Willy Nilly

I have a bad tendency to expect too much of myself out of any given day.

The pressure of my own expectations is what does it. The desire to ”accomplish” many things and the stress of anything that blocks me from doing that. Traffic, chores, spontaneous addition to my schedule.

But if I let go of the outcomes and let go of what I should be doing, then the day turns out much better.

This is a great example of how easy it is to get in your own way.

Sometimes you just have to go with the flow of what the day is bringing you.

Otherwise, we’re just stressing ourselves out over things that are ultimately not in our control.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1116

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Expectations Met

“When one’s expectations are reduced to zero, one really appreciates everything one does have.”

Stephen Hawking

Let’s say you and a friend decide to go to the movies. You both have similar tastes so it’s usually easy to choose what to see. The one difference (this time) is you have high expectations for what you’re seeing (you’ve watched the trailers, you’ve skimmed the behind the scenes…) but your friend is coming in with low expectations.

Hypothetically, let’s also say we (the observers) know that the movie is getting decent reviews from critics and moviegoers alike.

Can you guess what happens nine out of ten after the movie ends?

Your friend thought it was fun and had a great time. But you were honestly a little disappointed.

What gives? Expectations.

Like a third wheel on a date, we bring our expectations with us.

Good and bad things can become better or worse depending on what expectations we are bringing with us. We don’t just experience an event — we experience an event plus the weight of our hopes (or lack thereof) about it.

Expectations aren’t thoughts, per se. They are more like a type of thought. A thought attached to a potential emotion. When we think something isn’t going to work out for us, we contribute to that negative reality. And when we think something is going to work out for us, we also contribute to that positive reality. However, when we think something is going to work in our favor, and it doesn’t, we feel disappointed or even defeated.

So what can we do?

I don’t think low expectations are quite the answer. Taking on the habit of always dismissing outcomes or avoiding the benefits that come from imagination and dreaming up new possibilities can lead to us walking around with negative and cynical outlooks on life.

High expectations aren’t necessarily bad for us. Unless we let them control our reactions. Then, we’ll just go through life constantly disappointment by everything not meeting our imagined standards.

I think there’s a happy medium between low and high expectations. It’s all about trying and practicing seeing things with an open mind.

An open mind leads to more enjoyable experiences.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #846

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How to Dance in the Rain

“Some people come into your life as blessings. Other people come into your life as lessons.”

Mother Teresa

There’s an ancient Italian maxim that roughly translates to ‘he who is resistant to change is destined to perish’*. When things are good — work is — we hold on to that good thing like we’ve glued our hands to it. We keep doing the same thing over and over expecting things to always work the way it did the first time. And when things are bad, all we want is for things to change, but we cling to what we know like a life-preserver for dear life because everything is so unassured and unknown.

Which hits on the problem (if you want to call it a problem) with change:

We all want change that works for us, and we don’t want change that doesn’t work for us. We want to bend change to our will, and not the other way around.

However, Life likes spontaneity and flow. Change happens whether we want it to or not. Sometimes things happen we don’t want to happen to us. We lose money, we lose our job, we break our leg, we end up in circumstances we don’t want to be in.

Water that becomes still and doesn’t connect to other streams, rivers and movement quickly becomes stagnant — a breading ground for pesky mosquitoes and parasites. We too can become stagnant if we aren’t intentional. Our skills, bodies, friends, and wither away into man-boobs. Without change in our we can quickly become stale, complacent and stuck where we are. And too much spontaneity we can become unstable and reckless.

We automatically assume that things we don’t want to happen (or didn’t expect to happen to us is a bad thing, but what if misfortunes are a good thing? Maybe not now. Maybe not tomorrow, but someday. What if it makes you a better you? What if it changes your life for the better?

I’m not justifying or saying I want bad things to happen to us, but when they do, we’ve ultimately got a choice: thrash against them, make things worse and mentally negative, or let it go and turn it into an opportunity.

For every problem you are focusing on, there’s an opportunity you could focus on instead.

*inside joke 😉

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #669

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In The Margins

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

John Lennon

When you go on vacation, are the kind of person who creates an itinerary for every second of the trip, or do you just go with the flow?

I fall somewhere in the middle of the two. I don’t want to waste time, but I also don’t want to have every second planned out, where even bathroom breaks are scheduled out. For example, I don’t just go to a restaurant willy nilly. I check yelp and look at the menu / food photos to check whether or not it’s right for me. (There’s nothing quite as disappointing as wasting time and money on a crap restaurant trip.) However, I do enjoy ‘nothing time’ where nothing is planned (literally planned) and there’s no obligations or todos to be done during that time. (I guess I’m an enigma wrapped in a juxtaposition.)

Why am I writing about this?

