The Best Time to Plan for the Future is Before It Happens

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

So, I woke up yesterday with the best of intentions to write something really intriguing and stunningly insightful. Okay, I wake up with that intention every day. But if you’ve been with me any time at all, you know that’s kinda like a baseball player stepping up to the plate. They always expect a hit, and some believe every swing will be a home run. But more often than not, they whiff.

In my defense, I had to get ready for an early morning job interview yesterday. It’s the same job I’m doing now, for the same people I work with today. Only difference is who will sign my paychecks. I assume pay will be involved. We haven’t discussed that part yet.

If you remember my post from Monday, my contract with this company had expired and I was working on faith that the contract would be extended. Well, that came through late in the day, so I’m good for another few months while they decide if they like me enough to keep me around on a more permanent basis. Notice I said, “more permanent.” In the corporate world, that means “at least for this week.”

In my business, I talk to people a lot about income stability. Once upon a time, you found a job, went to work every day, and after 40 years of loyal service, you were sent home with a gold watch and a monthly check. If you were lucky, you climbed the ladder along the way, but not always. My grandpa worked on the same assembly line almost 50 years.

But anybody born after 1925 knows those days are long gone. Jobs come and go, and companies change their market focus on a dime. Part of that is the natural evolution of business. Last time I checked, there are very few companies still making slide rules, and they’re not actively hiring designers to enhance their product. On the other hand, if you have one of those dinosaurs at home, it’s probably worth a lot.

Another uncomfortable fact is that we’re all replaceable, at least in the corporate world, and company loyalty is usually a one-way street. It’s not that employers don’t value us or our work. But we have to accept the fact that we are little more than tools to get a specific job done, and every day newer and better tools pop up. Unless you’re a hammer. Some things are as good as they’ll ever get.

Throw in the fact that every day brings challenges we never anticipated, and what we know today is never certain. Two years ago, I had brain surgery that could have ended my work career for good. Several years before that my wife was driving to work when another car crossed the centerline. She was back to work in two months, but it could have been much worse.

I’m not trying to be a downer here, but we all have to acknowledge the fact that the life we live today can change in an instant. Having a backup plan has never been more critical than it is today. And no, I’m not talking about the lottery. If your idea of investing in the future involves a weekly Powerball ticket, we need to talk.

Yet, how many of us go through life with that lottery mentality that says no matter how bad things are today, something will magically happen, and we’ll live happily ever after? Sure, I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy, and I tend to focus more on the positive. But if we’re just sitting around waiting for good things to happen, we may be waiting a long time.

If something happened today and you were suddenly no longer able to work or find employment in your career field, what would you do? Could you retire today if you had to? Could you live on whatever you and the government have set aside for your golden years? Or would you have to invoke a Plan B and try something different?

And if the answer to that question is that you’d have to scramble and try something new, let me ask an even more important question – what are you waiting for? I’m not suggesting you change careers on the off-chance you’ll find yourself unemployed, but there are literally dozens of things you can build on the side that could either supplement or replace your current income should the need arise.

We buy insurance in the hope we’ll never need it, and thank our lucky stars if that time ever comes. Life happens. Things change. And the best-laid plans go awry. The impact of those events will depend largely on what you’re doing to reduce that impact. Today. When it counts. Hopefully, you’ll never need the extra income. And if not, I bet you could find some fun ways to spend it.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

If You Like Winning, Never Fight Change

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

It’s hard to believe the month is half over and Christmas is just over a week away. It seems we missed something this year. I think it’s all the holiday goodies people put on file cabinets in the office that I always sampled several times every day. It’s a convenient excuse for the traditional holiday weight gain. This year I got fat all on my own. Go figure.

Working from home isn’t something most of us ever really thought we’d see, at least on this scale. Some companies were warming up to the idea, partly due to a shortage of qualified workers in some career fields. A year ago, they were begging people to come to work. Then somebody sneezed, and now they’re begging us to stay home.

Our world is changing. Even before the pandemic, companies were beginning to offer “alternate work arrangements.” Stores were offering personal shopping service with curbside pickup. And people who couldn’t figure out the TV remote were ordering products and having them delivered right to their door.  I think my granddaughter was one of them. She’s six.

Malls have been shutting down and stores are looking more like warehouses. Drones deliver products, taxis drive themselves, and robots are flipping hamburgers. All of these things were in the works before Coronavirus. But what was once considered innovative is now a matter of necessity. And we’re powerless to stop it. The best we can do is hop on and enjoy the ride.

