Build On Your Successes, Not Your Mistakes

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

Today will be a day of recuperation for me. Through a combination of age, weight, and not taking very good care of this body, I’ve got a condition doctors lovingly refer to as degenerative disc disease, along with a couple of other things I can’t quite pronounce. Combined, it means my lower back is pretty much gone, and it’s not going to get much better. Thankfully, it’s usually not nearly this bad.

With something like this, you resign yourself to the reality that some days will be better than others and try not to overdo it on the good days. Well, okay. That’s what sane people do. When I have a good day, my brain says, “You can beat this! Just get up and stretch it out a little.” And other days it just says, “Have fun, because you’re gonna pay for this one.”

I remember a time when that was my mentality about a lot of things. You’re out for a drink after work and the next thing you know it’s dinnertime. You call home and say, “Just a little longer.” Then it’s getting dark and you call to say, “Let me finish this drink and I’ll be home.” By now she’s fuming, and your inebriated brain says you’re in trouble anyway, so you might as well enjoy it.

I’m pretty sure we’ve all done that from time to time, in various ways. Maybe it’s a day on the job when you’re just not feeling it. Your work is stacking up and there’s no way you’ll get it all done. After a while, your brain starts making excuses. “Take it easy. There’s no way you’ll get all this done, no matter how hard you try. You’re in trouble anyway. Save your energy for tomorrow.”

Okay, we probably don’t do that on the job very often, because if we did, we wouldn’t be on the job for long. But how often do we do that with our own goals? You know there’s something you should be doing (or not doing) and there’s that nagging voice in your head that says you deserve a little fun. “All work and no play …” You know the rest of that one. It’s a song that plays in our minds a lot.

I know the things I need to do to make my back a little better. Exercise would be at the top of the list. Not anything intense – just walking or even a little stretching. Yoga would be great, or even swimming. I know all this. I just don’t do it. On the other hand, I know I have to lose weight. But that cheeseburger last night was just too good to pass up (not to mention the birthday cake later).

And it’s not like I’m doing things blindly, with no concept of the price I’ll pay later. I stood at my desk yesterday for a full five minutes talking myself into a healthy lunch instead of take-out from a local Thai restaurant. I knew the implications of making the wrong decision. And I made the right choice. This time. But how many times do we make the wrong choice, fully aware of the consequences?

We all make mistakes. That only makes us human. But when we allow those mistakes to pile up, simply because “I’ve already messed up anyway,” it’s that much harder to get back on track. And as we see ourselves slipping further from our goals, we begin to justify not even trying. Why bother if, after all that extra effort, you’ll just come up short anyway?

Yesterday we talked about those small steps – seemingly insignificant, but added together they can make a huge difference. It’s the same when we do the things we shouldn’t do. We may get away with it a few times, but after a while it catches up. And that’s when we find ourselves in a hole with nothing but a shovel to dig our way out.

I didn’t do anything intentional to mess up my back. But I did do a few things that I probably could have put off once I knew things were headed in the wrong direction. Just like I’ve done a few things I didn’t need to do instead of working on the things I should be doing for my personal goals. We all do it. And we all pay a certain price. The question we have to ask is whether that price is worth it.

Sure, we can always turn things around and get back on track. But it’s easier to keep a train moving than to get a train moving. We’ll slip up now and then, and that’s okay. What’s important is that we correct our mistakes instead of letting them become an excuse for making even more mistakes. Every step we take leads us in a certain direction. Make sure it’s the direction you want to go.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

It Takes a Single Drop to Begin Filling a Bucket

Good morning! I hope you all had a nice weekend and your day is off to a great start.

Today is my youngest grandson’s birthday. He’s four. To the rest of us, he’s a little boy with his whole life ahead of him. He’s got lots of growing to do, and lots of things to learn. But from his perspective, this is the oldest he’s ever been. He feels all grown up, because he really has no other basis for comparison. Especially if he looks at how grown up his grandpa is. We’re not so different.

And I like it that way. I’ve always said that aging is inevitable, but growing old is a matter of choice. I can’t turn back the clock no matter how badly some of my body parts wish I could. But I don’t have to let the years control my personality. People always like to say “act your age.” Well, I don’t wanna! So there!

Age is relevant only from the perspective of how many years we’ve been on this planet, and how many more years we may have left. It’s a measure of experience. My car insurance company likes my age. I’ve been driving long enough to slow down a little and not make so many stupid mistakes. My health insurance company, on the other hand, isn’t quite so thrilled. They wish I was a little younger.

It’s all a matter of perspective. I remember at the age of twenty, calling my supervisor an old man. He had to be pushing 27 at the time. I laugh today when I think about that because, with 62 only a few months away, I realize that even this isn’t really old. Or maybe I’m just kidding myself. That’s okay. I choose not to be old. I just wish my body would just step up and play along.

Perspective is important, because it’s what allows us to form a basis for comparison. I make a decent living, and we don’t really worry about day-to-day expenses. In fact, according to some, we’re doing pretty well. But we went into an upscale grocery store not long ago and, looking at the prices of “dry-aged” steak, I began to feel just a little impoverished. Do people really pay that much for food?

But to a person making a little more than I do, it’s no big deal. They buy what they want because they can. And here’s the thing – that meat is at least three times as expensive as anything in my grocery store, but I doubt many of those people make three times as much as I do. They don’t have to. They just have to make a little extra.

If your employer offered you an extra $200 a month, you’d feel pretty good. Because, if the bills are paid and things are going well, an extra $200 would let you buy that fancy steak once in a while. It would let you order what you want off the menu instead of what your wallet says you should eat. It might even let you take an extra vacation each year.

Now, what if there was a string attached – you get the extra money, but you have to work an extra hour every day. Hmmm.  An extra hour every day, and there are 22 workdays in a month – that’s not even $10 an hour! Now that extra $200 isn’t sounding so great. It’s all about perspective. You look at the hourly rate and suddenly forget all the extra freedom it could bring.

But what if that extra money was just the start? What if you gained the skills necessary to double that extra income in a month or so? Now your perspective may be changing a little. Because if you can take a little extra and double it, what’s to stop you from doubling that as well? All of a sudden, the issue isn’t how much you get paid – it’s how much you can earn.  

To most of us, a year is a pretty short amount of time. To my grandson, it’s a fourth of his life. To most of us, $30,000 a year isn’t much to brag about. But to somebody already making that much, an extra $15,000 would change everything. And to a person making ten times that much, it may not even be worth the extra effort. Perspective.

When you look at where you are, where you want to be may seem a long way off. But even a small step in the right direction puts you closer. Keep taking those steps and the time will come when the distance you’ve covered is more than the distance that’s left. And one day, it’ll only take one more little step to reach your goal. Same effort, same distance each time. But what a difference it’ll make.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

We Get By With a Little Help From Our Friends

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

Today will be a little out of the ordinary for me. My company is sponsoring a food drive, and I’ve been given the opportunity to help out. It’s something that’s badly needed in our area, especially with the devastation from tornadoes a few short months ago. Thousands were left without a home, or without the means to put a hot meal on the table. It’s nice to be able to give something to those in need.

Most of us never think we’ll find ourselves in a similar situation. We go to work every day, we bring home a paycheck, pay the bills, and life goes on. If something out of the ordinary comes along, we take a little out of savings or use a credit card to handle the emergency. It’s a place of comfort – of knowing we can handle pretty much anything that comes up. As long as it’s not too big.

Then one night, as we’re putting the kids to bed and making our final rounds through the house, sirens go off. Before we can even get to the TV to see what’s going on, alerts blast through on every cell phone in the house. “Multiple tornadoes on the ground – seek shelter immediately!”

At that point, it doesn’t matter how much money you make or how much is sitting in the bank. Your house is as much a target as anything else in town, and all you can do is hunker down and pray. For most of us, it was just an inconvenience – we sat in the basement until it was over. But others huddled together as they listened to the sound of their home being ripped apart.

It’s at that moment that you realize you don’t have it all under control. Things happen that none of us count on, and we’re left to deal with the aftermath. Yes, the homes will be rebuilt. But some won’t be finished until next year. Meanwhile, the families who lived there have been relegated to apartments and hotel rooms in neighboring communities. And they may never be able to replace some of the things they lost.

That’s the reality of life. It’s easy to get caught up in the pride of being able to earn a living and take care of our own, to relish in the comfort of a career that pays the bills, and to celebrate a few promotions along the way. And then in a moment, along comes something we can’t control, and we find ourselves fighting for our very survival. None of that other stuff even matters.

Every one of us, no matter what our station in life, is one or two strokes of bad luck away from needing a little help. The help we need may be related to health, finances, a place to live, a warm meal, a compassionate friend, or any of a hundred other things. And in that moment, we find ourselves relying on the kindness of others.

That stroke of bad luck may come with the thunder of a tornado, or with the silence of a serious illness. It may be the loss of a home, or the loss of a job. And it may be nothing more than the need to change our daily routine, to give up that cushy career, so we can stay home and take care of someone who desperately needs our help. The need may be evident, but the circumstances aren’t always so obvious.

