New Year, New Day … It’s How You Use It That Counts

Good morning, and happy New Year’s Eve!  I’m not sure we EVER thought it would get here.  Hope your day is off to a great start.

I’ve had a lot of fun reading the humorous (and sometimes not-so-humorous) farewells to 2020 on social media. It sure beats the political discourse that seems to work its way into every conversation from thunderstorms to family recipes. Well, call me old-fashioned, but I’d rather see pictures of puppies. Okay, and I watch Hallmark movies, too. So there.

Now that I’ve officially crumpled up my “man card,” let’s move on. It was faded anyway. But this is the last day of the year. It’s the day we bid farewell to what has, for most of us, been one of the worst years ever. And it’s my last chance to write something meaningful (if not at least a little funny) this year. Starting tomorrow, I get 365 chances to get it right. Buckle up!

Like many of you, I had things I needed to get done this year that just never floated to the top of the pile. As a consequence, I get to go outside today in near-freezing weather and finish up a couple of those chores. Every warm day we’ve had this winter somehow got filled with other things. You know, like sitting in front of the TV in my pajamas. Now I have to pay the piper.

Looking back on this year, it hasn’t been nearly as bad for us as it could have been. I got hired into my current job a week after the nation shut down for Covid, and I’m still employed today – “today” being the operative word.  My contract expires in 14 hours, so all bets are off on whether it gets renewed in time. Guess I’m not the only one who didn’t get it all done in 2020.

As we reach this point in the year, most of us are saying pretty much the same thing. “I had the best of intentions, but life just got in the way. Other stuff came up, time was short, and I just didn’t get it all done. But I did my best!” Uh huh. So, if we gave it our very best this year, what makes us think next year will be that much better? “Because it won’t be 2020 anymore!”

It’s easy to view external factors as the driving force behind success and failure. Oh, we like to take credit for accomplishments, but when it comes to something that didn’t go quite right, it’s a lot easier to look for a scapegoat. And believe me, with 2020 behind us, finding a scapegoat is a piece of cake. It’s right there in living color. So what?

Let’s get real for a moment. 2021 is just a number. It’s one year in our lives that begins in less than a day. Will tomorrow be magically different just because you can write a new number on your checks? If you’re like me, you’ll get that wrong for a month anyway. But what about the day after tomorrow, and the days after that? We can’t blame 2020 forever.

Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Seems I’ve heard that somewhere before. We don’t need a new year, a new month, or even a new day to start working toward our dreams. Tomorrow is a figment of your imagination. It’s the day that never comes, because once it gets here, it’s “today.” Okay, that was a lot funnier in the second grade. But you get the point.

That said, we do have one shot at beginning a new year and a new day all at the same time. After that, you have to wait another year. And given that a good percentage of the world will be hung-over by this time tomorrow, I’m betting all those plans for the new year will come with a headache-induced caveat … “tomorrow.” Yep. Tomorrow. The day that never comes.

So, try something different this year. Start now. Get your plans in order and start filling in dates on the calendar. Do it early, before you spike the eggnog. Go to sleep with your dreams clearly in focus. Then, when you wake up tomorrow, pick up those plans and get moving. “But nothing is open on New Year’s Day!” Perfect. That means no distractions. Just you and your goal.

If you’ve been waiting for the new year to begin, it’s here. Make the most of it. Use all 365 days to accomplish your dreams. My hope for each of you is that, at the end of 2021, you can say, “There goes one of the best years of my life. Not because it was an inherently good year, but because I made it so.” Then, take a bow and have a drink. You’ve earned it.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Define Your Own Limitations – Don’t Let Them Define You

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

Have you ever thought about the advice we give kids, about how they can conquer the world and be anything they want if they only work hard enough? “There’s nothing you can’t do!” Then they try to climb the refrigerator shelves to reach the cookies purposely placed out of their reach, and the rules suddenly change. So much for ingenuity.

All through our lives, we’re told to dream big and aim high. I saw a sign on somebody’s desk once that read, “Aim for the moon – even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” Well, if you think there are stars orbiting the moon, maybe we’re getting at the root of the problem.  That’s not to say you’re doomed to failure, but a Mensa scholarship probably isn’t in your future.

We all have limitations. Some we were born with, and some we’ve developed along the way. Sorry, but that’s just a fact of life. If you’re three feet tall in high heels, odds are you’ll never be a star basketball player, no matter how badly you want it. And star football players know all too well how quickly certain injuries can end their career or seriously limit their ability to compete.

So, aside from natural ability and devastating loss, what stands between us and the goals we so strongly desire? Why can’t I, at the age of 62, become an avid runner and win the Boston Marathon? Well, first of all, I can’t find anybody who’s willing to chase me that far with a snake. The motivation has to come from somewhere.

But let’s be honest. The real reason I’m not a marathon runner is because I never wanted to be. As a kid, I despised basketball and soccer because there’s too much running. And that carried into my adult years. A friend once asked me to join him for a 5k run. I said, “Why would I run that far when I can do it faster in a car and smell decent when I get there?”

And let’s be honest here – if my parents had told me that I could accomplish any goal in life if I’d just run every day, I think I’d have chosen Door #2. It was never my thing. On the other hand, my parents did encourage my artistic side, both in music and in writing. That was my passion and, apparently, it’s also my strong suit. The writing, not the music.

In our jobs, there are things we need to do well just to stay employed. We need to be even better if we hope to advance. That doesn’t mean you have to be the absolute best. It just means you have to be better than average. And no matter what you do (for a living or otherwise), if you have the basic skills to do the task, you have the ability to do it better.

Having gotten a taste of what it’s like to live in an RV, I think I can do it better. In fact, I’d like to become one of the best campers on the planet. That’s my goal. But so far, nobody is offering to pay me to camp, so I have to get good at something else along the way – earning an income on the side. And building a decent campfire without gas. Just keeping it real.

I have all the tools in place to live my dream, including the side income. Well, the ability to earn that income. But there are things I need to do to develop that ability and become better at it. I don’t have to be the best – I just have to be better than I am today.

And we all have that ability, whether it’s our job, a business, a hobby, a relationship, our physique, or even the way we sing. It’s okay to focus on the dream as long as you also focus on just doing a little better along the way. Instead of shooting for the moon, aim for that next step. Being the best is awesome, but it’s more important to be your best.

There are limitations to what we can accomplish, but find those limitations yourself instead of letting others dictate them to you. If there’s something you want, go for it. Give it everything you’ve got. You may still come up short, but isn’t that better than not coming up at all? Do one thing better each day and your dreams will make up the difference.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

If You’re Going to Think Anyway, Think Big!

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

Yes, I’ve been away again. If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve undoubtedly seen the dozens of pictures my daughter posted from her trip to Orlando for my granddaughter’s birthday. Well, as you may have guessed, we went with them. For personal reasons, I don’t talk about these trips in advance, but we sure did have a good time. Got to visit my dad as well, so that was a pleasant bonus.

Okay, so eight days into 2020, what are your plans? The first thing on my list is to not repeat the stunt I pulled this morning. There’s nothing like a cup of hot coffee on a cold morning. And nothing quite like dumping the entire cup all over the dining room table, my computer, three light blue placemats, a stack of mail, and the motivational book I’m reading that’s teaching me not to cry over spilled coffee.

Hopefully I’ll be able to read the second half of the book, now that the pages are coffee stained. Oh well, some people pay extra to “age” photographs with a similar effect. Maybe my book just increased in value. Either way, I’ll finish reading it. Here’s a tip – any time travel includes flying, along with all the associated airport waiting time, take along a good book. It sure beats staring at the clock.

As a kid, I used to read everything I could get my hands on. Sometime in my twenties, I stepped back from that a bit. And once I started writing professionally, I stopped reading altogether. When you stare at words on a page (screen) all day, it’s nice to take a break from it in the evening. It’s kind of like cleaning toilets all day and then coming home to a mess in your own house.

But over the past few years, I’ve developed an affinity for motivational books. The one I’m reading now is one of the all-time greats – The Magic of Thinking Big. I know, thinking big is just dreaming big, right? Well, yeah. And a lot more. It’s about finding the value in yourself that allows you to succeed at anything you desire. Every one of us was born to achieve. But first, we have to dream. That’s how it works.

Since the beginning of time, people have watched birds soar through the air and dreamed of being able to do the same. The freedom of being able to go anyplace you want, over any obstacle, and with a view of the world unlike any other. And they tried. I imagine a lot of people met their demise at the bottom of a cliff, for one shot at accomplishing the impossible. Still, they tried. And tried and tried.