There are two kinds of thrill rides – the kind where you see what’s coming, and the kind where you’re in the dark, getting jerked around in every direction. The ride we’re on is a little of both. You don’t know everything that’s coming, but you’ve been through enough twists and turns to know what to expect. And then there are the bumper cars. They throw them in just for fun.

We may not know what to expect as we leave the station, but we know what awaits at the end. It looks pretty much the same as when we got on. Only now, we’re filled with the exhilaration of actually surviving the ride. Hopefully we’re still filled with the original contents of our stomach, but sometimes that’s part of the fun, too. “It was awesome! I almost puked!!!”

I think a lot of us have experienced that queasy feeling all through this year. We keep thinking sooner or later this will pass and things will get back to normal. Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but things will never be the same as they were. Yes, this will pass, and we’ll be better able to handle the next crisis. But most of the changes we’ve made this year will never go back.

That doesn’t mean life will never be good again. Just that it’ll never be quite the same. And it’s what we make of those changes that will determine whether we come out on top or further behind. In 1986, when Microsoft issued its first public offering of stocks, computers were still an extravagance for quirky nerds. Yet, look at us now. Can you even imagine life without one?

Had you bought into the “craze” back then, you could have gotten shares of Microsoft for $21. A single share of that stock bought back then would be worth $33,600 today. All told, more than 12,000 people became millionaires, simply because they embraced change and believed in a geek.

And here’s the point – whether you believed in 1986 that computers would someday be part of our everyday lives doesn’t change the fact that they are. We can complain all day about a simpler time when people knew how to read maps and have fun without technology. And how do we share that message? We blast it out all over the internet. Duh!!!

You see, when change occurs, we play along whether we want to or not. When a tsunami strikes, we rebuild – we just build a little higher this time. When stores close, we shop online. And when industries collapse, we learn a new skill. We adapt. Life goes on.

Our world is changing, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. Some of those changes are like gentle waves, and others come crashing in like a tsunami. But much like that rollercoaster, we know how the ride ends – we step off and move on to the next adventure.

We can cope with change or grow with it. One leaves you struggling for air, and the other will set you on a mountaintop. We may not be able to control the circumstances, but we can control our response to them. The ocean floor is littered with ships that tried to plow through the waves, but the smallest of boats made it safely across by simply riding on top of them.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Are You Moving Forward or Running Back?

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

It’s the first day of May and, according to some loosely defined timelines, today is the day things start to get back to normal. It’s not an official day of change. It’s more like when your mom said, “Maybe someday in a month or two …” That automatically becomes the first day of next month. I learned to tell my kids it’ll never happen. That saved a lot of whining later.

I can appreciate all these people marching on the Capitol, telling the world they want to go back to work. We do need to work. Only problem is, I’ve seen a lot of these people on the other side of the office doors. It’s like those idiots racing through traffic every morning. You know they’re not that energetic once they get there. They just want the first cup of coffee.

We went to the store last night, and it’s disheartening how many people are completely ignoring the recommendations of preventive health. It’s like this never even happened. The rules of social distancing are out the window, and masks are seen almost as a sign of weakness. It’s like trying to get teenagers to wear a seat belt. “Not me! I’m Superman!!!”

I think every parent has had problems with that, especially when it comes to toddlers. They watch how the seat belt works, and then it becomes a conquest to see how quickly they can open it up. It’s not even about freedom – it’s about proving they can do whatever they want. I solved that problem fast. I carry a staple gun in the car and dare them to even try.

It’s too bad we can’t do that in the grocery store. A six-foot baseball bat would drive home the message. Same thing in traffic. I always wondered if we could replace the airbag in a steering wheel with a spring-loaded boxing glove. Do something stupid and a light starts flashing. Do it again and it beeps. Strike three, you’re out. Wham!

My car has lane change assist, interactive cruise control, and rear blindspot detection, among other things. Basically, the car watches the road for me so I don’t have to. With all those added features, I guess I couldn’t complain if it whacked me in the face for being stupid. So, I just let my grandson drive. He deserves a good punch.

The RV, on the other hand, doesn’t have any of those features. It has a horn – a really loud horn. And 24,000 pounds that says I make the rules. People don’t jump in front of me and slam on their brakes. And if I drift out of my lane a bit, they move. Oh, I get the finger every now and then, but I’m used to that. Only difference is, they wait until they’re safely out of reach to do it.

Yes, life is slowly starting to get back to normal. As normal as it’ll ever be, that is. Parents will be back to work, kids will be outside playing, and grocery shopping will be more like a road rally than a game of dodgeball. And in exactly three weeks, people will be calling in sick, kids will be whining that there’s nothing on TV, and grocery shopping will turn into a demolition derby.

Why? Because no matter how badly we want things to change, we fight even harder to get back where we were. There was a book titled, “Who Moved My Cheese?” I’ve never read the book, but apparently it’s an amusing account of our resistance to change. We spend half our lives chasing the rainbow, and the other half trying to get back.

Before I left for the Navy, my dad told me the two best duty stations in the world are the one you’re going to, and the one you just left. Oh, we want change. Until it happens. The vast majority of lottery winners go bankrupt in a just a few years. One day they’re multi-bazillionaires and the next day they’re posting “his and hers” Lamborghinis on eBay.

We all want change. We want to be happier, we want nicer things, and we want a more comfortable life. Yet, no matter how badly we want those things to change, we have a certain level of comfort in the way things are – knowing what to expect and how to deal with it when it happens. We want everything around us to change, as long as we can stay the same.

Well, change is coming. Some of it will be good, some will be a challenge, and some will be a boomerang ride back to where we started. With every crisis comes opportunity, the chance to come out a little better than we went in. It’s what we make of that opportunity that counts. You can move ahead, or simply go back to where you were. And decision time is here.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Is Comfort Holding You Back?

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

I’ve been bad about getting my posts out each morning. I could make some excuses for that, but the bottom line is I just haven’t done it. There’s something about not having to get up for work each day that changes the whole routine. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been up, most days at the same time as before. But I have to admit, I’ve allowed my days to start off a lot slower than before.

Whether we like to admit it or not, we’re all creatures of habit. Some more than others, and I tend to fit into that category really well. I used to be spontaneous, but somewhere along the line I found a level of comfort in repetition and settled into a groove. That groove has served me well over the years, but I’d like to start shaking things up a little. You know, just enough to keep it interesting.

We’ve talked about this before, but comfort is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it gives you peace of mind. You know what to expect, and as long as nothing comes along to upset your routine, you can go through the day without much challenge. Life is good, and that’s the way you want it to be.

On the other hand, comfort breeds laziness. I’m not talking about kicking back on a beach after a year of working every day and saving money so you could spend a few days in a tropical paradise. That’s reward. You’ve earned it. But when you go back home, if you slip back into that routine of going to work every day and planning next year’s vacation, that’s your comfort zone.

That sounds counter-intuitive. I mean seriously, work is your comfort zone? Well, if it’s what you do every day without thinking about it too much, that’s exactly what it is. It’s your daily routine and you don’t dare shake things up. Because that involves risk – you know what to expect every day, even if it’s not something you really love. But it pays the bills and puts food on the table. Case closed.

Hopefully you’ve got a job that provides for your daily needs and lets you take that annual pilgrimage to the beach, or wherever you like to unwind. But here’s a crazy thought. What if you worked a little harder and took two trips to the beach instead of one? Maybe you could buy a condo and go there any time you want. What if you moved into that condo and could stroll the beach every day?

If you can dream it, you can do it. But accomplishing those dreams means doing something different, maybe something you’ve never done before. It means stepping outside your comfort zone. It might mean taking some classes or spending a little extra time at work learning a new skill. Maybe it means taking a second job and investing your paycheck. Or maybe even starting a business of your own.

Think for a moment about your greatest dream. Not a weekend vacation or a new car, but something really big. Now, ask yourself this question – if I knew that doing a certain thing each day would eventually lead me to that dream, would I do it? Then, ask yourself one more question. Within the bounds of legal and moral standards, is there anything I wouldn’t be willing to do?

That last question is important, because it exposes the limits of your comfort zone. Would you be willing to talk to strangers? Would you be willing to work a few extra hours every week? Would you be willing to learn a completely new skill, or study a topic that never caught your interest before? Would you be willing to travel to places you’ve never heard of, where nobody else wants to go?

As you enjoy your next vacation, take a good look around. There are people just like you who get to do this once a year and will soon head back to a routine existence that, if they’re lucky, will let them do it again sometime. And there are others who do this all the time, who will leave this destination for another one. The difference between them lies within their own personal comfort zone.

It’s good to be comfortable. We work for it, and we deserve it. But if you’re willing to stretch things a little, to step outside that comfort zone, you open a world of possibilities. If you can dream it, you can do it. The only limitation is within your own comfort zone. Take a look outside and see what’s there. It just may be worth a try.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved