Little Changes Can Make a World of Difference

Good morning, and happy Hump Day! I hope your day is starting off well.

I’m a little tired today. The past two nights, for whatever reason, I’ve awakened from a reasonably sound sleep for no good reason other than my brain decided to get active way before it’s supposed to. You know how you get a song stuck in your head and it won’t go away? Well, when that song comes along at 3 in the morning and it’s Janis Joplin, you might as well just get up.

Yet still, I snuggle up a little longer, hoping to recapture even a few more minutes of sleep before it’s time to get up and face the day. Not that there’s anything I don’t want to face – I just don’t want to do it until it’s time. And at that point in the morning, another five minutes of sleep is worth any amount of tossing and turning to achieve it. Believe me, I tried.

But you know how it goes. No matter how late it gets, it’s never too late to try one more time. And whatever extra we gain as a result seems to make a huge difference in the rest of our day. Okay, in the case of sleep maybe not so much, but you get the idea. Sometimes it’s more about perception. And sometimes, it’s just a basis for comparison. A little more is better than none at all.

Yesterday we made that point in terms of nutrition … the premise that, no matter what choices you’ve made in the past and how poor those choices may have been, it’s never too late to turn things around. Granted, the later we wait, the less impact those changes will have. But at some point in life, an extra 5% is worth whatever it takes to achieve it. Kinda like those last ten minutes of sleep.

One of the worst inventions in the history of man is the snooze button. Instead of setting the alarm clock to let us enjoy a deeper sleep until it’s time to get up, we set it a half-hour earlier so we can hit the snooze button three times and fool ourselves into believing we’re getting a little extra sleep every day. We know better, but it still feels like a small victory.

But there’s another kind of snooze button we need to hit a little earlier – the one that says “you’re getting older, and time is marching on.” I get a dose of that reality every time I look at the balance in my retirement account. It’s like looking at a stack of bills and realizing there’s not enough in the bank to cover them. If I had to retire today, I’d have to die within a year, or I’d be broke.

I came to the realization several years ago that my retirement won’t be a simple matter of sitting back and waiting for a monthly check to arrive. It’ll be working at whatever I’m still able to do while I wait for a few smaller checks to come in. A little here, a little there – after a while, it can add up. And the bank really doesn’t care where it comes from, as long as it’s enough.

I think most of us are in the same boat, at least to some extent. And if you think you’re not, you may want to take a closer look. Think back to the money you made thirty years ago. Then think if you had to live on half that amount today. That’s pretty much how retirement works. You cut your income in half, and then as time goes on and prices keep increasing, your pay stays the same. Fun, huh?

Now, how much difference would a little bit extra make? It’s a natural tendency to look at a few hundred dollars and think, “I could never live on that!” Nobody said you have to. But at some point, that little bit extra would make a world of difference. And the truth is, that point is here. It’s today. If you could save just $300 each month, in thirty years you’d have more than $300,000.

Income doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Like that extra ten minutes of sleep or those midlife nutritional changes, a little extra here and there adds to the total. And the total is what matters most. Would you rather have one big retirement check from a single source, or several smaller checks that add up to the same amount? Considering how many businesses go bankrupt each year, I think I’ll go for Door #2.

The choices we make today will have an impact later in life, and it’s never too late to do things a little differently. But thirty years from now, do you think you might wish you’d made some better choices today? I’m pretty sure we’d all have the same answer. The difference is, are we willing to do anything about it?

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

We Change Tomorrow By the Choices We Make Today

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

I’ve found over the years that some things tend to change as we get older. I know, that’s no big secret, but it’s something I’ve tried to deny whenever possible. I think most of us do. But denying age is about like denying pregnancy. Sooner or later, it’ll catch up with you.

When we’re younger, we’re certain we’ll enjoy that youthful existence forever. We don’t think about getting old and the effects it’ll have on our body. We eat whatever we want, whenever we want it. We run, we play, we jump up and down, and that’s just during recess. If we get sick, we blow our nose a few times and all is well with the world.

But as we age, we begin to realize the impact of the choices we’ve made. We realize it in the way a skydiver realizes the ground is getting a lot bigger every second. It’s no longer a theory or old wive’s tale – it’s reality, in full living color. We can’t eat anything we want. In fact, we find ourselves eating a lot of things we don’t want. We do it because all of a sudden, health has become a priority.

Funny how that works. It’s like saving for retirement. If we’d all started at the age of 18 like the old folks told us to do, we’d all retire wealthy (and probably a few years early). But at that age, retirement is a lifetime away and other things are more pressing. Then the day comes when you find yourself talking like an old person – “If I could go back and change one thing in my life …” Yeah. Been there.

Well, we can’t go back and change our past, but we can change our future. If you’re suddenly realizing the ground is getting a lot bigger and you’re wondering how well you packed your parachute, you still have a backup in case the main chute fails. But you have to pull the cord on that backup early enough to break your fall.

This isn’t about skydiving. It’s about racing through life toward that age where we hope everything will slow down and bring us in for a nice, soft landing. It’s about hearing the music we never wanted to hear and having to pay the piper for playing it. And, it’s about doing what we can to negotiate a better deal before that music gets too loud.

Right now, all of us in the northern hemisphere are about two months away from cold and flu season. We’re also a few months from the holidays. Funny how those things seem to coincide every year. And few things can wreck the holidays like being sick.

Another thing to consider – the blood supply in our body lasts about two months. That’s how long it takes to flush out the impurities and replace the old cells with new ones. So, if we want to avoid sickness this winter, now is the time to do something about it.

A healthy diet is a good start, but the sad fact is most of us can never eat enough of the right foods to give our body all the nutrients it needs. That’s as much a factor of the junk we do eat as the declining nutrients in the foods we should eat. If you want to maintain your nutrient levels, supplements need to be part of your daily routine. Start with a good plant-based multivitamin and go from there.

Make no mistake – vitamins and supplements won’t cure any existing medical condition, and doctors disagree when it comes to prevention. But your body needs certain nutrients in order to fight these things on its own, so it only stands to reason that maintaining healthy levels of those nutrients will help you work through anything that does come along.

Physical health is a lot like financial health. Both take a certain amount of planning, and the choices we make today can shape our future in ways we can’t begin to imagine. I can’t go back and un-eat all those double cheeseburgers, but I can make better choices today. The ground is getting bigger, and I want to be able to enjoy my golden years instead of sitting on the sidelines.

We talk about the financial side of that equation a lot, but no amount of money can take the place of good physical health. If you’re like me, the choices we’ve made over the years are coming home to roost. But that doesn’t mean we have to accept them. Every coach knows the right play can change the outcome, even in the final seconds of the game.

Small changes, at any point in our lives, can make a world of difference. Run the right play. Make the healthy choice. The game is yours to win.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Success is a Series of Last-Minute Miracles

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

The month is a little more than half-over. Depending on your perspective, that can be a good thing or a challenge. For those who depend on a monthly check to arrive in the mailbox, it puts you that much closer to payday. For those of us with monthly goals, it means crunch time is fast approaching. Especially if you haven’t even started. And for some folks, it’s just another day.

I guess there’s something to be said for living one day at a time, with no real burning desires or goals to work toward. It’s a peaceful existence, one that doesn’t take a lot of thought and doesn’t run much risk of disappointment. But you have to admit, it is a little passive. Like riding in the backseat and hoping the driver wants to go the same place you do. Otherwise, it could be a long day.

Goals are what make us get up a little earlier and work a little later. And I know, unless you’re already doing those things, it doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. In talking with people, one of the greatest objections I hear when it comes to working toward their goals is, “I’m already busy enough. I don’t have time for anything else.”

I get it. We’re all busy. And the last thing anybody wants to think about at the end of a long day is getting out and working more. But that’s what it takes. One thing all star athletes have in common is the inner drive to keep going when others would say “that’s good enough.” While others head to the locker room for a nice long shower. They stay out there and give a little bit more. Every. Single. Day.

And make no mistake. They all miss goals on a regular basis. At different points in his career, Babe Ruth was known as the king of strikeouts. During five seasons, he struck out more than any other player in the American League, whiffing at the plate 1,330 times in his career. He also hit 714 home runs, a record that would stand for 40 years. Which do you think people remember?

We all miss goals. All that means is we’re setting goals high enough that it’ll take a little extra effort to reach them. If you never miss a goal, you’re setting the bar too low. Try a little harder. Reach for something that’s a little out of reach and don’t stop until you get there. Swing at the fast pitch. Throw the long pass. You may miss more times than you score, but those wins will be well worth celebrating.

In a CD by one of my favorite motivational speakers, he talked about receiving an email from a protégé who had set an impressive goal for the month but was writing to let his mentor know he wouldn’t make it. He tried to cushion the fall by saying, “I’ll still reach this lower goal, but I won’t be able to do what I said I was going to do.” Does that sound familiar?

And I’ll never forget that speaker’s advice. He simply said, “You set a goal and told a lot of people you were going to accomplish that goal. It’s okay if you come up short as long as you go down swinging. But don’t pull the ripcord at 25,000 feet.” That last sentence hit me right between the eyes. Don’t pull the ripcord at 25,000 feet. I think we’ve all done that more times than we’d care to admit.

We all love the story of a team that goes into the last few minutes of a game they were certain to lose, only to fight back and win in the final seconds. All because they refused to lay down and accept defeat. Failure is never certain until we stop trying. If we pull the ripcord too soon, we may soften the fall. But we’ll never know how much closer we could have gotten to an amazing achievement.

Set your goals high. Get up a little earlier. Work a little later. If what you’ve been doing all these years hasn’t put your dreams within reach, go the extra mile. And once you start, don’t let anything stand in your way. Fight through to the very end. You may come up a little short, and that’s okay. It’s still closer than you were, and with every step you take, your dream is that much closer to reality.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Focus Your Effort for Amazing Results

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

So, the weekend is here and hopefully you’ve got something fun planned. After all, it is what we seem to spend all week working for. And I know, for some of you the weekend is when work really heats up. But you get a little reprieve while the rest of us are enjoying Monday, so it all works out. Either way, I hope you enjoy your time off, whenever it comes.

I listen to motivational audios most days, and in some of them the speakers are young people with names that sound even younger. Names that weren’t so common back when I was in school, with youthful voices to match. They’re full of excitement and energy, and don’t appear to have a care in the world. And somehow, they all beat me to retirement. What’s up with that?

These are people who are still sound asleep each day as I begin my morning routine. They get up whenever they feel like it, or whenever their kids wake them up. They take their time with breakfast and get dressed if and when they feel like it. They go to morning aerobics classes, have lunch with old friends, take the kids to the park, and pretty much do whatever they want most of the day.

And best of all, they plan work around their vacations instead of the other way around. Now, I don’t know about the rest of you, but that lifestyle sounds pretty appealing to me. And believe me, they’ve earned it. They’re not rock musicians or movie stars. They’re just ordinary people like you and me who decided they wanted something more and were willing to get out and work for it.

And the thing is, they didn’t have to take on another fulltime job to make it happen. A laser is nothing more than a highly focused beam of light. It can travel great distances and, depending on the type of light and how it was generated, it can cut through steel with precision that’s just not possible by any other means. It’s all about focus – putting the energy where it counts most.

And when you can find something that works, something where you can generate a little extra income or pay off some bills a little early, all you have to do is focus that energy to get extraordinary results. It doesn’t have to take up all your spare time, because you’re not trying to do everything all at once. You’re focused on one thing at a time with a precision that magnifies your effort into something incredible.

But it all has to start with the basics. A laser pointer is essentially a battery, an LED, and a lens. None of them on their own are all that extraordinary. But when you put them together in just the right way, the result is pretty impressive. And that’s how it is with the things we do for ourselves. A little extra effort, focused on the right things, can accomplish a lot of work with the precision of a laser.

If you throw enough mud on a wall, some of it will stick. And if the goal was to cover the entire wall in mud, sooner or later you’ll get there. The end result won’t be very pretty, and some areas will be a lot thicker than others. But if you could find a way to spray that mud in a fine stream, you could cover the entire wall a lot faster and with a much more impressive result. Focus.

Put that same premise to work on your personal goals, and you can achieve some incredible results with a lot less effort than you’d imagined. All it takes is focus and commitment – honing your effort to whatever produces the best results and sticking with it no matter what. Lather, rinse, repeat.

So, instead of looking at your goals as a huge job that’ll take up all your waking hours for the next fifty years, figure out how to focus that effort and do the work that produces results. You may need to adjust the lens a little along the way. But once you dial it in, nothing can stand in your way.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

What Is That You’re Eating???

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

Yesterday evening, we had to make a mid-week grocery trip. We normally have a few items to pick up here and there, but not enough to make it much of a shopping excursion. But for whatever reason, this week was different. We’re finding that some items just don’t keep as long as they used to, so we buy in smaller quantities and fill up more often. And yes, sometimes we just forget things. It happens.

In some cultures, the idea of going through a supermarket with a shopping cart filled with a week’s worth of groceries is as foreign as the thought of walking through an outdoor market full of fresh meat, breads, and produce would be to us. But that’s exactly what they do. Every morning, street vendors set out fresh food, and people buy what they need for that day. Nothing ever goes bad.

When I watch shows filmed in other countries, one thing that always catches my eye is the size of their refrigerators. They remind me of the ones we had when I was a kid – the old Kelvinators with a latch on the door and a freezer on top that needs to be defrosted with a hair dryer and ice pick every month. I’ve had one or two of those myself. What we’ve got today is a monstrosity by comparison.

