“I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.”
Vincent Van Gogh
The best ideas often come from raw and difficult experiences. It’s like we take everything we are feeling, ball it up and use what skill we have—be it our voice, guitar, words on a page, dance—and creatively express it out of us.
Creativity can be an excellent release valve when the pressure of life starts to build. Making something is a creative way to release what’s bottled inside in a positive way.
Difficult moments in our lives suck—but they also add a little bit more color to our story.
Difficulty is part of being human. At least it’s a big part of being creative and putting yourself out there. When I feel the most comfortable and complacent, my ideas suddenly dry up. Imagine that. It’s like we need challenge in order to be imaginative and create something worthwhile.
Now, challenge is not the same as sabotage or danger. It’s one thing to push yourself to the limit of discomfort, it’s another to sabotage yourself and make life difficult for yourself.
Challenging yourself and stretching your comfort zone is getting you somewhere. Sabotaging your success (and failures) with bad habits (or negativity) is only holding you back.
Remember, there will always happy “days” and hard “nights” in our lives. If you’re going through a rough night, keep your head up because night is always followed by day.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
To say there’s a lot of instability and uncertainty going on in the world is a top ten understatement of the decade.
Whether you have been affected directly or are sweating from the sidelines, a lot of what’s happening is outside of our control.
The difficulty of any problem we face is not letting fear and panic control us. Within every problem, there are two things happing simultaneously. There’s the event—your business is hurting, your finances are rocky—and then there’s our mind piling on worry and fear.
One of my favorite quotes by Amelia Earhart hits upon this —
“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.”
Fears are paper tigers.
Perhaps what you are going through is as bad as you think, or maybe it’s not bad at all but you’re panicking nonetheless. The question you must ask yourself is are my fearful or negative thoughts making it better or worse?
There’s a lot that can stop us, but the biggest culprit is usually ourselves.
The key to thriving in uncertainty is focusing on what in our control, not the things out of our control.
Everything that’s uncertain hasn’t happened. And if we strategize and take necessary precautions, it likely never will happen.
For as long as I can recall, I’ve always tried to live by example —
I would define living by example as the principle ‘what you say and value is what you practice.’
Living this way has given me a certain calming effect on those around me. I stand strong for myself, for my sisters, friends, and tribes. Even when the s is hitting the fan, you probably won’t see me losing my marbles over it, at least not externally. Naturally, people ask me for help and advice all the time. (which is rad, and one of the main reasons I started The Renaissance Life)
Tranquility in a sea of turmoil can be like a campfire on a moonless night.
Everyone (including myself) has some internal battle going on which they seek comfort and connection for. And the battles become louder and more fierce when you are pursing creative work.
Recently, a life-changing question was brought to my attention,
‘Josh, you stand so strong for everyone else, but do you have someone strong that stands for you?’
And that brought to the brink of tears. I was speechless. I didn’t know what to say…
Perhaps that is why I’ve had such a difficult time these last couple of years.
It’s felt as though I’ve had no one to go to for advice, or at least advice that wouldn’t be sandwiched with that persons own expectations for me.
It’s not easy admitting your weaknesses and failures to the world (or yourself.)
The truth is my life’s been one setback after another recently, all blobbing together into one monstrous dragon of frustration and overwhelm. What happened? Did I get hit with the unlucky stick? At this point so many bad outcomes have happened to me it’s hilarious now. But as difficult as things may be, I’m learning to be okay with setbacks.
Because no one ever said pursuing a life in creativity was going to be a piece of cheesecake.
When you feel as if you are at your lowest point, your way up is being open. Strength is found in Vulnerability.
Open to new ideas, beliefs and ways of thinking.
Open to asking for help
Open to change and spontaneous opportunity.
Difficultly should never be swept under the rug. (It’s not like you’ve gotten rid of it… now it’s just under a rug.) No, difficult should be out in the open. Especially when your giving your all in to climb the mountain to make your dreams your reality (e.g. building up a renaissance tribe and inspiring likeminded creatives.) In the dark, setbacks are pain and loneliness, but in the open they are ways to connect and inspire.
If you are not open with your tribe, how can you expect them to be open with you?
And even more so, If you are not open with yourself, how do you think you can possibly overcome your circumstances?
How to be Vulnerable
Vulnerable is being okay with where you are, even if where you are is not where you want to be.
It’s acknowledging unwanted emotions. Fear, anger, failure, lack of confidence, stress, loneliness… theses are all things we feel, and the cycle of fear that comes from feeling them.
Unwanted emotions are okay to have. They highlight areas we need to improve and tell us when something doesn’t align with our truth.
Vulnerability creates possibility for opportunity.
People know when you are hurting, they can see it in your eyes and feel it on you, even if you don’t notice it yourself. Sometimes hurt is like food stuck on your face. The only one who doesn’t know about it is you.
It may seem counterintuitive, but you can become stronger than you ever have, by being open and vulnerable.
The more vulnerable you are, the stronger you become.
Difficultly is part of your life’s story.
Instead of hiding your setbacks why not use them? Turn your difficulties into a story you can inspire and connect with.
And that has been my journey this past few years and my journey going forward.
Enter the three-headed beast.
My Three-headed Demon
They say never let them see you bleed, but I believe the opposite is true. Bleeding together is how your create incredible relationships and a cult following.
This is me being as vulnerable with you as possible:
I am not okay, and that’s okay.
Three setbacks that are feeding each other. Injury, Health & Finances
1. A Pain in the Neck
A few years ago, I injured my neck in a bad way. I’ll talk more on my experience later, but it was a hell-of-an experience. The first two weeks I could barely move. I went through some dark days early on, but I couldn’t live like that forever. And thus my journey into mobility practices, posture, mental strength and dancing.
Now I’ve reduced it down to a mild ache in the front of my neck right beneath the collarbone, but even still, a constant nagging frustration.
2. Chronic Fatigue
My health sucks right now. I’ve been fatigued for over 12 months and in the dark as to why. I’ve tried every sleep, health and wellness hack I can get my hands on, all the while questioning myself if its only a mental thing. Is this just in my head? Waking up tired and going to bed tired, rinse repeat gets to you after a while.
Finally I’ve begun to receive some clarity in what’s wrong. I’m allergic to half the things in the Universe! We’re still in the dark about the underlying cause, and cutting out foods I love is stupid, but worth it all if it gives me my energy back. Energy to create and live a Vibrant life.
3. Financial Meltdown
My finances are worse than my health right now. As my energy depleted so to did my financial health. Add that to increasing expenses and bad clients and you have me in full on panic mode. Can you say, cue crap your pants in french?
I am not okay, but I am okay with the challenges handed to me.
Because setbacks are something we all experience and creativity is something we all strive for.
And through my own, I can be in a greater position to connect and inspire you and others like me.
I want to show that my setbacks have made me a better me. Just as yours will make you a better you.
Setbacks don’t define you, but how you deal with them do. We become our best-selves from the challenges we take on. Not only are they your responsibility, they are path to the life you desire.
If there is one takeaway from my life, and theme of The Renaissance Life represents is capability.
You are capable.
You are capable of overcoming your situations.
You are capable of having a wonderful life of worth.
You are capable of living true to yourself, and being apart of something bigger.
My three-headed monster may be zapping my energy to do and be more than I am, it may even grow more ugly heads, but it won’t stop me from living and pursing a meaningful life, nor cherishing those who are important to me.
Don’t let your problems stop you, let them challenge you, and make you into a better you.
Thank you for your time,
Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner.
Let me know if this resonates in the comment below or @: email@example.com
P.S.You’re be the bee’s knees if you Join our newsletter below:
JOIN THE MONDAY MOTIVATION & BESTYOU365
Change starts with you. Are you ready to become your best self and have fun doing it?
“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” — Walt Disney
I could feel the stress flowing down my back,
like a waterfall too powerful to sit under without breaking you eventually.
I was zapped, emotionally and physically. And doing my damnedest to not tear up because of my current set of obstacles.
There’s was a physical heaviness weighing down my mind. Pessimistic thoughts were attacking me at all angles. It took all of my effort to not let the negative thoughts take control of the driver’s seat, but their barrage was paralyzing me. When things get bad, my mind cops by going numb — I refuse to let it.
The difficultly of finding new clients and work, plus the lack of physical energy to do so and the pain of an old injury was doing a number on me. A one, two, three knockout of setbacks that were feeding each other.
I didn’t want ‘tired, broke, and empty’ to be the title of my autobiography.
Something has to change!, I screamed within.
My mind is more clear than it’s been for months.
I’m not making enough, but that shouldn’t stop me from creating and pursuing what’s important to me.
I’m still tired, but I feel good.
My neck hurts, but I can help it by moving more.
Why the sudden change? What gives Josh?!
I’ve decided to focus on the possibilities and benefits of my setbacks, instead of dwelling on the downsides.
I’ve decided to choose health first.
I’ve decided to take a learning vacation.
And I’ve the liberty of taking a vacation from myself. I’m free.
I’ve let myself out of the cage that I helped build.
Because believe it or not, I was holding the key.
Just as you might be with your own cage.
Often times, the only thing holding you back from opportunity is yourself.
We get in our own way.
Q: How are you holding yourself back?
FEAR of Failure? ha no problem. I’m on vacation, you can’t scare me.
Feeling Stressed? not anymore. Vacation baby!
Feeling Stuck? you’ve got plenty of time to unstuck yourself now!
Okay okay, sure — I’m basically tricking myself — I’m still working. Still looking for clients. Still connecting, writing, design and a bucket-load of other things.
But my mindset has completely changed.
I’m looking up instead of looking down.
I’m not looking at the problems, I’m looking around them.
The only thing that’s changed is my perspective.
I’m still doing the work. I’m not slothing around. I’m not just doing whatever the wind tells me. But there’s a massive difference in my mindset.
Now that I’m out of my own way, I can do what I do, but better and more effectively.
My Learning Vacation Itinerary
Hone my design & developer skills.
Mastery the Art of the Interviewing for my podcasts.