What would you do if you had nothing holding you back? Many of us spend our lives on autopilot: Work, bills, chores, sleep, repeat. In a never-ending cycle, we live the life that others expect us to and not the life we desire.

Welcomed back to the Author Hour Podcast. I’m your host Hussein Al-Baiaty and my next guest is Josh Painter. He’s here to talk with us about becoming the best versions of ourself, ever. Let’s dive in.

All right everyone, I’m super excited to have my next guest on. Josh, thank you so much for coming on the show, for your time, I’m really excited about your new book, I got the chance to kind of skim through it but thanks for jumping on today and I’m excited to share your journey with us.

Josh Painter: My pleasure man, thanks for having me.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: So when we get started, usually I like to kind of give my listeners a little bit of your background about sort of who you are, where you grew up perhaps or what got you into this line of work and now, you decide to write a book. Just a little bit of a background if you will.

Josh Painter: Yeah, sure thing, man. So born and raised in San Diego and I guess this whole story starts when I’m 17 and I get my girlfriend in high school pregnant, right? Senior year, my son is born and I decide, kind of thought that you were supposed to do certain things from that point, right? You’re supposed to get a real job, you’re supposed to get married, you’re supposed to do these things.

So I lived that life for quite a while, working jobs that I didn’t love but felt like I needed to do, and then at age 30 I realized that I was living a life that others expected of me or at least that I thought others expected of me and not the life that I had designed and so then, I kind of went down this personal development rabbit hole in that journey.

I realized that there were a lot of people living the same life that others expected of them. I went to different events, seminars, and whatnot and kind of realized that a lot of them were sales pitches and you left with a bunch of notes written down in a journal and those notes got tossed on shelves and never looked at again.

So that led me to kind of create an event that I wished existed where you kind of kind of create an actual plan at the event and take action before you leave and so that event for the last five years has been called, Best Version Ever, and that turned into, last year, a lot of the feedback I got was, “Hey, we love this event, I would really like to know why we do some of these things and what are the reasons behind it.”

So that turned into the end of last year, I set a goal that this was going to be the year that I wrote the book and kind of explained all that and set a goal to have it done by the end of the year, so.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Here we are.

Josh Painter: Here we are.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: That’s amazing Josh. I love that story so much, you know? It’s one that resonates because, you’ve gone this path. As you said, you kind of go on this journey and you’re learning about things, you’re learning about the world, you go to these conferences and motivational things, they’re all great but you’re right. There’s… some of them got the sales pitch tucked in and that’s fine.

I get it but at the end of the day, you’re right, sometimes we leave those things really motivated but there isn’t an actionable plan. There is accountability, there isn’t really a community and you’re kind of left to, six months later, a year later, find yourself at another conference just kind of looking for that motivation or momentum if you will.

So you break down the book in a really unique way but before we get into that, who is like, your avatar, that person that you really wanted to write this book for? Who is that person in your mind.

Josh Painter: Yeah, I really wanted to write this book for you know, the 20-year-old me or person like me who again, is living a life that they think they’re supposed to live and deep inside, they want more out of life. They want to do more, they want to be more but it wasn’t until my 30s that I even realized, “Hey, there’s a path to a different life and there are actionable steps that you can take to break down your goals and achieve different things.”

So this book is me breaking down everything I’ve learned. I like to call it a personal development mix tape or greatest hits, right? It’s like, often, you find yourself recommending five, 10, 15 different books and I thought, “You know, if I can put everything that I’ve learned into a book and be able to recommend it to like a younger person who is looking for that path or how to set and achieve goals, build habits, build consistency, I’d love to put it all in.” That’s what this book is.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: That’s incredible, I love that and it’s so powerful when you know who you’re speaking to and even when I wrote my book, my memoir. You know, I didn’t realize until like halfway through that, “Oh, shit, like, I’m the avatar. I’m writing this for my younger version of myself.” I would say, more like for me it was like, high school, early college years kind of young version.

You’re right. That way, I feel like for me, it took the pressure away. You know, “What does this book want to be?” and you know, all these things. Just kind of those like, “All right, what are the stories I want a younger version of myself to know about the obstacles that we’re going to face and potentially, how to overcome them” right? And utilizing what they already have been through or you know, those kinds of things, right?

So I just kind of aligned with that so much because any time you… I feel like writing to a younger version of yourself, you write a lot more freely and more powerfully because you don’t want to hold anything back, right?

Josh Painter: And I think it’s important to note that even though the avatar is probably a younger person, I should also note that a lot of people, and maybe most people don’t enter that phase until their 30s or 40s anyway, right? So…

Hussein Al-Baiaty: 100% yes.

Josh Painter: So yeah, so it’s like, yes, I target it, I’m looking to help the younger version of me and also realizing that it’s going to help a lot of people later in life too, right? That’s what’s cool, there’s really no expiration date on it.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah, I’m actually really glad you brought that up because you’re right. It’s not necessarily, I feel like it’s not the younger version of you, meaning like age-wise. I feel like maybe it’s a version of you that just didn’t know how or doesn’t know how and I meet a lot of people that are much younger than me that know how to do things and I’m still like, “Did you really figure that out at 25? How did that happen?”

Josh Painter: Totally.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: And people older that still haven’t figured out some of the things I feel like I figured out and we don’t all have it figured out and that’s great but there’s a lot of learning curve there, of course, but I’ll let you broke down your whole book around this idea of… and you literally call it magic.

Can you really quickly, just to kind of break it down for our audience, what MAGIC stands for because we’re going to go through, not all of the steps but most of them. I’d like for you to share that.

Making MAGIC

Josh Painter: Yeah, so MAGIC was an easy way to break down these steps to setting goals and achieving them. So you got, I mean, I’ll just spell it out, mindset, aim, game plan, immersion and consistency and you know, everything starts with a mindset and changing the way you think, then from there, you got to – you have to have an aim and then once you know what your aim is, you need a game plan, right?

You can’t just go into a blind and then, the rest is building habits and consistency and really immersing yourself into things, so that’s where the immersion and consistency come in, especially with immersion, right? People will set goals but immersing yourself into it is where, probably for me is where you get some of the most benefits, you know?

I mean, it’s one thing to say, “Hey, I’d like to learn how to speak Spanish” it’s another thing to move to Mexico and immerse yourself in that, right? Like which one’s going to happen faster and so, and then the last chapter is called becoming, it’s taking all of that and saying, “Okay, I’ve achieved X, how do I give back?”

Hussein Al-Baiaty: I love that feedback loop is so crucial. Okay, so you talk us through like this idea you presented this idea, you started this community and people are engaged and you want to write this book obviously to inspire potentially a younger version of you or a version of you, right? I like that a lot because it resonates deeply. Can you talk to me a little bit about that first thing to approaching the mindset?

How to define your mindset around opportunities alongside negative and positive thinking? Because, opportunity is there and it’s just, I feel like for me, growing up and starting business and going to school, I always knew opportunities were there. However, sometimes it did negative thinking or thinking of peers perhaps in general fears, can kind of take us to a negative side which we kind of lose on those opportunities.

Can you talk to us a little bit about that because I think the mindset is crucial around those two elements?

Josh Painter: Yeah, mindset might be one of the most important chapters and fear holds a lot of people back. So a lot of the mindset building is kind of breaking things down and saying, what’s real and what’s not. I start off by saying like, you won the first race you ever entered. The chances of you being born and turning into a human being are approximately one in 400 quadrillion.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Insane. Sorry, I read that in your book and I’m so glad you hit on that but go ahead.

Josh Painter: You came out a winner, right? Like you started winning something and then I tried to put things in perspective, right? So Bronnie Ware, she wrote a great book called Top Five Regrets of the Dying. The number one regret was, “I wish I’d lived a life true to myself, not the one others expected of me” and so, what holds people back from that? A lot of times, it’s fear.

So you know, one of the things I’d like to touch on is, it’s called a spotlight effect and it’s this idea that we’re all the star of the movie that’s playing in our own head but to everyone else, we’re a supporting character in the movie that they’re a star of and so as an example, anytime there’s a group photo taken, right? What do you do? You see it the first thing you do is you look at yourself.

And some people, it’s like, “Oh, there was a hair out of place” or “I had my eyes closed so the photo’s ruined for me” but no one else noticed it, right? Because they were all looking at themselves and so the whole idea of the spotlight effect is like, “Hey, no one really gives a lot of shit about the way that you look or the way that you’re carrying yourself because they’re so worried about their own.”

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yes.

Josh Painter: Their own stuff and it’s not meant to be like a depressing thing. It’s meant to be a freeing thing of like, “Dude, go try that thing that you’re scared to fail at because most people, they’re not paying this much attention to you as you think” and stop worrying about these little things that chances are, no one else is noticing or remembering. It’s changing your mindset to see these opportunities and not worry so much.

You know, one of the things I ask at my event is, to ask everyone to stand up if they can name a few things about their grandparents and everybody stands up, right? And then you go, “Okay, well, stay standing if you can recall a few things about your great grandparents” and we keep going and most people sit down after great, great grandparents. Most people can’t name more than five things about their great, great grandparents and it’s crazy to think that they were still here, less than a hundred years ago, 80 years ago.

