Overstimulated

One thing you’ll battle as a multidisciplinary is too many inputs (TMI 😜) vying for your time and energy. Heck—everyone alive in the modern connected age is bombarded with knowledge and information nowadays, not just Renaissance types.

Put aside all the ads, opinions, and data you don’t care about, even the knowledge we seek out can be TMI and overstimulating at times.

On any given day, there are dozens of books, hundreds of videos, emails, articles I want to consume, and thousands of decisions I could take, but just because I have the options doesn’t mean I should try doing them all (especially all at once.)

I always feel particularly overstimulated on days (like today) when I haven’t slept well or when I’m not at my best. Noticing this feeling is the first step to counteracting it. When you notice something is off, you can lighten your load for the day (as much as you can allow) and reduce the pressure of the daily fire hose of information.

Minimalism is a good practice to follow to reduce overwhelm. The last thing you want to do when you are overwhelmed is go shopping, or watch 15 shows on Netflix, or stress about all the important things you should be doing today but can’t quite muster up the energy to do.

Filtering is Key.

Quality over distraction. Fewer options. Remove any visible reminders of todo or potentially todos in your immediate environment. Limit access to your phone or computer (only the essential current needs.)

One Thing at a Time.

Do what you need to get everything else out of your head so you can focus on what’s in front of you. Prioritize your tasks, but focus only on the immediate priority. Pretend like nothing else exists during this time you’ve allocated.

Remember What’s Important.

Make sure you actually have to do the things you think you have to do. Is this required of me? Is this task mine? Is this my responsibility? Or am I adding unnecessary items to my to-do list?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1190

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Dosey Doe

I tried therapy for the first time the other day. It was just the initial interview or-what-have-you, so I don’t have too much to write home about. But there was one nugget of advice I took away and have been thinking about ever since.

I was talking about various things—you know, as you do—and I mentioned that I’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately and that usually is because (or correlates) with low energy days and/or not sleeping well.

And then the therapist said something along the lines of—

“Did you know that energy creates energy? Doing things you would be doing if you were energetic often leads you to actually feeling like you have high energy.”

Or put another way, energy meets you where you are.

Low energy actions will give you low energy. Just as high energy actions create high energy outputs. Exercise being the key example—exerting energy makes us energized.

The idea is to focus on doing the things that bring us more energy, instead of the things that take/drain decrease our energy.

I wonder if this idea is true for all aspects of our lives.

Does stress create more stress? Does wealth generate more wealth? Does overwhelm spawn more overwhelm?

What if all we need is to simple *do* what we need?

Instead of waiting to feel right or to feel ready, we can simply act first.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1187

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Mental Distractions

“One way to boost our will power and focus is to manage our distractions instead of letting them manage us.”

Daniel Goleman, author and science journalist

How many apps do you have on your phone? How many of them do you actually use? (Sidebar: If you’re interested in specifics, you can look this up in your phone settings.) How many email addresses do you have? What does your desktop or file folders look like? What websites do you check frequently? How many tabs do you have open right now on your computer???

Tabs are my embarrassing weakness. On any given day, I’ve got elevendy-billion tabs open. I love when the browser inevitably buckles under the weight of too many tabs and it finally crashes and I can start fresh. (Ahhhh.)

Digital clutter affects us just as much as physical clutter.

One thing I’ve been thinking quite a lot about lately is how everything has it’s own gravitation force that pulls on us. Some things pull on all of us—like the subtle tug of the closest star, Alpha Centauri A. Or more relevantly, this latest pandemic we’ve all been facing. Other things influence personally—like the people we surround ourselves with, our experiences, and how we spend our time.

The more we think/surround ourselves with someone (or something), the more influence and priority it has on us. Bringing it back to our phones, we’ll more likely open the apps on our home screen more than we would open an app five pages deep.

Digital, physical, mental, emotional, spiritual—everything has a gravitational pull on us.

Which also means, it’s easy to become distracted, now more than ever.

Let’s define distraction as anything that keeps us from our most important things.

If family and fast cars are what’s important to you, like it is for the fast & furious crew, then anything that takes you away from that is distracting you from your greater purpose.

Not only can distractions take our tim, they can also take our energy.

Anything thing you want or wish you would do, or maybe-someday-ought-todo’s are just as mentally distracting as a stack of unread books or dancing gorilla.

The tricky thing is that it’s usually opportunities or interesting shiny things that distract us from our purpose. Great opportunities! …that happen to be in the opposite direction we wanted to go. Distractions can come in little or big sizes.

First, you need to know what you want in life (which is huge). Then the key is asking yourself—

  • Is this helping me, or distracting me?
  • Am I doing my job as a _________?
    • (ex: Am I doing my job as a writer? Am I doing my job as a dog-owner?)
  • What distraction can easily remove/get rid of?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1029

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The Currency of Knowledge

“Let us tenderly and kindly cherish, therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.”

John Adams

“Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes.”

Peter Drucker

Money isn’t the only thing that gets you far in life. Although an important component of any entrepreneurial or creative endeavor, you could argue money is the least important resource. (Blasphemy!)

Not to say that money is easier to come by — it takes a lot of work and skill to create money. But there’s no limit to how much you can make (There might be false limits or mental limits that cap you, but technically, if you think about it, you can make as little or as much as you want.)

Time, energy and knowledge, however, are more finite. There’s only so much time and energy we have to give. By the time you’re old enough to read and understand this, you’ve already given decades of your time and energy.

Knowledge has limits as well. There’s only so much we can fit in our brains at once, and the amount of knowledge we can obtain is in sync with our time, energy and finances. Knowledge also ‘has a half-life’. Some things are tried-and-true, but most of what we know will likely be irrelevant a decade or so from now. Real knowledge is the principles and patterns beneath a skill that allow you to learn and relearn to your curious heart’s content.

If you are in school or have a full-time job like me, there are only a precious few hours we have to give.

But here’s the things: knowledge is a powerful currency that we (who are lucky enough) have access too. Knowledge is free. Yes, there’s paywalls and cliques and a dozen other obstacles and distractions (which I’ll get to in a second), but our interconnected lives have leveled the playing field. There are truck-loads of knowledge out there online. A few ads later and you can watch how to build a business on YouTube. Through podcasting and TED talks, you can listen to conversations with the smartest people on the planet. We are all a few clicks away from learning anything we ever wanted to learn.

Knowledge is a powerful currency that levels the playing field.

And that’s me only thinking about individuals. When we create connections with likeminded people and/or build teams dedicated to building something purposeful, our knowledge currency multiples.

But. (And this is a doozie.)

In order to cultivate more knowledge, we have to stay focused and put away our distractions as much as we can. There’s a lot of people out there who are highly skilled at a lot of things that don’t add up too much. Not that being highly skilled is what life’s all about. (Some of the best things in life can’t be created by achieving.) But the question is, are your distractions owning your life?

You have the power to learn anything.

Now you just have to put in the time.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #863

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Creative Downtime

“I have the habit of attention to such excess, that my senses get no rest – but suffer from a constant strain.”

Henry David Thoreau

One thing I’ve learned the hard way is that I need a healthy amount of downtime (Josh time) during the week. Otherwise, I’ll turn into a Granny Smith apple (aka sour and don’t talk to me vibes). Ideally, I try to have at least an hour each day to myself — but that depends on the week. And if I can, I try to have a full day of creativity where I can focus on personal projects and learning.

The weekend is technically supposed to be our downtime, but since everybody’s off, it’s like nobody’s off. Chores to do, places to be and people to see. But what about us?

Are we giving ourselves what we need to thrive? Are we nourishing our minds, bodies, and spirits? Or are we just running from one thing to the next like our hair is on fire, completely putting ourselves last? Are you even giving yourself downtime?

It’s not selfish to put yourself first.

There are a time and place for giving (your time, energy and other resources) to others. But if you’re emotionally and energetically bankrupt from giving too much of yourself, then what good are you to others?

Prioritize downtime for yourself, whatever that looks like for you.

Here are some ideas:

  • Daily walk with your thoughts
  • Journalling
  • Taking a dance class
  • Drawing
  • A hot bath
  • Practicing music
  • Writing
  • Doing something with your hands — pottery, woodwork, origami, etc
  • Exercising
  • Cooking for yourself

Choose something that rejuvenates you. (And ideally, something you don’t do for money).

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #827

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Related:

“It’s very important that we re-learn the art of resting and relaxing. Not only does it help prevent the onset of many illnesses that develop through chronic tension and worrying; it allows us to clear our minds, focus, and find creative solutions to problems.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

Worth it

Essential should take priority over immediate. And yet, we often allow ourselves and feel driven to do the opposite. There’s many reasons we could point to — we didn’t sleep well last night, we are distracted by pain or distracted by shiny things, etc.

What’s easier: answering a few emails and clearing out your inbox or working on your app?

What’s more appealing: watching Netflix or sweating at the gym?

What’s more exciting: going out for drinks or putting butt in seat and writing?

Essential over immediate.

The essential takes more time, energy and intention. No wonder we struggle to get anything important done! We trade short-term pleasures for long-term success and happiness. Not that we have to give up happiness in the present in order to have it in the future. Rather, happiness comes from the process of spending our time and energy in ways that we love and find meaningful. Even an ounce of effort spent on what we love creates massive returns on the rest of our effort (which we might have to give to our other responsibilities, such as working to afford food for our family).

