Make Your Own Mistakes

“Often any decision, even the wrong decision, is better than no decision.”

Ben Horowitz

The worst decisions you can make are from a place of non-decision. A non-decision is a self-thoughtlessness one. Meaning, without consideration of why you are saying yes (or no) to something.

This comes from a place of not knowing what you want, and/or not taking the time to ask yourself what you want.

By not knowing what you want, big life decisions are made for you by the people in your environment.

In some regard, this can be a good thing. If you are surrounded by wise and thoughtful people, then they’ll want the best for you, and their influence will reflect that.

But what someone else thinks is the best for you and what you think is the best for you isn’t always the same thing.

Plenty of people have gone down the path of being a doctor or lawyer, not out of passion, but because that’s what their parents told them to do and that doing so would make them successful and happy.

But success and happiness aren’t always the same thing.

Sometimes what others deem as successful actually creates unhappiness.

Take the opinions of people whom you admire and respect into advisement, but make your own decision based on your own dreams and passions.

Even if you’re not sure what you want yet, it’s better to make a mistake by your own hands, than regret a choice by defaulting to someone else’s decision.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1084 ☕️

P.S. If you enjoyed this article, consider buying me a coffee 

Join the Renaissance:

NewslettersConsiderations | Practices |  Bookaholics

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

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

P.S. If you enjoyed this article, consider buying me a coffee ☕️

Join the Renaissance:

NewslettersConsiderations | Practices |  Bookaholics

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

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

P.S. If you enjoyed this article, consider buying me a coffee ☕️

Join the Renaissance:

NewslettersConsiderations | Practices |  Bookaholics

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Regret-free Decisions

Plenty of folks would look at my plate (interests/projects/dreams) and say that I say yes to too many things.

I’ve always been someone who has been interested in many subjects. Art, music, sports, exercise, technology, learning, etc. I also occasionally feel slightly envious of the people who can stick in one lane for most of their lives (for example, just graphic design). But I enjoy too many things to be that kind of person.

But you can’t do everything (at least not all at once 😜). So there’s always a matter of which pursuits to spend your time on.

I try to say yes to as much as I can tolerate without sacrificing health or quality. And if I walk outside of that tolerance range I rebalance.

Right now I’m less concerned about quantity and more about quality. Meaning, how can I say yes more to the right things (and no to the wrong things) instead of saying yes to things that don’t matter?

Ultimately what we decide is worth our time comes down to each of us. A question I ask myself is what I’ve found helpful is “would I regret not doing this in a year (or five years) from now?” Or said the opposite way, “would I regret saying yes to this after a year has passed?”

Pay attention to where you’re answers are coming from. Make sure they are coming from the heart and not from your wallet or from someone else’s mouth. Not that there is anything wrong with making money or following the path of another great leader—quite the contrary. And yet still. When it comes to making important decisions, make sure you know why or why not you’re saying yes.

Think of a decision like it’s not yours but a close friend making them. What would you advise them? Would you give them the same advice that you are giving yourself?

Consider all sides. And at the end of the day, if it turned out to be a bad call, then learn from it. Mistakes are scars earned. They can be something we try to hide and ignore, or something we learn from and wear like a badge that tells a story for others.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1050

P.S. If you enjoyed this article, consider buying me a coffee ☕️.

Join the Renaissance:

NewslettersConsiderations | Practices |  Bookaholics

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Doing What’s Necessary

“Take things as they are. Punch when you have to punch. Kick when you have to kick.”

Bruce Lee

Like many of us today, I’ve been having to make a lot of decisions out of necessity. Health, work, community, institutions, goals… everything is changing quickly.

In some ways, this can make you feel small like you’re compromising and giving up a little of who you are because of the realities you face. No, that isn’t precisely true. When we make decisions out of necessity, we aren’t giving ourselves away, we are holding on tightly to expectations and wants. Our expectations take hold of the reins and say “why me?”

We feel compromised because we refuse to give up our expectations of how our lives should look.

But when we let all of that go, we free ourselves up to move forward.

We aren’t suffering, we’re doing what’s necessary. We may not like it, but at least we are making moves that can lead us to better decisions.

There are three main types of decisions available to us. We can make decisions out of

  • Joy
  • Necessity
  • Or Pain

Joyful decisions are always the happiest because we’re doing them because we want to and we find them fulfilling. Accepting our dream college or dream job. Finding your partner. Building a successful business. Working on your health. Spending your money wisely. Anything that brings Joy into the world.

Necessary Decisions can be tough, but they are usually the most rewarding. This is where we take punches but get grow from the experience. They are sometimes even more rewarding that Joyful decisions because they can make us strong and capable when we lean into them and learn to be uncomfortable. Doing what’s necessary feels like a hard day’s work that fun enough feels good and gives you quality nights of sleep. Whereas Joyful decisions are not always appreciated until much later and can be easily taken for granted if we are paying close enough.

Painful decisions are the worst and should be avoided when possible. This is where hard and painful lessons live. This is where we are so stressed we aren’t pausing to think things through. So we end up making a bad decision or a decision that doesn’t align with us. It’s when we are given the choice between A and B, and forget that we don’t have to choose either because we can do C instead. Or D.

The best thing to do about a painful decision is to step away from the immediacy and intensity and find a calm(er) place to figure out how to rework the problem until it becomes a necessary decision instead.

When left with two bad decisions, come up with a better option. And if that doesn’t work choose neither. Especially if both options are trying to coerce you into something you aren’t. And if nothing works then do what’s necessary and keep an eye out for a better opportunity comes along.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1039

P.S. If you enjoyed this article, consider buying me a coffee ☕️.

Join the Renaissance:

NewslettersConsiderations | Practices |  Bookaholics

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

A Million Ideas

“Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.”

Steve Jobs

No matter how many good ideas we may have, we’re still limited by how much time we can give to each of them. Limited might be the wrong word. It’s more like deciding what not to do is an opportunity to choose what truly matters to us, so that we can focus our efforts on it, and temporarily shelf—or even let go of—the rest.

Making one idea become something special is hard at best. And trying to juggle multiple ideas can quickly become too much to handle.

We need to let some of our ideas go so that the more important ones have a better chance of succeeding.

Or in other words, we need to “kill our darlings” as the expression goes.

It’s a lot like planting trees. If trees are growing too close to one another, they will crowd each other out and won’t have as much nourishment they need to thrive. (Learned that little insightful nugget from Animal Crossing.)

Ideas need space to breathe. Try to grow too many ideas at once and you’ll split your time, energy, and attention to the point where none of them are getting what they need to succeed.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #997

Join the Renaissance:

NewslettersConsiderations | Practices |  Bookaholics

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Choose Better

“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes… and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.” Eleanor Roosevelt

I constantly feel pulled by the thousands of ways I should be and should do. The world tells you to be this kind of person, while at the same time telling you to be that kind of person. Oddly enough, both this and that exist simultaneously. 

There are a thousand ways you could create a company, or film, or song, or book. There are a thousand more ways you should dress, live, eat, talk, move, and travel. And 8 billion+ people are living some resemblance of a life out there in the world.

There’s an infinite number of ways you could succeed. Just as there are countless paths you can take in this life. But ultimately, you have to do what works for you.

A thousand ways doesn’t mean a thousand equally beneficial and rewarding options. Some will work better for others—some will work better for you.

That’s the great thing about life—we get to pick and choose what works better for us based on the results we get.

What is anger getting you? Where is creativity driving you? Who do you want to be?

That being said, some universal values tend to succeed no matter what path you take:

Be good (and mean it). Being a decent human being to other human beings, showing that you care about what you do and who you serve will work wonders in your life.

