What is Your “Why”?

Well, the holidays are over and it’s back to the grind. This is the time when we reflect on good times shared with family and friends, and face (for most of us) the longest stretch of the year before our next paid holiday. And if you live in the northern hemisphere, you get to contend with winter at the same time. And the hits just keep on coming!

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the post-holiday blues. The celebrations are over, the decorations are put away, and we’re expected to pick up right where left off, full speed ahead. Meanwhile, the credit card bills are coming in and we’re trying to figure out how to stretch what little is left in our checking account to cover expenses for the next month.

That said, it’s also a time of renewal. It’s a time to get back on our feet, shake off any lingering baggage from the previous year, and move forward with a sense of purpose. Whether you made a resolution for the whole year, or just for one week as I suggested in Monday’s post, this is where the rubber meets the pavement.

Like many of you, I need to lose weight. Okay, I need to lose a pretty fair amount of weight. I’m a member at a local gym and, over the past few years, I’ve exercised pretty regularly. That is to say, I’ve gone through periods of a few months where I exercised almost daily, and then several more months where I didn’t go at all. It happens.

But in my time at the gym, there’s something I’ve noticed. Every year, starting in the first week of January, the gym is full of fresh faces, people I’ve never seen there before. The morning workout crowd is about three times its normal size for a month or two, and then all those new faces are gone.

And there’s a simple reason for this. It’s not a lack of willpower, or failed resolutions, or anything of the sort. It’s simply the natural result of working toward a goal without a firm understanding of why you’re doing it in the first place.

It’s easy to set goals, and probably just as easy to start working toward them. But if we don’t know the real reason why, it won’t last very long. Ask somebody why they’re in the gym, and they can offer a bunch of superficial reasons. “To lose weight.” “To get healthy.” “To get my doctor off my back.” But those are goals – they don’t explain why.

This time of year, another common goal is paying off some bills. That may mean anything from cutting monthly expenses like cable TV or dinners out, to taking on a part-time job or even starting a business. And the goal is simple – we need more money, so we can pay off some bills. But why?

Maybe the goal is to pay down the credit cards, so we can spend more next Christmas. Maybe we want to save a down-payment for a new house or car. Maybe we want extra money for vacations or to send the kids to college. And maybe we just want a safety net, so we can start saving for retirement.

Whatever the reason, it’s important to understand what it means to you. Losing weight isn’t a reason – it’s a goal. Why do you want to lose weight? To get off your blood pressure medicine? To look more attractive? To fit into the seat of your favorite rollercoaster? It could be that simple.

Root cause analysis is a method of identifying a problem by continually asking the question “why?” The plane crashed. Why? Because it fell out of the sky. Why? Because the engine stopped. Why? Because it ran out of fuel. Why? Because it was raining, and the pilot didn’t want to risk getting water in the tanks by doing a visual inspection. Ah, now we’re getting somewhere.

Sometimes, you have to follow the same process to get to the real reason why you want to make a change. And once you’ve got that bottom-line reason firmly planted in your mind, the excuses seem to melt away. You wake up every day with a solid vision of what you’re doing, and why. It’s what drives you to succeed when you’d rather take a break.

We’ll talk more about this later, but for now, take some time to get your “why” firmly planted in your mind. It may take some time, and a few sheets of paper. But it’s worth the effort, because when you combine a goal with belief and a firm understanding of why, nothing can stand in your way.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Dreams for the New Year

Happy New Year! I hope your day is off to a great start.

It’s hard to believe 2019 is here. My daughter shared a post this morning with a warning from a popular computer retailer 19 years ago, advising us to shut off our computers before midnight. As the world watched in anticipation of all the bad things that could possibly go wrong because of the Y2K issue, the new millennium came in without a hitch.

Throughout history, there have been times when we expected the worst. Religious devotees have predicted the end of the world, right down to the date and hour. Outbreaks of deadly viruses have sparked fears of a global pandemic. The entire Cold War was based on the very realistic threat of a massive nuclear war. And the Y2K issue predicted the simultaneous crash of every computer-driven system on the planet.

