Focus is a Sharp Blade

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”

Alexander Graham Bell

The more things you focus on, the more dull you’re focus gets. Imagine how impactful and effective your actions would be if you were to focus all your creativity on one thing.

This is something I often struggle with because I interested in so many things.

focusing all of my time and energy on just one thing feels (for me personally) only cutting bell peppers with my blade and nothing else. I’d get really good at cutting and eating peppers, but I sure would be bored out of my mind.

A healthy balance of creative pursuits is the best answer I have at the moment. Taking on a handful of key interests and ideas, but also not doing too many at the same time. Trying to do all things is a fine way of doing nothing.

It’s okay to put things on hiatus or even sunset projects if they aren’t providing enough value or joy in your life. In fact, every time you do, you’re sharpening the blade.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #805

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You Are Capable — Life Principle #25

When life is hitting me hard at all sides, it’s difficult to see the big picture when you’re focused so heavily on the problem in front of you.

How am I️ supposed to focus on the long term, when the short term is slapping me in the face?!

You are as only as wise and creative as much as you want to be. Deciding to be wise doesn’t make you wise, but I­t­ puts you on a path of learning how. Change is a matter of mind and matter.

Your capacity to change and starts with the belief that you can, and from that belief the decision to act.

Life Principle #25: You Are Capable

As much as we hold ourselves back, we also have the power to create massive change in our lives.

You are capable of changing your life.

No matter if you’re feeling stuck, have hit rock bottom, or if everyone tells you it’s impossible.

Whatever you are going through, you are capable. 

And the more you believe I­t­, the more capable you become.

Capacity is bending with the flow and handling whatever comes you’re way.

Capacity is a belief that you can figure I­t­ out, and if you don’t know how, believing you are capable of asking for help.

Make the decisions today, to be the person you want to be.

Full and capable to take on any challenge and opportunity and create an extraordinary life.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Insights

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” — Nelson Mandela

If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in the dark with a mosquito. – Unknown

Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability. – Roy L. Smith

Decide Who You Want to Be — Life Principle #24

Labels give us power.

We label ourselves with our work, our hobbies, our brands.

But what do you do when other people label things for you? What do you do when you find yourself in a place where your life is labeled by other peoples hopes and dreams?

You decide to change.

Life Principle #24: Decide and Commit to Who You Want to Be

Decisions are the foundations of making change happen. 

What areas in your life are you seeking change?

When you want to create a change, something new and exciting, you first have to make a decision. Decide on the change, commit to I­t­ 100%, will I­t­ into existence.

Life can either happen to you, or you can choose what you want your life to be. Again, a decision.

Choose Creativity.
Choose Freedom.
Choose Differences.

Decide who you want to be, then go make I­t­ happen.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Hello, World!

Related Insights

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”Arnold Schwarzenegger

“I don’t want other people to decide who I am. I want to decide that for myself.”Emma Watson

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.” — Amelia Earhart

Don’t Sink Your Own Ship — Life Principle #23

Whenever I️ get sick, I’m usually too tired to read yet too wired to sleep. The default choice after that (and for a lot of people) is Netflix. I’ll marathon through shows and movies all day. 
But even after I️ get well, my body gets used to watching hours of tv. And even if I️ have a million things I️ want to do, it’s hard to resist that urge of laying down and watching one more episode. This is just one way laziness can creep into your life.

Laziness, fear, uncertainty, hate, sadness, disbelief (in yourself, about the world), and other harmful anti-habits are the opposite of what I­t­ means to live a meaningful life.

The problem is that harmful habits are hard to spot. They usually don’t happen overnight. Slowly, over time, you start pouring water into your ship. Fear builds and builds. Uncertainty builds and builds. And more often than not, it’s not difficult times that cause us to fall down, its that one more bucket of water we throw into our ship.

It’s hard to set sail when you’re sinking in the harbor.

Life Principle #23: Don’t Sink Your Own Ship

Take a moment to do a gut check: Are you getting in your own way? Are you holding yourself back? Are you sabotaging your success?

Success is a tricky word (for a lot of reasons) but one thing that always blows my mind about I­t­ is that while even though we want to succeed, sometimes a piece of us doesn’t want to succeed at the same time. We think we aren’t good enough or don’t deserve I­t­ in some way.

Success is a state of mind. It’s believing that you can. It’s knowing that failure is inevitable and can evaluate you higher. And when you back belief up with practice, you start to grow into the mindset of a successful person.

Putting I­t­ in practice:

Make a list of your anti-habits: bad habits you fall into and would like to avoid.

Spending too much on stuff you don’t need?
Neglecting little todos (like taxes or changing your oil in your car, etc) that end up biting you in the bum later?
Forgetting to floss?

Write down everything you can think of and relate to your life and goals you are pursuing. Now think of the opposite, positive habits. How can you make it as simple and easy of a process to do your most important habits daily?

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Insights

“Ships don’t sink because of the water around them; ships sink because of the water that gets in them. Don’t let what’s happening around you get inside you and weigh you down.” — Unknown

Master the Fundamentals — Life Principle #22

Learning the fundamentals of any skill requires practice and repetition. We know this. But the question is why? Why learn scales when you can’t just jump on YouTube and learn every song imaginable? Why learn to draw when I️ can just jump straight into illustrator? Why learn

Because the basics reinforce your creative abilities. The better you are at the fundamentals, the better at acquiring a higher level of skill and a greater ability of expression.

Life Principle #22: Master the fundamentals.

Building from the foundations up.

A skill is essentially a collection of micro skills. (Or meta-skills)
For every skill, there is a subset of smaller skills that add up to the greater sum. Most people don’t really think about them when their learning, which is one reason why the majority of people don’t reach mastery in their crafts. 

Design, for example, could be broken down into:

Understanding color
Designer Eye
Layering & Repurposing
.. (and so on)

As well as the tools you use to design (Illustrator, InDesign, Sketch, etc)
Sure, the fundamentals might be rout, dry, boring, and monotonous, but they are essential. To become a high performer at what we do, we must master the fundamentals. Fundamentals become less boring when you realize the why behind them. When you understand how powerful they are at raising your game, you no longer feel bored, you feel like you have an unfair advantage.

Fundamentals make you razor sharp. (And fast too) There’s a huge difference between the work of someone jumps right into the deep end, and someone who has a mastery over the fundamentals. You’re lightning. You’ve ingrained the movements deep into your body and mind where you don’t have to think about what your doing, you just do I­t­, and make I­t­ look natural.

Fundamentals builds the foundations for high performance. If you want to be in the top percentile of your field, building up a toolbox of micro skills will get you further than you thought possible.

And having a grasp on the fundamentals allows you to break the fundamentals and create something new and exciting.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Insights

“Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.” — Jim Rohn

“When I was young, I had to learn the fundamentals of basketball. You can have all the physical ability in the world, but you still have to know the fundamentals.” — Michael Jordan

“The book is there for inspiration and as a foundation, the fundamentals on which to build.” Thomas Keller

Let It Go — Life Principle #21

What do you do when something isn’t working?
What do you do when you run into a dead end?
What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

Life Principle #21: Let It Go.

Let Go of Holding Yourself Back

More often than not, I️ find that I️ am ultimately the one that holds myself back. Little moments of fear or setbacks slowly keep me back from doing what I️ want to do.  A little piece of me thinks that I’m not good enough, I’m not _________ (successful, happy, connected etc ) enough yet, but really that type of thinking is just getting in my way forward. Success, happiness, and friendship is a state of meaning. That’s one reason why the happiest people in the world are in a third world country. They’ve naturally detached themselves from chasing happiness because they already are happy.

We decide what we perspective we want to live in.

You are as ready as you’ll ever be to START your dream right now.
Experience will come through time and practice.

Let Go of Being Cool

Being embarrassed isn’t fun, but also helps you grow into a better you. Vulnerability is relatable.

Let Go of What You Can’t Control

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” — Marcus Aurelius

Let Go of Trying to do Everything at Once

Nothing good ever comes from spreading yourself too thin. I’ve burned myself out before and let me tell you, it’s not a happy place to be in. Burning yourself out is a sure fire way for you to not get anything do, not make a lasting impact, nor have any energy to do what you love to do.

Let Go of Expectations

Expectations is another word for perception. It’s perceiving a future value in the outcome. Put in a different light, it’s like saying, ‘I can’t be happy unless this happens.’

Perhaps the old adage, ‘expect the worst, hope for the best’ is actually wise. Low expectations are not about living based on negative attitude toward life, it’s about fundamentally understanding that anything can happen to us — good or ill — and what really matters if we stay true to who we are.

In essence, high esteem could be believing that no matter what happens, I’m still complete. My life is still worthy and full (worthful?) It’s saying I️ have this vision of what I️ want to look like, and knowing that no matter what happens, If I️ stay true to me, trust those I️ look up to, consistent in my actions and pursue my life with fire and gusto everything will turn out okay in the end. (No matter the setback or failure I️ may face).

