Clean Slate Method

Often the obstacles in our way are not (just) the problem(s) we are facing, rather how we are dealing with them.

Basically, we lose our sh🙈t. We worry and loop our problems and mistakes over and over again. We stress ourselves so much we drain all the energy we have (and could have used to solve it.) We’re not thinking about this of course (myself included), we’re too busy dovetailing into the abyss.

At least, that’s how I feel when I have too much on my plate or when I’ve unintentionally said yes to too many things I should have said no to.

But I have found a silly method that has helped me out in times of distress, like when I have stacks of todos and a negative amount of time to do them.

I mentally drop everything.

I pull the tablecloth and swipe away clean everything on it.

I sink all the battleships.

And all I’m left with is a clean slate.

No obligations. Nothing I need to get done. No outside pressures. (And now no inside pressures either!)

Not in reality, just in my mind. I think of it as a factory reset for my brain.

If you’re into paper products (like me) then think of it as a fresh, new sheet of paper, or a blank calendar, unblemished.

As I sit in this mind space, I slowly begin to ask myself questions like:

  • If you could drop everything from your life, what would you want to keep/pick back up?
  • What do you really want to do?
  • If something is holding you back from doing that, what immediate actions are you able to take to open that blockade?

The clean state method is a tool to get you in a better headspace to solve problems and focus on what matters.

Obviously, we can’t actually can’t set everything on fire and start over, but we can stop mentally getting in our way by overwhelming ourselves with the past and our expectations of the future.

Clearing your head gives you much more room to focus on the immediate priority, and tackle things head-on—just not all at once.

It’s had to make anything happen if you’ve psyched yourself out before you’ve even be

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1136

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Regret-free Decisions

Plenty of folks would look at my plate (interests/projects/dreams) and say that I say yes to too many things.

I’ve always been someone who has been interested in many subjects. Art, music, sports, exercise, technology, learning, etc. I also occasionally feel slightly envious of the people who can stick in one lane for most of their lives (for example, just graphic design). But I enjoy too many things to be that kind of person.

But you can’t do everything (at least not all at once 😜). So there’s always a matter of which pursuits to spend your time on.

I try to say yes to as much as I can tolerate without sacrificing health or quality. And if I walk outside of that tolerance range I rebalance.

Right now I’m less concerned about quantity and more about quality. Meaning, how can I say yes more to the right things (and no to the wrong things) instead of saying yes to things that don’t matter?

Ultimately what we decide is worth our time comes down to each of us. A question I ask myself is what I’ve found helpful is “would I regret not doing this in a year (or five years) from now?” Or said the opposite way, “would I regret saying yes to this after a year has passed?”

Pay attention to where you’re answers are coming from. Make sure they are coming from the heart and not from your wallet or from someone else’s mouth. Not that there is anything wrong with making money or following the path of another great leader—quite the contrary. And yet still. When it comes to making important decisions, make sure you know why or why not you’re saying yes.

Think of a decision like it’s not yours but a close friend making them. What would you advise them? Would you give them the same advice that you are giving yourself?

Consider all sides. And at the end of the day, if it turned out to be a bad call, then learn from it. Mistakes are scars earned. They can be something we try to hide and ignore, or something we learn from and wear like a badge that tells a story for others.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1050

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Tiny Problems

“Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them.”

Henry Ford

My Jeep was broken into early this year. I rarely leave anything valuable in it, because it has a soft top, which is pathetically easy to get into. The thief clearly wasn’t a Jeep person, because they took a knife to the left soft top window, instead of using the big zipper that was an inch away.

Embarrassing sidebar: I’ve locked myself out of my Jeep at least a dozen times. In my defense, the doors are heavy and tend to want to close on there own. But still, I’ll sometimes lock the door manually and forget to grab the keys from the seat. Occasionally I’ve even locked myself out with the keys in the ignition! And of course, this usually happens in the most public and busiest places possible. Luckily with a soft top, I can just zip zip and crawl in through the back like an animal so I can unlock the door and turn off the car.

Where was I? Oh yes, the break-in. Nothing was stolen (there was nothing to steal). But the window was ruined.

I would call this a tiny problem, especially in the grand scheme of things. It’s not fun paying cash for something you didn’t cause, but it’s better to deal with problems early, than wait and let them grow into bigger problems.

Tiny problems are the ones you want to look out for. Big problems you are dealing with now, are likely the result of tiny things left untreated.

Saving money, for example. Not saving a small percentage of your pay isn’t a problem—until it is. Saving money isn’t for you—it’s for your future self. It’s like a shot of CBD for a future worry. When you’re dog steps on your iPad and breaks the screen, when your car has a flat tire on a road trip, when your 5-year-old bed starts hurting your back—you’ve got yourself cover. No anxiety or worries are necessary. Sh💩t happens. Better to plan for it instead of waiting for it to surprise us when we least need it.

Here are some other tiny problems:

  • Miscommunication and-or small conflicts left unresolved.
  • Ignoring our health. Not exercising. Not paying enough attention to our tense muscles.
  • Changing the oil in your car.
  • Staying up late every night. “Burning the candle at both ends.”
  • Negative thoughts.

These things are nothing in the short term, but cause a world of problems in the long term left unresolved. The goal isn’t to worry about all the little things that can cause us to trip, but take care of things (and ourselves) in the moment, instead of pushing them off.

Q: What are some small problems I’ve been neglecting I can start resolving today?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1041

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Creative Crisis

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”

Winston Churchill

Pressure, responsibilities, and pain can ignite your creative fire. Of course, first, you need to have a creative outlet or two (or three) so that you have something to direct the pain through. All Pain goes somewhere. Sometimes it quickly leaves our mouths through anger and snide comment. Pain can also be let out gently through conversation with a close friend or therapist. The worst kind of pain takes root inside us, and cause damage on the inside.

I find it better to direct pain to create things or move them with muscles. Music, writing, and exercise are some of the habits I use to channel things I’m struggling with or experiencing (Not all bad! Any emotion can become beautiful art.)

It’s not just the pain itself. My goal isn’t to shout from the rooftops just to shout. There are timeless lessons in the mistakes and problems we face.

Too much pain, however, and you’ll dampen your creative fire. No pain and you’re a kid who thinks she/he is invincible. Too much pain and you’re a sad old man yelling at neighbors to get off your lawn. Balance is the key (in all things, really).

How much balance will likely be different for each of us. I suspect this can also be trained like a muscle, but it would be most unpleasant and perhaps unnecessary. A little heartache might make you a better artist. Too much heartache and your art won’t be the only thing you wish would bleed.

Of course, I would never wish or intentionally cause pain towards myself or others, but better to use it when it comes, rather than to let it sit and fester.

If you don’t know where to start, reconnect with your inner childlike spirit. What did you enjoy doing when we’re younger (before the world got in the way)?

Start there. There’s wisdom in being childish (…sometimes. Nobody likes an adult baby).

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1027

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Get Active in Your Own Rescue

I love this quote from Marcus Aurelius:

“Get busy with life’s purpose, toss aside empty hopes, get active in your own rescue—if you care for yourself at all—and do it while you can.”

I read it recently in The Daily Stoic. I love it because it sums of own of my life principles so eloquently. Get active in your own rescue.

There have been quite a few quotes I’ve encountered on my journey that rings with a similar tone:

“To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.”Bruce Lee

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”George Bernard Shaw

“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

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”Michael Jordan

My version pales in comparison, but it’s —

You are Your Own Renaissance.

Meaning, change starts with you. No one wants it more than you. Perhaps you’re dealing with problems, perhaps you dislike habits and things about yourself, perhaps you wish your life was different—well no one is going to make that happen for you.

Waiting for someone to change our lives for us won’t get us anywhere.

As much as I wish someone would do it for me, it’s not going to happen. I’m the one who has to get active and take steps to make the change happen. If with (generous) help, I still must be willing to change and stick to that aim.

It’s not about refusing help, or going it alone—it’s about owning up to your life and the kind of person you want to be.

If you care for yourself at all—then to hell with problems, fears, and circumstances—go out and create yourself and make it happen.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #950

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The Quiet Solution

“The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.”

Albert Einstein

When I’m looking for answers to problems, I usually seek out a book or find someone who’s had a similar experience. But that’s not always the way to go. More input isn’t necessarily beneficial.

Sometimes all we need is to sit alone in a room with ourselves, or out in the woods to find the answer we need.

As Thomas Edison once said, “The best thinking has been done in solitude. The worst has been done in turmoil.”

We might already have the answer we are looking for, we just can’t see it because we are too caught up in issue and the day to day business life.

