Reaching for Nostalgia

Whenever I am feeling low or unmotivated, I like many, will reach for nostalgia.

I’ll listen to my favorite songs, or full albums from the past that hit me in just the right time and place, such as Yellowcard’s Ocean Avenue album, Logic’s Under Pressure, or Back Breaker by The Showdown (I have very eclectic tastes ;).

I’ll rewatch my favorite shows and films (like Bleach, the anime series. I find Ichigo’s “never give up” resolve quite uplifting).

I’ll reread some of my favorite books, like The Kingkiller Series and The War of Art.

But I have to be watchful. Because as great as nostalgia is, it can also be a crunch for escape.

Finding relief, motivation, energy, and inspiration in our past is wonderful, but escaping to our past to avoid our future only traps us in the past and keeps us from improving our reality.

It’s like eating dessert—there’s nothing wrong with a little cheesecake now and then. But having (needing) sugar to get through the day is a sign that something is out of balance.

Are you eating some cheesecake to enjoy it or are you pounding the cake to avoid/ignore/release your pain?

Create the strength you need to get up and make a change. Be that having a heart to heart, going to therapy, reaching for things that make you help energized and inspired. But don’t lose sight of why you are doing what you are doing.

Focus on the small changes, little ice picks to the ice burg in your path. Even just a few good strikes can break a way forward.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1158

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Clarify the Problem

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

Eric Hoffer, philosopher

If I were asked to sum up yesterday’s post, The Cost of Lying to Yourself, with a single word, it would be self-honesty. (A hyphenated single word, but still…)

Avoiding or brushing off problems only makes them bigger.

But how do you solve a problem (like Maria)?

Well, first you have to look at the problem with a clear perspective. Any problem (really, anything) is the thing itself and also (additionally) how we think about it.

I’m a big fan of Kamal‘s approach to handling your mind if it’s running away from you fueled with negative and discouraging thoughts. In his book, Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It, the mental tool he discovered and found success within his own life was repeating the phrase “I love myself” over and over again. Think of it like drowning out the negativity by repeating something positive instead.

With a clearer perspective, we can get out of our own way and start making some progress towards resolving problems we are dealing with.

Next, we break the problem into non-overwhelming bite-sized chunks that we can focus our efforts on. If you’re still overwhelmed, then you haven’t broken the problem small enough yet. Baby steps. Just like that What About Bob Movie with Bill Murray.

The key is to focus only on the immediate action. Not the ten things on your todo list. Not the dozen other problems you are dealing with. Just the action in front of you. Keep the others away from your mind and physical space as much as you can.

Last we need to start catching little problems before they become big ones. This takes a lot of intentional living. When faced with anything, ask yourself, “If I ignore this will it potential become a huge pain later on?” “If I do this, what are the potential downsides and how can I prevent them from occurring?”

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1076

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Where’s the bottleneck?

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

Henry Ford

When you’re feeling stuck, look for the main bottleneck. What’s the one thing preventing you from moving forward? 

The problem is we immobilize ourselves by trying to solve the problems 3 moves in advance first. ‘I’d love to save more money each month, but if I did that I wouldn’t have enough to pay for food and expenses, plus I won’t be able to get those new running shoes and I forgot I need to get my oil changed sometime soon.’

Sometimes we even convince ourselves that before we can fix this current problem, we must fix X Y and Z first. ‘I want to get a new job, but first I need to fix my health, but before that, I should really think about going back to school.’

Instead of dealing with the immediate problem, we’re thinking about a hundred other things on our todo list.

Thinking 3 moves in advance is great. But when it comes to solving problems we need to focus on them one at a time. Fixing the main issue may cause other issues down the line, but don’t worry about that now. Focus on the current priority. 

Put everything aside in your mind for a moment and focus exclusively on the priority at hand.

An alternative approach is to go around the problem and reduce complexity by finding a way to nullify multiple problems in one sweep by solving the underlying issue. (I believe this idea is from Tim Ferriss.)What’s one thing I can focus on/do that will nullify all the other (potential) problems.

What we need is a sense of priority. What’s the most important thing you need to focus on right now? We might have to deal with other things later, but that’s for later. Before is before. Later is later. Now—we are dealing with now.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1052

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Get to the Heart of It

I’ve been dealing with sleep issues for the last couple of years. I can fall asleep like the best ‘em them. But my quality of sleep hasn’t been great. Honestly, I’m still trying to figure it out. My best guess is allergies, not breathing well at night.

The reason I’m telling you this is I made a mistake. A simple mistake, but one easily made. Instead of focusing on the main issue—my quality of sleep— I tried to optimize everything else around it.

My sleep hygiene is on point. Cold room temperature, bed, blackout shades, Magnesium citrate, air filter—the works. But as nice and beneficial as those are, it doesn’t address the underlying problem. Instead of optimizing everything to death first, I should get an at-home sleep study and figure out what the real issue is so I can focus on solving it.

When you’re dealing with a problem—be it health, work, relationships— take a moment to think of the underlying issues that are bothering you.

Optimizations all the minute details won’t necessarily move the needle.

Save yourself some time and get to the heart of things, instead of tiptoeing around it.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1043

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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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Trying Times

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

Albert Einstein

I loved making Rube Goldberg machines when I was growing up (because of The Goonies and Back to The Future, of course). If you’re not familiar, it’s where you create a “machine” or series of eclectic bits-and-bobs lying around the house to perform a simple task unexpectedly and ridiculously.

Mine were never as intricate as this amazing thing—I mostly just used legos, but it was still loads of fun.

A domino effect is “the cumulative effect produced when one event sets off a chain of similar events.” It’s a chain where A leads to B leads D and G, and so on.

I don’t know if you’ve looked at the news lately (😝) but there’s quite a lot of things going on right now. (Understatement of the century, perhaps?) Life was moving quickly before the pandemic, but now it feels like we’ve been kicked into high gear. Many stressors are being tossed at as a once, some within our control, some out of our control, but no matter what life throws our way, it does us no good to lose our wit and give in to chaos or unhelpful thoughts.

When faced with multiple problems, when dealing with trying times, the best we can do is focus our efforts on one thing at a time. Fretting over a giant list of todo’s or bouncing around (like a beachball at a Nickelback concert) from one problem to the next wastes our time and energy. By focusing our efforts on one problem, one task at a time, we can stress less over the other things we need to do, and instead, give our full immediate attention to the thing in front of us.

Better yet, we can prioritize our next action to be something that eliminates or checks off other future actions.

What’s one problem you can do focus on this very moment, that will solve/prevent multiple other problems in advance?

as Henry Ford once said, “There are no big problems, there are just a lot of little problems.”

The best thing we can do is to catch problems before they happen. The next best thing is to solve them with they are small and manageable. And if a problem is already massive, then we have to break it into smaller and smaller parts until we again can tackle each small problem one at a time. This won’t always be neat and proper. Sometimes we might have to do this on the fly by the seat of our pants.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1014

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Assess What’s Working

If what you are doing isn’t working, then something has to change.

What should you change?

Anything. Your habits. Your routines. Your perspective. Your assumptions—definitely your assumptions. Assess everything you are doing (or not doing) and understand why. Are you running from Paper Tigers? Are you avoiding your passions?

It’s okay if you don’t like what you find. But now what are you going to do about it? What you need is momentum. A little step towards progress and success, and then another and another.

Smarter people have said it better than me —

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

Mark Twain

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

Albert Einstein

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

Maya Angelou

It doesn’t matter what problem you are dealing with—use it. Make it a part of your story. Flip it on its head and make it something you are proud of.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #890

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No More Snoozing

“Those who have compared our life to a dream were right… we were sleeping wake, and waking sleep.”

Michel de Montaigne

“I’ve stopped drinking, but only while I’m asleep.”

George Best

We all have problems in life — eventually. The thing about big problems is that 80% of the time they aren’t that way. I’m not trying to be cynical, honest. I’ve just seen firsthand how easy little problem acorns can grow into giant problem trees. Problems usually start where they are too short to ride the rollercoaster, so to speak.

All of the bigger problems I’m facing — the ones I currently have as of writing this anyway — are the accumulation of little things that have grown over my lifetime. Things like spending too much of my day sitting. Falling prey to a midnight sweet (cooooookies🍪 ) that messes up my sleep quality. Pushing off a silly medical bill, hoping it will go away.

Certain things we can’t control and shouldn’t stress over. If you fall because you’re walking in a dark room with no access to a light source to see, is it really your fault for tripping. But other things like neglect, we can control as long as we stay on top of the little things yet important things in life.

Neglect can come from anywhere. Small bills you weren’t aware of that have been growing over time. Bad habits, like walking a certain way, or abusing a component of your body (like your back, neck or feet), which leads to painful problems down the line. Friends you want to keep in touch with but just never found the time to do so. Neglect usually comes with hard lessons of humility that show us a better way to live.

Humility is one of those friends that tells it like it is. While most people compliment you what a good job you’re doing, humility is backhanding you in the face with things/realties you’re not seeing. But not because Humility is out to get you or wants to see you fail. Humility is there to show you where you had blinders on.

Remember, the biggest problems we face in life are usually not big problems at all — there an amalgamation of tiny subtle problems we didn’t notice or kept hitting the snooze button on.

No more snooze button.

Ignoring the problem doesn’t mean we are handing the problem. When we ignore a problem we’re actually just feeding the monster baby. If we keep ignoring it, soon enough that monster baby isn’t going to be a baby any longer.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #837

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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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Plantin’ Seeds

Big Redwood Trees
Photo by Josh Carter

If you want to grow a giant redwood, you need to make sure the seeds are ok, nurture the sapling, and work out what might potentially stop it from growing all the way along. Anything that breaks it at any point stops that growth.

Elon Musk

One observation I’ve been appreciating recently is the nuanced, yet powerful force of planting seeds. Our future is built on our past decisions, specifically, all the big and tiny things we agree (or not) during each day.

Everything we do, from how we sit, how we communicate to ourselves, how we eat, to what we read, has a butterflying effect into our future. We are who we are today because of echos from our past, and the echoes from our parents past and beyond.

On the surface, there’s rarely immediacy to planting seeds. They take time, attention, water and sunlight that we could be using elsewhere. And we can’t eat them right away. If we tried, they would be as nutritiously effect to what we are trying to grow.

A conversation here, a habit there… A week goes by and there’s not much to show for it. Progress was made, but it’s often too subtle for us to notice. This is one of the big reasons why most people don’t plant seeds. Growing is slow work. ‘I can’t invest or focus on my future problems, because all of my immediate problems are right now’ — this is something I’ve said others and told myself before.

But immediacy doesn’t equate to priority.

What separates those that do, versus those that don’t is prioritize the future today. A creator creates every day — even if it sucks, because eventually they know their investment will pay off.

Invest in the right things, and the ‘immediate’ things will fade away.

Today is always the best day to do something for tomorrow. Why do tomorrow what you can do today?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #650

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