And yet, we still run out of room. Every time we go shopping, something else gets pushed to the back. Then, when you need something, you can’t find it. So, you go to the store and buy more. And as you’re rearranging everything else to make room for what you just bought, you find the one that’s been sitting there all along. Except now, the expiration date has passed, and it has to be thrown out.

There’s something to be said for downsizing and only buying what we need. Freshness is never an issue, because you don’t keep things around long enough for them to go bad. Storage isn’t a problem. And it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what’s for dinner – you’re eating what you bought today because tomorrow it’ll have to be thrown out. All they really store is grains and dry goods.

And you know what? The people in those countries live longer and enjoy a better quality of life than those of us in the modernized world. They’re healthy, vibrant, and active well into their golden years for one simple reason – they didn’t allow technology to replace what nature intended.

I’ve noticed the strawberries in our local grocery store have gotten bigger over the years. I guess that could be due to improved farming practices, but I have to be honest – when I look at them I get images of a strawberry field catching the runoff from a nearby nuclear plant. It’s not very appetizing. And truly, those monster strawberries just don’t taste as good as the smaller ones anyway.

A lot of that could be the result of selective breeding, or even some level of genetic restructuring. And it’s not just strawberries. Peppers, tomatoes, bananas, and most other produce has gradually gotten bigger. I’ve seen navel oranges that are as big as a grapefruit. But, is bigger really better?

According to the USDA and agricultural universities, the nutrient levels in our produce have dropped significantly over the past fifty years, in some cases by as much as 70%. You may be filling your belly, but you’re not doing much for your body. It’s just one of the reasons nutritionists now recommend eating 7-10 servings of fruit and vegetables each day. It’s the only way to get the nutrients we need.

But how many of us actually do that? I know I don’t. If I’m being completely honest, I probably get 3-4 servings a day. Of the good stuff, that is. I get plenty of the junk I don’t need, which is why I have to keep buying these big pants. For a nation that’s so full of overweight people, we are among the most malnourished populations in the world. We’re eating plenty. We’re just not eating right.

If we could set aside a few conveniences and borrow a few habits from other countries, we could begin to turn that around. Instead of seeing how much food we can store in our refrigerators, maybe we should try shopping for a day or two at a time. Instead of loading a cart with groceries, shop with a hand basket. And instead of filling the cabinet with canned goods, fill it with beans and whole grains.

By being more selective about the foods we buy, we’re more sensible about the foods we eat. Things don’t sit around and go bad, and we don’t have to load up on preservatives in the process. When we open the refrigerator, we can find what we need. And, over the long haul, our bodies and bank accounts will both benefit as a result.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Be Your Own Best Employee – You’re Worth It!

Good morning, and happy Hump Day! The week is almost half-over!

As I was working on a particularly mind-numbing task yesterday, I was reminded of something my mom always used to say – “If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” She was usually referring to the way I would clean. Move a few things around, toss some dirty clothes in the hamper, and wipe some dust off the dresser with my bare hand. Voila! It’s clean! Can I go out and play now?

Make no mistake, there are some jobs where it’s a lot easier to be diligent than others. When I’m putting new brakes on my wife’s car, I take my time and do the job right. When I’m putting brakes on my own car, I may take a couple of shortcuts. I’m tough. I can take a hit. And if all I’m doing is cleaning bugs off the windshield, only one side matters anyway. I don’t want her to see everything in the road.

Okay, what are the odds she’ll spit in my food tonight? Sometimes I write these things without thinking. But the point is, there are jobs we do well, and other jobs where quality just isn’t that much of a concern. And maybe that’s okay if you’re spreading butter on a piece of toast. But for most other things, if we have to do the job anyway, why not do our best?

I’ve often asked myself a really tough question – if I had the chance to retire early, on the condition that I had to pay somebody out of my own pocket to do my job, how demanding would I be? Would I be happy with somebody else doing the same amount of work I do today? Would I be happy with the same level of quality? Or would that person be looking for another job?

Hopefully, the answer to that question is positively yes – I would be thrilled to have an employee who’s as dedicated and diligent as I am. If we have to think about that for more than a few seconds, we may have some room for improvement. After all, I’m betting you didn’t go into your job interview and say, “Don’t sweat it – I’ll come in around 8:00 and do enough to keep you off my back.”

We all know better. And I believe most of us give our best on the job, or something really close to it. Because, in the corporate world, there are managers who watch what we do and write appraisals every year. There are pay raises to consider, and maybe even a promotion. And there’s always somebody knocking on the door telling the boss they can do the job better.

