Nothing is Easy.

The last five minutes in the sauna are always the hardest.

It doesn’t matter how long I’m in there—when the five-minute countdown hits, my mind is making every excuse in the world to get out a little bit early.

I go to the sauna for the most part as a relief from my chronic neck/nerve pain. (I find it also an enjoyable time to sweat over a book and reflect on things) Every minute counts, but even intuitively knowing that I still hunt for the exit.

The first moments of learning something new or taking on a new venture are always the easiest. (Well, unless you suck at it, then not so much.) sooner or later though, the difficulty will start to pick up. The new car smell eventually fades and you’re left with a lot of miles to go.

This is a turning point—to give up and try something else instead, or to continue and learn to push past the difficultly and even learn to love it.

Nothing is easy.

If it ~was~ it probably wouldn’t be worth doing.

If it ~is~ then you’ve either A) haven’t hit the hard stuff yet, B) you’re wasting your time doing something that’s not challenging enough for you, or C) you’ve already worked through the hard stuff and your honed skills are now second nature.

We’re not talking about complexity here—things can be simple, but not easy. Simple is often more difficult to get right than complex. For example, it’s easier to write a mediocre 15-page essay than it is to distill down the essence of an idea into a 1-page essay.

We’re not talking about making things more difficult either. Our passions/dreams/ideals will be hard enough on their own without us piling on our neurosis and fears. Self-sabotage can be a cop-out to facing difficultly. Why do the hard work when you can set everything on fire and start over?

Easy is choosing:

  • Inaction over action.
  • Comfort over discomfort.
  • Short-term over long-term.
  • other’s desires and expectations over your own.

But choosing easy doesn’t give you a good life—it keeps you from one.

Seek challenge. Take care of the hard things immediately. Focus on the long-term benefits over short-term pleasures. And don’t be afraid to be yourself.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1143

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Ambition Expands

“Our ambition should be to rule ourselves, the true kingdom for each one of us; and true progress is to know more, and be more, and to do more.”

Oscar Wilde

Ambition—the drive to work hard and dream big—naturally has its advantages. It makes us challenge ourselves. It’s a forcing function for continuous growth and change. It prevents us from being complacent. It helps us build momentum and keep going when difficulty arises. 

But ambition has its disadvantages too. It keeps us up late past a healthy bedtime. It pushes us to overwork and stress ourselves out. It keeps our mind focused on the future versus enjoying the present.

We need a healthy amount of ambition to make things happen, but if we become too ambitious, we can over overextended ourselves. 

It’s the classic Icarus story. The Greek myth spins the tale of Daedalus and Icarus. Locked away on an island, Daedalus built two pairs of wings, made out of bird feathers and wax, so that he and his son Icarus could escape. When the time to fly arrived, Daedalus warned his son not to fly too close to the sun, but of course Icarus didn’t listen and the wax in his wings melted and he fell into the sea.

Everything in moderation. Left unchecked, our ambition never stops expanding. We say yes too many times. We take on one too many projects. We adopt too many good habits at once. Basically, at a certain point, we become too big for our breeches. And the original goal collapse. 

The key to a healthy balance of ambition by adopting a similar mindset we typically have when buying things. We generally put purchases into two categories: needs and wants. We need food and we want the latest and greatest phone and gear. 

When you have a great idea, ask yourself—

Is this a need or a want? Do I need to do this, —as in I feel called to do this and will give my time, energy, and money to try—or do I just want to do this—because it sounds cool.

Watch out—sometimes a want is disguised as a need or vise versa:

  • A need is a want that we give priority too.
  • A need that’s not necessary or not possible right now is a want
  • Needs can be disguised as wants by the fear we have of doing them.
  • A need can often come from someone else’s wants.
  • A want that you feel called to do, or no one but you can do might be a need.
  • A need is really a want when it has ulterior motives, like fame and fortune.
  • * A want can be a short term solution to a hidden need we aren’t aware of or we are ignoring.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #947

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Smart Work

“We work to become, not to acquire.”

Elbert Hubbard

Hard work alone doesn’t get you wherever you want to go. In fact, all that hard work your doing doesn’t ensure anything if you are working towards the wrong things *and/or* doing it for the wrong reasons. 

I know because I’ve done it. I worked a long time on the wrong things for the right reasons. Why were they wrong? Because they didn’t align with my goals and vision for my life. I was putting in work for a company that I thought I needed but didn’t see that it was a one-sided deal without real reward or enjoyment—aka they needed me more than I needed them.

It’s easy to get so worked up with the day to day of what you’re doing that you don’t notice that you actually don’t want to do it. And because you are in it, and stressed and tired, you keep going because that’s the thing in front of you.

The first step to smart work is knowing yourself and what you want and periodically checking in with those desires and comparing it to reality. Just like money how money is impossible to manage unless you are tracking it and paying attention to where it’s going, it’s difficult to bug e happy and creating fulfilling work if you aren’t paying attention to who you are and how you are living.

The next step to smart work is focusing your efforts on the *right* things. 

As a small example. Say you want to be Instagram or YouTube famous. Well, you’re off to a rocky start because you’re already focused on the wrong things. Being a star on an online platform is a byproduct of doing great work. That comes from loving your craft and connecting with likeminded people. (Fame has its perks, but I’m sure it has its downsides as well. For one, not being able to leave your house without someone wanting a selfie. Fame replaces your anonymity and pricy. Regardless, if fame is what you want, seeking it isn’t going to be how you get it.

Smart work is a win-win relationship. It’s worth it to you (to put in the time and effort and worth it to the people who consume it (worth their time and attention). 

Another great smart work strategy is making sure the work you are doing is truly necessary. There are a countless number of great ideas that have never been started or never been finished because some little fear or todo got in the way. Don’t get caught in unnecessary work that keeps you stuck in a loop. Ask yourself,

Is this necessary?

Is there a better way? 

Has someone else done this that I can emulate?

Lastly, smart work is also choosing purpose over immediate gratification.

Don’t let little wants and distractions keep you from what you really want. 

If your dream is to start your own company, then why are you spending all your money on booze and fancy toys? 

Ask yourself, is this thing (item, person, habit, another idea/ goal, want) moving me towards or away from my dream?

If it isn’t — pass on it. 

If it is — full steam ahead.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #920

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Excuses Excuses

“All life demands struggle. Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish, and insensitive to the real values of life. The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person we are today.”

Pope Paul VI

There’s always a great excuse not to do something.

I can give one-thousand justifications why I can’t, why something didn’t work out, why something didn’t go the way I expected to. However, at the end of the day, the only questions that matter are:

Did I put the work in?
Am I doing what I said I’m doing?
Am I doing what I want to do?

If not, I’ve got some work to do.

Kevin Hart once said, “Everybody wants to be famous, but nobody wants to do the work. I live by that. You grind hard so you can play hard. At the end of the day, you put all the work in, and eventually it’ll pay off. It could be in a year, it could be in 30 years. Eventually, your hard work will pay off.”

Let’s suppose that hard work doesn’t pay off. You put all this work in to make your business, art, band, acting — whatever — happen and years go by without results. When you put in the hard work, at least you know you gave it your all. You were too early, or too late or the fit wasn’t right. That’s okay. Nothing done well is without its takeaways. Hard work doesn’t leave you with nothing. Now you have developed more and better skills, you’ve connected with more people, you learned and grown from your experience. And now you can take those experiences with you to the next thing. The key is never losing your enthusiasm.

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

Winston Churchill

There’s a lot of excuse that can stop us from achieving our dreams. Tell me, what do you want more — excuses or your dreams?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #630

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