And so again, the point is, a lot of the shit you’re worried about, no one’s even going to be even be thinking about 50, a hundred years from now. So go do what you want to do. I even tell people like your house that you love, that you live in, a hundred years from now there’s going to be a different family there and they’re going to be creating their own memories and it’s like I don’t know who lived in my house.

How to Prioritize Your Goals

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah, that’s so funny. You know, I love this story path right now because it deeply resonates with me, man. You know, I’m from Iraq and my whole thing about writing my book was to allow my nephews and nieces, again, younger versions of me to be able to like know the story of how we came to America through this refugee camp, right? It had a lot to do with their grandfather, my dad, and all these things.

It was so important because I was like, “You know, even if it is just my nephews and nieces and like their kids and so on and so forth that just see this book, I think it’s going to be cool because they’ll know at some point, we came to this country, right? You know, I just felt like it was so important but you’re 100% right that the idea of no one really cares what you’re doing.

In reality, the thing that I feared about the book were trumped by how my niece or my nephew felt about just the book itself, meaning like, “Cool, now I know so much more about grandpa” or whatever or their dad or their sister. So it is just like just so powerful in that connection but at the end of the day, they didn’t judge me like negatively, they thought it was really cool. So be remembered and create that memory so that generations down the line remember you by something really fun and creative and cool, whatever it is.

But you’re right, in this instance, the things that stop us, the fears are so minute and so not in our best interest and we got to move past that and create the life we want and I love that you really kind of dove into that mind shift in the very beginning of the book, talk about this idea of narrowing down your goal. You touched on that in your book, the idea of narrowing down the goal.

For me, even as this young business owner and things like that, I wanted to do apparel printing and embroidery and these but I knew they won’t have to come after the other, right? Like that’s what I wanted to know is how does one sit down and basically maybe prioritize their goals?

Josh Painter: Yeah, so the way I like to do it is I’ve got a bunch of prompting questions inside the book. They kind of put you back into the mindset of what’s possible, where do I see myself 10, 20 years from now. You know, your legacy is not about having your name on a building, right? It is about how you treat people and how they see you. So, sitting with that vision and looking, “What do I want to accomplish?”

The way that we would narrow them down is by using the SMART goals. There are goals and then there’s how practical are they, right? I tell a story of going on a helicopter ride over the great blue hole. In that moment, I thought it would be a really cool goal to get a helicopter pilot’s license. So I get home and I am all excited about it, right? This seems fun and so I go and I call a school and I go on an introductory flight that take me over, San Diego.

I’m like, “This is amazing” and then I get back, and then that’s been like reality really sets in of, “Well, hold on. I am going to have to go through four years of schooling and I am also running a business full-time and doing these other things” and then it’s like, “Oh, it’s going to cost probably 60, $80,000 to get a helicopter pilot’s license after four years” and then I am either going to have to buy a helicopter or rent one every time I want to fly it, right?

So at the end of the day, it wasn’t really relevant. So that’s the R in SMART goals is, is it relevant it wasn’t really relevant at the time because as fun as it sounded, I realized that for what it was going to cost to get a helicopter pilot’s license and rent or buy a helicopter, I could literally pay someone to fly me in a helicopter anytime I wanted and still come out ahead at the end.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah and still probably enjoy it just as much but yeah, yeah I love that. That’s really powerful.

Josh Painter: Yeah and we also talk about goals that are just passion projects, right? Because we all know someone who wants to be a photographer and that’s fine but, if you take crappy photos it’s like you can be a photographer but it might not turn out to be a career for you, right? Same as you know, you might want to be a chef but if you burn everything you cook then those are more passion projects.

So one of the ideas I talk about is finding passion in the things that you’re really good at and using those skills to help the world.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: I love that so much. I use this a lot but it’s like it feels like flowing down river instead of going up the mountain, right? Like there are times where you do need to climb a mountain, kind of use your resilience and all that good stuff but there are times more often than not that you can hop on the river and just flow down and I feel like that’s more aligned with your talents, what your gifts are.

Of course, you’re going to face fears in those even in flowing down river but at least it’s more aligned with what you really want and what you are really capable of and you’re right and kind of thinking that goal all the way through, where you’re like, “I want to get my helicopter’s license.” Well, great like there is four years of school, there is this kind of money. You kind of laid it all out and if you still want to do that, of course, right?

Like, here is the plan. Yeah, I like that this idea of just thinking a goal through, that was really profound. Can you talk a little bit about like the importance of momentum and consistency? Because I know that’s once you get that ball rolling towards whatever it is you’re going after, that’s important but also consistency applied to that momentum. How do those play off each other?

Momentum, Consistency, and Giving Back

Josh Painter: Yeah, I mean consistency is really small incremental growth over time. It is not really noticeable or it can be barely perceptible at the moment and a lot of people don’t have the patience for small barely perceptible growth. That’s like the environment nowadays is a highlight reel, instant gratification, right? Like our whole lives are expected to be this highlight reels of constant wins and it’s like when I was learning how to play drums.

I mean, it was just days and days and days of doing the exact same thing and you don’t really notice it at the time but you know, months later it’s like, “Oh, I’m a little bit faster. I’m a little bit better. I made a little bit fewer mistakes this time.” So that’s where the consistency comes in. It’s just really building the habits and kind of working on that barely perceptible progress that may not be noticeable in the moment but you know, makes waves over time.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah, it’s really powerful. I found recently like so I am getting ready to start recording my audiobook and the guy who is helping me do it was just like, “Just read your first chapter like 50 times and then come back in and record it” because I didn’t know what I was doing, right? I have never really read my own thing out loud and I got emotional, all of these things.

I said, “Okay, this is great. I know where you’re at now” and so just that idea like read it out loud 50 times is like – I mean, I get it, you know? It’s a practice but oh my god, the biggest difference in the world where your voice fluctuates, what word you pause on. You get to be so intentional after reading it over and over and you’re 100% right, it’s the same thing whether you apply that to drums or writing and the book writing process in it of itself.

It’s just that the idea of staying close to that goal, the changes like you said are very minute and you have to almost readjust your sensitivity and appreciate those really tiny micro moves because you know that’s when you’re getting better or improving or getting faster, whatever it is you are seeking. Man, you highlight that really well. I love that.

So when you combine all of these things of course, in your last chapter, you talk about becoming and that is kind of the gift to the world if you will. Can you just briefly touch on that and kind of let our audience kind of indulge in this idea of when you start to combine these tools, something else actually becomes a byproduct?

Josh Painter: It’s this idea that once you reach a certain level of success or achievement, the way that you get to the next level is by helping others and throwing down the rope or the ladder and helping them climb with you, right? Becoming a mentor, giving back, back to what I said that that’s your legacy is how you treat others and how they perceive you and that is really the theme of the whole book, right?

It’s called, Best Version Ever, because some people struggle with, “Oh, what’s my purpose? What’s my life purpose?” Well, it’s to become your best version ever. It is not a finish line that you ever reach, right? You can always become a better version of yourself. So it’s these constant milestones along the way and again at the end, you realize that the true manifestation of that is helping others and giving back.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: That’s really powerful. You know, people go through seasons of life and everything like that but I feel like that component could easily be as part of all of the seasons, you know? If you learn to hone in, like you said a purpose of defining yourself, understanding yourself, improving yourself and that happens through the different challenges you set out to grow through.

I think that is where we find the best versions of ourselves is when we go up against the challenge of some sort and like you said earlier, you are the hero of your movie and so if the hero does something amazing and you almost surprise yourself too, I feel like there is a level of fulfillment there. I can really align with the becoming parts, it’s really important. So Josh, I learned so much today.

Again, I just want to say congratulations. This is not an easy feat to write a book and obviously you’re committed to it and just getting to know you now and how you practice these principles, obviously this is how you’re able to kind of move through the book and navigate it. So kudos to you, congratulations. I can’t wait for people to get their hands on this but if you had one more message, one thing that our audience can take away from this conversation or your book, what would that be?

Josh Painter: Yeah, I guess it would be, look, becoming your best version ever is something that you get to decide what that looks like, right? I say that in the book, it could be achieving your goals, it could be becoming a better husband, wife, parent or it could just be I get to surf every day after work, right? You get to decide what the best version of yourself is.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: That was really powerful though. I think for me, my big takeaway from this was this idea of aim. You know, really dwelling on that goal and seeing it through and seeing if things actually align with who you want to become, that was really powerful for me but thank you so much for coming on the show today. Again, I learn so much from these conversations and today was no exception.

So the book is called, Best Version Ever: Discover the Magic of Becoming Extraordinary. Besides checking out the book, where can people find you Josh?

Josh Painter: People can find everything at bestversionever.com and then on social media, I’m Josh Painter, easy to find.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Love it, that’s awesome. Thanks again Josh, I appreciate you coming on today.

Josh Painter: Thank you.