That’s why it’s important that we hold back judgment and simply help where we can. My job today will be to register those arriving for food. Some will be on foot, and others will be in cars I can’t afford. Some will be dressed in shabby clothing, and others will look like they’re on their way to a corporate function. And it’s possible I may see some familiar faces in the crowd. You just never know.

Mom always used to tell us that when you see somebody in need, instead of trying to judge their circumstances or how they may have gotten there, we should just say a short prayer – there, but for the grace of God, go I.

By the end of the day, my lower back will be ruined. I’ll have work to make up on Monday that I didn’t get to do today, and I’ll probably spend the weekend on a heating pad. But when the last bag of food has been distributed, I’ll still be able to enjoy a home-cooked meal and the comfort of my own bed. Not because I’ve done anything special to deserve it. But because, as of this moment, none of it has been taken away.

There’s something to be said for counting our blessings. And there’s an even greater blessing in being able to help someone in need. Tomorrow, it could be any one of us. Appreciate the things you’ve worked for and take care of what you’ve got. Just keep it in perspective and remember that, while we may be able to control some things, others are simply a matter of grace.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Success Just Woke Up To a Brand New Day!

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

I finally got some well-needed sleep last night. I’m not entirely sure what was standing in my way the nights before that, but by the time I got home from work yesterday I was almost dizzy with exhaustion. At times like that, you listen to your body and do what it says.

A doctor told me years ago you can never “get caught up” on missed sleep. I understand what he was trying to say – every time you cheat your body out of the minimum amount of rest it needs, it takes a toll. And sleeping extra hours next week won’t make up for it. But I would imagine the long-term toll is pretty small, and getting back on track is more important than crying over spilled milk.

Yesterday I got back on track with a few things that had fallen by the wayside. You know that feeling when you’re in the groove, beginning to make strides, and then slip back into your old habits? It’s kind of like losing a few pounds because you’re starting to eat sensibly. But then one day you get a craving for a cheeseburger and fries. Next thing you know, you’re right back where you started.

It doesn’t happen because you gave in to that craving one day. It happens because one day turned into two, and two turned into three, and three turned into a week. And it’s something we’ll fight the whole way until eating right becomes a way of life, because no matter how badly we want to change, our old habits exist within a comfort zone that we have a hard time leaving behind.

The same is true with the things we do to work toward our personal goals. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started writing a book over the years. Several books. I’ll get a burning idea, sit at the computer for a couple of days, and hammer out the first two or three chapters of what I’m certain will be my first masterpiece. Then other priorities slip in – things I can’t ignore. You know, like work.

Before long, the book is on the back burner and that computer doesn’t add a single word to the file I’d saved. By the time I’m ready to get back to it, I can’t quite pick up where I left off. The momentum is gone and, along with it, my original train of thought. So, I start over. I hammer out a couple of chapters and then along comes life. And so it goes, month after month, year after year.

I do the same thing in my business. I’ll get on a roll, doing the things I need to do each day, better and stronger than ever before. I’ll make a little progress and think maybe this is it. I’m on my way! Then, along comes life. I take a night off to catch up on housework, then along comes a really busy day at work, then grocery shopping and yard work, and next thing you know my goals are at a standstill.

The one thing I hear most from other people when we talk about goals is, “I just don’t have time.” I get it. We can’t just drop everything and work on a new project that isn’t paying the bills, and no matter what those other chores will still need to be done. But here’s the question we all need to answer. Could we find time for something fun, even if it isn’t moving us closer to our goals?

The answer to that question determines the probability of our success. No matter what we try to do, life will get in the way and old habits will always be waving from the sidelines. But if we do the right things long enough and consistently enough, they become our way of life. And in the process, success becomes a way of life. We learn to work through those obstacles instead of giving in to them.

It’s never too late to get back on track. That’s been a running theme in this week’s posts, and it wasn’t really an intentional thing. It just worked out that way. The question is whether that theme will find its way into our daily lives. It’s easy to get started toward a goal. It’s just as easy to stop. When we do anything long enough, it becomes a habit. And as we all know, habits are hard to break.

The key is forming the habits that will lead us closer to our goals and then feeding those habits every day until they become a way of life. What happened yesterday is history. It’s what we do today that counts. The moment you begin moving in the right direction, your goal becomes that much closer. Make the time. Find a way. Success isn’t convenient. But it sure is a nice place to end up.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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