Failure to Launch

Isn’t it funny (ironic, tragic, silly) that often the very thing we need is the thing we won’t give ourselves permission to do. And because we won’t do it, we end up stuck in a place we don’t want to be.

We want it, but don’t think we can have it (or aren’t willing to go after it) because X, Y, Z reason.

We want to (finally) eat healthily and lose weight (or fix a health issue that’s constantly bothering us) but we never actually do it (or quit as soon as we glance at a piece of cake).

Or we have the desire to be an entrepreneur, but we sideline ourselves by convincing ourselves that we don’t know enough yet or we don’t have a good idea yet.

And because we don’t do it, we are dissatisfied and judgment to ourselves, stuck in a loop of wanting something we won’t give ourselves!

Why?

Because trying something new or going after a dream is scary and it might not work.

Because it’s easier to play it safe and not get what we want than to do something hard or that might fail.

But honestly, all we are doing is failing and mentally blocking ourselves before we even try.

Ask yourself—what am I convincing myself of that is “impossible” or that I “can’t do”?

If we’re already failures for not trying, then why not try anyway and keep trying?

What do we have to lose?

Failure is a part of learning. It’s painful and messy and uncomfortable, but it can also make us better if we allow ourselves to learn and grow from the experience.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1156

Join the Renaissance:

NewslettersConsiderations | Practices |  Bookaholics

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Embrace Uncertainty

“You create your life, and you can recreate it, too. In times of economic downturn and uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to look deep inside yourself to fathom the sort of life you really want to lead and the talents and passions that can make that possible.” — Sir Ken Robinson

Pain is an interesting sensation. It hurts, obviously. Even small pains can sting—like burning your hand on a hot pan on the stove, or whacking your funny bone while closing the bathroom door. Sometimes pain lingers, and we are left to pick up the pieces while also continuing to preserve in the face of a feeling that doesn’t know when to leave. But despite the discomfort, pain also is a signal.

A sign that something needs to change. Or a moment of healing. Or a lesson and story that enables us to grow.

Not that I’d wish pain on anyone of course. Nor is all pain an “opportunity” or a good thing. Caveat caveat. But when we are personally facing pain, we have to do something with it. If not healing then what? If not a chance to change or help others change then we just what? Give up? No. It won’t be an overnight change, but gradually we will move forward, day by day until we find a way to use the pain.

One flavor of pain is uncertainty. We try to avoid uncertainty. But forcing uncertainty to be certain is like wearing a two-sizes too small sweater—half of you is still cold, you’re still stressed and uncomfortable and everyone is in on the joke but you.

2020 has been anything but certain. Personally and culturally. But if you’re reading this, you’re still alive. And if you’re still alive there are endless opportunities you can take.

Recently I was not chosen for a job opportunity. I had three rounds of solid interviews and ultimately someone else was chosen. I asked for feedback, but there wasn’t really any. There was no reason I wasn’t chosen—I just wasn’t. There was only room for one. Their intuition choose someone else. Good. I’m happy for that other person. The company is great, so I’m happy for them as well. Again, there are plenty of other opportunities out there. Now I can focus on them.

There’s very little in life that is truly certain. And many things we deem as certain, such as our career or direction in life, are only certain at a surface level. I’m not trying to be pessimistic. Once you realize that the unexpected is normal, then you have room to embrace all aspects of life and let go of the outcomes.

There’s a difference between external and internal certainty. Just because the world is shaky doesn’t mean we have to be.

Are we focused on our personal essentials? Eating clean. Moving and exercising. Surrounding ourselves with good books and good friends. Meditating. Sleeping well.

Are we making intentional decisions? Choosing work because we want to be, not because the money is good. Hanging out with friends that lift us up instead of tearing us down. Standing for our values.

Are we prioritizing what matters to us?

Part of being a creative person is turning uncertainty into something new and different.

Original ideas are built from uncertain outcomes. We can stack the decks in our favor, but it still takes a leap of boldness to pursue a dream.

Ironically embracing uncertainty makes everything certain.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1061

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

Don’t Bet on a Maybe

“Truth is confirmed by inspection and delay; falsehood by haste and uncertainty.”

