Filler Content

Alright boys and girls, don’t forget, next week your 20-page writing assignment on your summer reading is due.

Does this bring back memories?

If you’ve ever forgotten about a school project (or procrastinated on a work project) you know the all-too-familiar filling of needing to bang out a large amount of work in a short period of time.

The go-to strategy is to fill it out with as much content as you can squeeze out. Back in the day, I’ve had some genius slacker friends have master the art of BSing their way through a school project.

As someone who enjoys writing now (where I previously didn’t like it), I find this kind of project humorous. I could easily write as many pages as requested if I was interested in the topic enough (that’s one of the problems, most students find what they are learning boring).

But I’m much more interested in distilling down than filling out. I thrive on functional work, not filler work.

How can I remove this down to the essence?

Imagine how captivating your project would be if you could distill 20 pages down to 1 incredible page that told you everything you needed to know.

Adding is easier than removing.

It’s much hard to pare something down to its essence than it is to fill it out.

Anyone who’s BS’d their way through a school paper, or watch a show that with lots of filler content between the main storyline will know what I mean.

There’s always more filler content, garbage, and extra stuffing available for us to use. It’s hard to make something bite-sized and relatable. It takes more time and more effort.

But that’s why these diamonds in the rough stand out so iconically.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1172

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Testing Dependencies

“Success is dependent on effort.”

Sophocles

I’ve written before about how it’s easier to acquire tastes than it is to get rid of them. Something normally that’s exotic or saved for special occasions can quickly become our new normals. Instead of saving that delicious Italian restaurant for your birthday, you start having it once a week.

For me, that’s amplified with a personal tendency to overdo it. A cheat “meal” turns into a cheat “weekend”. Or instead of one newsletter, I make three.

But do we really need our “needs”?

I don’t consider myself a minimalist. I related to some of the core values of minimalism, but I wouldn’t label myself as a minimalist. I’m more of a… “essentialist” “practicalist” “intentionalist” something along those lines (semantics, to be sure, but still).

It’s helpful to put things in perspective. In five years, all of the technology you and I use will be obsolete. Five years is generous. There’s a lot of new and exciting gadgets coming out right now. It’s more likely every piece of tech we own will be obsolete in a few months.

It’s good to test your dependencies regularly.

For example, taking a break from social media or swearing off coffee for a year.

Dependency aren’t evil. But they do make us reliant on them. Once you get used to having a certain quality of something, it’s hard to go back. I think that’s why people in third world countries are so happy with very little. It’s not the stuff that they have or don’t have, it’s the knowledge that something “better” is out there. 

This feeling is what I want to resist. I love luxury, but I don’t want to *need* it to be happy. I want to test my dependencies because you never know what fate my take of you. I’d rather be happy and healthy than rich. But if I can be happy, healthy, and rich that would be great too 😉. As long as that money isn’t controlling me.

What are other things we are reliant on? What are your crutches? 

Clothes? New technology? Habits?

Action: Make a list of things you need and use every day. If you forced yourself to give them up for a month, or six or a year, could you?

To live an unconventional life we must do unconforming things.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1062

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Overstuffed Oreos

It’s easy to add more to your life—

More todos. More habits. More meetings. More projects. More books. More hours. More possessions.

Sooner or later, your life looks like an overstuffed Oreo—tasty after the first round, but consecutively less fulfilling the more you eat.

It’s difficult to take away.

It means choosing one good thing over another good thing. It means saying no more than saying yes. It means paring down to the essentials and removing the nice-to-haves (aka distractions).

It means restricting your options, but ultimately giving you the freedom and quality of life you are looking for.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1018

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Livin’ Deeply

“I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life”

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

It’s a simple thing to want lots of things in life. Blame it on our consumer-oriented culture, but most of us want lots of shiny new toys, clothes, and experiences. It doesn’t help that we can with a few taps and scrolls see what everyone else has (and what we don’t have).

I’m no different. I like nice things. My tastes are a disadvantage as much as they are a benefit. I might even be slightly worse than most because I have so many interests and hobbies (more interests equals more expensive tastes).

It’s simple to want many things. It’s complicated to want few.

One way you could describe minimalism as choosing quality over quantity and choosing priority over options. Quality over quantity makes since. By investing in nicer made things, you get more enjoyment and longevity out of your purchases. I think priority over options is something that’s often overlooked. Everything we buy has not only a price tag (i.e. $15 for a book, $60 for stretchy jeans) but also a mental tag—every item we own takes up space in our minds, just as much as our physical spaces. Space where our dreams and ideals for our purchases live.

Think about it like this

One item = at least one to-do.
Two items = at least two to-dos.

At least if you’re planning on using it/them. If you were to look around your house right now, how many things would you find that you want to do but haven’t, or haven’t in a while? Unread stack of books… Stack of dusty CDs you never look at… A travel magazine of places you’d like to (hopefully) visit someday… Racks of clothes that don’t fit anymore…

All of these things take hold in our minds and can, not always but can, weigh us down. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to sell all your belongings. All I’m suggesting is to prioritize what matters to you and think about removing (even if temporary) the things that don’t matter.

I like to put my money where my joy is. I really enjoy making things, so a lot of my purchases are around tools and resources that help me do so.

I think Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich, has said it best—

“I always encourage people to spend extravagantly on the things they love, as long as they cut costs mercilessly on the things they don’t. Ask yourself: What do you love spending money on? Not just “like,” but love.”

To live deeply, we must live intentionally. We have to choose what kind of rich life we want to have, and prioritize our spending and time around that.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #995

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Some Strings Attached

“The things you own end up owning you. It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”

Fight Club

Why is it that the people in this world who have nothing tend to be the most happiest of us all? My guess is that its because the things we own (or things we do) take up space in our lives — physically and emotionally. Or in other words, we are tied down (or lifted) by the stuff and thoughts we have, and the actions we take. Everything around us has strings attached. Monetarily, sure. But also time, location, energy, creativity, flexibility and freedom.

A book is not just bound sheets of paper. It’s someone else’s knowledge, ideas and experiences. It’s a purchase or gift attached with a desire for us to change and be better. It’s our guide. It’s a todo on our massive todo lists. It’s a reminder of who we are, who we aren’t, and who we want to be. It’s all of these things and more. A book on community is our desire to connect with others and find success through those connections. A book on programming is our desire or hope to learn something useful and something that expands our abilities. And that’s just a few books. How many books do we own? How much stuff do we own? How many dreams do we own?

Stuff is fleeting. Don’t get me wrong, I love nice things as much as the next guy or gal. I’m just as jazzed about the latest iPhone or Pixel phone as the next nerd across the coffee shop. Of course I want some white Nikes’ and another backpack. But I also know that in a year from now, most of these things will be outdated and worn.

But I’m more interested in the things and habits that will help me grow my creativity and wisdom. And, in so doing, my ability to help others more. The more (or less) things that allows me to be free, the more capable I become.

It’s not what you have or don’t have that matters. It’s what you allow yourself to have influence over you.

What’s having negative influence over you?
What’s having positive influence over you?

Get rid of the former; Cultivate the latter.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #698


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Moving Day

Today was a great day.
It’s 10 pm and I’m laying on an air mattress in my new apartment. We (family) spent the majority of the day moving me in, laughing and really enjoy the moment of the day. (We also hilarious moved a big A bookshelf up multiple flights of stairs because it would fit in the elevator whew!)

This is the first time I’ve had a place without having roommates. My purchases have always been around tech and learning (booooks) and the rest I’ve leaned on others. You don’t realize what you don’t have until after you start looking for your own place. (Oh right, I️ don’t have silverware… Oh right, I️ need a dining table). I don’t have everything, but that’s okay — I’m loving it. (All a part of the process.)

Last year, I️ had quite a few setbacks financially. It felt like I️ was getting roundhouse kicked in the teeth every week. I’m not 100% but I’m in a much better place than I️ was. 

As I’m laying here reflecting in silence on the day, I️ know that this was a good decision. We face many setbacks, but there’s always a way up from them. Be strong, lean on others, don’t be afraid to ask.

I️ going to make a vow to myself to focus more on improving my health (gut, physical, emotional, mental), friendships, wealth, love, creativity, and spirituality a little every day.

Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Related Wisdom:

Earl Nightingale“Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it’s at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.”

Hippocrates: “Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.”

Henry David Thoreau: “Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.”

Jim Rohn: “Learning is the beginning of wealth. Learning is the beginning of health. Learning is the beginning of spirituality. Searching and learning is where the miracle process all begins.”

The Hidden Costs of Things

“The value of a thing sometimes lies not in what one attains with it, but in what one pays for it — what it costs us.” — Nietzsche

I am not a minimalist. 
I’ve got too many books to be considered minimally hip. (do people still say hip?) But I do follow some minimalist principles.

For example, over the past few years, I’ve adopted the principle of only buying things I love. (Socks. My sock game is strong.) If I don’t find an item useful, enjoyable, motivational, and relatable to who I am, what I’m learning and what goals are, then I’m going to get rid of it.

 

Hidden Costs

Everything we own has an undercurrent of powerful hidden strings attached. I call it the hidden costs of things. 

When you buy something — say for a hobby or skill you’re learning — you’re not buying the object — your buying the lifestyle. We don’t just buy a thing, we’re investing our time, attention, emotions, energy, money, opportunity, health and a host of other things as well. Even throwaway items have a hidden weight to them.

If I commit and invest myself into photography, I’m not just buying a camera. I’m buying the additional necessities. Lenses, straps, a bag, different kinds of cameras. (Gotta have me some sweet-sweet drone shots yo) Photography books, perhaps lessons. I’m investing in attention to the art of photography. I’m investing into the world of photography. And if I’m building a business around photography, I’m investing time in clients and relationships.

You are what you own.

Well, not really. ‘You are what you own’ is a good headline (or poster), I’m generalizing here. But you are influenced by what you own and how much you own. Not being aware of the hidden costs attached to your purchases can turn you into a slave of what you own. I’m not talking about bad purchasing impulses (although bad habits contribute to your amount of hidden costs). There is an emotional, physical, mental and spiritual weight to what you own and how much you have. The more you have, the more your attention is split. There’s only so much time and energy we have give to what we own. You’re time spent writing away on your computer is time you could be practicing piano or washing your car.

 

Space Costs

How much stuff do we own that we never use? Not only do thing take up physical space, they take up emotional and mental space as well. Are you holding onto something from your past? A photo of lost love, mementos you don’t love, but don’t want to get rid of. Go around your house and you will find closest and garages full of things you don’t need that are taking up mental space.

 

ToDo Costs

When you surround yourself with skills you want to learn, businesses you want to build, activities you want to pursue, you’re surrounding yourself with subconscious todo lists. Everything you own demands your attention. Some things weigh heavier than others, but everything has at least a piece of your attention. I don’t know about you, but when I have too many things demand my attention I feel completely overwhelmed and end up dropping everything.

One of the key benefits on minimalism is it keeps you focused on what matters to you. 

When you’re attention isn’t split between a thousand things you wish you would, could and might do someday (something I struggle with a lot), you give yourself space and clarity to be sharp and focused in on your most important things. Most of the time we’re not even aware of how much the weight our todos are barring down us and holding us back.

 

Lifestyle Costs

Unless you can afford it, buying into too many lifestyles at once is a great way of setting yourself up for not being able to give the time, money and energy each skill requires. It’s better to focus on one or a few pursuits at a time, that way you are able to give each the attention it requires to reach mastery.

I’m not wealthy (…yet). I don’t have multiple houses (h👹ll I don’t even have one house) but if I did, the weight of all of my stuff would pull me in a thousand different directions. I would worry about my stuff in my one house, forget my stuff in the other house and be everything but present in the moment.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not telling you to forgo all of your belongings and run naked in the streets. Instead, focus on what’s important to you. There’s nothing wrong with buying things you love. But Its good to pause and reflect on the hidden costs of what you have and are thinking about buying. By surrounding yourself with only the things you love and need, you will free your focus and energy to what truly matters to you.

Consider the hidden costs before buying. “Am I buying this because I want to, or because this is important to me?”

Touch and pick up things you own. “Do I love this?” “Do I find it useful or enjoyable?”

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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