Go talk a walk outside without your phone.

Sit in a silent room with some paper and a pen.

Find a quiet place to gather your thoughts and intentionally think and feel things through.

And it’s not just problems that solitude can cure. Some of my best ideas came from sitting alone in a room—reading, writing, thinking through my experiences.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #931

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Picking up the Pieces

“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

Bill Gates

“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”

Abraham Lincoln

In life, failure is inevitable. (And if you don’t think so you haven’t experienced it yet.) But not all failure is fatal. In fact, the only failure that you can’t build yourself back from is death. Death is pretty fatal.

Let me ask you a question:

At what moment do we fail?

Is it when we lose the game? Is it when we made a bad decision and end up running our company into the ground? Is it when our ego ruins our opportunity? Is it when we let others down? Is it when we become someone we dislike? Is it when we manipulate and drive everyone away? Is there a line we can cross that’s unredeemable?

We certainly fail when we give up—while knowing we should keep going.

There are many mistakes we can make that aren’t recoverable. When you and your former partner are dragged through the mud of anger and divorce, recovering is unlikely. When you ruin your reputation by lying, or being flaky or saying something overwhelmingly offensive, it’s going to take a lot of convincing to get back to square one. When you dig yourself into debt the size of a Mars crater, it’s going to be a lot of hard work to get back to zero. But even so, we’re still alive. We are still breathing. The show must go on!

When our failure burns out and leaves ashes in its wake, we still have the chance to rise up, pieces together our life and change into something better than we were. (And make it a part of our story and a lesson to share with others.)

But not if we give up. Not if we give in to despair forever. Not if we drown our sorrows in ice cream and beer. Numbing the pain and failure doesn’t take away the pain and failure.

Failing and being unable to recover doesn’t mean that it’s over for us. It just means that the unbalanced, and unstable life we were living is officially over. Now we have to find a new one—a better way of living. A life that makes us better and helps make others better too.

There’s always away forward.

Picking up the pieces is far from fun. But it does give us something. Something to do with our hands. A past life to let go of. A way forward towards something new. And as scary as new can be, it can also be exciting and lead us to unexpected places.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #924

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The Undo Button

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.”

Bruce Lee

It’s easy to make tasks grow into monsters in your mind. A large and heavy goal can become too impossible to start. There’s just too much pressure riding on it.

Sometimes the desire of something so badly becomes the reason that stops you from getting it.

This goes for love, to be sure, where we fantasize about being with someone who really isn’t that person we are making up in our heads. It also rings true for any outcome or success we wish to achieve.

The desire to become healthy, and the tightly held tension in the attempt (or vision) to make it happen becomes the stressor that leads us to being unhealthy. Or, more often, we become more healthy in how we were striving, becoming a runner for example, but become unhealthy in areas we aren’t paying attention too, such as always eating junk food.

It’s good to pause every so often and look at the whole playing field of your good habits and bad habits you currently have. Our bad habits are often hampering or subtracting our good habits, leaving us feeling like they aren’t helping us, or that we aren’t making any progress.

For example, having a good habit of doing great work at your job, but having a bad habit of mis-communicating or even not communicating what you are doing and why. Nothing kills a project like forgetting to stay in touch with the client and updating them on your progress.

To make a goal possible, we need to take the pressure of it off our shoulders. What would it look like if you were doing it for fun, rather than doing it because you need or really want to? Think about how you can break the goal into smaller and smaller components. It’s difficult to act on something that isn’t tangible and easy to grasp.

Instead of trying to accomplish this giant scary thing, why not start with this tiny un-scary thing first? Remember—on a micro level, there’s very you could do that you couldn’t immediately undo if it doesn’t work out. Didn’t work out? No problem—undo it. Get in trouble for trying something new? Apologize and go back to where you were before. Small decisions add up on a large time scale, but here in the daily actions of today, small decisions are rarely permanent and can easily be rolled back into something that works better for you if need be.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #917

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Wishful Thinking

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”

George Bernard Shaw

“Some of the worst mistakes of my life have been haircuts.”

Jim Morrison

Reimagining your past is a slippery ledge. We’ve all had those thoughts. “Ah, if only I could go back and not say that…”, “Why did I stay so long at that job (why did I stay so long with that person), now look where I’m at…”, “I wish I could go back, I would relive it so much better than I did.” These types of thoughts keep us stuck in the past and away from the present and future. It’s applying negativity plus 20/20 vision to our imperfect selves.