But how diligent are we when it comes to the things we do for ourselves? You would think the answer to that is obvious. “When I’m working for myself? I ROCK!!!” And that would make sense, because the fruit of our labor isn’t going into somebody else’s pocket or making life easier on somebody we may not even know. This is for me! Now, move out of the way and let me show you how it’s done!

Is that how it works? Or is it more like, “I know I need to do this, but right now I’m busy with too many other things and I just don’t have time. I’d do it tomorrow, but tomorrow is bowling night. And there are a bunch of football games on TV this weekend. Maybe next week.” Sound familiar?

So, let’s take that earlier question and frame it around your own goals. If you were paying somebody else to do the work that needs to be done to achieve your personal goals, would you be happy with the amount and quality of work you’re putting in yourself? Or would they be looking for another job?

No matter what you’re doing, put your best foot forward. Do the things that need to be done, when they need to be done, whether you want to or not. And do them well. When you’re working for yourself, you always earn what you’re worth. If you want a little more, do a little more. Your future is in your hands. Make it something you can be proud of.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Adversity Builds the Skills That Make Success Possible

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

I woke up to a pretty intense thunderstorm this morning. It was less than an hour earlier than I’d normally get up, which is always a challenge because there’s that part of you that says just go ahead and get up and the other part that desperately wants that final little bit of sleep. I chose the latter.

I’m about to utter some words that most people who know me almost never hear – we needed the rain. We don’t need lightning to go with it, especially as dry as everything has been. But the grass is turning brown in places that should be green, and I’m too cheap to water my lawn. I did spray for weeds a few weeks ago, which could explain all the brown spots. Let’s just say it wasn’t all grass.

Rain can be a blessing. We need it to sustain life, but too much can be as bad as none at all. We had enough this spring to last an entire year, or so you would think. A lot of the farmers were never able to plant their crops because the fields were too wet. And I remember driving across the country at the end of March and seeing houses almost completely underwater. That’s a sight you never forget.

On the other hand, there are places in the world where the water supply has just about completely dried up, and they would be thrilled to put up with a little flooding if it meant they’d have water to drink and plants growing in their fields.

It seems to be that way with most things in life. We desperately want good things in life, but too much can be detrimental to our long-term goals. Take chocolate, for instance. I won’t pick on you ladies, because I love chocolate. It just doesn’t love me. Or, should I say, it doesn’t care what the bathroom scale or my doctor have to say. A little bit can go a long way.

When things are going bad, a stroke of good luck could set us on the path to success. And it’s hard to comprehend sometimes, but too much good luck isn’t necessarily a great thing. If things always went your way, you’d quickly lose the skill of working through the problems other people face. And believe me, your day will come. Wouldn’t it be better to stay up on those skills along the way?

Let’s face it, if nothing ever went wrong, you might not even know it when something did. Recognition is the first step in solving a problem. Then comes troubleshooting – figuring out what needs to be fixed. Then you have to know how to fix whatever is broken, and finally, you have to know when it’s fixed good enough to continue on.

A little adversity keeps things interesting and helps us build the skills necessary to reach the next level. When I was a kid, one of the worst things that could happen was a flat tire on my bicycle. No riding until Dad could fix it. But then one day he showed me how, and flat tires became a nuisance instead of a show-stopper. And somewhere along the way, I learned to work on cars. Go figure.

We all need a little adversity. We also need some good fortune as well. But that doesn’t mean we have to sit back and wait for Lady Luck to throw something our way. We can influence things in our favor. Luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparedness. If we can’t spot an opportunity or don’t know how to capitalize on it, luck will just move on to somebody better prepared.

Winning the lottery is a matter of having the right ticket in your hand when the right numbers come up. The odds are astronomical. But even at that, you have to buy a ticket. Now, I’m not suggesting you go out and buy a bunch of lottery tickets. That money could be better utilized in investments or starting a business. The point is, luck doesn’t just fall on your head. You have to at least try.

And that’s what happens when things aren’t exactly as we’d like them to be. We identify the problem, troubleshoot it, take steps to fix it, and move on. And you know what happens next? You’ll encounter the next challenge. Only now, because of the adversity you just worked through, you’re better equipped to keep going, higher and higher until you reach your goal.

Life is a series of challenges to be met and overcome. Some days the sun will shine and other days it’ll rain. Sometimes it’ll rain too much. But in working through each of life’s challenges, we learn to work through the next one. And along the way, we develop an even greater appreciation for what we’ve worked so hard to build. That alone is worth a little extra rain, don’t you think?

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved