waned— will you keep moving forward or will you give up? 

Sometimes all it takes is us to keep going. In this case, the plateau is a mind game. We are making progress, but the results are adding up so subtlety we often miss them. But if we stay consistent, our small improvements will eventually add up to something noticeable.

If consistently isn’t making any headway, then we need to change our approach. We could take on the challenge from a different angle by testing our assumptions and trying new things. Who’s done this before and what habits, traits, questions, and actions did they use to find a way forward? We could also reproach the fundamentals. We were a beginner when we started, so there’s likely a lot of things we missed the first time. Mastering the basics raises us to a new playing field. 

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #925

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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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Practicing Character

“Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught.”

J. C. Watts

When you do something nice for others, like donating money to medical causes or treating the checkout clerk like a human being, you’re doing it out of kindness, but you are also doing it for yourself. And I don’t mean selfishly. Rather, our actions are a byproduct of our character. And the same is true said in reverse— our character is spoken through our actions.

Character and action are two way streets. What you do is a reflection of who you are. Not just what you do for a living (although that’s a piece of it) but everything you do (or don’t do).

Which means every decision is an opportunity to practice building our character.

Patience, generosity, sincerity, persistence, optimism, ambition, courage, charm, humility, encouragement— these are all things we can practice in our daily lives.

If we don’t practice them, how else would we except to get good at them? Magic beans?

One simple practice I like to do is whenever I’m leaving the grocery store, I take my cart back to the store’s entrance. It’s so tempting to unload your groceries in your car, and they peel out of the parking lot, leaving your buggy next to where you parked. What the big deal anyway? I don’t have time to bring it back. It’s someones job to gather up all the loose carts anyway. Why should I do their job for them?

Because you are doing it for youself as much as you are doing it for them.

Everything we do not only sends a message about who we are to those around us, but also ourselves.

By leaving your empty cart where you parked and driving away, you are telling yourself that you are lazy. Alternatvely, by taking the cart back to the store’s queue, you are telling yourself you are hard-working and not to mention caring to boot.

The same is true for anything we do. Holding the door for others. Not letting our angry control us when someone cuts us off or someone loses their temper. Cleaning up after ourselves. Following through with a promise or conversation. Staying true to what we value.

It’s like the old saying goes, “How we do anything is how we do everything.” Especially when no one’s around to keep us accountable.

That’s why I adopted a “Do it Now” mentality. Not everything has the same amount of importance and priority, but taking care of things when they need taken care of is a great way to practice character. If there’s a pile of dirty dishes in the sink, I’m going to clean them now, instead of later. Even if that means I have to unload the clean dishes from the dishwasher first before I can put the dirty ones in. If there’s a thing around the house that needs to be taken care of, I jump on it. If I’m in the middle of something, I’ll focus all my efforts on that one thing, before I jump to the next.

These are tiny things, but they make all the difference.

Because your actions are telling yourself that “I’m the type of person that get’s things done.” This isn’t a blame game. Just because someone else isn’t doing it doesn’t mean I get to point a finger at them for being lazy. Because if I did I would only be practicing characteristics I don’t want to be.

I’m far from perfect, of course. Some days I can barely manage to do my nightly routine and don’t have the energy to clean up the house or put away my fresh laundry. So then I double down the next day. But if I do manage to put away my clothes when I don’t feel like it, I know I’m working my character mental muscles and showing myself what I’m made of.

Remember, It matters less what you’ve done and more what you do.

If you want to be strong, practice strength. If you want to be resilient, learn everything you can about how to persevere in chaos and get back up when you fail.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #902

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