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Insights

Book: Let Go by Pat Flynn

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” — Thich Nhat Hanh

“What’s the greater risk? Letting go of what people think – or letting go of how I feel, what I believe, and who I am?” — Brene Brown

“Abundance is a process of letting go; that which is empty can receive.” — Bryant H. McGill

See Change as Good — Life Principle #20

You don’t realize how quickly time moves until its already passed. 

When I was in high school (and middle school) I had a really tight-knit group of friends. We were into making music, movies, jokes, making funny short videos, and being your typical, well-rounded goofballs.

I’ll never forget a video that one of the guys (Jonathan) stitched together from us jamming out and having a helluva good time. He set it to the song, I’ve Got Friends by the Manchester Orchestra. It’s like he intuitively knew our time in high school as a group was about to close, and we would be moving on to college and would never see each other as much as we did, every day, waking up at 6 am and hanging out at and around school.

I don’t remember the details, but I do remember the feeling it gave me, (and gives me every time I play that song)

I miss those moments we had and think about fondly on them.

Life Principle #20: See Change As Good

If you’re not changing, you’re not growing, and if you’re not growing your stuck in place.

Happiness and meaning are fluid — they happen on the journey, not the destination (put that on a poster and smoke it).

Change is good. Its the conduit that takes us from sad times to happy times (and sometimes vice versa). Change can lead to unknown adventures and wild places. It’s hard we were stepping away from something or people we love to follow a calling or jump into a new way of living, but you always have those collective memories. I always have those times with my friends goofing off in my room at my parent’s house (I’m tearing up thinking about it). No one can take that from you. (Another reason why health is vitally important too. A healthy mind is a more capable collector of memories)

I think we fear change for the same reason that we can love change: Because it breaks our status quo and leads to unknown, potentially exciting places.

The best part about change is we can make it. We have the power to change our minds, opinions, the direction in your life and more at ANY MOMENT. Usually, it takes a failure or painful experience to see that, but the power to change is always within our reach. Even small actions can lead to big change eventually.

Often times, you’ll face situations or setbacks you don’t want to be in. This is where change is not only good but can become your best friend. When you’re feeling stuck or have hit rock bottom, burnt yourself, or pulling your hair out because you’re at your wit’s end, it’s time to make some change. 

Change starts with you. Be the change you want to see in your life and in the world. Break the status quo.
And when change happens, be good with the new possibilities.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Insights

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” — George Bernard Shaw

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” — William Arthur Ward

“There is nothing permanent except change.” — Heraclitus


ASK — Life Principle #19

Learning to Ask

At a very young age, we go to school and have the opportunity to ask the teachers any question we might have about their class. When you’re younger, you don’t care — you’ll shoot up your hand and ask anything. ‘Why is the sky not purple?’ ‘What’s inside a ballon?’ ‘What’s a huckleberry?’

But somewhere along the way, most of us stop asking. Whether it’s not wanting to be embarrassed or bullied or not wanting to be labeled as a nerd, we stop asking and begin to fear asking.

If you think about I­t­, most schools are designed for answers, not questions, unfortunately. 

After school, most of us take this fear into our adulthood. We fear standing out, yet desperately want to. We fear asking, but can’t think of anything else. We fear trying, because what if we fail?

But what has anyone gotten from not trying? Nada. Zip. Zilch. Nothing.

Questions are our North Star towards a meaningful life. Questioners rule the world. Become someone who asks great questions, and you’ll become someone who reaches mastery and creates an extraordinary life for themselves. 

Life isn’t a solo adventure and won’t always be butterflies and apple pies. That’s why questions and asking are vitally important. When you learn how to ask for I­t­ — whatever I­t­ is — you take control of your life into your own hands.

Life Principle #19: ASK 

You probably have something that comes to mind that you’ve been wanting to ask someone about, but haven’t quite got the nerve yet.


Do I­t­ right now. Don’t let fear win again. 

Let me ask you this, what do you get when you decide not to ask? What do you get when you let fear win?

The exact same thing you’ve got now — nothing. A bag of pennies and a fountain full of dreams. The worst they can do is ignore you or say no.

A ‘no’ is always better than a ‘what if’.

And if they do say no, GREAT! You’re building your asking muscle. But if they say yes, that changes everything doesn’t I­t­? I­t­ puts the power of change into your hands.

Making asking a daily practice in your life.

Practice asking for what you want. Ask for help. Ask questions. Ask for career advice. Ask someone out on a date. Ask for a raise. Ask for knowledge. Ask for a break. Ask for directions. Be curious. Like the old phrase goes, Ask and you’ll receive.