We all know how that story ends. As I boarded a plane in Jacksonville yesterday morning, our pilot announced that we would have a one-hour, eighteen-minute flight to Washington DC. He then told us that trip would be over ten hours by car. That’s the result of thinking big. It wasn’t enough to soar over a hundred feet of sand dunes in North Carolina. Our dreams took us higher, faster, and farther.

That’s the way dreams work. Anything the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve. If you can imagine something better and truly believe not only that it’s possible, but that you can do it, your mind will fill in the blanks and show you how to make it happen. Every modern convenience we enjoy today began as a dream. And we’ve only scratched the surface.

As we basked in the warmth of a water park on January 2, I began to dream. That dream quickly turned to a burning desire, and then a commitment. I want this. I want the ability to do this any time I want. And why stop in Orlando? There are lots of warm places in January. The Caribbean, Hawaii, Tahiti, Australia … the list goes on. And the only thing standing in the way is me.

If you’re going to think anyway, why not think big? Forget all the negativity that holds you back and focus on the reality that you can accomplish anything. And, that being the case, why dream of small achievements when you can just as easily have so much more? This isn’t about material gain. It’s about maximizing your own potential. It’s about enjoying life on your own terms. It’s about success.

So, as you begin the new year, take a little time to dream. Then take those dreams a step further. Think big! The world is more than happy to let you know if your dreams are too grand. But remember, Wilbur and Orville Wright were told it was impossible to fly. Anything that can be built can be built for you. And if it hasn’t been built yet, then get busy and show the world how to make it happen!

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

How’s Your “Year in Review”?

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

I’ve missed you folks these past few days. I’d like to say it was an intentional hiatus. I could tell you it was because of the holidays. You know, I was so busy wrapping gifts and recovering from a night of reveling. I could blame it on an old war injury if I’d actually been in a war. But the truth is, I’ve just been sick. Yes, I know. I never get sick. I even told my body that. It talked back.

Last night was the first time in eight nights that I’ve slept without waking up coughing. We’re talking the kind of coughing that wakes up the whole house and brings up stuff that would give a catfish the dry heaves. By the time morning came, I was just in a complete fog. My writing at that point wouldn’t have been any better than my driving. Just ask anybody who was on the road with me.

Thanks to a combination of antibiotics, cough medicine, Earl Grey tea, and a little bourbon (it’s Mom’s old recipe), I’m on the road to recovery. I can’t carry a bath towel up the stairs without wheezing, but I’m getting there. Maybe that’s because, in addition to the bath towel, I have to carry this belly up the stairs as well. But I’d rather blame it on the towel. Don’t argue with me. It’s my story.

The new year is nearly upon us. Turn on the news, and there’s a “year in review” story on nearly every channel. Disasters of 2019. Celebrity losses in 2019. Heroes of 2019. Tweets of 2019. Okay, I made that last one up. We all know it would take all of 2020 to recap that one. But you get the idea. It’s a time of year when we reflect on all that’s happened in the past year.

And, if you watch any of those segments, you find yourself thinking, “That was this year???” Time has a way of disguising itself, along with a lot of the emotion and details of the events it encompasses. You know, like those New Year’s resolutions we made. “That was this year???” There’s a reason we don’t write those things down. We don’t want to be reminded how incredibly naïve we really are.

We also don’t like to be reminded of things left undone. You know, like the baseboard trim in my living room … from the reflooring job I did with my own two hands. It looks incredible. It’s hard to believe it’s held up so well over the years. Fourteen years to be exact. And it’s not that I couldn’t afford the trim. It’s been sitting in my garage acclimating to the ambient humidity. For fourteen years.

By noon tomorrow, I’ll be at least temporarily unemployed. My bosses have decided I did such a good job they no longer need me. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. So, while I wait for something else to open up, I have to sit around the house and be reminded of all the things I never got around to. That’s my punishment for being so good on the job. Woe is me.

Funny, I haven’t even posted this yet and I can already hear some of you chuckling in agreement. The fact is, we all have things we’ve meant to get around to and just never did it. Maybe not big things, and maybe not something as simple as baseboard trim that’s been collecting dust for over a decade. But life just gets in the way, and it seems some things never get done.