Yet here we are, alive and kicking, and launching into a brand-new year. Go figure.

Could any of those things have gone wrong? Absolutely. But they didn’t. And that was largely due to preparation and intervention. On any given day, there are things in our world that can bring us to our knees if we’re not careful. And it’s good to be aware of those potential disasters, so we can do our best to avoid them.

That said, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in these things that we miss the beauty of living. In the movie “Blast from the Past”, a family retreated into their private fallout shelter at the height of the Cuban missile crisis and remained there for the next 35 years. Their son, born in the shelter, had no exposure to anything known of the outside world beyond the year 1962.

Okay, so that’s Hollywood, and it made for an entertaining, though improbable, scenario. But how many people do you know who spend their life hiding from a perceived danger, waiting for the hammer to fall? Some are a lot more afflicted by this mindset than others, literally refusing to leave the house for fear of disaster. Others spend their days out in the world, where they can spread the effects of their pessimism among the rest of us.

It’s difficult to accurately estimate the number of optimists and pessimists in the world, mostly because it’s not something that can be scientifically diagnosed. Hundreds of polls and surveys have been conducted, but let’s be real – how many people would actually describe themselves as a pessimist? But, if you talk to people long enough, you’ll figure out who’s who.

And, make no mistake – a little dose of pessimism can be healthy in a world where things can and do go wrong. We need to be aware of the dangers around us and understand the potential impact. But, like fresh cayenne pepper, a little pessimism goes a long way.

As we begin a new year, it’s important that we look ahead with hope, and the knowledge that we can make a difference in our world. It’s important to identify those things that have been holding us back and do whatever is necessary to overcome them. It’s a time to put the past behind and move forward.

It’s also a time to dust off those dreams and pick one or two for the coming year. Not to dream about, but to accomplish. And, here’s something to think about – if all of your dreams can be accomplished in a single year, you’re not dreaming big enough. Try harder. We should all be working toward at least one goal that will carry us into the following year and beyond.

Take a few moments over the coming days to feed those dreams. Drive through a section of town where property values are on another planet. Go to an open house in a neighborhood where you’d like to live. Visit an RV or boat show. Have a family dream night with the kids. Buy a travel magazine or go to the library and check out a book on your dream destination.

If we only focus on that little part of this planet and this life that fills our own reality, we’ll completely miss all the wonderful things that are waiting to be discovered. We can sit in our own self-imposed fallout shelter for the next 35 years or get out and enjoy what’s right outside that imaginary steel door.

There are people for whom the things we think are beyond reach are part of their everyday reality. They’re no smarter than you are, and they’re no more deserving. They just got there first. Dare to dream. Allow yourself to believe. Then get up off the couch and make it happen. Dreams really do come true, but only if we make them. Let 2019 be your year.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Harness the Habit of Success

It’s New Year’s Eve, and we all know what that means. Okay, forty years ago it meant something entirely different, beginning with a trip to the liquor store. From there, it was a party (or a series of parties) until the ball drops at midnight ringing in the new year, along with the obligatory kissing of every young lady in the room. Granted, there was nothing “obligatory” about that.
 
New Year’s Eve is also a time of reflection and resolutions. We reflect on all the things we messed up in the previous year and resolve to make changes in the new year. Just one more night of overeating and debauchery, and tomorrow morning we’re getting serious about this stuff! As soon as the hangover is gone.
 
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. It’s just too easy to lay out grand plans for the coming year, and even easier still to take a week or two off from those goals when you have the whole year to get them done. “I’ll stop smoking this year!” That’s a worthy goal. But it gives you a whole year to get it done, so if you’re still smoking in December, you haven’t really failed because you still have a month to go.
 
I read an article last week that said, according to a 2017 Marist poll, about a third of people who make a New Year’s resolution fail to stick with it. You know what that means. Most of the remaining two-thirds lied about it, or their only resolution was to continue breathing for the next year. Based on my own observations, the overwhelming majority of resolutions go unfulfilled.

The article went on to suggest something more meaningful and more likely to succeed. Instead of making New Year’s resolutions that give you a whole year to get it right, make Monday resolutions. Do it every week. If you succeed for the week, you’ve got something to celebrate. If you fall off the wagon, you get to start over in just a few days. Every year, you get 52 chances to get it right.
 
I think the article was spot-on, with one exception. When you know in the back of your mind that you can always start over next week, there’s no sense of urgency. If you mess up this week, it’s no big deal, right? You might as well have said, “This week I’ll give some thought to making a change, but if it’s too hard or inconvenient, I’ll just push it off to next week. Or the week after. No big deal.” That’s not commitment – it’s not even wishful thinking. It’s just words.
 
Try this instead. The first Monday (today), you commit to making a change. You have seven days to make that change. Then, every Monday after that, you commit to continuing what you’ve started. Instead of giving yourself a stack of “get out of jail free” cards at the beginning of the year, you build on the previous week’s success and keep moving in the right direction until you reach your goal.
 
This all ties in with a concept I’ve talked about a lot in the past – the habit of success. When you succeed at anything, even something small, you prove to yourself that you have the ability to succeed. The more you succeed at small goals, the easier it is to see yourself succeeding at bigger and better things. Do that often enough, and success becomes inevitable. Not likely – inevitable.
 
So, if you want to make a resolution for the year, try this … “I will start the year with a goal for the next seven days. Then, every Monday for the rest of the year, I will repeat that resolution for the coming week. I’ll succeed in small steps instead of one giant leap. And I’ll continue taking those small steps every week until I reach my ultimate goal.”
 
You can build a habit of success just as easily as you built a habit of tying your shoes in the morning. It’s all about setting small, achievable goals, and then accomplishing them. Do that over and over, and before you know it, you’ll become one of “those” people … the kind who, no matter what you try, you just can’t seem to lose. Let this be your year. Let this be your week. And let it all start today.
 
That’s all for now. Have an awesome day and a happy, healthy, and success-filled New Year!

© 2018 Dave Glardon

Wishbones and Backbones

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

Yesterday, I was reading a post where the writer quoted a long list of things we should teach our sons. I agreed with just about every one of them, because I’ve always believed we need to do a better job of passing strong values on to our kids.

One particular item on the list stood out, because of its sheer simplicity. “Don’t grow a wishbone where the backbone is supposed to go.” I did a little research and found that this quote originated from a writer named Clementine Paddleford, and it was written for daughters, not sons. “Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be.”

It’s not uncommon for sentiments such as this to be misquoted, or even re-directed. Still, I think the message remains strong, whether we’re talking about sons, daughters, or even ourselves. But, like many other such quotes, it’s easy to take it out of context and miss the meaning entirely.

“Don’t grow a wishbone.” Those four words, taken by themselves, have some pretty strong implications that fly in the face of what I’ve been promoting all this time. I talk about the importance of dreaming, and how it drives us to bigger and better things. And the closing words, “where the backbone ought to be,” could be misinterpreted as well. It would be easy to read this entire statement as, “Don’t dream of the things you want – stand up and demand them!”

And, to be honest, there are people in this world who live by that mantra. If you want something, take it. To the victor go the spoils, and everybody else can just live with their loss or grow a backbone of their own. We’ve all met people like this.

And, the problem with that line of thinking is that it assumes every gain in life must be balanced by a corresponding loss. I’ve been in business a few different times, and something I’ve never understood is the concept of a balance sheet. I guess for accountants, it’s pretty simple. But the notion that assets and liabilities must always balance out to a sum total of $0 is beyond my comprehension.

I read another post this morning, in a comedy forum of all places, that said “A rising tide raises all boats.” Now, there’s something I can understand. And, we’ve talked about this before – the concept that, by elevating those around us, we elevate ourselves as well. When the collective total increases, so does the individual average.

In accounting, balance sheets make sense (I guess). But in life, dreams are not a limited resource, nor are the things that enable our dreams. Money is a renewable resource. So are fancy homes, boats, airplanes, RVs, vacation packages, and just about anything else you can imagine. Winning yours doesn’t mean somebody else has to lose. There’s more than enough to go around.

So, let’s assume Ms. Paddleford wasn’t suggesting we don’t dream, or that we should “grow a backbone” and take what we want. I think the statement goes much deeper than that. To me, it says don’t let your ability to dream overcome your will to achieve. If there’s something you want in life, and you want it badly enough to wish for it, then have the guts to pursue that dream.

In terms of dreams, having a backbone means standing in the face of adversity and saying, “You can make things tough on me, but you can’t make me quit. I’ll stand against you day after day until you give up or just move on to somebody else, because I have already decided this shall be, and there’s no turning back. So, give it your best shot. I’ve got this.”

I doubt you can point to very many things in life that you achieved without any resistance whatsoever. Okay, people who have won the lottery may not agree, but that aside, just about every worthwhile thing you’ve accomplished in life came with some challenges. But determination and commitment carried you to the goal. Simply stated – you didn’t quit.

Should we grow a wishbone? Absolutely! And, unlike the one that comes with our Thanksgiving turkey, we need to make sure our own wishbone isn’t quite so brittle. It needs to be strong and resilient, something that can be bent, but never broken.

And that, my friends, takes commitment. It takes an unwavering belief in our ability to reach the goal, and a determination that nothing will stand in our way. Starting to sound a little like a backbone? I like the way you think!

A wishbone by itself can’t accomplish anything except pipe dreams. A backbone by itself can’t accomplish anything except standing in the way. But when you make the two work together, there’s nothing you can’t do, no goal you can’t achieve. At that point, the world is your playground, just waiting for you to enjoy whatever your heart desires.  

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

© 2018 Dave Glardon

Make it Happen!

Today will be a big day for me. This afternoon I have an appointment with my surgeon’s office to get the remaining 18 staples removed from my head. As much as I’m looking forward to having them gone for good, I know I won’t be a happy camper while they’re doing it. The bandages from surgery were stapled to my head and, as you can imagine, they don’t feel very good coming out.

During this visit, I may find out how much longer I have to stay home before I can get back to work. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, there’s a reason they call this recovery. It takes time to bounce back, but I’m getting stronger by the day and I’m looking forward to getting back to “normal.”

Meanwhile, later this morning I’m having another hearing test and will likely be fitted for hearing aids. As most of you will recall, this is how the whole surgical ordeal started. In yesterday’s post, I talked about the whole concept of making plans and then adapting on the fly. Who would’ve ever guessed a hearing test would lead to brain surgery? You play the hand you’re dealt.

It’s times like this that really put things in perspective. All those little things that have bugged me through the year, all those times I complained about things I’ll forget by this time next year, no longer had any significance in the big picture. As I looked at my family and the woman who’s been at my side for the past 40 years, I realized how lucky I am, and how badly I’ve wasted those blessings by not treasuring them more than I have.

It also made me think of dreams I’ve had over the years, things I’ve put on hold because the timing just wasn’t right, or the circumstances weren’t just perfect. I adopted a very familiar mantra … “As soon as …” became an integral part of every conversation about taking that next step.

But, in waiting for everything to be just right, I’m still right where I was twenty years ago. Okay, I’ve taken a few steps, but not nearly enough to make a difference. That goal is still out there. It hasn’t moved a bit. But the math is pretty simple … unless I pick up the pace, I don’t have enough years left to get there.

I remember years ago when I was talking to my doctor about losing weight. He said to aim for one pound a week. And I remember thinking, “At that rate, it’ll take two years!” (You do the math.) But here’s the thing – if I’d started losing a pound a week two years ago, or way back when the doctor suggested that, I’d be there today.

You see, we tend to think time will always be on our side, and whatever circumstances we’re facing today will somehow change. And, to be honest, they will. Only to be replaced by a whole new set of circumstances. That’s the reality of life. Things will never be perfect, and there will never be a perfect time to do the things we want. We have to make the most of the time we’ve got and, as a well-known comedian used to say, “Git ‘er done!”

