Whenever I️ get sick, I’m usually too tired to read yet too wired to sleep. The default choice after that (and for a lot of people) is Netflix. I’ll marathon through shows and movies all day. But even after I️ get well, my body gets used to watching hours of tv. And even if I️ have a million things I️ want to do, it’s hard to resist that urge of laying down and watching one more episode. This is just one way laziness can creep into your life.
Laziness, fear, uncertainty, hate, sadness, disbelief (in yourself, about the world), and other harmful anti-habits are the opposite of what It means to live a meaningful life.
The problem is that harmful habits are hard to spot. They usually don’t happen overnight. Slowly, over time, you start pouring water into your ship. Fear builds and builds. Uncertainty builds and builds. And more often than not, it’s not difficult times that cause us to fall down, its that one more bucket of water we throw into our ship.
It’s hard to set sail when you’re sinking in the harbor.
Life Principle #23: Don’t Sink Your Own Ship
Take a moment to do a gut check: Are you getting in your own way? Are you holding yourself back? Are you sabotaging your success?
Success is a tricky word (for a lot of reasons) but one thing that always blows my mind about It is that while even though we want to succeed, sometimes a piece of us doesn’t want to succeed at the same time. We think we aren’t good enough or don’t deserve It in some way.
Success is a state of mind. It’s believing that you can. It’s knowing that failure is inevitable and can evaluate you higher. And when you back belief up with practice, you start to grow into the mindset of a successful person.
Putting It in practice:
Make a list of your anti-habits: bad habits you fall into and would like to avoid.
Spending too much on stuff you don’t need? Neglecting little todos (like taxes or changing your oil in your car, etc) that end up biting you in the bum later? Forgetting to floss?
Write down everything you can think of and relate to your life and goals you are pursuing. Now think of the opposite, positive habits. How can you make it as simple and easy of a process to do your most important habits daily?
Learning the fundamentals of any skill requires practice and repetition. We know this. But the question is why? Why learn scales when you can’t just jump on YouTube and learn every song imaginable? Why learn to draw when I️ can just jump straight into illustrator? Why learn
Because the basics reinforce your creative abilities. The better you are at the fundamentals, the better at acquiring a higher level of skill and a greater ability of expression.
Life Principle #22: Master the fundamentals.
Building from the foundations up.
A skill is essentially a collection of micro skills. (Or meta-skills) For every skill, there is a subset of smaller skills that add up to the greater sum. Most people don’t really think about them when their learning, which is one reason why the majority of people don’t reach mastery in their crafts.
Design, for example, could be broken down into:
Understanding color Typography Spacing Lighting Designer Eye Branding Marketing Layering & Repurposing Aesthetics Drawing Logos .. (and so on)
As well as the tools you use to design (Illustrator, InDesign, Sketch, etc)
Sure, the fundamentals might be rout, dry, boring, and monotonous, but they are essential. To become a high performer at what we do, we must master the fundamentals. Fundamentals become less boring when you realize the why behind them. When you understand how powerful they are at raising your game, you no longer feel bored, you feel like you have an unfair advantage.
Fundamentals make you razor sharp. (And fast too) There’s a huge difference between the work of someone jumps right into the deep end, and someone who has a mastery over the fundamentals. You’re lightning. You’ve ingrained the movements deep into your body and mind where you don’t have to think about what your doing, you just do It, and make It look natural.
Fundamentals builds the foundations for high performance. If you want to be in the top percentile of your field, building up a toolbox of micro skills will get you further than you thought possible.
And having a grasp on the fundamentals allows you to break the fundamentals and create something new and exciting.
You don’t realize how quickly time moves until its already passed.
When I was in high school (and middle school) I had a really tight-knit group of friends. We were into making music, movies, jokes, making funny short videos, and being your typical, well-rounded goofballs.
I’ll never forget a video that one of the guys (Jonathan) stitched together from us jamming out and having a helluva good time. He set it to the song, I’ve Got Friends by the Manchester Orchestra. It’s like he intuitively knew our time in high school as a group was about to close, and we would be moving on to college and would never see each other as much as we did, every day, waking up at 6 am and hanging out at and around school.
I don’t remember the details, but I do remember the feeling it gave me, (and gives me every time I play that song)
I miss those moments we had and think about fondly on them.
Life Principle #20: See Change As Good
If you’re not changing, you’re not growing, and if you’re not growing your stuck in place.
Happiness and meaning are fluid — they happen on the journey, not the destination (put that on a poster and smoke it).
Change is good. Its the conduit that takes us from sad times to happy times (and sometimes vice versa). Change can lead to unknown adventures and wild places. It’s hard we were stepping away from something or people we love to follow a calling or jump into a new way of living, but you always have those collective memories. I always have those times with my friends goofing off in my room at my parent’s house (I’m tearing up thinking about it). No one can take that from you. (Another reason why health is vitally important too. A healthy mind is a more capable collector of memories)
I think we fear change for the same reason that we can love change: Because it breaks our status quo and leads to unknown, potentially exciting places.
The best part about change is we can make it. We have the power to change our minds, opinions, the direction in your life and more at ANY MOMENT. Usually, it takes a failure or painful experience to see that, but the power to change is always within our reach. Even small actions can lead to big change eventually.
Often times, you’ll face situations or setbacks you don’t want to be in. This is where change is not only good but can become your best friend. When you’re feeling stuck or have hit rock bottom, burnt yourself, or pulling your hair out because you’re at your wit’s end, it’s time to make some change.
Change starts with you. Be the change you want to see in your life and in the world. Break the status quo. And when change happens, be good with the new possibilities.
At a very young age, we go to school and have the opportunity to ask the teachers any question we might have about their class. When you’re younger, you don’t care — you’ll shoot up your hand and ask anything. ‘Why is the sky not purple?’ ‘What’s inside a ballon?’ ‘What’s a huckleberry?’
But somewhere along the way, most of us stop asking. Whether it’s not wanting to be embarrassed or bullied or not wanting to be labeled as a nerd, we stop asking and begin to fear asking.
If you think about It, most schools are designed for answers, not questions, unfortunately.
After school, most of us take this fear into our adulthood. We fear standing out, yet desperately want to. We fear asking, but can’t think of anything else. We fear trying, because what if we fail?
But what has anyone gotten from not trying? Nada. Zip. Zilch. Nothing.
Questions are our North Star towards a meaningful life.Questioners rule the world. Become someone who asks great questions, and you’ll become someone who reaches mastery and creates an extraordinary life for themselves.
Life isn’t a solo adventure and won’t always be butterflies and apple pies. That’s why questions and asking are vitally important. When you learn how to ask for It — whatever It is — you take control of your life into your own hands.
Life Principle #19: ASK
You probably have something that comes to mind that you’ve been wanting to ask someone about, but haven’t quite got the nerve yet.
Do It right now. Don’t let fear win again.
Let me ask you this, what do you get when you decide not to ask? What do you get when you let fear win?
The exact same thing you’ve got now — nothing. A bag of pennies and a fountain full of dreams. The worst they can do is ignore you or say no.
A ‘no’ is always better than a ‘what if’.
And if they do say no, GREAT! You’re building your asking muscle. But if they say yes, that changes everything doesn’t It? It puts the power of change into your hands.
Making asking a daily practice in your life.
Practice asking for what you want. Ask for help. Ask questions. Ask for career advice. Ask someone out on a date. Ask for a raise. Ask for knowledge. Ask for a break. Ask for directions. Be curious. Like the old phrase goes, Ask and you’ll receive.
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.
“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
Each life principle from the Renaissance Life ebbs and flows. It comes with the territory of pursuing lifelong goals. Learning doesn’t stop after high school. If It does, you’re going to find yourself stuck with your hands tied. Being bold isn’t a one-time thing — it’s a lifestyle. You have to choose It every time you’re about to step into your discomfort zone. The same goes for health.
Health is vital to every aspect of our lives. From the energy you have, to the body you live in, to the mind you create with. Without health, we are living sub-optimally.
We know this deep down. That’s why it everyone and their grandma puts “lose 10 pounds” “exercise every day” or “eat healthy” on their New Year Resolutions.
Sometimes I’ll hear someone say, “food doesn’t affect me, I don’t get fat so I can pretty much eat whatever I want.”
I internally laugh slash roll my eyes every time I hear it. I used to be that guy. Don’t be like how I used to be.
What you may not realize is that health is a lot like credit.
Sure you can enjoy that fast food cheeseburger and milkshake today, but if you keep eating like that one day you’ll pay for it. The house always wins. You’ll start to feel a little pudgy around the waist, or worse — run into chronic diseases.
The same is true when you go out drinking. You’ll have a blast tonight, but one too many and you’ll pay for it tomorrow. (or eventually)
The key to vital health is deciding to make the change to live healthy, while not being too religious about it.
It’s downright impossible to be healthy 100% of the time, for your entire life. (If that’s what you’re doing you might want to consider living a little).
Life Principle #16: Optimize Your Health
1. Start by Making a Plan
Are you trying to be healthy or just saying so? Do you have chronic health problems that slowly eat away your ability to focus and have the energy to work on your dreams?
Then it’s time to make a health plan.
It doesn’t have to be a great plan, in fact, make it a mediocre plan! A mediocre health plan is better than no plan.
You don’t have to know what you’re doing to be able to start. When I️ made the decision to get healthy, I️ was clueless. You name it, I made every mistake in the book. But that’s okay. I wish I had someone who could train me, but if you stick with things long enough, you pick up on what works and doesn’t work for you.
2. Follow the Lead of Great Health Influencers
There is so much information out there its hard to know who to trust. And within that last sentence is the answer, don’t trust, test. The best health plan is the one that works for you. How do you know that it’s working? Do you feel incredible? Do you have bucket tons of energy? Are you in the best shape of your life? Sounds like you could give me advice then!
Find someone that seems trustworthy, and test their information for yourself. Try on their shoes for a month or three. If you’re not seeing results, drop it and try something else.
Pursuing health is 1000 times easier when you have a friend or group of friends wanting the same thing. If none of your friends are healthy, either recruit them on the health train or find a couple of friends who are on the same track as you.
4. Focus on Food and Fitness.
Food and Movement go hand in hand. You can do one without the other, but if you want to have an optimal kick-a life create a plan for both.
Don’t become a health prune. Its okay to accidentally eat a donut every so often. And if other people around you want to live off wingdings and greased tater tot casseroles let them. As much as I’d like to force my health choices onto others around me, that just doesn’t fly. It’s hard, if not impossible to tell people how to be healthy, especially those closest to you. The only thing you can do is show it — show how good eating healthy and exercising makes you feel. When you are a walking talking energetic ball of sunshine, they’ll start to wonder how you do it, and hopefully, they might get their courage up enough to say, I’ll have what he’s having.
Life and learning can be a lot like digging a hole on the beach.
You dig and you dig… and your hole get’s a little better (you know, more…. holy 😆) But digging is hard, and the sun is hot, and you’re thirsty and ooo look some seagulls! Why was I digging in the first place?
When you stop digging, sand immediately starts filling up your progress. Time and sea washes away all traces of your work. You worked hard but you let things slide.
When you’re pursuing a goal or learning a new skill, you’ve got to really dig deep to make it happen. If you try to pursue too many at once you’ll end up with a bunch of shallow holes, and hardly any progress on them.
To go for the gold, we’ve got to go deeper. We’ve got to choose our opportunities and relentlessly pursue them with all we got.
Life Principle #15: Go Deeper
I see a lot of influencers online who seem to be doing it all, but they didn’t start that way. The ones who have made something of themselves started with one thing, went deep on that skill, and then after mastering it expanded their circle to another avenue.
Ask yourself, how can I go deeper in my skills, in my relationships and in all aspects of my life?
How can I go deeper with my friends? How can I go deeper with my love? How can I go deeper with my family? How can I go deeper with my community?
How can I go deeper in my skills? How can I go deeper in my finances? How can I go deeper into my positive mindset?
How can I go deeper with my nutrition? How can I go deeper with my physical health? How can I go deeper with my relaxation and sleep?
Start small, focus in, go deep and expand.
Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner
P.S. I’m Josh darn tired tonight, hopefully, all these hole digging analogies won’t sound like pure fatigue gibberish in the morning.
I’m a half introvert, half extrovert. I️ love knowing and connecting with other creatives and people pursuing extraordinary lives, but I️ also just kinda want to stay at home reading most of the time. (…okay, all of the time)
I’m not like a hiding-in-my-sweater-at-a-party kind of introvert, but It take effort for me to go out of my way to go to social events.
Yay a party! Where are your books?
The problem is, if you want to impact others, if you want to build a network of incredible people pursuing big and BOLD things, if you want to build your knowledge, wealth, and tribe you’ve got to connect with others.
Lucky for us, becoming a super connector is a skill.
Life Principle #14: Become a Super Connector
I️ would be willing to bet you know someone who is a Super Connector. They are that guy or gal who you run into around town everywhere and who seems to know everyone.
Heck, they probably do know everyone.
What is a Super Connector?
A Super Connector is someone who connects others in a mutually beneficial way. Not only do they make great friends themselves — lovable, charismatic, genuine, interested… — they also life matchmakers. They’re Hitch with or without the romantic elements. (Maybe romance is what you’re looking for, a super connector would be able to help!)
Super connecting is a lot like New York City Subways or London Tubes. You meet someone lost on their way, and you point them to the right connections. You don’t know there exact destination, but you can help them head in the right direction.
Simply put, a super connector knows what you want, and can connect you with someone who can help you. Need some tips on email marketing? he know’s a guy. Looking for a new job? She’s got your back.
A Super Connector loves to help others and loves to connect you to others needs.
A great network is essential for a Renaissance Life.
When setbacks happen (and they will), who are you going to call? When you need advice on work, when you are looking to increase your income, when you’re looking for a great vacation spot — A healthy network can give you that.
The millionaires and billionaires of the world play by a different rulebook. The self-made billionaires got they way from who they know, and what they know.
So how do we start becoming a super connector? How can we make It a daily habit?
1. Be friendly: Don’t just be friendly to the people you know who can benefit you! Be a friendly person. Smile, be genuine. Talk to anyone and everyone you meet. A super connector doesn’t hold back on who they do or do not talk to.
2. Go Deep:
You’ve got to care. You’ve got to genuine care about the other person’s job, life, worries, dreams, and goals. If you don’t go deep, you’re not really making true connections, you’re just adding up numbers on a followers count. Go deep. Know their names, their hobbies and pursuits.
3. Give Give Give:
Give and expect nothing in return. Connecting isn’t about taking. Receiving will come naturally. Just from the sheer fact that you’re being friendly, going deep and giving without expectations will set you up from them remember you and what you did for them.
Go out of your way to help others. Connect them to ideas, knowledge, and people. A Super Connector connects — so start connecting.
Vow to reach out to at least one person a week to connect with them. If you see the opportunity to help them or connect them along their way do It! Who knows where It will take you!
5. Start an Interview Podcast:
This is one of the reasons I️ started the Renaissance Life show. I️ wanted to talk and connect with creatives in all areas of life! People pursuing high performance and mastery in what they do. A podcast is like speed dating without the dating. Even just a dozen or so interviews in and I’ve collaborated on multiple projects with guests.
6. Finally, You’ve Got to Put Your Heart Into It:
You have to 100% believe in helping others for the pure joy and happiness It brings. Wealth and collaboration are nice, but building a network of friends who care about who you are and what you do is what its really about. Care about them, and they’ll care about you.
“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.” ― Herman Melville
“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” ― Brené Brown
You won’t get far in life without a solid group of friends pushing you to be better and more capable. (You won’t have as much fun either!)
You won’t get far by treating everyone around you like they are beneath you.
And you won’t get far by ignoring everyone that’s not in your group.
A Renaissance Life is a life of cherishing others.
Life Principle: Cherish Others
People want to be seen and heard more than anything in the world. Cherishing others means caring about the well-being and success of the people around you.
How do you cherish others?
Reach out first. Healthy relationships are nourished by reaching out to those you cherish, in small intentional ways that show you care.
Be Generous. Relationships are a two-way street. You both have to be giving something in order to get something out of the friendship, and Generosity is a great way of doing that. No one in the history of ever has thought generosity is a bad character trait for a friend. Who wants to be surrounded by people who don’t give two shakes of a shake weight about you? Go out of your way to be generous.
Genuinely want them to succeed. Have you ever known someone who supports what you do, yet secret wishes you would fail? Some friend indeed. Don’t be them! Life is abundant, great friendships genuinely desire for each party to succeed in their pursuits.
Love the mundane. A great relationship is someone you can do absolutely nothing with and still have a great time. Painting a wall? Waiting in line? Walking through an airport? Each can be a laugh out loud moment with the right group.
Be there — especially when It counts. You have to put yourself first, but cherishing others is being there when it counts. If someone asks you to help them when they are in need — and you can — do it.
And last but not least. Listen. Cherishing others is about listening to what they say. Listen to their hopes and fears. Listen to their problems, and encourage them to believe in themselves.
Q: When was the last time you had a deep, heart to heart conversation with someone? Call up a friend and talk about your hopes and dreams for the year. Where you want to go, who you want to be. Leave small talk for the birds.
Q: When was the last time you went out and meet new people? Find a group or event around a topic you love and want to master. Become a strong character in that community.
Q: Who are the people you hang out with the most? I strongly believe that we are the sum of the people we hang out with the most. Sit down and list out who you spend your time with. Are these the people that will push you higher towards your dreams (and vice versa)? Or are they holding you back? Surround yourself with greatness to become great. Surround yourself with positivity to be more positive. Surround yourself with hope to be hopeful.
In the end, cherishing others might be the best way to cherish yourself.
“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself.” — Jim Morrison
“Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.” — Oprah Winfrey
“Friends… they cherish one another’s hopes. They are kind to one another’s dreams.” — Henry David Thoreau
“One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.” — Lucius Annaeus Seneca
“Stay positive and happy. Work hard and don’t give up hope. Be open to criticism and keep learning. Surround yourself with happy, warm and genuine people.” — Tena Desae
“If you want to become healthy, you have to surround yourself with a group of people that are getting healthy, and you have to be connected to a community that is doing what you want to do.” — Henry Cloud