Own It

The only things we are entitled to are:

  • Our problems
  • Our actions (or put another way, our right to change)
  • And our freedom (of speech, beliefs… at least in the US)

Everything else must be earned.

Let’s start with the last and most important. In the US, we are entitled to freedom, but that doesn’t diminish the effort and resistance from those who have fought for us to have our freedom. People laid down their lives for us, we should do our part to remember and respect that.

I”m a white dude in his late twenties, living in America. This is my baseline — I didn’t choose any of this. Compared to the rest of the world (and the subtle / not-so-subtle persecution other people have to deal with) — I’ve got it made in the shade.

Everything on top of that, any financial, work, relationship, mindset, time-mismanagement, bad habit, setbacks and injuries are mine to own.

To fix my problems, to create a meaningful life, I’ve got to own it.

There’s no way forward but to own it.

That also secondarily includes everyone’s else problems that I surround myself with too. For example, if my good friend is in debt, I’m secondarily also in debt to his / her mindset and choices. Their problems are theirs to own, but by the very nature of being around them makes them effect me too. Just like on an airplane, in case of an emergency, you are supposed to put on your air mask first. The problems of the people around me shouldn’t come before my own.

I have the right to solve my own problems. It’s a responsibility, but also a privilege. We get the opportunity to change our circumstances and tell our own story through our trials and triumphs.

  • Did your parents pay for your college education?
  • Did your parents buy you a car?
  • Is your health not great?
  • Did your startup fail?
  • Are you talking more than your walking?

No one owes us anything. Generosity is a gift, but not assured, either. The choice we continuously have to make in life when setbacks and bad things inevitably happen is either:

A. We don’t accept it, we dwell on it and use it as an excuse to stay stuck where we are, or

B. We own it, and go to work, just like all the greatest people of today and yesterday have done.

Own it and get to work.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #589

Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

If you enjoyed this blog post, consider becoming a patron.

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Rule It Out

“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

For the past couple of years, I’ve been dealing with a sleep problem. I’m great at falling asleep, and staying asleep. However, the quality of my sleep isn’t great. When I wake up, I’m just as tired as I was when I went to bed. You can see how this can be a real problem. The chronic, low-grade energy from lack of quality rest effects all aspects of my life. Luckily (or unluckily) as humans our bodies are incredibly resilient. We can push and punish our bodies and they will adapt to the new normal. Often this is beneficial. For example, exercising is fantastic for us and necessary for health. And 90% of the benefits of exercising outweigh the downsides of it’s stressors on our system. (An anti-example is overtraining. By training too much, you don’t give your system a chance to recover from the ‘good’ stress, so you reap less and less benefits, and the stress of constantly stressing yourself builds up and can reek havoc on you… eventually)

All that being said, when you don’t sleep well, you get used to the new normal. What else can you do but use the energy you have and continue moving forward? Tired becomes the new normal and you push through. From the outside looking in, nothing is different. You are just you. Which is a weird feeling, to say the least. Everything is normal, but not as effective as you know you could be, but you still have to be on your A game.

This experience has given me the opportunity to dive deep into the world of sleep and sleep optimization. (A few friends have asked me, so I might do a future post on the resources, tools and strategies I’ve discovered about sleep.)

This experience has also taught me the value of thinking and acting systematic when dealing with problems.

Here are five strategies you can use when facing an uncertain problem (in no particular order):

1. Question all assumptions

What are things that we do that are beneficial to us?
What are things that we do and think that are not beneficial to us?

It’s easy to assume that certain habits or actions are beneficial, but without testing those assumptions, we never actually know whether or not they are benefiting us or causing problems. Not everything thing is a net positive, and sometimes negative habits cancel out beneficial habits. Just like a wave can cancel out another wave, the downside of an action or way of thinking can negate the upside to another action or way of thinking. For example, taking a B-12 supplement isn’t really going to move the health needle in our favor if we are also eating ice cream and other delicious crap every day. Not all examples are as easy to spot what the problem is like this one, so it’s good to have a health dose of questioning all that you (think you) know and do, and test all assumptions and how much value they are each adding to your life.

2. Test Each Variables

What are the underlying factors causing the problem?

Donald Rumsfeld once said, “It is easier to get into something than to get out of it. There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

It’s difficult to pinpoint what the problem is without considering all the variables that potentially contribute to the underlying problem.

Sometimes you can’t know all of the variables that go into play, but making a list of the factors you do know can help you uncover what’s good and what’s not. By making a list, and, essentially checking it twice — isolating the variable and seeing how much pull it has on the problem — we can uncover what’s going wrong. Or at the very least, what’ NOT going wrong. (Checking off things that aren’t causing the problem can be just important as the ones that are.)

For sleep, variables such as:

  • Number of hours in bed (How many hours of sleep are you getting?)
  • Staying asleep (How restful are you during sleep?)
  • Going to sleep (How easy is it to fall asleep?)
  • Bed Time (What time are you in bed?)
  • Dinner Time (How many hours between dinner and bedtime?)
  • Stress (Work stress?
  • Screens (Are you looking at screens before bed? If so what time / how long?)
  • Reading (Are you reading before bed?)
  • Blue Lights (Are you exposing yourself to blue light too late from fluorescents etc?)
  • Shower (Do you take a shower / bath before bed?)
  • Cold Thermogenesis? (What does an ice bath or cold shower do before bed?)
  • Mattress (How new is your mattress? High quality?)
  • Pillow (How nice / optimal is your pillow? Especially with an injury)
  • Sheets (How nice are your sheets?)
  • Room Temperature (How cold or hot is your room)
  • Room Darkness (How dark is your room?)
  • Air Quality (Is your air allergy / mold / toxin free?
  • Sound Environment (How quite / noise-free is your sleep environment?)
  • Food (How healthy did you eat today?)
  • Exercise (How much did you move today?)

As you can see, even something as ‘simple’ as sleep can mask a large about of variables that come into play.

When you are tackling a problem, list all the variables you can think of and test each one at a time. You could do the kitchen sink method and try everything at once, which is a much faster (and yet more expensive) approach. But you won’t know what precisely worked for you. By ruling out each variable, your scientifically testing each possibility and determining which factors have the most effect.

3. Think it through.

What’s one thing you can do that solves 90% of the problem?

Not every variable has equal weight. Often, if we tackle on thing, like dominoes the rest will follow. This is a trail and errors game, but we can be smart about how we prioritize and what order we handle problems. What’s an easy win? What’s something you can do right now that will help immediately? (What would Steve Jobs do? 😝) Who’s had this problem before and what did they do to solve it? What’ are the small thing that could possible create a massive outcome? What does your instinct say? Be intentional, think it through.

4. Seek Wisdom from People Smarter than You.

There’s nothing wrong in asking for advice. In fact, if you are not constantly seeking insights from people smarter than you, then you are doing yourself a disservice and holding yourself back from overcoming problems quickly and with the least amount of resistance.

Whenever in doubt: Ask.

Even if it makes you look stupid. Being stupid now is better than always being stupid because you never ask, especially if you are in a position to ask someone you have access to directly.

And when you don’t have direct access to someone who might have an answer for you directly, then read, watch, learn EVERYTHING they’ve put out. A book or podcast by them can be just as powerful as talking to them IRL.

5. Go Easy on Yourself.

This one I had to learn from a friend. Problems can take time to overcome. We’ve got too mentally prepare ourselves for that scenario and play the long game instead of giving up because the circumstance feels hopeless in the present. Keep going, but go easy on yourself. In the end, we’re all just human, struggling and figuring life out as we go. Every obstacle we face is a chance to be better. Every failure is an opportunity for us to learn and be better. Treating ourselves badly only lets the problem win and control us. But focusing on the opportunities and taking things one step at a time puts the ball back in our court.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #578

Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

If you enjoyed this blog post, consider becoming a patron.

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Finding Your Solution

One thing freelance programming has taught me is —

There’s always multiple ways to tackle a problem.

I may solve it this way.

You may solve it that way.

Maybe your’s is more effective — but If I’m brilliant I’ll see that and adapt.

Or more likely,

Every problem has multiple elegant solutions, it’s just a matter of finding the right one that works best for you.

related

“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”  ― Albert Einstein

 

“A problem well put is half solved.” ― John Dewey

#KeepPursing,

Josh Waggoner

‘Brevity is the soul of wit.’  Email me (josh@renaissancemanlife.com) your thoughts on this post. Can you reduce the essential idea further?

The Problem with Self-help and a Solution to Fix It.

Knowledge is Power When it’s Applied.

Reading A self-help book (or any learning medium / book) is only useful when we act on it.

We can’t solve our problems if we don’t take the necessary action steps to create an impactful change.

I can read self-help books all day,

but if I don’t try what it’s telling me to do, I ‘m still where I was when I started reading it.

The main problem with self-help books is they focus too much on ‘feel good’ inspiration and not enough emphasis on practicality.

The best guides not only enlighten you to a new way of thinking, but also inspire you to actually take action.

I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve read a book that could be labeled as ‘self-help’, and felt great while reading it, but it ultimately didn’t change my life in the way I wanted it to when I picked it up. (Have you experienced something similar? Let me know in the comments.)

You could argue it’s the author’s fault. You could argue it’s mine. 

Regardless, 

I’m the one that wants to change my life, so I’m the one who has to make that happen. 

No one else will do that for me.

 

A self-help book highlights a problem, and gives us possible solutions. 

It’s up to us to test,  and apply it.

 

We can’t control how authors write books, but

we can control the effectiveness of them, by having the right mindset when learning.

Instead of reading and moving onto the next, and the next

without considering what it’s saying,  it’s relevancy, or how we can apply it,

We can start by considering,

‘ How can I test and apply what this is saying’, each time we sit down to learn.

What are steps I can take right now?

 

#KeepPursing,

Josh Waggoner