I’ve always said I don’t want to spend my retirement sitting in a dark room watching the news. I want to enjoy my golden years, to do the things we’ve put off our entire lives, to get out and explore this big, beautiful world. Twenty years ago, that was still a long way off, and time (I thought) was on my side. But here I am now, and retirement is right around the corner. What I wouldn’t do to have back some of those years I waited, hoping circumstances would get better.

Be thankful for life’s blessings. Enjoy them to the fullest, and never take anything for granted. But that doesn’t mean you have to be so contented with your current situation that you never want more. It’s okay to dream of a better, more fulfilling life. In fact, it’s more than okay. It’s what keeps us alive and gives us a reason to get up each day and do our best to make a difference.

But dreams will only exist in our minds until we do something about them. Don’t wait for things to get better, or for the perfect opportunity to come along. Work around your circumstances. Make the time. Rearrange your schedule. Find alternatives. Get creative. Make it happen!

It may take a few months, or even several years. But remember, that goal isn’t going anywhere and every step you take gets you one step closer to your dreams. Take that first step now. Don’t let life pass you by. Time is our most valuable resource. Make the most of yours.

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

© 2018 Dave Glardon

What’s Your Plan?

Good morning! I hope you all had a nice weekend.

It’s hard to believe we’re just over a week from Christmas. After that, the year winds down to a close and we’re off into the wild blue yonder of 2019. New years are a time of hope. Just like waking up each day, we get yet another chance to do things right, to make things go according to our own master plan.

I read something last week that really hit home. It said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” I had to think about that a few times before I fully absorbed the meaning. On the surface, it sounds like somebody is saying we have no control, that we’re only along for the ride. And if that’s the case, why try anything?

But I think the deeper meaning is that, while we can achieve a desired outcome, it’s impossible to plan all the steps along the way. If, every time we stepped up to the plate, we could count on a certain ideal pitch coming directly in middle of the strike zone, home runs would lose their luster. It would justbe another time at bat.

I’ve always enjoyed golfing. That is to say, I enjoy getting out there when I can, and I make the most of every minute. Some people want toget it over with in a mere 72 strokes, but I get my money’s worth. I hit that ball, and hit it, and hit it. Sometimes, that’s just getting out of the tee box and onto the fairway. Or on the water. Take your pick 

Years ago, I played in a “favorite club” tournament. It’s one of those outings where everybody brings one club to get from the tee to the green, and a putter to finish it off. It means making some pretty hefty assumptions before the game starts, namely that you can reliably hit the ball about the same height and distance with every swing. Anybody who’s ever played with me knows better.

I’m one of those people who can break out a pitching wedge 50 yards from the green and use up three more strokes getting to the middle of the sand trap. Or I can use the same club and, in a single stroke, overshoot the green by 100 yards. For any non-golfers out there, pitching wedges aren’t supposed to hit that far.

But that’s why most golfers carry a bag full of different clubs. If every stroke worked out exactly as planned, we’d never need a sand wedge.vWe’d also be able to play 18 holes with the same ball, but that doesn’t happen, either. My wife never asks my score. She only asks how many balls I lost.

It’s that way through most of life. We can tee up the ball, scan the fairway, check the wind, and pick out the “perfect” club. Everything looks ideal. Then we swing. After that, instead of following a plan, we react to reality. But, no matter what, we eventually end up on the green. The goal itself never changes, and we don’t stop trying until we get there.

It’s good to make plans. But it’s also important to accept the fact that plans are only the ideal path – the way we hope things will progress. But when reality kicks in, we’re forced to adapt on the fly and make the most of situations that aren’t always ideal. At that point, how we get to our goal isn’t nearly as important as just getting there.

When faced with a storm cloud, airline pilots have a mixed bag of tricks up their sleeve. Climb higher, drop lower, go around, or fly through the least intimidating part of the storm. Rarely do they give up and turn around. And even then, they only go back as far as necessary to safely wait it out until they can get back in the air and on to their planned destination.

Whatever your goals, rest assured things will rarely, if ever, go completely according to plan. And that’s okay. What’s important is that you play the hand you’re dealt and keep moving in the right direction until you reach your destination.

Whether it’s a new day, a new month, or a new year, making plans is important. But be ready for the unexpected, and never let it keep you from your dreams. As long as you’ve ordained the outcome with the simple word “this shall be,” nothing can stand in your way.

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

© 2018 Dave Glardon

The Time is Now

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

Before I launch into today’s message, I want to thank my good friend Mary Sanders for her messages of inspiration while I’ve been laid up. I know the commitment it takes to do this each day, and I can never thank her enough. Hopefully she’ll continue to share her thoughts with us, because she’s touched each of us more than she will ever know. Please be sure to send Mary your thanks.

My recovery is going really well. It’s hard to believe you can have brain surgery and then go home two days later. The healing has been fast, and right on schedule. But I’m learning why they call this a recovery period. Healing is only part of the battle. Recovery takes a bit longer.

The night before my surgery, my wife and I went out to dinner and had a pretty serious discussion about things we don’t often talk about. You know, the kind of things people our age should have discussed a long time ago, but something else is always more important. Besides, we’re going to live forever, right?

It amazed me how easily the conversation flowed. She asked about some of my preferences, and I answered. No sighs, no tears, just an honest, open conversation. And, as many of our conversations do, it led us to tropical beaches where the water never gets cold.

Both of my wife’s parents made their wishes known – they wanted to be cremated and have their ashes spread at their favorite beach on Florida’s Gulf coast. So, that’s what we did. The whole family had to travel from other areas to get there, but that was their final wish.

And, it occurred to me that we can always find a way to get to those locations after this life is over, so why is it so hard to get there while we’re still alive? Why do we wait for our loved ones to take us on that one final trip instead of being able to enjoy it with them?

We talk a lot about dreams and different ways we can work to achieve them, but something we never really talk about is the concept of “now.” It’s always “one of these days …” And you know what? That’s not a goal. That’s not even really a dream. It’s just a passing thought. Passing, because it’s gone as quickly as it pops up, only to be replaced by a reality that dictates what we can do, and when.

I have a picture of a motorhome over my desk with the words, “If not today, when?” Okay, I checked my bank account and I won’t be sitting in the driver’s seat any time soon. But if I set aside that dream until my bank says it’s time to go shopping, it’ll never happen. I have to get started now.

It’s easy to dream. But committing to that dream means making a conscious decision, followed by action. It’s even more than setting a goal. It’s making a statement that “this shall be.” Not “I want …” or “one of these days I’d like …” If you describe your goal in those terms, you’re still just dreaming.

“This shall be” is a commitment. And it changes your whole mindset. No longer are you worried about how you’ll make it happen. You’ll find a way, because you’ve already decided what the end result will be. Once you’ve made that commitment, nothing can stand in your way.

When a baby decides it’s time to walk, the end result is inevitable. They’ve made up their mind, and no amount of setbacks or obstacles will keep them from their goal. We’re all born with that determination. We use it all through our lives to master new skills, to overcome challenges, and to get the things we want.

And, just as a child learning to walk, once you commit to your dreams … fully commit … the end result is predestined. It’s no longer a matter of if, but when. Suddenly, the impossible becomes not only possible, but inevitable. Roadblocks become detours. Obstacles become speed bumps. And inaction becomes unacceptable. Because you’ve decided “this shall be.”

This isn’t rainbows and unicorns, and it’s not just Dave spreading positivity. If you look back over your life, every worthwhile accomplishment came as the result of commitment, followed by action. It works, and it works every single time. We never fail until we stop trying. And anything you haven’t accomplished yet is still out there waiting. All you have to do is make it happen.

Life is meant to be enjoyed. Sure, work is part of the equation, but it’s not everything. Get out there and live. Build memories. Don’t relegate your dreams to your last will and testament. Make time for them now. Make the decision and commit to it. And don’t let anything stand in your way.

That’s all for now. Have a fantastic day and an awesome weekend!

© 2018 Dave Glardon