Perhaps the setbacks and problems you are facing are exactly the challenges you needed at this time.
It’s like a little over the threshold what you thought was possible.
As difficult as it may seem, perhaps this is exactly what you need.
Everyone loves an underdog. 80% of movies out there are about how a person goes against unbelievable odds and makes it out ahead.
That’s why I like to use the word ‘challenge’ instead of the word ‘problem’. It’s only a problem when you don’t see it as a challenge. This is your chance to reach achievement against all odds and live to tell about it.
That’s why I face things head on. That’s how I can motivate myself to keep going during the worst moments.
Everything you want to be in life starts with what you do today, this day.
Today is a powerful change maker in our life story. What you do each today can make or break you, because a little time NOW compounds later. (Just like investing $)
Think about it:
If you eat a tub of Ice Cream Today, you’re not going to get fat. Eating bad one day won’t kill you. BUT (< big but there :), eating bad today, and the next day and the next WILL add up over time and take its toll on your health (and neck rolls).
The same thing works in the positive direction — losing weight, gaining muscle (got swol?)
Authors don’t write a book in a day. Entrepreneurs don’t create a successful runaway business overnight. Musicians don’t become famous after one show.
But doing something — anything — every day? That’s going to add up to something extraordinary.
Why do we live (on average) to the ripe old age of 90 or beyond?
Life doesn’t happen at once either. (I came, I saw, I stood in lines, I died)
Life is iterative, which is why each iteration — each day — is vitally important.
By focusing on what you do, the next action/moment, and aligning that action to your priorities, you turn yourself into a powerful force of massive change.
The results you seek in life might not show up tomorrow, but by doing the work today, you’ve planted the seeds of its reality.
Renaissance Life Principle #2:
Small, Consistent Actions Lead to Big Change.
When we focus too much on the future or dwell too much on our past, we lose the ability to create change.
Living for today is about being aware of what is important to you, prioritizing those over filler or shiny objects, and pursuing them consistently.
Most people see time as a disadvantage or enemy:
“How did time fly so quickly?” “I never have enough time…” “There’s not enough time in the day…”
(I’m guilty of these and more.)
When you decide to pursue a Renaissance Life, time can become your ally. By working on your goals each day, even just a little bit (even so small it feels like you didn’t make any progress) and developing the patience to Keep Pursuing, your goals are basically inevitable.
Look, I know what some of you might be thinking, we can’t all walk on the moon, or be knighted by the Queen, (Sir Waggoner at your service), but we can create massive impact in our lives and in the lives of others by focusing on the little baby steps. Small actions create waves.
But what if today sucked? What if I miss a day (or week)? What if I failed miserably? What do I do then?
Failure, missteps, setbacks — they are part of the learning process. Look forward to the person you strive to be, take action immediately on your dreams, and you WILL be that person right now. Focus on the now, each second we are still breathing is a chance for us to make a change. Your fresh start comes the moment you decide to take create the change you wish to see. Take Small actions today!
For the Last 8 Months, I’ve been sleeping on my parent’s couch. (Hard to say, but it’s true)
But in all honesty, life couldn’t be better.
Okay, you might be wondering how have I adopted this mindset?
My life imploded into oblivion after my health continuously became worse.
Here’s what happened:
I sprained my neck about 3 years ago. The first year was hell and it put a lot of things in my life on hold.
I burnt myself out at a job where I was barely making enough to pay rent let alone anything else.
I was unintentionally exposed to bad mold from my apartment which led to weird health issues that were hard to pin down.
Every day I felt more tired than the last. When you go to bed tired and wake up tired you know something is wrong. (But the question is what?) Continuous Signs of Fatigue, Do I have CTF? The worst part is not knowing what’s wrong.
I attempted to make my side-business more than a side-business at the worst possible time. It worked at first, but after having some bad-egg clients, things got worse. (And cue financial problems.) My girlfriend was also having job issues, so I was helping her as much as I could.
I kept talking (complaining *cough cough*) circles around fatigue, ache, money, and other problems that made me and everyone else blue in the face. I started identifying who I was with the problems I had.
I felt isolated and alone. Unable to keep up with my friends, be that energetically or financially.
It’s difficult to be yourself, your whole self, when you’re tired, broken, broke, despairing and on the verge of tears.
All of these setbacks were a one, two, PUNCH on my psyche and on my desire to be the best version of myself I can be.
But here’s the punch line:
I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned the past few years, it’s Your greatest triumphs come from your worse setbacks.
What separates those who use setbacks to their advantage and use them to surpass where they were, versus those who give up and never recover? (And how do we become the former rather than the latter?)
You are not your problems.
Having an injury or bad job, or health issue, or anxiety, or ______ (insert pain-point here) doesn’t me you are that experience. Everyone has issues, even the larger than life characters we look up to, but that doesn’t mean that’s your identity. Pain is a shared human experience. It’s not meant to be bottled up instead. It’s meant to be shared and relieved by the hands of others. Pain is a touching point to guide, inspire, and related to others through there own pain.
Every moment in my life where I’ve been broken down and beaten to a pulp by failure and setbacks, Has been the path to my greatest success and growth. As much as I️ would rather not feel the anxiety, frustration, pain, illness and all the negative outcomes of facing setbacks, I️ now see the value and blessing of going through hard times. Once you see the blessings in disguise, you having something to focus on besides the pain itself. Knowing there is a kernel of truth in pain and that truth will help you achieve your wildest dreams is how we can take advantage our worst experiences and allow us to build an extraordinary life.
There are hard-earned lessons in pain. (It’s hard to see this during, and might be impossible to really know what I’m talking about unless you’ve gone through your own share of setbacks) There are also opportunities and abundance in pain too.
Where am I today?
I’ve got a new apartment, one that I’ve always dreamed of. I’ve got a great job working on Pass It Down and working with Paul Cummings. My business started to thrive when I️ made it my side business again. My relationship with Gabriella and my family has improved. And best of all, I’m thinking less about me and more about you and how I️ can make an impact on your life and on the lives of others everywhere.
How did I get here? What do you do when you are facing down the barrel of a setback?
I️ asked for help. I️ reached out to friends to see if they knew of any work available I️ could take on. I️ said yes to opportunities that came my way, big or small. I took chances. I created challenges for myself. I pitched ideas to others to collaborate. Not all of them said yes, but one, two, three yeses are better than none. One yes is all you need to get going. I️ invested money in going to the doctor and have started to unlock the solutions to my health and energy problems.
I’m still working on my health, my friendships, finances, spirit, creative pursuits (like this blog) and other areas of my life. But as long as I️ focus on improving in each area every day, and remember the lessons learned from my experiences, I️ know any setback I️ face I️ will be able to turn it into my greatest triumphs. And you can too with yours.
— Josh Waggoner
Share your pain
Look for opportunity and truth when you are facing down the barrel of a setback.
“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.” — Rumi
“The struggle of my life created empathy – I could relate to pain, being abandoned, having people not love me.” — Oprah
“A lot of what is most beautiful about the world arises from struggle.” — Malcolm Gladwell
“Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward.” — Henry Ford
For as long as I can recall, I’ve always tried to live by example —
I would define living by example as the principle ‘what you say and value is what you practice.’
Living this way has given me a certain calming effect on those around me. I stand strong for myself, for my sisters, friends, and tribes. Even when the s is hitting the fan, you probably won’t see me losing my marbles over it, at least not externally. Naturally, people ask me for help and advice all the time. (which is rad, and one of the main reasons I started The Renaissance Life)
Tranquility in a sea of turmoil can be like a campfire on a moonless night.
Everyone (including myself) has some internal battle going on which they seek comfort and connection for. And the battles become louder and more fierce when you are pursing creative work.
Recently, a life-changing question was brought to my attention,
‘Josh, you stand so strong for everyone else, but do you have someone strong that stands for you?’
And that brought to the brink of tears. I was speechless. I didn’t know what to say…
Perhaps that is why I’ve had such a difficult time these last couple of years.
It’s felt as though I’ve had no one to go to for advice, or at least advice that wouldn’t be sandwiched with that persons own expectations for me.
It’s not easy admitting your weaknesses and failures to the world (or yourself.)
The truth is my life’s been one setback after another recently, all blobbing together into one monstrous dragon of frustration and overwhelm. What happened? Did I get hit with the unlucky stick? At this point so many bad outcomes have happened to me it’s hilarious now. But as difficult as things may be, I’m learning to be okay with setbacks.
Because no one ever said pursuing a life in creativity was going to be a piece of cheesecake.
When you feel as if you are at your lowest point, your way up is being open. Strength is found in Vulnerability.
Open to new ideas, beliefs and ways of thinking.
Open to asking for help
Open to change and spontaneous opportunity.
Difficultly should never be swept under the rug. (It’s not like you’ve gotten rid of it… now it’s just under a rug.) No, difficult should be out in the open. Especially when your giving your all in to climb the mountain to make your dreams your reality (e.g. building up a renaissance tribe and inspiring likeminded creatives.) In the dark, setbacks are pain and loneliness, but in the open they are ways to connect and inspire.
If you are not open with your tribe, how can you expect them to be open with you?
And even more so, If you are not open with yourself, how do you think you can possibly overcome your circumstances?
How to be Vulnerable
Vulnerable is being okay with where you are, even if where you are is not where you want to be.
It’s acknowledging unwanted emotions. Fear, anger, failure, lack of confidence, stress, loneliness… theses are all things we feel, and the cycle of fear that comes from feeling them.
Unwanted emotions are okay to have. They highlight areas we need to improve and tell us when something doesn’t align with our truth.
Vulnerability creates possibility for opportunity.
People know when you are hurting, they can see it in your eyes and feel it on you, even if you don’t notice it yourself. Sometimes hurt is like food stuck on your face. The only one who doesn’t know about it is you.
It may seem counterintuitive, but you can become stronger than you ever have, by being open and vulnerable.
The more vulnerable you are, the stronger you become.
Difficultly is part of your life’s story.
Instead of hiding your setbacks why not use them? Turn your difficulties into a story you can inspire and connect with.
And that has been my journey this past few years and my journey going forward.
Enter the three-headed beast.
My Three-headed Demon
They say never let them see you bleed, but I believe the opposite is true. Bleeding together is how your create incredible relationships and a cult following.
This is me being as vulnerable with you as possible:
I am not okay, and that’s okay.
Three setbacks that are feeding each other. Injury, Health & Finances
1. A Pain in the Neck
A few years ago, I injured my neck in a bad way. I’ll talk more on my experience later, but it was a hell-of-an experience. The first two weeks I could barely move. I went through some dark days early on, but I couldn’t live like that forever. And thus my journey into mobility practices, posture, mental strength and dancing.
Now I’ve reduced it down to a mild ache in the front of my neck right beneath the collarbone, but even still, a constant nagging frustration.
2. Chronic Fatigue
My health sucks right now. I’ve been fatigued for over 12 months and in the dark as to why. I’ve tried every sleep, health and wellness hack I can get my hands on, all the while questioning myself if its only a mental thing. Is this just in my head? Waking up tired and going to bed tired, rinse repeat gets to you after a while.
Finally I’ve begun to receive some clarity in what’s wrong. I’m allergic to half the things in the Universe! We’re still in the dark about the underlying cause, and cutting out foods I love is stupid, but worth it all if it gives me my energy back. Energy to create and live a Vibrant life.
3. Financial Meltdown
My finances are worse than my health right now. As my energy depleted so to did my financial health. Add that to increasing expenses and bad clients and you have me in full on panic mode. Can you say, cue crap your pants in french?
I am not okay, but I am okay with the challenges handed to me.
Because setbacks are something we all experience and creativity is something we all strive for.
And through my own, I can be in a greater position to connect and inspire you and others like me.
I want to show that my setbacks have made me a better me. Just as yours will make you a better you.
Setbacks don’t define you, but how you deal with them do. We become our best-selves from the challenges we take on. Not only are they your responsibility, they are path to the life you desire.
If there is one takeaway from my life, and theme of The Renaissance Life represents is capability.
You are capable.
You are capable of overcoming your situations.
You are capable of having a wonderful life of worth.
You are capable of living true to yourself, and being apart of something bigger.
My three-headed monster may be zapping my energy to do and be more than I am, it may even grow more ugly heads, but it won’t stop me from living and pursing a meaningful life, nor cherishing those who are important to me.
Don’t let your problems stop you, let them challenge you, and make you into a better you.
Thank you for your time,
Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner.
Let me know if this resonates in the comment below or @: firstname.lastname@example.org
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“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” — Walt Disney
I could feel the stress flowing down my back,
like a waterfall too powerful to sit under without breaking you eventually.
I was zapped, emotionally and physically. And doing my damnedest to not tear up because of my current set of obstacles.
There’s was a physical heaviness weighing down my mind. Pessimistic thoughts were attacking me at all angles. It took all of my effort to not let the negative thoughts take control of the driver’s seat, but their barrage was paralyzing me. When things get bad, my mind cops by going numb — I refuse to let it.
The difficultly of finding new clients and work, plus the lack of physical energy to do so and the pain of an old injury was doing a number on me. A one, two, three knockout of setbacks that were feeding each other.
I didn’t want ‘tired, broke, and empty’ to be the title of my autobiography.
Something has to change!, I screamed within.
My mind is more clear than it’s been for months.
I’m not making enough, but that shouldn’t stop me from creating and pursuing what’s important to me.
I’m still tired, but I feel good.
My neck hurts, but I can help it by moving more.
Why the sudden change? What gives Josh?!
I’ve decided to focus on the possibilities and benefits of my setbacks, instead of dwelling on the downsides.
I’ve decided to choose health first.
I’ve decided to take a learning vacation.
And I’ve the liberty of taking a vacation from myself. I’m free.
I’ve let myself out of the cage that I helped build.
Because believe it or not, I was holding the key.
Just as you might be with your own cage.
Often times, the only thing holding you back from opportunity is yourself.
We get in our own way.
Q: How are you holding yourself back?
FEAR of Failure? ha no problem. I’m on vacation, you can’t scare me.
Feeling Stressed? not anymore. Vacation baby!
Feeling Stuck? you’ve got plenty of time to unstuck yourself now!
Okay okay, sure — I’m basically tricking myself — I’m still working. Still looking for clients. Still connecting, writing, design and a bucket-load of other things.
But my mindset has completely changed.
I’m looking up instead of looking down.
I’m not looking at the problems, I’m looking around them.
The only thing that’s changed is my perspective.
I’m still doing the work. I’m not slothing around. I’m not just doing whatever the wind tells me. But there’s a massive difference in my mindset.
Now that I’m out of my own way, I can do what I do, but better and more effectively.
My Learning Vacation Itinerary
Hone my design & developer skills.
Mastery the Art of the Interviewing for my podcasts.