Don’t Throw Out Your Dreams Because of a Little Rust

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

It’s Monday, and you know what that means. Back to the old grind. For some of us, that grind is a lot more demanding than others. But, at least for now, it’s our chosen way of making a living. Some days we have to remind ourselves that we once dressed up and put our best foot forward to get this job. Hopefully this won’t be one of those days, and we’ll be reminded instead of why we wanted this job.

I think we all go through the range of emotions with any job. There are days when we love it, and days when we wonder why we even got out of bed. It’s the same with most things in life. Relationships can be that way. We start off trying not to do or say the wrong thing, hoping the other person will respond positively toward us. Hopefully, after twenty or thirty years, we still feel that way.

But there will be days when we wonder if it was all worth the effort. I’m not just talking about jobs and relationships. Anything we’ve ever wanted, that we built up our hopes to achieve, will have its ups and downs. It could be that way with a new car. You love it until the first time something breaks. Or that business you’ve been building. There will be days when you wonder if it’s worth the effort.

But, until you park that new car on the curb and leave it to gather rust, anything that breaks can be fixed. In the insurance industry, they like using words like “totaled.” That basically means it’s wrecked to the point that it’s not financially economical to make the necessary repairs. That doesn’t mean the repairs can’t be made. Just that the insurance company chooses not to do it.

Every day, there are people browsing through junkyards all across the nation, looking for that old car that somebody walked away from decades ago. It’s banged up. The fenders are smashed. Parts are missing. It’s a pile of rust. The windows are all broken, the interior is gone, and to all the world, it’s junk. But to that one person, it’s a thing of beauty, just waiting for somebody to bring it back to life.

One of my dreams is to have a garage big enough to restore an old pickup truck or VW bus. Or both. After all, when the first one is finished, I’ll still have all those tools and the time to tackle something new, right? I don’t necessarily have all the skills to do that, but I can learn anything. And what I can’t learn, I can hire out. I just appreciate old cars and I believe just about anything can be restored.

That’s a dream I’ve had for a long time. And quite honestly, I’m no closer to that goal today than I was twenty years ago. But, just as an old car can be restored and made new again, so can our dreams. All it takes is a little loving care, and we can put those dreams back on the road as well. And if we do it right, they’ll be even better and stronger than they were on the showroom floor.

For the past two weeks, my lower back has had me just about crippled. Just getting out of a chair and taking a few steps is painful and slow. And I know it may never be as good as it once was, but I refuse to accept that this is as good as it’ll ever be. There are things I can do to make it better. There may be things the doctor can do. But giving up is not an option. This body has a lot of good years left in it.

And the same is true of most things in life. If your job sucks, do something about it. If your relationship is on the rocks, work on it. If your car is messed up, fix it. And if you can’t because the repair expense is bigger than your bank account, earn a little more.

Granted, some problems just can’t be fixed. There will be times when the best option is simply to walk away. Find a different job, get out of a toxic relationship, or trade in the old car. And sometimes, you find that the dream you’ve been working toward just no longer excites you. That’s okay. Just make sure it’s your decision, and not something you reluctantly accepted.

Dreams, like old cars, can be brought back to life any time we want. All it takes is a renewed commitment and a little effort. Find the value in those dreams – the job, the relationship, the old car, the new life. Fix what’s broken and polish up what’s still good. It may not look like much right now, but just think how beautiful it’ll be in the end.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Envision the Life You Want – Then Go Build It

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

I was listening to a motivational speaker not long ago who made a bold statement that I didn’t quite agree with. He said that no matter where you are in life, you’re exactly where you want to be. Excuse me for pointing out the obvious, but this is not the life of luxury I’d always dreamed of, and I’m working to change that. Clearly, this is not where I want to be. Can I get an amen?

But then the speaker went on to explain that presumptive statement. He said maybe this is not exactly where you want to be, but it’s where you’ve worked your whole life to be. Because everything we’ve done to this point has led us to exactly where we are. Any change along the way would have put us in a different position today. Okay, it hurts, but he makes a good point. I did this.