You never know until you ask.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Insights

“Take the attitude of a student, never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new.” — Og Mandino

“The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.” — Thomas Berger

“You create your opportunities by asking for them.” — Shakti Gawain

“No one is dumb who is curious. The people who don’t ask questions remain clueless throughout their lives.” — Neil deGrasse Tyson

Live a Little (For Josh’s Sake) — Life Principle #18

Lately, I’ve been bad about being spontaneous. 

I️ think it’s the fact that I’ve been working so much this past year that any time remaining is incredibly precious to me. It’s ironic that I️ had to give up the majority of my time to work, to understand how precious time really is.

When someone asks me if I️ want to go hiking, grab some sushi, or whatever on the spot, I️ stammer and mumble out a no and lame excuse more often than not. It’s not that I️ don’t want to go hiking, it’s just that I️ already have a mental checklist of things I️ want to do (or have to do). My expectations of what I️ could be doing get in the way of what I️ am doing. It’s kind of a lose lose. I️ could get sushi, but I️ would also like to write. Or the other way around! Okay, I’ll say yes to sushi, but then be thinking about all the great writing I️ could be doing!

I️ don’t want to let others define what I️ do with my time. 

But I️ also don’t want to be a tightwad.

There’s a fine balance between making time for priorities and actually living a little. 

Which bring me to the next Renaissance Life Principle:

Life Principle #18: Live a Little (For Josh’s Sake)

It’s good to be responsible and intentional about our goals and habits, but don’t let I­t­ sideline you from actually living. Focusing on today is how you make tomorrow brighter, but take yourself too seriously and you’ll create the opposite result.

Being responsible shouldn’t also mean ‘Up your own butt’.

Take your shoes off and stay awhile. Learn to live in the hectic moments, and learn to enjoy the silent moments too.

The key to a meaningful life is not cramming your calendar with so much stuff.
Minimalism can apply to not only things we own but things we do. (This is sometime I️ still need to learn and apply.) Trying to add 48 hours worth of work into 24 hours will leave you exhausted and not very excited about what you’re doing, even I­f it’s enjoyable to you.

The quality of your time means everything, but spend too much time focused on yourself and your own goals and aspirations and you’ll end up doing a lot but not really living

How to Live a Little

Create room each day for negative space — time in which you do nothing. No podcasts, no music, just enjoy the silence and reflect on the moment. I­t­ could be 20 minutes, I­t­ could be 1 minute — whatever you have to give.

Practice intentionality. The more intentional we are about how we live, the more we can squeeze out happiness in every moment (even the sucky ones).
Go for a walk weekly or daily, with the mindset of practicing being intentional. From the small blades of grass to the buildings around you — focus on the world around you. Look at the sky, feel the wind, see and smile at the people you come across.

Plan Spontaneity. If you’re sometimes a tightwad (like me), plan to be spontaneous at least once a week. I️ know, planning spontaneity is not very spontaneous… but it’s a step in the right direction. When someone asks if you want to do something, be open to I­t­ if I­t­ sounds enjoyable to you. Get yourself ready for someone to ask you to be spontaneous. Steel yourself up. Make time to live a little.

Prioritize. Ask yourself, “Am I️ trying to fit a week’s worth of work into one day?” If you are, take a step back and reprioritize. We create the life we live with the decisions we make with what we have to go on. Reinvention is just one action away from reality.

Go on that hike, grab that sushi. 
Whatever you need to do, I­t­ can probably wait. But if I­t­ can’t, don’t fret about I­t­. Do what you have to do and grab sushi next time.

Live a little.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Insights

“Youth is something I never wanna take for granted. I just want to smile and live life.” — Tyler, The Creator

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” — Steve Jobs

One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” — Dale Carnegie

Happy Money :) — Life Principle #17

Like it or not, money (like health) affects every aspect of our lives.

But what is money anyway? It’s not the paper in your wallet, the digits in your bank account, nor the stacked gold bars locked away in Fort Knox.

Money is an idea.

 Money is information.

Money is the quintessential form of knowledge. I might not know how to create a website or make a cheesecake, but I can pay someone who does. Then, they can use that money as a way to buy shoes or pay for your car. We can use money as the medium to exchange earning into insights, and insights into earnings.

Money is exchange power.

When you have money you can reach more people. You don’t need money to reach people, a great story or skillset can do that all on its own. However, money does amplify your exchange power.  With it, you can travel around the world, open many closed doors, and (even more importantly to me,) create freedom of Time. For many of us, even the idea of asking for a day off at work sounds impossible. That’s what happy money gives you — flexibility and freedom.

Money is leverage.