There’s another big reason that the important things tend to get benched:

The important things become too important. Or in other words, the essential things we want to do are so important that we end up not doing them. We idealize and fantasize them into a undefeatable monster in our minds. We (consciously or subconsciously) delay, avoid, distract, procrastinate and psych ourselves out from doing them. And eventually we end up filling our time and energy with everything BUT the things we want to do.

I’m making it seem clear and cut-and-dry, but it’s usually anything but. In reality the tradeoffs are so subtle. We hardly even notice we are selling ourselves short and are feeding the wrong things. We trade what we really want to do, for second or third-best options because we think that’s all we desire or are capable of doing.

Because what if we fail?
What if we waste all this time and energy for nothing?
What if we succeed and are still unhappy?

Ultimately it comes down to giving yourself some space and asking yourself is it worth it or not.

Is this worth my finite amount of time and energy?
Is this going to add value to my life AND the lives around me?
Is this going to provide me meaning and happiness in the present, regardless if I fail or succeed in the end?

Failing at something you love is better than succeed at something you hate or find mediocre.

Because failure is recoverable. But we can’t get back wasted time on things that don’t matter.

The road to mediocrity is born from hesitation and feeding ‘what you are supposed to do’ instead of what you feel called to do.

What do you feel called to do in this life?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #734


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Health Tomfoolery

Give yourself permission to be healthy.

If there ever is a word with that is more overused then the word ‘health’, the planet would explode.

We are bombarded with opinions about health and what it means to be healthy. One news source tells you Fats are bad for you, someone else may tell you it’s great for you, and your family will have all manner of opinions about what’s good and what’s bad. With all of these differing philosophies, it’s easy to lose your sanity on what you should do and instead do nothing at all. (Ugh! One day they tell me eggs are bad for me, the next day they tell me they’re great… eff it! I’m going to go eat some cake.)

What you’re seeing in the health industry is the battle between science and money. Why is a large french fry and soda less money than a pack of blueberries? Why is the immediate response to most mainstream doctors is to give us pills to mask the problem versus figuring out how to fix the problem. There are so many facts and figures, opinions and antidotal answers, it’s hard to know who to trust.

Ultimately, you are the one who decides what’s best for you. The choice to be healthy or not is up to you. Opt out of the games. Trust your gut. Experiment and find out what works best for you.

There’s one thing I know and that’s why you should want to get healthy in the first place:

Energy.

What’s one thing that affects our ability to create and enjoy life?

I’ve experienced first hand the frustration and despair of Chronic Fatigue and low energy. If the energy you use is more than the energy you generate. Without enough energy, you are a slave to your health. 

Eating whole, moving your body, breath work, and aligning your daily habits to the lifestyle of your dreams is how you can build up positive energy.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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Related Insights

“What is called genius is the abundance of life and health.” — Henry David Thoreau

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” — Mahatma Gandhi

“Health is not valued till sickness comes.” — Thomas Fuller

Sleepwalking Mask

I’ve been reflecting on Lewis Howes new book The Masks of Masculinity. (Great read highly recommended it) In it, he discusses the mask that guys can put on as a lens into how to live in the world. Athletic Mask, Stoic Mask, Material Mask… Lady’s can have these masks too, but they generally have better support groups and talk with friends differently than guys. (More honest and open relationships about what’s going on)

Being honest and open about my life and mission in life to be a Renaissance Man is one of the reasons I started the Renaissance in the first place.

Somewhere between middle school and high school, I changed. (No duh stupid it’s called puberty idiot-face 🙂 When I say change, I mean I lost a piece of who I was and put up a barrier. Instead of being more outgoing and taking chances, I would hold myself back. A veil of apathy maybe.. although apathy might be too strong of a word… I was mild. It was more like a piece of glass between who I was and who I came across as. Paul would say I wasn’t living at level 10, instead, I was living at level 7 or 8.

Inside, I was energetic, curious, outgoing, creative (and a little rebellious) but subdued, possibly even a little distant on the outside. I still cared about things, — which is why the word apathy doesn’t quite fit — I enjoyed hanging with my friends and pursuing passions (music, art, math, sports) and creativity, but I wasn’t living my life to the utmost. I wasn’t completely awake. I was living like I was sleepwalking.

I didn’t see this at the time of course, (hindsight is a 20 / 20 Bee) and I doubt others did either. I think this continued to college and on. It wasn’t until I started the Renaissance and improving myself that I started to feel the glass between the world and my real self.

Living asleep won’t kill you, but it won’t give you an extraordinary life.

I want to find my childlike curiosity and boldness again.

There’s wisdom in living your life with child-like wonder and imagination. I’m not trying to look over the childish traits — self-centered, stingy, short — those are there too.

But the closer we can get to who we were as kids — imagination, playing, laughter, making friends, taking action, learning — the better our perspective and experiences in life will be.

 

The questions I’m facing today are:

Q: How do I live every day by being fully ALIVE?

Q: How can I increase my energy, charisma, and enthusiasm for what I do, who I am and who I aim to be?

Q: How do I live a fulfilled and extraordinary life?

Q: How do I create the most impact on others lives and build a network of incredible relationships

Q: How can I practice curiosity and childlike wonder and imagination every day in all that I do?

I don’t know if I have an answer yet on how to remove the sleepwalking mask, but I do know that continuing what I’ve been doing can do nothing but help:

Asking hard questions.

Making new connections.

Challenging myself with daily challenges.

Getting into what makes me uncomfortable.

And doing what I fear so that I can become what I dream.

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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Related Wisdom:

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”Marcus Aurelius

“I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.” Joseph Campbell

Grumpy Pants

One thing I’ve learned about myself is I️ need space for Josh time to read, write and have space for thoughts without interruption.

I’d call myself an ambivert — outgoing introvert —  so that makes sense. Anytime I️ don’t make space for myself (like today) I️ start feeling frustrated and put on my grumpy pants.  I’m short, distant and an all-around Scrooge McDuck. It’s like I’m hangry, except I’m hangry for silence and books. 
Reading, Writing, Music, and Reflecting is how to replenish. I️ don’t mean to be a grumpy pants, but whenever I️ don’t make the space to recharge I️ start losing my sanity when I️ try to write or read with a steady stream of interruptions for everyone (and every dog) around me. Don’t get me wrong it’s not them — it’s me. The last thing I️ should be doing is trying to write at my grandparents while my sister is watching a Hallmark Christmas movie, my other sister is asking me for the WiFi password, my dog Ren is nosing me to play with her, and my mom is asking me questions.

But what’s a grumpy pants to do?
I️ don’t know if I️ have a great strategy to overcome the grump grumps, but here are two things I’m trying to improve upon:

1. Let go of what I can’t control.

Focus on only things you can control, and let go of what you can’t. What’s important to you is important, but it’s not as important as the time you can spend with your loved ones.

2. Make space for what’s important to me.

We tend to fill up idle time with todos. If it doesn’t get scheduled, it doesn’t happen. If you don’t *make* time for what’s important to you, you’re not going to have the time. (Extra free time won’t fall out of your 👖ss)

Certainly a work in progress for me, but necessary for myself and the sanity of those around me. Ha 🙂

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Wisdom:

“Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not. It is only after you have faced up to this fundamental rule and learned to distinguish between what you can and can’t control that inner tranquility and outer effectiveness become possible.”Epictetus

Living With A Glass Half Full

I’ve been Running on Empty for Quite some time now.

Recently, I took a small hiatus from blogging, podcasting and from @boldsheep because of constant lack of energy. I wanted to determine whether the sheer number of things I was doing was the cause. 

You see, when you wake up just as tired as you were the night before, feel that way throughout the day, and do it all over again the next, you’ll try anything to fix it.

Maybe you can relate.

You don’t realize how much you need something, until after it’s broken.

 
Systems break all the time, and any number of setbacks can and will occur to all of us.

(ignorance is not bliss — it’s negligence)

This is why awareness is so important. If you know yourself, and recognize something is off, you can start doing something about it before it blindsides you.

But maybe you’re already knee deep in it like me. 
We have 2 choices — give up, or keep going. (And it’s a choice you have to make every day.)

I choose the latter.

If the break from my side hustles has taught me anything, it’s that we need creative outlets for a more fulfilled life. Outlets for the shear fun of it.
 

I am called to create and make — no matter the medium — whether that’s through learning, writing, design, coding, music, or what-have-you.

Luckily I have RenaissanceLife, boldsheep, and 60Watts  to do so.

I would rather live a life half-full, filled with meaning and worthwhile endeavors, than a life half-empty with nothing at all. 

I may not have the capacity to do all the things I aspire to do with the energy I have, but I am capable of doing what I can with what I have to give.

 

Action Step: Create / Find your outlets that make you feel alive

I’m still running on empty, and until my glass is full and VIBRANT again, I’ll just have to be okay with that. But until then,  I’ll do what I can with as much enthusiasm I have to give. You can count on it.

— Keep Pursuing, Josh Waggoner

 

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related wisdom

“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” —Christopher Reeve

 

“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

 

“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.” — Marie Curie

 

“Perseverance, secret of all triumphs.” — Victor Hugo

 

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” — Leo Tolstoy