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how Life’s* plans for you doesn’t always match your plans for Life.

(*replace ‘Life’ with ‘God’ deepening on what you believe.)

(It’s like we’re not the center of the universe or something. Weird.)

The frustratingly cool thing is that often it’s the plans that don’t go our way, that ultimately inform who we are and what we do.

Or put more eloquently, the things that go ‘wrong’ are usually things that go ‘right’. They just so happened to be wrapped in a ‘stress-filled, extra-frustrating, mud-covered’ package. We often expect to take the freeway, but ultimately end up taking the back roads, but come out better for it.

For me, an old neck injury hasn’t ruined my life (like I probably thought when it first happened) but has given me the opportunity to dive headfirst into health and wellness, and taught me the value of pursing health. Without my injury, I don’t know if I would be into health as much as I am today. Without my injury, who would I be?

Life happens in the margins. Expectations only cloud our judgements of the opportunities in the outcomes. Plan, but expect change.

Is everything fair and good that happens to us? No. Sometimes it’s the opposite of unfair. I can’t speak to the struggle and circumstances that happens to others. Sometimes hard things are just plain hard, and it takes a lot to overcome them. But from my own circumstances I’ve found value in there stupid existence. Even if that value is not a resolution, but just a story I have I can share and help others with who have gone through or experienced similar pain.

How we handle what happens to us going forward is likely more important than what happens to us.

All that being said, I’d rather learn from history (and the mistakes of others) rather than experience mistakes I could avoid with a little forethought and planning.

Which means planning more is in my present. (Maybe not on vacation though. I can go to the bathroom whenever I want!)

Plan for the worst, Hope for the best

As the old Chinese proverb goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” I’m going to start preparing for future outcomes, instead of just waiting for them.

Perhaps nothing is ultimately in our control, but I choose to believe that every decision we make has to count for something, no matter how small. Every decision we make right now has the opportunity to push the levers in our favor. I think it’s better to increase the probability of a good outcome than just assuming it will happen or negatively assuming it won’t. Either assumption, good or bad isn’t a great way to live.

Maybe this is what growing up and being ‘responsible’ means. Getting health and dental insurance, not because it’s worth it or helpful, but because in two years when you accidentally break your leg, you’re covered. Or when it’s time to buy a house, your past self has already planned for that inevitability and has saved for a down-payment already.

Either way, I want to focus on doing everything I can in the present to be have more freedom and flexibility in the future.

There’s a great entrepreneurial quote that says, “Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.

I think we could expand this not only to our business, but to our lives as well.

What are the actions, thoughts, habits we can do NOW, that will benefit us later?
What can we plant today, so that in the future our fields will be full of fruit trees?
What are small things that we can do today that will have massive benefits over time?

We can’t change what happens to us, but we can change what happens going forward by moving the needle towards the positive instead of the negative.

Why do tomorrow what you can do today?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #579

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Saboteur = 1

There’s a question I read in Present Over Perfect that I’ve been thinking about recently in my own life:

“What do you need to burn down in your life, to make space for a new way of living?”

Commitments, expectations, roles, thoughts, habits, actions that go against who you want to be.

How are you holding yourself back from the life you dream of?

Bitterness? Grudges? Anxiety? Debt? Laziness? Negativity?

Burn them down. Do what you need to do to stop self-sabotaging yourself. 

Don’t let problems from your past control your future.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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Related Insights

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” — Albert Einstein

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” — Marcel Proust

Live a Little (For Josh’s Sake) — Life Principle #18

Lately, I’ve been bad about being spontaneous. 

I️ think it’s the fact that I’ve been working so much this past year that any time remaining is incredibly precious to me. It’s ironic that I️ had to give up the majority of my time to work, to understand how precious time really is.

When someone asks me if I️ want to go hiking, grab some sushi, or whatever on the spot, I️ stammer and mumble out a no and lame excuse more often than not. It’s not that I️ don’t want to go hiking, it’s just that I️ already have a mental checklist of things I️ want to do (or have to do). My expectations of what I️ could be doing get in the way of what I️ am doing. It’s kind of a lose lose. I️ could get sushi, but I️ would also like to write. Or the other way around! Okay, I’ll say yes to sushi, but then be thinking about all the great writing I️ could be doing!

I️ don’t want to let others define what I️ do with my time. 

But I️ also don’t want to be a tightwad.

There’s a fine balance between making time for priorities and actually living a little. 

Which bring me to the next Renaissance Life Principle:

Life Principle #18: Live a Little (For Josh’s Sake)

It’s good to be responsible and intentional about our goals and habits, but don’t let I­t­ sideline you from actually living. Focusing on today is how you make tomorrow brighter, but take yourself too seriously and you’ll create the opposite result.

Being responsible shouldn’t also mean ‘Up your own butt’.

Take your shoes off and stay awhile. Learn to live in the hectic moments, and learn to enjoy the silent moments too.

The key to a meaningful life is not cramming your calendar with so much stuff.
Minimalism can apply to not only things we own but things we do. (This is sometime I️ still need to learn and apply.) Trying to add 48 hours worth of work into 24 hours will leave you exhausted and not very excited about what you’re doing, even I­f it’s enjoyable to you.

The quality of your time means everything, but spend too much time focused on yourself and your own goals and aspirations and you’ll end up doing a lot but not really living

How to Live a Little

Create room each day for negative space — time in which you do nothing. No podcasts, no music, just enjoy the silence and reflect on the moment. I­t­ could be 20 minutes, I­t­ could be 1 minute — whatever you have to give.

Practice intentionality. The more intentional we are about how we live, the more we can squeeze out happiness in every moment (even the sucky ones).
Go for a walk weekly or daily, with the mindset of practicing being intentional. From the small blades of grass to the buildings around you — focus on the world around you. Look at the sky, feel the wind, see and smile at the people you come across.

Plan Spontaneity. If you’re sometimes a tightwad (like me), plan to be spontaneous at least once a week. I️ know, planning spontaneity is not very spontaneous… but it’s a step in the right direction. When someone asks if you want to do something, be open to I­t­ if I­t­ sounds enjoyable to you. Get yourself ready for someone to ask you to be spontaneous. Steel yourself up. Make time to live a little.

Prioritize. Ask yourself, “Am I️ trying to fit a week’s worth of work into one day?” If you are, take a step back and reprioritize. We create the life we live with the decisions we make with what we have to go on. Reinvention is just one action away from reality.

Go on that hike, grab that sushi. 
Whatever you need to do, I­t­ can probably wait. But if I­t­ can’t, don’t fret about I­t­. Do what you have to do and grab sushi next time.

Live a little.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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Related Insights

“Youth is something I never wanna take for granted. I just want to smile and live life.” — Tyler, The Creator

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” — Steve Jobs

One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” — Dale Carnegie

Expectations

I tend to create high expectations for myself when I­t­ comes to goals and visions of who I want to be and how I want to live. (Who doesn’t?)

Actually, scratch that. I tend to have high expectations for myself about EVERYTHANG. I’m not seeking perfection, but I don’t want to live my life at 11.

High expectations can backfire.

One big problem I need some improvement in is having huge expectations of how much I can take on at once, and how much I can fit in a day. Sometimes packing your day in with 30 – 50 different things work, but you’re not left with a feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day. You feel tired and empty like a container of squeezed toothpaste. And on the days where things do NOT work, everything sets on fire. (AHHHHHH!)

When I expect more for myself, and I don’t reach that expectation I’m a ball of anxiety, frustration, and discouragement (probably a little hungry too). All that these negative emotions give me is the exact opposite of what I wanted and why I had high expectations in the first place.

Clearly high expectations don’t work for me.

If a sound vision and specific goals and sticking with it make the dream happen, what do we do with our expectations during the rollercoaster ride on the way?

What if low expectations + high self-esteem is the winning formula for happiness and achievement?

Here’s a small example: I’m a big superhero fan. When the movie Man of Steel came out, I was pumped. After the string of great and good Marvel movies, and the Dark Knight movies by Nolan, I was expecting this D.C. movie would be killer. I wanted I­t­ to be good, but the more I watched the more disappointment I was. Cut to this year past year, I had low expectations for Wonder Woman and Justice League. Yet Wonder Woman was fantastic! And Justice League — all be I­t­, not the greatest thing in the world — was a fun ride too! Now, I’m not saying the quality of these movies was determined by my expectations (You still have to create excellent work), I do think that our perception of a result/outcome we have in our head can skew how we paint the world.

Expectations is another word for perception. It’s perceiving a future value in the outcome.

Expectation is another word for perception. It’s perceiving a future value in the outcome.

 

Putting in a different light, it’s like saying, ‘I can’t be happy unless X happens.’

Perhaps the old adage, ‘expect the worst, hope for the best’ is actually wise. Low expectations are not about living based on negative attitude toward life, it’s about fundamentally understanding that anything can happen to us, good or ill, and what really matters if we stay true to who we are.

In essence, high self-esteem could be believing that no matter what happens, I’m still complete.  I’m still me. My life is still worthy and full. (worthful?) It’s saying I have this vision of what I want to look like, and knowing that no matter what happens, If I stay true to me, trust those I look up to, consistent in my actions and pursue my life with fire and gusto everything will turn out okay in the end. (No matter the setback or failure I may face).

 

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.” — Steve Jobs

“The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.” — Confucius

“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”Bruce Lee