When you have it, you can leverage others to support what you do, and rally behind your cause (for good and for ill) 

Life Principle #17: Create Happy Money. 🙂

The best place to start with happy money is on the opposite end:

Unhappy Money.

On the spectrum from homeless to Jeff Bezos, there are all sort of money problems we may have to deal with. When you have no money, it’s hard to think about creativity or even dream big because it’s impossible not to focus on the immediate issues. Anyone who has been through some rocky periods (meltdowns) like me with their finances will understand this firsthand. It’s hard to think about the longterm when you’re short term is screwed up and punching you in the face.

When you’re making some money, one problem is what to do with it? How do you use it effectively towards building a money machine? How do you save, invest, give and spend it wisely?

The closer we get to our money working for us instead of us working for our money, the happier our money will be.

Being born into money has just as many problems and potential landmines. Sure you don’t have to worry about your next meal, but you do the weight of your family’s money looming over you, casting a shadow
My family isn’t wealthy, but I’ve observed friends whose families are wealthy.  One problem is there’s the parent, the kids and the money. Their money is like it’s own living thing itself, and can either teach the kids how to be great with money or turn them into silver spoons.

When you’ve created something magical and or help a lot of people, you may be making it rain. Now everyone in their uncle wants you to give them your money. Actually, /no/. They don’t just want, they expect you to buy them stuff to fix their lives. What you earn suddenly becomes a communal giving spree. And if you’re wealthy you may end up surround people who love your money and tolerate you. Surrounded by yes men, you don’t know who you can trust. You also worry about losing it. It’s hard for a broke joke to lose $1000, It’s soul crush for a wealthy individual to lose a million (or worse). 

The worse part about unhappy money is spending it when you don’t have it or can’t afford it. From my experiences, using credit to spend money on things you can’t afford is one of the biggest stressors we can face in life.

It’s not that credit is bad, in some ways, it can be really beneficially. It’s the fact that credit + unaffordable lifestyle equals misery. The worst thing we can do is to go into debt to someone else. It chips away at our security and confidence. Slavery still exists around the world. If you owe someone money, you are a slave to that debt. 

Seeking money by itself is not enough. Money alone defaults to unhappy money. But when we turn our minds to pursuing happy money and focusing on the good that we can do with it, our financial lives (and beyond) will start to shine!

Here’s what I’ve learned about happy money so far (this list isn’t exhaustive, only what I’ve learned so far):

Happy Money

Happy Money is a Tool and Resource.

We must invest in ourselves. Use money as a tool to gain valuable skills and insights. Create a learning fund. Don’t regret buying books, courses, and experience that improve your life.  A pile of money at the end of our lives doesn’t really amount to much. It’s not about how much we have, it’s what we do with it.

Happy Money is a Mindset.

How much we make reflects the mindset we have about ourselves. The belief we have in ourselves directly effects how much we make. If we constantly talk down to ourselves and believe we not worth much, we’re going to sell ourselves short. However, if we do the opposite and believe that we are capable of earning more and learning what we need to in order to make more, we will.

Happy Money is a Tape Measure.

Money is the result of helping others and doing great work. The more you can impact others lives, the happier your money will be. When people lose sight of this and pursue wealth for the sake of wealth, they lose their ability to make happy money and create a meaningful life out of it. They literally and figuratively become a sellout. Happy money is a tape measure for how much good we put out into the world. The more you give the more happiness you will receive. 

Happy Money is Net-Positive.

 If you have debt, work on getting rid of it as soon as you can. Peace of mind is having money that’s net-positive. The closer we get to zero, or go past zero, the more anxious, worried and self-centered we become. 

Happy Money is a Lifestyle. 

Wealth isn’t built in a day. Happy money is a habit. The more your days reflect positive financial habits, the greater your wealth will be in the future. Take care of the essentials (food, shelter etc) and focus on making money a lifestyle. Your future self will thank you for it.

Happy Money is Compounded.

The more we can use time and compound interest to our advantage, the better our longterm will be. A penny saved today is a dollar tomorrow. Make time an ally and start figuring out how you can save, invest and use the incredible power of compound interest.

Happy Money is a Reflection of Your Values.

There will always be ways for us to cut corners or scam our way into more money. The money we make that hinders people is not happy money — its dirty money. Money reflects our values and our values reflect our happiness and wellbeing.

The more we focus on helping others find happiness and meaning (,whatever that looks like for them) the happier we (and our money) will be.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Insights

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

“Time is more value than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.” — Jim Rohn

Money is not the only answer, but it makes a difference.” — Barack Obama

A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.” —  Henry Ford