Tacitus

The biggest regrets I have were when I didn’t go with my gut (or didn’t take the time to even listen to my gut) and instead backed an answer on a ‘maybe’. Here’s another way of putting it, I let other people’s opinions and desires outweigh my own. I backed their truth instead of trusting my own truth.

Perhaps you can related to this as well, because you’ve dealt with it outcome the hard way too.

There are so many important decisions we face in life:

  • Should I take this job? …. hmm I’m not sure, the pay is good…
  • Should I go to this school or that school? (should I go to school at all??) … I want to go to this one, but everyone else is telling me to go to that one…
  • Hey bro, do you want to invest in X Y Z? … it sounds like a great idea, but it’s not really what I’m passionate about…
  • Is this the person I want to be with for the rest of my life?
  • Is this the person I want to be for the rest of my life?

When it comes to making decisions, big or small, never bet your future on a maybe.

There’s a massive difference between “I don’t know” and “I’m not sure”.

“I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable answer. It shows that there’s still some more time you need to carve out for yourself to think about the question you are answering.

But If you are not sure, then you are hesitating. Hesitation is another form of ‘maybe’.

Hesitation usually is a sign that you are sure, you know you should say yes (or you know you should say no) but for whatever reason, we over think it and confuse ourselves into making the wrong call.

The problem is, t’s easy for a ‘maybe’ to default into a ‘yes’. But I think it should be the other way around.

I think any type of hesitation or uncertainty around a decision should default to a ‘no’. Particularly if your gut is say ‘no’ and your head is saying ‘yes’.

If someone asks you to make a moment’s notice decision and you are not sure, then just say no. Maybe it’s a bad call. Maybe you’ll miss out on an opportunity. But a possible opportunity you are uncertain about is never worth give your valuable resources to (your time and energy). As they say, opportunities are a dime a dozen. If you miss out on one, another will come soon enough. Hell, we can even create our own opportunity instead!

Life is uncertain, don’t let your decisions be uncertain too.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #690


Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

If you enjoyed this blog post, consider becoming a patron.

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Rule It Out

“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

For the past couple of years, I’ve been dealing with a sleep problem. I’m great at falling asleep, and staying asleep. However, the quality of my sleep isn’t great. When I wake up, I’m just as tired as I was when I went to bed. You can see how this can be a real problem. The chronic, low-grade energy from lack of quality rest effects all aspects of my life. Luckily (or unluckily) as humans our bodies are incredibly resilient. We can push and punish our bodies and they will adapt to the new normal. Often this is beneficial. For example, exercising is fantastic for us and necessary for health. And 90% of the benefits of exercising outweigh the downsides of it’s stressors on our system. (An anti-example is overtraining. By training too much, you don’t give your system a chance to recover from the ‘good’ stress, so you reap less and less benefits, and the stress of constantly stressing yourself builds up and can reek havoc on you… eventually)

All that being said, when you don’t sleep well, you get used to the new normal. What else can you do but use the energy you have and continue moving forward? Tired becomes the new normal and you push through. From the outside looking in, nothing is different. You are just you. Which is a weird feeling, to say the least. Everything is normal, but not as effective as you know you could be, but you still have to be on your A game.

This experience has given me the opportunity to dive deep into the world of sleep and sleep optimization. (A few friends have asked me, so I might do a future post on the resources, tools and strategies I’ve discovered about sleep.)

This experience has also taught me the value of thinking and acting systematic when dealing with problems.

Here are five strategies you can use when facing an uncertain problem (in no particular order):

1. Question all assumptions

What are things that we do that are beneficial to us?
What are things that we do and think that are not beneficial to us?

It’s easy to assume that certain habits or actions are beneficial, but without testing those assumptions, we never actually know whether or not they are benefiting us or causing problems. Not everything thing is a net positive, and sometimes negative habits cancel out beneficial habits. Just like a wave can cancel out another wave, the downside of an action or way of thinking can negate the upside to another action or way of thinking. For example, taking a B-12 supplement isn’t really going to move the health needle in our favor if we are also eating ice cream and other delicious crap every day. Not all examples are as easy to spot what the problem is like this one, so it’s good to have a health dose of questioning all that you (think you) know and do, and test all assumptions and how much value they are each adding to your life.