Of course, just saying “don’t do it” isn’t very helpful. 

Half the time I don’t even realize I’m dwelling in unhelpful thoughts. My mind wanders and I slip into wishing things could have been different. But at the end of the day, they can’t. And sometimes that’s painful. But I can start doing something about it now. I can be better next time.

I find it helpful to remind myself that I’m far from perfect and no one is. Anyone who looks perfect just has a really great social media team behind them photoshopping out the mistakes.

We must learn to look forward and be hopeful, despite what has happened to us, or what is happening to us. I’m not talking about painting the future as all sunshine and happy kitten yawns. (That only applies wishful thinking towards the future.) Rather, knowing things will most likely turn out okay, and knowing that we’ll inevitably make a few more mistakes along the way, and that’s okay too. Vincent Van Gogh once said, “Even the knowledge of my own fallibility cannot keep me from making mistakes. Only when I fall do I get up again.”

There’s always a way forward, even if you don’t like it. Not liking it doesn’t make it go away; It only keeps you planted where you are. If you don’t like it, find a different way. Just don’t dismiss reality for fantasy. Ground yourself, find a silver lining, and then optimistically pick yourself up and keep going.

”Each life is made up of mistakes and learning, waiting and growing, practicing patience and being persistent.”

Billy Graham

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #908

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Squaring the Hole — How to Think Longterm in Life’s Fragility

“Youth is something I never wanna take for granted. I just want to smile and live life.”

Tyler, The Creator

I write a lot about daily habits. Doing something daily or consistently allows you to take advantage of the compounding benefit of time. We divide a year into 365 days (or 366 days on a leap year). 10 to 30 minutes of practice times 365 days = 3650 to 10950 minutes of practice. An hour is double that. As you can see, a little time invested can go a long way.

But what about if tomorrow doesn’t come? As Logic says in his song Fade Away, “Everybody gonna die, gonna go one day, maybe it’ll happen on a Monday. Driving to work and get hit by a Hyundai, f* it, let it all go one day.” Tomorrow, For all we know we could get hit by a Hyundai, of all things, and never get our chance to do and be all that we want to be.

It’s hard to say where life will take you. Usually where you would never expect, and yet somehow makes since when you back on things and line up the pieces. Most of it is out of our control. The more we can learn to accept that, roll with it and find opportunities no matter what comes our way, the happier and better off we will be.

Our thoughts and decisions are in our control. And while we can’t control everything that goes on outside of our own minds and actions, how we think and what we do place a big part in how our lives shape up.

There’s a lot of things I’d like to accomplish and experience in life. But having a vision or dream for your life doesn’t assure that it will happen. Having a dream is the first step. And making it happen is the second step. But somewhere in that undisclosed middle, a lot can happen.

1. We let fear control us.

“The whole point is to live life and be – to use all the colors in the crayon box.”


We act out of fear. We breathe and sweat fear and failure. We do the wrong thing for the right reasons or the right thing for the wrong reasons. We avoid our dreams because there’s “always tomorrow” or because there’s always something that seems to get in the way.

2. We live by other people’s dreams instead of our own.

“Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.”

Benjamin Franklin

We live a shadow dream, as Steven Pressfield calls it in Turn Pro. It looks similar to what we want, but in reality, we’re just avoiding what we really want to do out of fear or embarrassment or not being good enough or any number of other things we convince ourselves of — all with thoughts that are supposed to be in our control.

3. Or we even chase after our dreams so hard and far that we forget to be present and enjoy our lives in the process.

“Confine yourself to the present.”

Marcus Aurelius

We get everything we want, but forget to spend time with the people we love and forget to enjoy the process towards success while we are building it. Or worse — we don’t get what we want, and we still miss out on the time and experience spent with our love ones.

But luckily, all there’s are in our domain of control — our thoughts and our actions. We can learn and train ourselves not to act out of fear, but out of abundance and beginner’s mind.

There’s room in life to enjoy the present, while also preparing and building for the future.

By living life to the fullest each day.
By taking things as they are, not as they could or should be.
By not letting fear win.
By choosing our own path.
By not letting our dreams consume us.
And by living a little when we remember too.

“What really matters is what you do with what you have.”

H. G. Wells

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #872

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