Take responsibility. Own up to your life—good and bad. Don’t ignore what you dislike about yourself. Learn to love yourself, despite your flaws, and challenge yourself to be better.

Lead when the moment arises and follow when the moment arises. Sometimes we just need you to stand up and show us what to do. Other times you’ll need to be humble and follow those who are wiser and more experienced than you.

Work hard. Change when things aren’t working.

And when in doubt—sleep well, eat clean or talk to a friend.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #957

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a coffee ☕️ or a new plant. 🌱

Join the Renaissance:

NewslettersConsiderations | Practices |  Bookaholics

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Test What You Think You Can’t Do

“Because your own strength is unequal to the task, do not assume that it is beyond the powers of man; but if anything is within the powers and province of man, believe that it is within your own compass also.”

Marcus Aurelius

“Most of our assumptions have outlived their uselessness.”

Marshall McLuhan

I’ve never had a good experience by making a decision based on an assumption. Assumptions are guesses, backed only by our own wish for how things should be. 

Assumptions are lazy decisions, or better yet, non-decisions. They are subtle and get us into more trouble than in many ways:

“I assumed you emailed them already.”

“Oh, I assumed you would go to the store to pick up what we needed.”

“I assumed you wouldn’t mind / I assumed you wouldn’t care. /I assumed you already knew.”

And it’s not just assumptions we have about others but assumptions we have about ourselves:

“I’m not confident enough to ask her/him out on a date.”

“I’m too old to learn a new language.”

“I’m too poor to start my own company.”

“I’m not smart enough / talented enough / pretty enough / brave enough … etc.”

But just because we assume something, doesn’t make it the truth. In fact, it’s likely the opposite that’s true.

If you think you can’t do something, there’s only one way to find out for sure —

Test it. 

Experiment. Give it the proper time to make sure. Spend a weekend testing one assumption. Go for a full week. Try a month. Make sure. Because otherwise, you are living your life by jumping from one guess to the next.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #915

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a coffee or a new plant or supporting the Renaissance in another way.

Join the Renaissance:

NewslettersConsiderations | Practices |  Bookaholics

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Yes Yes Yes No No No

When is an idea or decision worth saying yes to? I can think of 6 ways a decision can go:

1. Yes—I would love to do this.

For the majority of the time, these are the easiest decisions to say yes to. These are the decision’s we should say yes too, but there are quite a few situations that often make saying yes to what we love extremely difficult.

The first reason is bad timing, luck or lack of self-awareness — which I’ll discuss as #4.
The second reason being fear—which I’ll discuss as #5.

2. Yes — but you want to say no.

There are our most innocent and humbling decisions. Whether out of love, force, pity or magic, we agree, but would rather say no. As innocent as they appear, these types of decisions can quickly take over our entire lives. This the number one regret of the dying, “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” It’s great to help others, but if you are only living your life by the expectations of what others want for you, you aren’t making decisions for yourself or living at all.

Sometimes we say yes, but don’t know we should have said no. This is tricky because now we’ve said yes and are beholden to that choice. If there’s an opportunity to get out of it, do it. There’s no sense wasting our time on something we clearly don’t want to do. But if you’ve backed a yes with your word and reputation, see it through. We never want to waste our time, but we also want to make sure our actions also align with our words.

There’s a version of this type of yes that I’ve personally experienced. (Well, I’ve experience all 6 of these types of decisions, but this one was a real doozie.) Sometimes when you say yes, but you don’t want to (or you eventually figure out you don’t) AND then you keep doing it anyway—out of fear or obligation etc.—then you are on a short unfortunate path to burnout. There are many flavors of burnout, but one of the surest ways to burn yourself out is to continuously do something you don’t want to do.

Eventually you hit a wall and you’re body forces you to stop. That’s what happened to me anyway. My body’s response was—“Oh, I see. You’re going to keep working at this even though you know we don’t want to? The Nerve of this guy. He think’s he’s the boss. We’ll show him whose the real boss around hear.” Don’t let yourself be steamrolled by a decision you don’t even like doing.

3. Yes — but your future self won’t.

These’s are also painful decisions, usually based around an event, agreement or project in the future. It sounds so lovely (and distant), but when the moment arrives you completely dread it to your core. Ugh! Why did I agree to this?!

The key is asking yourself what your future self would want to do. “If this thing (that I’m about to agree to) was tomorrow, would I still want to do it?

It’s great to plan for the future, but keep decision locked in the immediate.

4. No — but you want to say yes.

In essence, you wish you could say yes, but the timing isn’t right or you’ve already committed and said yes to another earlier opportunity. Decisions like these aren’t worth your time dwelling over. Stick with what’s in front of you, and keep learning about yourself and your dreams. The better we know ourselves, the more accurate we can be in our decision making.

5. No — not right now.

This is a slight variation of the last decision (#4) and again comes down to timing. There’s only so many things we can say yes too. There’s only so much time to go around. If the timing isn’t right, it’s better to say No—not right now. And try to revisit it later.

For me, there’s a million-billion things I want to learn and experiment on, but if I tried doing them all at the same time, I’d make no progress on anything (and likely go insane). This idea is often called your “not right now list”. A list of things you want to do or see, but right now you are prioritizing other things instead.

6. No — I’d rather get dirt.

Knowing when to say no might be the hardest decision of them all. But saying no is also the most exhilarating and uplifting decisions we can make. It’s easy to say yes. It’s easy to say yes to things we want to do AND don’t want to do. But it takes training and discipline to say no.

No free’s up our time.

No gives us room to think, dream and play.

No opens up more opportunities.

In a backwards, up is down, left is right sort of way, by pursuing less, we end up gaining more.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #875

Join the Renaissance:

NewslettersConsiderations | Bookaholics

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Related:

No “yes.” Either “HELL YEAH!” or “no.” | Derek Sivers

8 Ways to Say No Without Hurting Your Image | Adam Grant

Getting Results

“Superhuman effort isn’t worth a damn unless it achieves results.”

Ernest Shackleton

Baking is a very precise skill. If your math is off, it will likely be noticeable. The classic expression is “cooking is an art, baking is a science”. Honestly, you could argue that both cooking and baking are in some ways an art AND in other ways a science. But I’m not here to mince words. (…pun intentional.)

Decision making is also as much as an art as it is a science. I’d like to say that it’s as simple as actions equal results — if I do x, then y will happen — but life is rarely that binary.

Action is extremely important. Small decisions add up to uncomfortable truths or successful outcomes depending on the decisions we are making (or trending towards) over time. One tragic example is getting in with the wrong crowd and getting busted (often in life-changing ways) even though you technically didn’t do anything wrong. Guilty by association.

But there’s also a lot of other factors at play.

I could be the best painter in the world, but that doesn’t mean my work will sell. Painting is one skill; Selling is another. (Again both have an art and science to them.) There are hundreds of examples of creatives in history who only became renowned after they were long dead and buried. And there are likely a million other examples of unknown creatives who never sold anything and never become known for their work.

Great results are more about probability. The more you do x, the more likely y will occur, but you should never assume y is inevitable.

Q: What can you do to make the outcome you want more likely?

The key is stacking the deck as much as you can in your favor. In Thinking in Bets, Annie Duke, American Professional Poker player breaks down decision making as the result of a great process, and “improving decision quality is about increasing our chances of good outcomes, not guaranteeing them.”

Does that stop luck, (mis)fortune and other people’s decisions from sweeping in and creating a negative outcome? No. Ultimately these things are not in our control. However, by “making better decisions starts with understanding this: uncertainty can work a lot of mischief.” If we expect the unexpected from the get-go, we will be more likely to think quickly on our feels and improv our way through unexpected events.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #865

Join the Renaissance:

NewslettersConsiderations | Bookaholics

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify