Make It Count

“Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.” Elbert Hubbard

I read a great quote recently by Alexis Ohanian, entrepreneur, investor, co-founder of Reddit—

“Lives Remaining: Zero”

On any given normal day, life feels infinite. It feels like we have all the time in the world to do and be who we want. And so we often push off the important things (things that usually require hard work and discomfort) in favor of entertainment and nothing burgers.

The significance of our time really only shows up in moments of difficult or life and death situations. If you’ve survived 2020, then you know the feeling of how quickly time passes. Getting older does it too. Time seems to speed up in our brains.

Have you ever heard given the response, “Just killing time until…such and such.”

But do we really have time to waste or kill time?

Whether or not you believe in live after this one—this is the only life you’ve got right now.

I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes by the poet Mary Oliver, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

This is it. Better make the most of it.

Better make it count.

“You’ve got zero lives remaining, don’t squander this one.”

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1111

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Cutting Corners

One thing getting sick the last couple of weeks with COVID has taught me is the power of a good evening routine.

And the top of the list is going to bed early. I always knew that going to bed early and getting a solid night’s sleep was important, but I don’t think I quite understood how important.

But luckily being sick (flu-like symptoms) gave me the opportunity to see a few areas I had lapsed a little with my health and where I was cutting corners.

The kind of sick where it strains your eyes to read for too long, and thinking is out of the question, so the only energy you can muster is to re-marathon the Marvel Movies.

So instead of staying up super late, reading well into the night, I did the boring thing—I went to bed.

And funny enough, I felt more energized the next day (imagine that.)

This shouldn’t be a surprise, but it’s surprising how much it is.

It’s interesting how many corners we often cut and not realize (or blatantly ignore) we are doing them.

Q: Where are you cutting corners?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1108

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Choose Better

“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes… and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.” Eleanor Roosevelt

I constantly feel pulled by the thousands of ways I should be and should do. The world tells you to be this kind of person, while at the same time telling you to be that kind of person. Oddly enough, both this and that exist simultaneously. 

There are a thousand ways you could create a company, or film, or song, or book. There are a thousand more ways you should dress, live, eat, talk, move, and travel. And 8 billion+ people are living some resemblance of a life out there in the world.

There’s an infinite number of ways you could succeed. Just as there are countless paths you can take in this life. But ultimately, you have to do what works for you.

A thousand ways doesn’t mean a thousand equally beneficial and rewarding options. Some will work better for others—some will work better for you.

That’s the great thing about life—we get to pick and choose what works better for us based on the results we get.

What is anger getting you? Where is creativity driving you? Who do you want to be?

That being said, some universal values tend to succeed no matter what path you take:

Be good (and mean it). Being a decent human being to other human beings, showing that you care about what you do and who you serve will work wonders in your life.

Take responsibility. Own up to your life—good and bad. Don’t ignore what you dislike about yourself. Learn to love yourself, despite your flaws, and challenge yourself to be better.

Lead when the moment arises and follow when the moment arises. Sometimes we just need you to stand up and show us what to do. Other times you’ll need to be humble and follow those who are wiser and more experienced than you.

Work hard. Change when things aren’t working.

And when in doubt—sleep well, eat clean or talk to a friend.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #957

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Balanced Freedom

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.”

Thomas Merton

I think personal freedom most of us want—the flexibility to do whatever we want when we want it—isn’t what truly gives us freedom.

True freedom is a balance between flexibility to create the life you want, and constraint and challenge to do so by our own hands rather than something given or easily bought.

Without challenge, life feels dull. Too much challenge (at once) and life becomes unbearable. Personal freedom lies within those boundaries.

This plays out on the micro-level of life as much as the macro.

I love reading and I think I want an infinite amount of time to read, but I’d probably burn myself out if that’s all I did. 

I love traveling, but if all I did was travel I would eventually feel like a ragdoll.

I desire more wealth, but if all I did was work I would have no life outside of work. 

Like everything in life, too much of anything has diminishing returns and becomes harmful. Absolute freedom leads us to Netflix in chill our way to oblivion. it’s the equivalent of having a diet of only eating ice cream. Not only is this harmful, but its also increasingly satisfying.

All this to say, that a balanced life is more than just work, or more than just your art, or more than just your friends or just your family. 

A life in balance is all these things and more. Failure needs success. Loneliness needs love. Money needs a purpose. Happiness needs contentment. (Yin needs Yang.) And vice versa.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #921

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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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Take 5

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”

Oscar Wilde

A new year and a new decade are upon us. It’s easy to go through life without actually pausing and considering what we are doing and why we are doing it. So in between exchanging presents and stuffing our faces with pie and cookies like the Fat Schmidt in us all, take some time to think about your past year and what you want your life to look like. Take a breather. Grab some paper and a pen and sit with yourself:

  • Who do you want to be?
  • Where do you want to give your time?
  • What’s a priority to you?
  • What brings me joy?
  • What do I need to do less of? What do I need to do more of?
  • What do I need to start?

Most of us live our lives like the toss of a paper airplane — we throw and hope the wind takes us where we need it to0. Of course, not everything is in our control. Trying to plan every second of your life will inevitably be messed up by something bigger than yourself. Yet, it’s good to know if you are, at the very least, aiming for the right direction. Nobody wants to reach the end of their life and realize they’ve been facing the wrong direction the entire way. There’s always a chance to turn around, but wouldn’t it be better if we knew sooner rather than later?

That’ why it’s healthy to pause every opportunity you can (make) and think about what you’ve been doing and where it’s leading you.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #787

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Worth it

Essential should take priority over immediate. And yet, we often allow ourselves and feel driven to do the opposite. There’s many reasons we could point to — we didn’t sleep well last night, we are distracted by pain or distracted by shiny things, etc.

What’s easier: answering a few emails and clearing out your inbox or working on your app?

What’s more appealing: watching Netflix or sweating at the gym?

What’s more exciting: going out for drinks or putting butt in seat and writing?

Essential over immediate.

The essential takes more time, energy and intention. No wonder we struggle to get anything important done! We trade short-term pleasures for long-term success and happiness. Not that we have to give up happiness in the present in order to have it in the future. Rather, happiness comes from the process of spending our time and energy in ways that we love and find meaningful. Even an ounce of effort spent on what we love creates massive returns on the rest of our effort (which we might have to give to our other responsibilities, such as working to afford food for our family).

There’s another big reason that the important things tend to get benched:

The important things become too important. Or in other words, the essential things we want to do are so important that we end up not doing them. We idealize and fantasize them into a undefeatable monster in our minds. We (consciously or subconsciously) delay, avoid, distract, procrastinate and psych ourselves out from doing them. And eventually we end up filling our time and energy with everything BUT the things we want to do.

I’m making it seem clear and cut-and-dry, but it’s usually anything but. In reality the tradeoffs are so subtle. We hardly even notice we are selling ourselves short and are feeding the wrong things. We trade what we really want to do, for second or third-best options because we think that’s all we desire or are capable of doing.

Because what if we fail?
What if we waste all this time and energy for nothing?
What if we succeed and are still unhappy?

Ultimately it comes down to giving yourself some space and asking yourself is it worth it or not.

Is this worth my finite amount of time and energy?
Is this going to add value to my life AND the lives around me?
Is this going to provide me meaning and happiness in the present, regardless if I fail or succeed in the end?

Failing at something you love is better than succeed at something you hate or find mediocre.

Because failure is recoverable. But we can’t get back wasted time on things that don’t matter.

The road to mediocrity is born from hesitation and feeding ‘what you are supposed to do’ instead of what you feel called to do.

What do you feel called to do in this life?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #734


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In The Margins

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

John Lennon

When you go on vacation, are the kind of person who creates an itinerary for every second of the trip, or do you just go with the flow?

I fall somewhere in the middle of the two. I don’t want to waste time, but I also don’t want to have every second planned out, where even bathroom breaks are scheduled out. For example, I don’t just go to a restaurant willy nilly. I check yelp and look at the menu / food photos to check whether or not it’s right for me. (There’s nothing quite as disappointing as wasting time and money on a crap restaurant trip.) However, I do enjoy ‘nothing time’ where nothing is planned (literally planned) and there’s no obligations or todos to be done during that time. (I guess I’m an enigma wrapped in a juxtaposition.)

Why am I writing about this?

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how Life’s* plans for you doesn’t always match your plans for Life.

(*replace ‘Life’ with ‘God’ deepening on what you believe.)

(It’s like we’re not the center of the universe or something. Weird.)

The frustratingly cool thing is that often it’s the plans that don’t go our way, that ultimately inform who we are and what we do.

Or put more eloquently, the things that go ‘wrong’ are usually things that go ‘right’. They just so happened to be wrapped in a ‘stress-filled, extra-frustrating, mud-covered’ package. We often expect to take the freeway, but ultimately end up taking the back roads, but come out better for it.

For me, an old neck injury hasn’t ruined my life (like I probably thought when it first happened) but has given me the opportunity to dive headfirst into health and wellness, and taught me the value of pursing health. Without my injury, I don’t know if I would be into health as much as I am today. Without my injury, who would I be?

Life happens in the margins. Expectations only cloud our judgements of the opportunities in the outcomes. Plan, but expect change.

Is everything fair and good that happens to us? No. Sometimes it’s the opposite of unfair. I can’t speak to the struggle and circumstances that happens to others. Sometimes hard things are just plain hard, and it takes a lot to overcome them. But from my own circumstances I’ve found value in there stupid existence. Even if that value is not a resolution, but just a story I have I can share and help others with who have gone through or experienced similar pain.

How we handle what happens to us going forward is likely more important than what happens to us.

All that being said, I’d rather learn from history (and the mistakes of others) rather than experience mistakes I could avoid with a little forethought and planning.

Which means planning more is in my present. (Maybe not on vacation though. I can go to the bathroom whenever I want!)

Plan for the worst, Hope for the best

As the old Chinese proverb goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” I’m going to start preparing for future outcomes, instead of just waiting for them.

Perhaps nothing is ultimately in our control, but I choose to believe that every decision we make has to count for something, no matter how small. Every decision we make right now has the opportunity to push the levers in our favor. I think it’s better to increase the probability of a good outcome than just assuming it will happen or negatively assuming it won’t. Either assumption, good or bad isn’t a great way to live.

Maybe this is what growing up and being ‘responsible’ means. Getting health and dental insurance, not because it’s worth it or helpful, but because in two years when you accidentally break your leg, you’re covered. Or when it’s time to buy a house, your past self has already planned for that inevitability and has saved for a down-payment already.

Either way, I want to focus on doing everything I can in the present to be have more freedom and flexibility in the future.

There’s a great entrepreneurial quote that says, “Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.

I think we could expand this not only to our business, but to our lives as well.

What are the actions, thoughts, habits we can do NOW, that will benefit us later?
What can we plant today, so that in the future our fields will be full of fruit trees?
What are small things that we can do today that will have massive benefits over time?

We can’t change what happens to us, but we can change what happens going forward by moving the needle towards the positive instead of the negative.

Why do tomorrow what you can do today?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #579

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#tinyReview: Resilience – Hard-Won Wisdom For Living A Better Life

VerdiCt:  🔥 🔥 🔥

 

I’m not going to lie, I loved this book. There is so much wisdom, and insight. I’ll be reading this one for years to come.

This book is essential. Read it if you’re after a Renaissance Life like I am.

Topics Include

  • Responsibility
  • Models
  • Philosophy
  • Pain
  • Leadership
  • Spirituality
  • What is Resilience and how do we master it?
  • Happiness
  • Identity
  • Vocation
  • Habits

Introducing Antidotes — Cures For The Everyday Strive

Like mine,

Your story is unique — 

but we all face similar hardships in life.

Our story is our own — but life is universal.

 

Pain, frustration, fears, dreams, hopes,

desires, failures, a search for meaning and purpose,

conflict, despair, overwhelm, barriers, loss, choices,

joy, misfortune, depression, happiness, injury, challenge,

obstacles, trials, triumphs..

 

Antidotes, is a new series from the Renaissance Life,

focusing on cures for the everyday strive we all face.

The goal is to forge ancient virtues in our life, specifically resilience —

so that we may fight for what we believe, and have an extraordinary life.

To not only withstand hardships, but to thrive in them — and ultimately,

turn them into victories.

#KeepPursing,

Josh Waggoner