That’s why we need to prioritize. What’s most important to you? Make a list of things you’d like to get done, and then decide which ones need to be done first. But don’t set aside the ones that are just for you. Those are important as well. How important? Only you can answer that. If it’s something you can do a little at a time, get started. You may not get it all done this year. But think how much closer you’ll be.

I’ve often said my weight loss journey is a victim of my own impatience. The doctor says lose one pound a week, and I say at that rate, it’ll take me two years. Well, guess what? If I’d started two years ago, I’d be there.

It’s that way with most of the things you’d like to accomplish. Do what you can – a little here and a little there. It may take a while, but maybe your 2020 “year in review” will have a few more wins. And then just think of the fun you can have in 2021.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Job Isn’t Done Until Something More Interesting Comes Along

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

There’s nothing quite like the excitement of starting something new. Okay, finishing what you already started is pretty exciting, too. So I’m told. That’s never been my strong suit. I usually take things to a point of usability, and then take a breather. That breather has been known to last several years. Just ask my wife.

We were in a home store this weekend, looking at laminate flooring. It’ not an imminent project, but something we’ll probably do within the next year or two. The old floor has been in for about fourteen years. That’s how long some of these walls have been without baseboards. I did a pretty good job of putting in the floor. But trim work is just for visual appeal. I’m sure I read that somewhere.

In the not-so-distant past, I was pretty handy around the house. I have woodworking tools, and I always enjoyed using them. I’ve done some electrical work, a little plumbing, and a ton of painting. My wife’s theory with paint is if you don’t like the color, you can always paint over it. What she means is if she doesn’t like the color, I can always paint over it. Guys, can I get an amen?

My projects now are a little less labor-intensive. Aging muscles and a deteriorated spine have put a damper on my ability to tackle the big stuff. That’s what contractors are for. I tell myself I’m fighting unemployment by giving someone else a job. The bank tells me I’m fighting personal wealth by paying someone else to do something I could do myself if I weren’t such a wimp. That’s how it feels.

My big home project this weekend was fixing the broken caster on my office chair so I can spend several hours a day … well … sitting in it. When I moved my office downstairs, I lost my grip on the chair and it went tumbling down the stairs. By the time it reached the bottom, one of the casters was gone. Have you ever tried sitting in a chair with a missing foot? It requires a certain sense of balance.

With cooler weather moving in, I’ll be spending a lot of time in front of my computer. I’ve got a long-term freelance assignment that’ll keep me busy a good part of the time, and several of you have encouraged me to write a book, so that’s something I want to do as well. And along with that, I’m still working to build my business. Yes, it’s a lot. But it gives me an excuse not to shovel snow.

It’s easy to take on too much all at once, but some of us need a little variety to maintain focus. I used to build model cars and airplanes. I rarely built one at a time. While the glue was drying on one, I was painting another. If I had to put two pieces together and set it aside to dry, it would go back in the box and be forgotten for six months. Meanwhile, I’d have started building four new models.

People keep telling me to focus on one thing until it’s done, but that just doesn’t work for me. I get bored easily, and once I get bored, I rarely go back to finish whatever it was I started. That’s why cutting the grass was always so easy. It’s done in an hour. Painting, on the other hand, can take a few days. By the third time cleaning brushes and rollers, I’m ready to start on a new floor.

I’ve lost count of the number of books I’ve started and never finished. Both reading, and writing. I probably have five or six books at this very moment with a business card stuck in the pages as a bookmark. Those business cards were supposed to be in somebody else’s pocket, not in my unfinished books. But that’s another project I’ve had a hard time finishing. At least I’m consistent.

So, I’m trying to turn over a new leaf. On the job, I work several projects at once and I’m expected to finish each one. And I do, which proves it can be done. It’s all a matter of discipline. When you’re on the job, do the job. It’s the same whether it’s the day job, my business, freelance work, or writing a book. Even if it’s just an hour a day, schedule the time and do what needs to be done.

I’ll get my book written. In fact, I’ll probably write two or three at once. Meanwhile, I’ll do the other things I’ve committed to do. You can, too. If your personality is better suited to one task at a time, focus on that project until it’s finished. If you’re like me, make a schedule. There’s no limit to what you can accomplish. Just find what works best for you and don’t stop until you’re done.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved