Unyielding Gutsiness

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

There will be many occasions when all that separates you and your goals is a gutsy move. Being gutsy is doing what others won’t. Not forcefully. Not stupidly. Just doing it.

It starts with a queasy jittery uncomfortable buzzing feeling that comes from within. Part fear, part anxiety, part excitement. Some people feel it in the pit of their stomach right before they ask someone out. Others feel it when their heart starts to flutter before giving a speech. Whatever flavor you have, it typically shows up before you do something that may fail, or that makes you stand out from the majority. It’s a feeling that doesn’t go away—it’s something you get used to with practice.

What I find most interesting about this feeling is that it happens before we’ve made a move. Like it’s calling us forth, and testing us—are you gonna go through with it, or are you gonna back down?

I’ve backed down many times, and it doesn’t feel good. You know you should have done or said something but you didn’t. Next time though. I can’ t think of one time I regret listening to my intuition and take a gutsy action. Even when it didn’t work out as I wanted it too, I still learned something about myself and was able to work my discomfort zone muscles.

If you are looking for an extraordinary life, think of it as a compass for what you should do. As the Novelist, Chuck Palahniuk has said, “find out what you’re afraid of and go live there.”

Follow what scares you. With every bold action you may take, you are adding a little more originality and resilience to your character. Because it takes guts to think differently.

If you want to be gutsier, you have to practice being gutsy. Feel the fear. Revel in it. Then make your move.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #926

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The Undo Button

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.”

Bruce Lee

It’s easy to make tasks grow into monsters in your mind. A large and heavy goal can become too impossible to start. There’s just too much pressure riding on it.

Sometimes the desire of something so badly becomes the reason that stops you from getting it.

This goes for love, to be sure, where we fantasize about being with someone who really isn’t that person we are making up in our heads. It also rings true for any outcome or success we wish to achieve.

The desire to become healthy, and the tightly held tension in the attempt (or vision) to make it happen becomes the stressor that leads us to being unhealthy. Or, more often, we become more healthy in how we were striving, becoming a runner for example, but become unhealthy in areas we aren’t paying attention too, such as always eating junk food.

It’s good to pause every so often and look at the whole playing field of your good habits and bad habits you currently have. Our bad habits are often hampering or subtracting our good habits, leaving us feeling like they aren’t helping us, or that we aren’t making any progress.

For example, having a good habit of doing great work at your job, but having a bad habit of mis-communicating or even not communicating what you are doing and why. Nothing kills a project like forgetting to stay in touch with the client and updating them on your progress.

To make a goal possible, we need to take the pressure of it off our shoulders. What would it look like if you were doing it for fun, rather than doing it because you need or really want to? Think about how you can break the goal into smaller and smaller components. It’s difficult to act on something that isn’t tangible and easy to grasp.

Instead of trying to accomplish this giant scary thing, why not start with this tiny un-scary thing first? Remember—on a micro level, there’s very you could do that you couldn’t immediately undo if it doesn’t work out. Didn’t work out? No problem—undo it. Get in trouble for trying something new? Apologize and go back to where you were before. Small decisions add up on a large time scale, but here in the daily actions of today, small decisions are rarely permanent and can easily be rolled back into something that works better for you if need be.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #917

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Half Measures

“The simple act of paying attention can take you a long way.”

Keanu Reeves

Whether you are aiming for a multi-disciplinary life or focusing your efforts on one thing instead, one thing is for sure—giving only a partial amount of attention and energy won’t work.

Another way of describing it is like “dipping a toe in the water”, or “dabbling”.

The question you must ask yourself is “Am I being careful/cautious, or am I making decisions based on fear?”

There’s no room for timidness when pursuing your dreams—only tenacity. Dabbling is fine for trying out new interests, perhaps. But when you know what you want to do, only giving a half-measured effort won’t bring the results you are looking for. Whatever you are going after in this life, you have to go all in.

How can you go all-in when you are going after multiple things? By going all-in on what’s in front of you and making sure the task at hand has the most priority. There’s multitasking and then there’s something I call multi-focusing (to make up a word that’s a mouthful—like a hamster eating carrots).

If multitasking is attempting to do multiple things at once, multi-focusing is giving all your focus on one thing, and one thing well, and when you are ready, switching to the next thing and, again, giving all your focus to it now.

While your consciousness is focused on what’s in front of you, your subconscious is still mulling over the previous focus, coming up with new ideas, inspirations, and connections. You are splitting your time, but not your attention. Your attention is at 100%. This allows you to learn multiple skills, or achieve multiple goals at the same time. Not as quickly if you would focus on one thing, but still quicker than your average joe/jane.

The key to success in anything in life is to give it you’re all.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #916

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Zero Motivation Part 7: Resources

Note: You can read this motivation series in any order, but this is the last post (7 out of 7), so you might want to read some of the others first:

“No man’s knowledge here can go beyond his experience.”

John Locke

I talk a big game, but I only know what I’ve personally experienced and seen work in my life.

I still feel fear, sweaty palms and fluttering stomach, any time I try something new and step out of my comfort zone. I’m excited, but I’m also nervous. I still worry about looking like a failure or embarrassing myself. But I’ve found ways forward, past the fear and worry. Because life’s too short to sit on your dreams.

Besides, embarrassment and failure are a part of life. Only my ego thinks otherwise.

Maybe you have a very good reason not to do what you wish you would do. But then why do you keep thinking about it? Why do you keep wishing you would?

There are times when we have to put a dream down so that we can pick up another dream.

And there are other times when we need to see the situation for it truly is: we are scared. And that little bit of fear is holding us back.

My hope that this series will help you shake off some of the shackles that fear has on you. I hope you find you find the strength to pursue the life you dream of, despite the life you may have.

Remember, it’s not zero-sum. The pursuit of your dream exists on a spectrum. Even a piece of it is better than never trying. (This is getting a little too self-help-y, so I’ll stop there.)

“The most effective way to do it, is to do it.”

Amelia Earhart

Here are some great resources from smarter people than I:

Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual by Jocko Willink

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win by Jeff Haden

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #901

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Thriving in Uncertainty

“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.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

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.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #889

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Squaring the Hole — How to Think Longterm in Life’s Fragility

“Youth is something I never wanna take for granted. I just want to smile and live life.”

Tyler, The Creator

I write a lot about daily habits. Doing something daily or consistently allows you to take advantage of the compounding benefit of time. We divide a year into 365 days (or 366 days on a leap year). 10 to 30 minutes of practice times 365 days = 3650 to 10950 minutes of practice. An hour is double that. As you can see, a little time invested can go a long way.

But what about if tomorrow doesn’t come? As Logic says in his song Fade Away, “Everybody gonna die, gonna go one day, maybe it’ll happen on a Monday. Driving to work and get hit by a Hyundai, f* it, let it all go one day.” Tomorrow, For all we know we could get hit by a Hyundai, of all things, and never get our chance to do and be all that we want to be.

It’s hard to say where life will take you. Usually where you would never expect, and yet somehow makes since when you back on things and line up the pieces. Most of it is out of our control. The more we can learn to accept that, roll with it and find opportunities no matter what comes our way, the happier and better off we will be.

Our thoughts and decisions are in our control. And while we can’t control everything that goes on outside of our own minds and actions, how we think and what we do place a big part in how our lives shape up.

There’s a lot of things I’d like to accomplish and experience in life. But having a vision or dream for your life doesn’t assure that it will happen. Having a dream is the first step. And making it happen is the second step. But somewhere in that undisclosed middle, a lot can happen.

1. We let fear control us.

“The whole point is to live life and be – to use all the colors in the crayon box.”

RuPaul

We act out of fear. We breathe and sweat fear and failure. We do the wrong thing for the right reasons or the right thing for the wrong reasons. We avoid our dreams because there’s “always tomorrow” or because there’s always something that seems to get in the way.

2. We live by other people’s dreams instead of our own.

“Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.”

Benjamin Franklin

We live a shadow dream, as Steven Pressfield calls it in Turn Pro. It looks similar to what we want, but in reality, we’re just avoiding what we really want to do out of fear or embarrassment or not being good enough or any number of other things we convince ourselves of — all with thoughts that are supposed to be in our control.

3. Or we even chase after our dreams so hard and far that we forget to be present and enjoy our lives in the process.

“Confine yourself to the present.”

Marcus Aurelius

We get everything we want, but forget to spend time with the people we love and forget to enjoy the process towards success while we are building it. Or worse — we don’t get what we want, and we still miss out on the time and experience spent with our love ones.

But luckily, all there’s are in our domain of control — our thoughts and our actions. We can learn and train ourselves not to act out of fear, but out of abundance and beginner’s mind.

There’s room in life to enjoy the present, while also preparing and building for the future.

By living life to the fullest each day.
By taking things as they are, not as they could or should be.
By not letting fear win.
By choosing our own path.
By not letting our dreams consume us.
And by living a little when we remember too.

“What really matters is what you do with what you have.”

H. G. Wells

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #872

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Just One More Book…

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

Benjamin Franklin

I love reading. If you looked at my home office space right now, you’d know that’s an understatement. I’ve got books coming out of books. There are books on, underneath, adjacent and near my desk. I read both fiction and nonfiction (I find there’s value in both in different ways).

But.

Did you sense the but coming?

But, reading isn’t everything. Books can make you smart and open your mind to ideas you never thought of. They can take you to imaginative worlds and spin thrilling tales where you can’t turn away. They can give you the knowledge (answers and questions) you seek and say your time and heartache by avoiding hard lessons learned by others. And they can become the mentors you need for $10 or so bucks when you can’t find the advice you are looking for. All from authors, entrepreneurs, artists, thinkers, warriors and more from all of human history and civilization. (Wisdom of the ages, as they say.)

But books won’t do the work for you.

Reading is sometimes insightful and sometimes a cheap distraction for something you know you need to do. “I need to start working on my business idea, but I don’t know enough yet. Maybe I’ll read another book first…”, or “One day I’ll be a great programmer, but for now I need to read *another* coding book…” No, you probably don’t. What you need to do is start *programming*. Insert your desired skill here.

Books are a great way to learn, but they don’t supplement action. 

“A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.”

Henry David Thoreau

I’m telling myself this more than anyone, by the way. Books aren’t the only thing that can distract us. Maybe your thing is TV instead. Or film. Or cleaning. Or (only) hanging with friends. Or spending all your time drinking. No shame here. No shade. 

The question we need to ask ourselves is are we doing this (watching tv, eating, etc) to enjoy it or are we doing it to distract ourselves and avoid doing what we really want (and sometimes need) to do.

When it seems like you can do anything BUT what you need or want to do, then you are likely avoiding it for some reason. 

Fear can do it sometimes. fear of messing up and looking like a boob. 

Laziness too. But laziness is a delay tactic to avoid change and avoid negative or undesired life outcomes. 

But neither fear or laziness will make it — or your life — any better.

Learning is great. Reading is one of my favorite things I do. But if all we do is learn and never apply, what’s the point in the first place?

But some times you just need to put the book down, bookmark your place to come back to later, and then get out there and do something.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #866

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Not Doesn’t Mean Can’t

“My dear friend, clear your mind of cant.”

Samuel Johnson

Just because you are not doing something you wish you were doing (like starting a business, training for a marathon. learning to sew. starting a YouTube Channel or getting up early) doesn’t mean you can’t.

I’m a strong believer that anyone can learn anything and become great at it if you want to.

But first, you need to get figure out what’s holding you back from starting. Two likely reasons you aren’t doing what you want to do are 1. Priority and 2. Fear.

Reason # 1: Priority

We all have the same amount of time each day. Where is your time going? And, more Succinctly, what are you prioritizing in your life?

Let’s say we get 8 hours of sleep each night, spend 8 hours working and spend another 3 or 4 eating, commuting and spending time with people closest to us. That’s still 4 hours give or take left in the day. Where are we using them?

Are we doing something nourishing? Or just killing time until tomorrow when groundhog starts over again?

Priority is choosing dreams over comfort. It’s putting in a little effort to be creative even when you don’t feel like it.

It’s uncomfortable to sit down at the end of the day to write a blog post, sketch, and work on music. Not that it’s supposed to feel hard and like work to be worthwhile — but it’s not easy. But you get a helluva lot of joy and fulfillment when you prioritize what matters to you.

Reason #2: Fear

If you’ve got all the time in the world and you’re still not doing what you dream about doing, then fear is likely lurking around.

Fear wears many masks:

  • The mask of being too old.
  • The mask of not being experienced enough yet.
  • The mask of doing it wrong and embarrassing yourself.
  • The mask of past failures.
  • The mask of other people’s opinions.

Maybe you’re wearing the mask of embarrassment, or maybe you’re wearing all the above.

There’s no one path to getting past our fears, but the key is not taking yourself too seriously. When things get too serious, we tend to want to quit. If you grew up taking music lessons or playing a sport, you know exactly what I mean. The moment it starts to become repetitive music scales, endless ball canons and game politics and less about having fun with your friends and playing final fantasy and Taylor Swift on the piano the less we want to do it. All work and no play – immediate desire to quit.

The same applies when we are looping theses unmet dreams over and over in our heads. By the time we actually might take the trap and try, we’ve already psyched ourselves out by being too serious to start.

But if you can make it low pressure and low stakes, the more breathing room you’ll have just to pick up your phone and start recording or throw on your shoes and go for a walk.

That’s why side-business work so well psychologically compared to jumping fully into your venture. There’s less pressure. You aren’t betting the farm if you’re idea cow goes tits up.

Takeaways:

  • Audit your time. Where are you currently spending your free time?
  • Prioritize one thing you want to start doing.
  • Make it something you find fun and fulfilling.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. Take the pressure of doing it perfectly the first time off the table
  • Learn to enjoy and appreciate trying something new and being a beginner (most don’).
  • Try making it a daily habit. Commit to a little each day, rain or shine.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #864

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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


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Just Start Already

The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are: Hard work, Stick-to-itiveness, and Common sense.

Thomas A. Edison

Creating something and putting your work out into the world is one of the scariest things you can do. (It’s up there routine dental checkups, or having kids.)

That is, until you do it. Once you start, the fear subsides. Every time you act, the fear diminishes a little more. It’s always there, but it doesn’t have the same sting it once did before you started.

You write and then you hit publish.
You draw and then you share your work online.
You record, edit and then upload.

Create. Edit. Share. Repeat. (Or some days just create and share.)

At the beginning, nobody cares. (Well, your mom cares. Hi mom!) Your work either falls flat, does okay or hits a cultural thread that lifts it to unbelievable heights.

Most of the time our work does okay.

And at any point of the creative process, we have the temptation to give up.

The weather is gloomy or hot, we get sick, we didn’t sleep well, a Marvel movie comes out, something better is happening, and so many other distractions can very easily derail us from creating anything today. And not creating today is a slippery slope. (You take one day off, and suddenly three years slips by and you haven’t made anything.)

This is why I’m so committed to daily habits. When you decide to do a daily habit, there are no days off. (Sticky Weather or sick days be damned. No excuses.) Good or bad, at the end of the day, I make myself sit down, write and hit publish. Otherwise, I’d miss a day. (And there’s nothing worse than missing a day when you have a daily habit.)

On bad days, It might sound awful to you to put out work and ideas that sucks and your not proud to put your name behind, bit it’s actually a secret to a lot of creative’s success.

Creativity is less about what you did on any particular day, and more about your whole spectrum of work.

Waiting for the inspiration to create or for a great idea to show up doesn’t work.
great work to shop.

Consistency and practicing your ability to create-on-demand does.

One secret to creative success is creating more and creating often — you cultivate a lot of okay work, but you’ll also make more great work than you would otherwise have.

Some of your work will shine above the others and that’s the point. (Side-note: if we stopped after shipping one great piece, we’d likely turn into one of those one-hit wonder creatives.) The process of continuous flow of creativity gives us moments of brilliant ideas (and some decent ideas.) Arbitrarily, for every great creative work you shop, you might go through nine crappy or just-okay ideas.

I would argue that one great idea is worth as many mediocre ideas it takes. Because one great idea can change your world (and quite possibly, change The World).

But nothing happens if you don’t start.

When it comes to creativity, starting is everything, because without starting, there’s nothing — just a bunch of ideas in our head.

Once you realize that, and how quick life goes by, the fear of inaction outweighs the fear of doing something new, potentially embarrassing, and likely to fail. Because if we don’t try — if we don’t even test out the waters — we automatically fail before we even get going.

When in doubt —
When hesitant, or fearful —
When others tell you that you shouldn’t or can’t —
When you tell yourself that you shouldn’t or can’t because of X Y and Z —

Just start already.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #634

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