Make it Tangible

Have you ever found yourself feeling completely incapable of finishing a (school, work, andor personal) project, or even knowing where to begin?

Ambiguity contributes to procrastination.

If you don’t know the bounds of what you want/need to do, then the task will feel like an endless overwhelming blob of obscurity.

The simplest way to get clear on what needs to be done is to break the project down into its smallest pieces and outline a checklist. That’s not original advice. But you’d be surprised how often we (including myself) completely skip this step because we want to dive right in or don’t think we need it.

But the humble outline or checklist will highlight the way. Because the biggest feature of a checklist is it shows us what our next task is. We cross off one thing, and then we go to the next. Of course, the task has to be something doable/actionable. If the todo is “world domination” it’s gonna be pretty up in the air on how you are going to manage that. That’s why it’s important to break it down into small components as much as possible.

The more tangible a project is, the less we will get in our own way.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1264

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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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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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Simple Habits

“Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.”

Aristotle

Simple habits often make the biggest impact. They are small, misunderstood, and often overlooked things we almost dismiss as being too basic to do anything, but end up having a huge impact—good or bad. Reading a little every day, for example. Reading opens you up to new ideas and new worlds. It lets you explore not only the minds living across the world but also the minds spanning history. If you wanted, you can read the thoughts of the last great Roman emperor, A book from a reluctant businessman, and a tale of dragons all at the same time.

Journaling is another simple habit that can have a big impact if done consistently.

Often our heads are full of other people’s thoughts and ideas. We are chatting online with friends, reading other people’s thoughts in the form of books, articles, posts, captions, hearing the opinions of others around us. It’s enough to drown out your own voice and your own ideas.

A moment of solitude and a good pen and notebook will open up a whole new world of who you are. It doesn’t matter if you suck at writing. Great writing isn’t the point. The idea is to have a conversation with yourself and discover things you might be missing because you haven’t been listening. Like perhaps the low-grade anxiety you feel is because of not liking your job. You don’t know what you aren’t listening too. Your future self will also thank you for your journaling habit, because she/he will be able to see your growth over the years and what you were thinking at each stage in life.

Walking, Drinking more water, brushing your teeth, getting a full night’s sleep, gratitude practice, breathing exercises, play…

Simple habits are, well, simple, but they are far from useless.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #993

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‘Polishing Bricks’

Simplicity, Refinement, Minimalism —

are all admirable pursuits…

as long as you’re not trying to simplify a brick.

A brick is a brick.

You can polish a brick all day long, but at the end of the day, it’s still going to be a brick (albeit a shiny one).

The ones that are capable of learning to take a step back, self-assess, and see the difference between a brick and a gem, have the traits of someone brilliant.

 

related:

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” — Jonathan Swift

Book: Seeing What Others Don’t: The Remarkable Way We Gain Insights

“A blind man who sees is better than a seeing man who is blind.” — Proverb

#KeepPursuing,
xoxo Josh Waggoner

‘Brevity is the soul of wit.’  Email me your thoughts on this post. Can you reduce the essential idea further?