Decisions of Fear

“Quick decisions are unsafe decisions.”

Sophocles

What emotion are your decisions coming from?

Are you making decisions from joy or fear?

We mean well when we are making decisions out of emotions like desire or fear. We naturally (usually) want the best for ourselves. But if we listen to the wrong emotions we can end up making dumb mistakes. Buying something you can’t afford, for example.

If my finances suck, buying a Tesla would bring me great joy, but this is a “desire” decision, not a “joy” decision. That joy would quickly turn into dread once the bill comes due.

Decisions of fear come from the place of feeling like you “have to do something.” We pin ourselves against a wall, thinking its the only way.

“I have to stay up late and study otherwise, I’ll fail the test.” But what if you don’t? What if there was a way to prioritize sleep AND study enough to get could grades?

“I have to get an MBA before I start my own company / I have to learn X Y Z before I start my own company.” But what if you just started instead and surrounded yourself with people smarter than you?

“I’m old, I have to retire.” Do you?

It doesn’t help that may people are actively pushing us to make decisions out of fear (some people we know, others we don’t). Whenever you hear yourself say “I have to because X” pay attention. There’s always another option out there.

Our decisions make our life.

Before making any decision, make sure you’re coming from the right emotional headspace. Whenever you find yourself in a headspace of fear, failure, negativity, stress, etc., then don’t make a call right away, get into a better mindset first or even sleep on it if can.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1077

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Are You Ambitious Enough? (Ambition Part 1)

“A man’s worth is no greater than his ambitions.”

Marcus Aurelius

I can usually tell if someone is ambitious. It’s not necessarily how they speak, or what they wear or who they are—it’s their eyes that give it away. There’s a glimmer of energy and fire in the eyes of ambitious people. Their actions speaking loudly too, of course. More specifically, how their actions compare to their words. Are they living out what they philosophize?

Ambition is a lot of things—following your dream to become a professional athlete, achieving your goal to publish a novel, starting your own clothing brand, etc.

But at its core —

Ambition is the willingness and the drive to change—especially when change is difficult. 

Let’s look at the opposite—If someone hates something about themselves or their lives, but they don’t do anything about it (or they don’t even give it a college try) then they lack ambition.

Ambition isn’t binary—it’s not that we either have it or we don’t—rather, it’s a muscle we cultivate. If you want to start your own company but don’t, you’ve got weak ambition. Time to “pump some iron” and work your ambitious muscles.

How to be Ambitious

1. Start doing things that scare the 💩 out of you.

Change starts with the knowledge of knowing that you want to change. After that comes the hard part of making it happen. This can occasionally happen overnight, but 99% percent of the time it happens incrementally, on a day-to-day basis. If you’re not challenging yourself and doing something that scares you every day—even just in a small way—you aren’t working your ambition muscle.

2. See Failure as Feedback and Use it to Get Better

Failure sucks—but it’s part of the process of pursuing mastery and achieving goals. I would never actively seek out failure, but when I do fail, I try to use it as an opportunity to learn something I’ve been neglecting or didn’t know. This isn’t easy because failure can be very emotional. It’s not like we’re failing in a vacuum. Failure happens in the middle of our lives and can have far-reaching ramifications—but again, that part of what it means to live. Avoiding that is avoiding living.

Plenty of people failure and never learn from their mistakes. But not us. Failure is a precious, albeit painful chance for us to learn and rapidly improve.

3. Do What Others Won’t

Jerry Rice, three-time Super Bowls champion with the 49ers, has a great quote— “Today I will do what other’s won’t, so tomorrow I will do what others can’t.”

It’s uncomfortable to be unconventional. Going against the grain is never easy. There will be times when nothing is working and you question why you even keep doing what you’re doing. But that’s what makes it unconventional and ambitious in the first place. Stepping out. Raising your hand. Standing for what’s right. Apologizing and changing when you’re wrong. Being an example to others. 

We do what others won’t and maybe one day our drive and ambition will inspire others to do the same.

Q: Do your words align with your actions?

Q: Are you living according to your own dreams or towards someone else ideas for your life?

Q: What’s one thing you can do today that scares you?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1034

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No Alternatives

“When I’m stuck for a closing to a lyric, I will drag out my last resort: overwhelming illogic.”

David Bowie

Have you ever noticed yourself only changing when you absolutely have to?

It’s a bad habit most adopt when life pummels you with hard punches and you’re left dizzy and unsure of what to do next.

Until our backs are against the wall, we’d rather be unhappy and keep things exactly as they are, rather than deal with the unknown.

The argument makes a lot of sense to me. Change isn’t always easy. We may be uncomfortable with ourselves and-or our lives, but at least we know that. There’s plenty of things worse than being uncomfortable.

I don’t think that’s the true reason. My guess is we don’t change because we don’t realize we need too.

Our unhappiness becomes our new normal.

It’s like walking on hot pavement or sand that’s been baking in the sun. At first it’s uncomfortably hot, but if we keeping walking on it our feet get used to the heat and what was once unbearable becomes bearable. From an outsiders perspective, it looks like hot sand, but to us, it’s just another day in ‘paradise’.

We become so used to things we dislike about ourselves or our lives that we no longer are aware of it. We become stuck because we don’t see that we should change. And if someone or something brings our problems to bare we make every excuse in the book and convince ourselves change is impossible.

Don’t get me wrong, we want to change, but we also don’t want to change.

We don’t want things to get worse.

But’s what’s worse than feeling stuck? What’s worse than fearing failure? What’s worse than living a life true to yourself? Not much.

Change starts with observing yourself and your life and becoming aware of what needs to improve. Instead of glossing things over, we need to look at them in daylight, as if we were helping a friend.

After knowing what needs to be changed, next comes prioritizing tasks that will make the deepest impact. And when we are ready to change, we start small and deliberate—one spoonful of the elephant one bite at a time.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1025

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‘No’ is Better Than ‘Maybe’

—And that goes both ways (you saying no, or someone else telling you no).

The question is, which is scarier?

Getting a no, or never knowing because you never asked?

At least with a no, you can move on. You can try something new and different.

With a maybe, you don’t know what you need, and you feel stuck and overwhelmed. With a no, you understand where you stand and what you can do going forward.

To take charge of your life, you must fear maybe’s more than you fear no’s.

You must fear inaction — or lack of change — more than you fear action — what you might experience with action, such as failure, embarrassment, rejection, and criticism.

Otherwise where will you end up?

Exactly where you are and have been. Nowhere you want to be.

“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.”

John F. Kennedy

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1012

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Cats & Dogs

“My ‘fear’ is my substance, and probably the best part of me.”

Franz Kafka

There are many things in life that seem like one thing, but can actually the other. For example, exercise is fantastic for your health, but if you don’t know what you are doing, you can easily hurt yourself. Without depth and guidance, we can quickly become closed off (and sometimes clotheslined) by our assumptions and generalizations. As the Sociologist, Marshall McLuhan (1911 – 1980) once quipped, “Most of our assumptions have outlived their uselessness.”

1. Sometimes advantages are disadvantages and disadvantages are advantageous.

Think of talent. Talent can be a crutch just as it can be a benefit. Being naturally born gifted at sports or music can take us far, but only for a while. Sooner or later practice outraces talent and if we lean to heavy on our gifts without putting in the time, we’ll quickly be left in the dust of less-talented hardworking people. (I learned this from the book The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle.)

Talent is a crutch. Consistent practice and drive lead to mastery.

It takes dedication and work to succeed in a skill. If you don’t have a knack for something (or perhaps even suck at it), but you are so passionate about it, then your “disadvantage” will drive you to seek mastery and achievement. (Nobody puts Baby in the corner.)

2. Fear is a guiding force.

It leads us away from danger, but it also can lead us toward challenge. Distinguishing which is straightforward when you ask the question: “Am I in danger? Is this going to kill me?”

If the answer is yes, then get the heck out of there. But if you’re not in danger, then perhaps your fear is telling you something. Fear of speaking in front of the crowd is understandable (it makes me sweat just thinking about it), but it won’t kill you. In fact, your fear of public speaking is a social fear that’s holding you back. Imagine what you could do in every aspect of your life if you had the confidence of someone who can get up on stage and be the center of attention for a moment. Things would certainly change. Social fears are challenges we can use to improve and become better versions of ourselves.

3. Pain is a (wretched) gift.

I would never wish pain on anyone, but it’s one of the great eye-openers of life. Pain humbles you, removes your ego, and shows you a world you didn’t know existed. Pain can isolate us if we let it, but it can also connect us—to others, to something bigger and to ourselves. It’s difficult to feel the pain someone else has experienced, without feeling the sting of it yourself. Anyone who has injured themselves—a back, neck, or foot injury for example—will know difficult it is to deal with.

We rarely realize how important something is until we’ve lost it.

Pain is a beginning, as much as it is an ending. Your pain may fade, but you’ve changed because of the experience. Or your pain may never go away, but it becomes part of your story and has woken you up to a world of others who have experienced something similar to you. Your story connects and heals us.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1008

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Confidence Sandwich

“Courage is a mean with regard to fear and confidence.”

Aristotle

I find it quite difficult to jump into something new right away, like a new skill, habit, relationship, or idea.

When we start something new, it’s like we are a beginner all over again.

We’re excited, but we’re also nervous, and our confidence is unsteady.

We’re just starting out, so we’ll likely fail. And low confidence plus potential failure is a combination that usually leads us to throw up our hands and give up.

But not if you have a confidence sandwich. A confidence sandwich, or—if you prefer—a confidence burger, is stacking a low-confidence experience with two high-confidence experiences, one on top and bottom. Think Oreo—strong cookie exterior, soft gooey center.

This allows us to warm up with something that boosts our confidence, which gives us more impetus to try something new/different (aka the goal). And then we end on a high note with another confidence booster.

High confidence
Low confidence
High confidence

Or put another way —

Familiar/comfortable
Unfamiliar/new/uncomfortable
Familiar/comfortable

I use this when I’m practicing music. I’ll start with a song I’m comfortable with and have played many times. Then I’ll experiment and try new things. And I’ll end with another song I’m used to and enjoy playing.

You can use the confidence sandwich for any situation that requires an extra boost of confidence.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #962

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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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