2. Test Each Variables

What are the underlying factors causing the problem?

Donald Rumsfeld once said, “It is easier to get into something than to get out of it. There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

It’s difficult to pinpoint what the problem is without considering all the variables that potentially contribute to the underlying problem.

Sometimes you can’t know all of the variables that go into play, but making a list of the factors you do know can help you uncover what’s good and what’s not. By making a list, and, essentially checking it twice — isolating the variable and seeing how much pull it has on the problem — we can uncover what’s going wrong. Or at the very least, what’ NOT going wrong. (Checking off things that aren’t causing the problem can be just important as the ones that are.)

For sleep, variables such as:

  • Number of hours in bed (How many hours of sleep are you getting?)
  • Staying asleep (How restful are you during sleep?)
  • Going to sleep (How easy is it to fall asleep?)
  • Bed Time (What time are you in bed?)
  • Dinner Time (How many hours between dinner and bedtime?)
  • Stress (Work stress?
  • Screens (Are you looking at screens before bed? If so what time / how long?)
  • Reading (Are you reading before bed?)
  • Blue Lights (Are you exposing yourself to blue light too late from fluorescents etc?)
  • Shower (Do you take a shower / bath before bed?)
  • Cold Thermogenesis? (What does an ice bath or cold shower do before bed?)
  • Mattress (How new is your mattress? High quality?)
  • Pillow (How nice / optimal is your pillow? Especially with an injury)
  • Sheets (How nice are your sheets?)
  • Room Temperature (How cold or hot is your room)
  • Room Darkness (How dark is your room?)
  • Air Quality (Is your air allergy / mold / toxin free?
  • Sound Environment (How quite / noise-free is your sleep environment?)
  • Food (How healthy did you eat today?)
  • Exercise (How much did you move today?)

As you can see, even something as ‘simple’ as sleep can mask a large about of variables that come into play.

When you are tackling a problem, list all the variables you can think of and test each one at a time. You could do the kitchen sink method and try everything at once, which is a much faster (and yet more expensive) approach. But you won’t know what precisely worked for you. By ruling out each variable, your scientifically testing each possibility and determining which factors have the most effect.

3. Think it through.

What’s one thing you can do that solves 90% of the problem?

Not every variable has equal weight. Often, if we tackle on thing, like dominoes the rest will follow. This is a trail and errors game, but we can be smart about how we prioritize and what order we handle problems. What’s an easy win? What’s something you can do right now that will help immediately? (What would Steve Jobs do? 😝) Who’s had this problem before and what did they do to solve it? What’ are the small thing that could possible create a massive outcome? What does your instinct say? Be intentional, think it through.

4. Seek Wisdom from People Smarter than You.

There’s nothing wrong in asking for advice. In fact, if you are not constantly seeking insights from people smarter than you, then you are doing yourself a disservice and holding yourself back from overcoming problems quickly and with the least amount of resistance.

Whenever in doubt: Ask.

Even if it makes you look stupid. Being stupid now is better than always being stupid because you never ask, especially if you are in a position to ask someone you have access to directly.

And when you don’t have direct access to someone who might have an answer for you directly, then read, watch, learn EVERYTHING they’ve put out. A book or podcast by them can be just as powerful as talking to them IRL.

5. Go Easy on Yourself.

This one I had to learn from a friend. Problems can take time to overcome. We’ve got too mentally prepare ourselves for that scenario and play the long game instead of giving up because the circumstance feels hopeless in the present. Keep going, but go easy on yourself. In the end, we’re all just human, struggling and figuring life out as we go. Every obstacle we face is a chance to be better. Every failure is an opportunity for us to learn and be better. Treating ourselves badly only lets the problem win and control us. But focusing on the opportunities and taking things one step at a time puts the ball back in our court.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #578

Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

If you enjoyed this blog post, consider becoming a patron.

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify