Simple First

“The more simple my life is, the happier I am.”

Peter Frampton

Until very recently, I had been staying up later and later.

Normally I enjoy getting a solid 8 hours of sleep and getting up early, but for a host of reasons, I’d slowly been staying up (waaaaaay) past my bedtime, slowly inching later into the evenings.

One reason was having more quality time to spend with my fiancée in the evenings. And another big reason was there’s so much that I want to do in the day, that naturally, you see this chunk of “available” time you could use to work longer instead of sleep. This isn’t exactly true, of course. Every hour you borrow from the night, you have to give back in the morning (or pay in the long term with extra sleepiness).

It wasn’t until this week when I got sick and my body forced my dumb-dumb self to go to bed early. No late-night reading. No extra work. Just rest.

Now my sleep is reset, and I feel much better and energized for it!

There are a few lessons from this experience.

Lesson #1: Simple First

It’s usually the smallest or simplest things that make all the difference. Don’t avoid picking low hanging fruit because it’s “too easy”. And don’t forget to look for simple possibilities first, before jumping to complex possibilities.

When in doubt:

  • Drink water
  • Sleep
  • Move
  • Eat well (try a new diet)
  • Talk to someone about it

If simple doesn’t work, then you have my permission to try something more complex.

Lesson #2: Create More Options

Continuing to do something you dislike because it’s the “only option” is not an option. You think it’s the only option because that’s the only option you are giving yourself.

Take a step back and look at the problem from another perspective. Get a birds-eye view. Look at it through the lens of a child, then a 20-year-old, and then a 70-year-old. What would they do differently?

Lesson #3: Always Ask Questions

Questions open the door to who we are. They help us take stock of ourselves and reflect on who we want to be and what we want to do. Don’t just ask yourself a question (like, “what matters most to me?”) sit with it. Ask it every morning for a month. Journal about it. Talk about it aloud to yourself.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1102

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The More I Learn, The Less I Know

“You cannot open a book without learning something.”


The more I get older, the more I read and listen and watch and experience, the more I hone my skills, the more I realize how little I know.

I say that not discouraging, but enthusiastically.

There’s always a deeper level. There’s always a few questions trailing any answer.

Curiosity begets learning begets questions begets more learning — ad infinite.

Don’t let this notion make you feel overwhelmed or behind. Behind who? It doesn’t matter. You know what you know, and with a sound mind, you’ll always be learning more—whether you’re 7 or 80 years old.

But don’t let age make your curiosity ridged and stale like an old loaf of bread forgot in the pantry. Open your mind to new ideas and experiences. Just because someone won’t make you yacht-loads of money doesn’t mean it isn’t a worthy pursuit. Be inquisitive. Get weird. Expand wide. Ask a million questions as a child would. Be annoying.

The only thing that should stop us from learning new things is death—everything else is undebatable.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #964

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Applying Your Curiosity

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.”

Oprah Winfrey

What I wrote about ambition also applies to passion, curiosity, and skill. Passion expands to more passions.

Questions lead to partial answers, and partial answers lead to more questions.

And the more I learn about something, the deeper I desire to go. And not only that, learning a skill usually leads to discovering other interesting skills. If you are driven by genuine curiosity, your interests will go deep and wide.

There’s a catch though—our time is limited. Our interests might be abundant but our time isn’t. Which means we have to choose what’s most important to us.

If you could do anything in the universe, what would you do?

Think bigger than a vacation at the beach—which is my immediate response. 🙂 If money wasn’t an issue, what would you do?

Would you start your own business?

Would you spend more time with your family?

Would you (finally) learn piano like you’ve been wanting to for the past forever?

That’s where you should apply your passion, skill, and curiosity. Even if you have to do it on the side, or only on weekends. Life is too short for us to ignore and postpone what we really want to do.

Maybe going full-time on your own tech company isn’t possible right now. Okay, so what’s the next best thing? You could work on your hard and soft skills, like web apps and leadership to cultivate yourself into the person that could run a successful company. You could work on your network of creatives and entrepreneurs. You could take 10-15% of your paycheck that you would normally spend on whatever-whatever’s and save it for when the time is right to leap.

Now is the time to take a step.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #948

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3 Questions for a Better Today

“I don’t pretend we have all the answers. But the questions are certainly worth thinking about.”

Arthur C. Clarke

How can I help at least one person today?

What’s one thing that’s been bothering me lately? What can I do (or at least start doing) to resolve it?

What’s one thing I can do (or not do) today that would make me feel refreshed tomorrow?

Think about these questions. Journal on them and see where they lead. Sometimes the answer is simpler than you would imagine.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #839

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A Problem Half Solved

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

Albert Einstein

A Problem isn’t just a problem itself. It’s also the baggage we stack onto the problem. How we think, perceive and what we believe changes how the problem looks. (If a problem was like a sweater we wear, our thoughts, beliefs about the problem would be us wearing 10+ extra sweaters on top.)

Depending on how much stuff we pile on top of our problems, the heavier it becomes. (Think of it like an exponential: Problem^x)

But by stripping away everything but the original issue, we can more easily tackle it and not let it get the best of us.

Getting to the essence of a problem starts with understanding it. Asking questions is a great way to do this. It’s difficult to see something when you don’t have a full picture of what it is. Questions get to the heart of the issue.

Is the problem something within my control? Can I do something about it? (Sometimes problems are bigger than we are (i.e. changing the weather) and are better let go.)

What is the problem exactly? How many pages can I write about the problem? Can I describe it in a few sentences? Can I describe it in the size of a tweet? Can I describe the essence of the issue in one sentence?

What’s contributing to the problem? Is something else I’m doing (or not doing) making the problem (seem/become) bigger than it should be?

Who can help me with this problem? Who has found a way past this trouble before? Are there any books or resources I can use to solve this? (Help can come from anywhere, not just people we know.)

How can I use this problem to my advantage?

We can also look out for is negative or unhelpful feedback loops. Meaning situations where I can’t do X because of Y I can’t do Y because of Z and I can’t do z because of X. We’ve thought ourselves into a corner. Nothing useful happens when you are stuck sitting in the negative corner. To break the cycle, we need to find a different way to approach the issue. The best way I’ve found to do this is to ask a friend — ideally someone who you admire or you consider smarter than you. If we’re trapped in our perspective, then we can seek someone else’s (or multiple people).

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #828

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You Already Know

Many people will tell you that you can’t. For a lot of reasons. Some of them will make a lot of since. Reasons why not are easy. Doubt doesn’t quit.

But when you look within, what does your intuition say?

Sometimes the simplest answer is the one you already know.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #644

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Life Principle #11: Define Your Values (Throw A Party)

Do you ever look at a homeless person and wonder what happened to end up where they are?

One time, when I️ was selling my boldsheep clothing at a Sunday market, my Gabriella and I️ somehow came to the conclusion I­t­ would be funny if she sat on the floor in front of my pop-up shop holding a cardboard box with the words ‘will sell shirts for $’ written in big bold lettering.

What happened blew me away!

No one would look at her.

Not even a glance. They couldn’t even take the time to read the sign to see I­t­ was a joke. Someone even called the market cops in! 

We quickly explained the story.

I️ wonder if the reason we ignore homeless people is that deep down, we know that in a bad turn of choices and circumstances that could be us. (Either that or its because they always ask for drinking… er… I️ mean food money)

In the last couple years, I️ experienced a very stress-filled financial meltdown.  Things weren’t working at work and essential I️ wasn’t making enough to live, WHILE I️ was going through some health setbacks. All that to say, my brush against finance chaos made me realize how important your values are, your support group (the people you are closest too), your mindset (what you think, and how you talk to yourself) and your willingness to let go and ask for help is. Without those four things, there’s not much that separates you from a nice home and good food, to no home and going to bed hungry.

This is an extreme example, yet true.
However, finding yourself on the street might not even be the worst way to live. You could argue that going your entire life without knowing hardly anything about who you are and what you love is worse. I️ think I️ can speak for all of us when I️ say, being on your deathbed with regret, looking back at an aimless life in which you flutter from one thing to the next, with no rhyme or reason might be worse than death itself.

This is why defining your values is vitally important.

Life Principle #11 Define Your Values

Defining your values is identifying what you stand for and then standing for them.

What do you want in life?
What matters more than anything to you?
makes you feel ALIVE?

Now take a good look at the life you are living today. The closer aligned your values of who you want to be and the way you live each day are direct cause and effect. Or in other words,

Show me your values and I’ll show you how far you will get in life.

The problem is, no one each us this shtuff. And if they try it’s so boring we never actually sit down and ask ourselves the most important question: Who do I️ want to be?

But not here, I️ like to keep us on our toes here at the Renaissance Life.
So you know what that means…

It’s time to party. 🥂

Next time you have a chunk of time off, say when you get off work, or this weekend throw a party. Block off some time, put i­t­ on your calendar and make I­t­ mandatory. Who should you invite? You, yourself and you of course! (Buzzkill?) Seriously. It’s time to have a knockdown, drag-out, uncomfortable talk with yourself about who you are, and who you want to be.

Sit down with a pen and some paper. Have a list of questions you want to ask yourself. (Including the three above). Turn off your phone, Block all notifications and social media. Clean your house beforehand so you’re not distracted by your environment. Do whatever you gotta do to be alone for your party.

It’s going to be challenging, I­t­ might even be awkward, but it’s going to be worth i­t­ because defining your values is the most important thing you can do.

How many of us go through the motions in life, aimless, and hoping something good would happen. I️ say, let’s make I­t­ happen!

Imagine as if you were having dinner with your current self, your childhood self, and your future selves. Every action and choice you make today can determine your future self, so there might be a few of future you’s at this party.

Start with where you are:

What lights you up?
If you could learning anything instantly what would I­t­ be?
Where do you dream about living?
What do you really think of your current job/school life?
What kind of people do you love to be around?
What did you love to do as a kid?
How do you think about yourself? 
Do you defeat yourself with your mind before you even begin?
How much time do you let yourself have fun on any given week?
What are your current inputs? (TV, books, people, food etc)

And then ask yourself questions about who you would like to be:

What does my ideal job? What sounds like the greatest job to you?
What would make me happier? 
What life would make my childhood self proud?
What is missing?
Am I️ letting fear win over courage?
What do I️ want to master?
Who do I️ want to know and be friends with?
What kind of life would make my future self happy on his/her death bed?
What are my strengths and how can I️ make them daily habits?
What are my weaknesses and how can I️ turn them into opportunities?
What would I­t­ look like if I­t­ was easy (This ones’ from Tim Ferriss)

The person you want to be is closer than you think. All I­t­ takes is a decision, this day, about who you want to be. I️ believe we are capable of change, and that change begins the moment we decide that we want I­t­.

Your values will change as you grow, they will ebb and flow depending on where you are in life. But your core foundations will always stay the same.
For me, life principles are my defining values. Be a Lifelong Learner, Act Boldly, Live Boldly, Be Your Own Renaissance. These are the values I️ have and the life principles I️ aim for. I️ don’t always hit the bullseye, but I’m always aiming my arrow in that direction.

Knowing who you want to be makes failure and bombing easier. Failures change from cataclysmic my-life-is-over moments into stepping stones to opportunities.

Today is the day to choose to be different.
See the change, take the leap.
Whoever you think you are, you are correct.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Insights

“Here are the values that I stand for: honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you want to be treated and helping those in need. To me, those are traditional values.” — Ellen DeGeneres

“I have learned that as long as I hold fast to my beliefs and values – and follow my own moral compass – then the only expectations I need to live up to are my own.” — Michelle Obama

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, 
Your thoughts become your words, 
Your words become your actions, 
Your actions become your habits, 
Your habits become your values, 
Your values become your destiny.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

“If you don’t stick to your values when they’re being tested, they’re not values: they’re hobbies.” —  Jon Stewart

“Find people who share your values, and you’ll conquer the world together.” 
― John Ratzenberger

Questions I’m Asking Myself and Journaling About (Dec. 17th)

How can I double my monthly income in the next 3 months?

What actions can I take to cherish my friends?

What can I do/join to increase my network?

How can I increase my energy?
What supplements/foods/exercise/mentalities give you more energy?
What is decreasing my energy (if anything)? Who is very energetic and how can I emulate?

What are the habits of the super successful and happy I can experiment with?

Do I have any anti-habits? (Habits that are holding me back.)

What is scaring me right now? How can I challenge those fears?

How can I greater enable and help others more than I am?

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Insights

“I’m always looking, and I’m always asking questions.” —  Anne Rice

“We get wise by asking questions, and even if these are not answered, we get wise, for a well-packed question carries its answer on its back as a snail carries its shell.” — James Stephens