Every decision we make in life, even the little ones, stack up like Lego® blocks to build the life we now enjoy. At least I hope you enjoy it. After all, you built it. And if you think back, you can probably see some of those decisions and how they affected the direction of your life. Some of those decisions may have been forced on you, but they affected the outcome regardless.

An architect sits in an office and creates a vision – a drawing of the perfect structure, something that will fill a purpose and create beauty both at the same time. There’s a certain amount of ego involved. Every architect wants to outdo the others and create something that will dazzle everyone who sees it.

At first, it’s nothing more than a series of drawings. Then along comes a team of workers to dig a hole. All they have is a blueprint telling them how big to make the hole. They may not have any idea how the finished building will look. But the hole they dig will form the foundation for that building, and any mistakes at this stage in the game could have a profound effect on the finished product.

And so it goes with each team that comes along. Steel workers bolting and welding one beam to another, vertically and horizontally, one floor on top of the other. Gradually the building begins to take shape. Along come the masons to work their magic, and then plumbers, electricians, interior finishers, glass and flooring installers, and all the other teams that make it happen.

The finished product is the sum of all the effort that went into its construction. Every beam, every block, every piece of glass, they all form the building as it exists today. And any change along the way would have changed the outcome. The architect could have come along at any time and said, “Change this” and the building we see today may look entirely different.

The same is true of our lives. We are the architects. We are the ones who envision something so grand it defies the senses. Or maybe not so grand – after all, some buildings are a little more ordinary than others and that’s okay. They all serve a purpose.

We are also the builders of that life – we lay the foundation, we put the blocks in place, we create the internal structure that holds it all up, and when the time comes, we put on the finishing touches that complete the project. The life we enjoy today is exactly the life we’ve built. That doesn’t mean we don’t want something better. People move into nicer houses all the time. But it’s where we are now.

The first step in moving forward is acknowledging our role in being where we are now. It may not have been the life we’d envisioned, but it’s the life we built. And if we can acknowledge that, it opens our eyes to the reality that the project isn’t yet complete, and we have the power to change our current direction and build something better if we so choose.

Just as the things we’ve done to this point have created the life we now enjoy, the things we will do today and beyond will create the life we enjoy tomorrow. We may not be able to tear down what’s been built so far, but we can renovate it and add a little flair. And any time we want, we can build on top of that to create something bigger.

Every day, we build our future life whether we want to or not. If you’re happy to stay right where you are, make the most of it. But if you want something better, you have the power to make it happen. And it all begins today.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Successful Habits Can Only Lead to Success

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

I slept a little later than normal today. That’s what happens when you don’t use an alarm clock. Most days I wake up within five minutes of the same time, a time when most sane people are still sound asleep. It started two days after I quit smoking, and that was almost 22 years ago. I have an alarm clock, but I don’t know if I could set it to go off because I’m pretty sure I threw away the instructions.

I used to be the guy who was late for everything. Dad always used to say I’d be late for my own funeral. He said it like it was a bad thing. Personally, I don’t want to arrive early for that one. The later the better. But if being somewhere relied on my ability to wake up in the morning, all bets were off. If I had to catch an early flight, I stayed up all night because I knew I’d never wake up on time.

But as I said, two days after I quit smoking, that all changed. I woke up that morning rested and ready for the day, with a level of energy I hadn’t seen in more than 20 years. There’s something to be said for giving your lungs the ability to exchange oxygen. And in the months that followed, I became more rested and more energetic by the day. That, alone, was worth the price of admission.

Habits can be hard to break. I smoked for 24 years. And it’s not like I picked a date on the calendar and mentally prepared for it. The date chose itself. I didn’t even taper off. The day before I quit, I smoked almost three packs. I had no thought of giving it up until that morning when my body said, “Enough!” As I spent the first two hours of my day hyperventilating, the choice was made for me.

I’d tried to quit before, but never made it past the first couple of days. And I was a grumpy SOB the entire time. Everybody around me paid for my begrudged decision to quit something I should never have started in the first place. Normally, by the third day, my wife would buy a pack for me.

But something happens when you make the decision to do something because it’s what you want to do. Not because you know you should, or even because you know the consequences of not doing it. Those reasons are forced on us, and we naturally fight back. Even if we know what we’ve been doing is unhealthy or destructive. “I’ll change when I’m good and ready!” Sound like anyone you know?

That was the first element in my success – I quit because I decided it was time. It was a decision I made on the spur of the moment. I’m not really even sure I decided to quit for good that morning. I just made a decision not to smoke that day. And then I made that same decision again every day. I never really quit. I just said, “I won’t smoke today.”

It’s been suggested that it takes 21 days to change a habit. I’ve quoted that a few times in my posts. But in researching that topic (yes, I really do such things), I’m learning that three weeks is just the beginning. Depending on the source, it can take anywhere from 66 to 90 days to make a behavior so automatic that you no longer even think about it – you just do it.

But it’s during the first 21 days that you establish the behavior that will eventually become a habit. That’s when you figure out how you want things to go, and how to get back on track when you stumble. By the end of that time, you know what you’re doing and any discomfort with the new behavior is gone. It’s become a natural part of your life. Now, it’s just a matter of repetition.

There’s nothing you can’t change if you want to make that change. You can drop an old habit or form a new one. Both are pretty much the same. It’s all a matter of changing a certain behavior to become the person you want to be. Do it consistently, one day at a time, and in just a few weeks you’ll be well on your way. The remaining month or two is simply for reinforcement.

Habits are simply behaviors that we repeat instinctively. We can choose the behaviors, and we can choose to repeat them until they become a natural part of our day. Pick the behaviors that will lead you closer to your goals and success is not only possible, it’s inevitable.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

If Success is Hitting Your Target, Aim High

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off well.

It’s Hump Day! That means the weekend is halfway here. Seems they come around a lot faster these days. On the other hand, it seems they vanish a lot faster, too. I always used to hear old people talk about how time flies. That’s a foreign concept when you’re 9 and waiting for that next birthday. But at this age, time evaporates faster than a bag cheese puffs in a room full of puppies.

We talked yesterday about how we can manage time, but how would you like time to manage you? As the days and years roll by, where would you like to end up? What do you want to do when you get there? We’re all working toward a goal, whether we realize it or not. And if we’re not working toward anything, that’s pretty much where we’ll end up. That’s a sobering thought.

Dreams are the foundation of accomplishment. Without dreams, we’d go through life like drones, never imagining anything besides our current reality. And sadly, for some of us, that pretty much describes our existence. We’re so busy trying to navigate the obstacles of daily life that we never take time to imagine anything different, possibly even better.

So, let me ask you a question I’ve asked a few times before in these posts. What goals would you set for yourself if you knew you couldn’t fail? If somebody handed you a magic wand and said, “Here – you decide what you want, and this wand will make it happen,” how would your life change? Take a look around. Is this where you’d end up? Or do you think you might aim a little higher?

This is a challenging concept for most of us, because the longer we live, the more we experience disappointment. We tell our kids to aim for the stars, because there’s nothing they can’t accomplish. But the example we set is one of moderation, possibly even fear. We don’t aim for the stars because too many times in the past we’ve come up short. So, we aim for what we think we can hit.

Nobody likes to fail, and so it’s easy to reach for the things we know we can have instead of something that may be a little more out of reach. It removes the fear and doubt, but it also removes the challenge. And when there’s no challenge, there’s no cause for celebration. So, you tied your shoes this morning. Woohoo!!!

But there was a point in your life when that was cause for celebration. Until that point in time, somebody else had to tie your shoes for you. One day you decided to try it for yourself, and I’d bet my next paycheck you created a knot tight enough to make Superman curse. But you believed it was a skill you could master, and one day you did. Instead of aiming for slip-ons, you aimed a little higher.

Reaching higher goals doesn’t necessarily require any new skills. It just involves better mastery of the skills we’ve already got. Tying a pair of shoes is possible for anybody with the eye-to-hand coordination of a toddler. From there, it’s simply a matter of fine-tuning what we’ve already got. The world’s most skilled brain surgeon once celebrated tying her own shoes. Think about that for a moment.

And mastering a skill begins with the belief that you can do better. Practice helps, but only in reaffirming the belief that made you try in the first place. And that same belief can lead you to even greater goals. Sure, you may have to develop a few new skills along the way or polish the skills you’ve already got. But that part is a lot easier when you already know the outcome.

Belief is knowing the outcome before it happens. It’s starting a journey with the knowledge that you will arrive at your destination. It’s knowing you can handle anything that comes up along the way. It’s simply a matter of focusing on success and removing any thoughts of failure. When you left for work this morning, was there any doubt you’d eventually arrive? That’s the power of belief.

Belief is absolute. There are no shades of gray. Confidence, on the other hand, leaves a little more room for doubt. It’s measured in degrees of probability. And when we consider probability, we assume some potential for failure. To believe in something means we view the outcome as not only possible, but inevitable. And if success is inevitable, why not aim a little higher?

We generally measure up to our own expectations. The higher we set those expectations, the higher we’ll climb. It all begins with a belief in ourselves, in our ability to succeed. It’s already in you – it was there when you learned to walk, and it was there when you first tied your own shoes. And it’s there today, just waiting for something else to take on.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

There Will Only Be One “Today”

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

Well, it’s a new month and, for those of us in the US who just got a badly needed holiday, it’s the beginning of a new (and slightly shortened) week. I love three-day weekends. I just don’t necessarily love the four days at work that follow. I’ve always said that when you get to skip a Monday, you get four more to make up for it. Hopefully this week will be the exception.

I don’t know why we dread Mondays so much. Yes, it means the end of the weekend and heading back to work. But, if we did the weekend even slightly right, we’re going back somewhat rested and refreshed. If not, we may want to take a closer look at how we spend our weekends. But the point is, this should be the time of week when we’ve got the most energy for a day at work.

It’s also the time when we’ve got the most leftover energy to tackle some of our own goals. If there’s anything you’ve been planning to do for yourself outside of work, earlier in the week is generally better. Not only do you have more energy, but if things don’t work out one day, you still have a few more to go. The later we get into the week, the fewer chances we’ll have to do those things.

We go to work every day. We don’t really even question it, because that’s just the way it is. We can say we don’t have a choice in the matter, but we do. It just comes down to priorities. And over the course of our lives, few things will take a higher priority than work. If you don’t believe me, quit. Better still, just try to imagine it. Some things are better experienced in the mind.

There have been a few times in my life when I was unemployed. Like the time I found out my job was seasonal, but nobody had explained that little detail in the beginning. As a contract employee, you learn to plan for the inevitable “job’s done – thanks!” And the last time, it was because the company hired a new CEO who decided to cut our division completely. It happens.

And when it does, you immediately kick into high gear looking for something else. You think back to all those positions you’d applied for in the past and quickly check to see if they’re hiring. You put your resume on the job boards and check your email several times a day. Meanwhile, you look for any little thing you can do to cut expenses and bring in just a little bit of income to hold you over.

It’s amazing how creative and energetic we can be when the need is there. And the more urgent the need, the more we try to take advantage of every possible opportunity at our disposal. Then we find a new job and that first paycheck arrives. Whew! That was a close one! Now you can breathe a little easier and get back to normal. If you’ve ever been in that position, you know exactly what I mean.

The only problem is, “normal” isn’t exactly the best place to be. Because normal means you’re back in the same position you were in previously. You may have a better, more secure job with lots of room for growth. But at the end of the day, you’re still entrusting your financial well-being on somebody else’s ability and willingness to keep you employed.

Now, let me ask you a question. If you found yourself suddenly looking for a new job, or just needing an immediate inflow of extra money, would you prefer to wait until the need is there to do something about it? Or do you think maybe you’d want to keep your eyes open to new opportunities while things are going well? You know, think about the solution before the need arises.

If there’s something you want to do for yourself, don’t let opportunities slip by. If a rainy day will get in the way, take advantage of the sunny days. If you know other things will eventually consume your time, work around them. Take care of your own priorities now, before those other things demand your attention.

There are seven days in a week. Nothing we can do will ever change that. And every time we let a day or even a moment of opportunity slip past, it’s gone. Make the most of those opportunities now and when other things get in the way, you’ll be that much further ahead.

Today will be over before you know it. And there may come a point where you’ll look back at today and wish you’d spent that time more wisely. If that’s even a remote possibility, do something about it now. There will always be other priorities and demands on your time. You can’t change that. All you can change is what you do with each moment along the way.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

What Are You Waiting For?

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

Have you ever stopped to think about where you thought you’d be at this point in your life, and then compared it to where you are? Hopefully for most of us, the gap isn’t all that large. I’d like to think most of us have accomplished at least some of the things we wanted to do by now. But for many of us, myself included, the gap is pretty large. There’s still so much to be done.

Maybe that’s just my impatience kicking in. Because, in all honesty, I’ve been able to accomplish a lot. And some things are meant to come later, or at least that’s what we’re taught. We work for 45 years and then take a really long vacation. And if we’re lucky, we actually get to go a little further than the front porch in the process. I’ve seen mine before. It’s not all that special.

For some people, the concept of putting in all those years up-front for a few years of enjoyment at the very end is as appealing as a root canal. Especially when they realize their physical abilities and stamina are at an all-time high during those years they’re supposed to be working and, by the time they retire, all that stamina will have been long since used up.

For them, the answer is simple. Put in a little extra in the early years when everyone else is out partying and get started on that long vacation early. Like, thirty years early. By the time everyone else is halfway through their work life and still has little to show for it, they’re off enjoying a lifestyle most of us could never imagine. They didn’t want to wait. And they didn’t have to.

Well, here’s the deal – I’ve worked my 45 years and retirement is still a distant goal. Oh, I’m getting closer. And days like I’ve had this week, using a cane to get around because my back needs all the help it can get, I know it may come sooner than the bank thinks it should. We don’t always get the option to choose our retirement date. Sometimes, fate chooses it for us.

And I’m coming to realize that retirement may not be quite what I’d imagined. I see commercials and pictures of old folks jumping out of airplanes and racing around on jet skis, and that’s the image I’ve had all these years. Oh, I’m sure I’ll try some of those things. But I’ll probably spend a week in traction afterward.

The sad fact is, all these years we’re working and saving for a brighter day, we’re missing some of the brightest days along the way. They’re here, right now, and we’re trudging through them hoping to find something better down the road. And I think, at least for most of us, there will be brighter days down the road. I just hope we’re able to enjoy them when the time comes.

My wife and I decided several years ago our retirement will involve a motorhome and a new mailing address several times a year. We’ve talked to people who have enjoyed the nomad lifestyle, and I’m starting to notice a trend. Many of them are a few years older than we are, and they all say the same thing – “Back when we had ours, we absolutely loved it.”

Now, that could mean they had one and got tired of it after a few years. It could mean they blew all their money on the first one and couldn’t afford to replace it when things started to wear out. Or it could mean they’ve reached an age where physical limitations have brought their days of galivanting across the country to an end. I hope that’s not the case, because I’m almost as old as they are.

And therein lies the problem. We find something we want, a burning desire, and go through life promising ourselves that one day we’ll find a way to enjoy it. “Someday.” Famous last words. Well, not necessarily last words, because there comes a point in life where “someday” turns into “I should have.” That’s usually when we’re sitting in a wheelchair in the day room of a nursing home. Lovely.

I’m not suggesting you quit your job and start that long vacation today. But unless your life’s goal is to die with a bunch of money in the bank for everybody else to fight over, get out and enjoy it! If you wait for the perfect time or opportunity, it’ll never happen. Find a way. Make it happen. We’re all headed for the same destination. Reach yours with memories to share and stories to tell.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Adversity is the Teacher – Creativity is the Result

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off well.

Yesterday was an especially productive day. I tackled something new at work, or I should say, new to this particular role. It’s work I’ve done before, just not exactly in this context. So, I had a little past experience to tap on, and a little leeway to adapt that experience for this particular application. That’s when you really feel like you’re earning your keep. It felt good.

In almost every job description I’ve ever read, the word “creativity” is in there in some form. They want you to be creative. And that begins with the resume. “Wow, this is impressive!” Yeah. And if you think that’s good, give me an hour or two and I can make it even better! Okay, I’m giving away secrets I should probably be keeping to myself. But you get the idea.

There are times in life when creativity is exactly what’s needed, and other times when it can be your worst enemy. As I write my morning posts, it’s imperative that I can apply a little creative thought. But if your job involves assembling nuclear weapons, it’s best to stick to the script. There’s no room for creativity in a job like that. Just do what you’re told and nothing more.

When we’re starting something new, we generally prefer detailed instructions. I’ve done my job, in various forms, for the past 21 years. I’ve learned a thing or two along the way, and I can pretty much figure out anything I’m asked to do. But, starting a new job, I want a little more instruction. I know what works – I just don’t know what my employer wants to see. The two aren’t always the same.

That’s why we ask a lot of questions. The answers may not always make sense, and sometimes we’re thinking, “Seriously? That’s about the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen. There’s a LOT better way to get that done.” But we do what we’re told to do and save those creative suggestions for later.

And sometimes, in following those instructions, we learn a different way of getting the job done. It may not necessarily be a better way, but in certain situations it could be the only way. What would happen if you couldn’t find the right tool, or if your preferred program on the computer suddenly crashed? That’s when a combination of the boss’ way and your old way can come in handy.

We gain experience through adversity – having to figure out a situation that’s not ideal and working our way through it. And that’s where creativity is born. It’s easy to screw in lightbulbs all day. But when a bulb breaks off at the base as you’re installing it, there are no written instructions to help you get the broken base back out. You figure out a solution and move on.

Funny, one of the oldest tricks in the book on that one is to cut a raw potato in half and use it to remove the broken light bulb base. Now, how many electricians carry a raw potato in their toolbox? It was just a crime of opportunity. After several unsuccessful attempts to correct the situation, somebody saw a bag of potatoes and thought, “Hmmm …”

That’s how creativity works. Sometimes we’re able to look at something and a light goes off in our brain. Other times, we have to stumble through several failed attempts before we accidentally find something that works. But it’s not really accidental – it’s a process of elimination. It’s a methodical approach to problem-solving that we learned early in life, long before we took our first steps.

Creativity is simply the ability to put those skills to work. It’s not a section of the brain that, for one person, is bigger than it is for others. And it’s not like any one of us is more gifted than others in that regard. It’s a natural ability in each of us that some just choose to use more than others.

Instructions get us started in the right direction. They give us the basics and help form the foundation for success. But it’s creativity that lets us achieve a higher level of success. If every one of us did the same thing the same way every day, we’d all end up at the same destination. Think it might be a little crowded?

To reach a different destination, we have to do something everyone else isn’t doing. We have to go the extra mile. And more often than not, that extra mile isn’t even on the map. It’s something we find through a combination of experience, opportunity, and just putting ourselves in a position to find it. Success presents the way when we put ourselves in a position to succeed.

Creativity isn’t something that’s limited to the fortunate few. You’ve got it. Let the foundational instructions put you in a position to succeed, and then use your creativity to cross the finish line.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved