Make Success the More Attractive Option

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

In Sunday’s sermon, our pastor pointed out the fact that it, according to studies performed by somebody who at least claims to know, January 12 is the date by which most New Year’s resolutions go by the wayside. That means if you got through the day yesterday with your resolutions still intact, you’re above average. Kinda sobering, isn’t it?

This doesn’t mean that most people fell off the wagon and had a bad day in the first twelve days of the year. It means they simply quit trying. Out with the new, in with the old. It wasn’t that important anyway. Besides, there’s always next year. And the year after, and the year after that. Yet, according to a Quinnipiac poll, about 75% of Americans are optimistic about a brighter future.

Well, not to be the bearer of bad news, but the words “brighter future” imply change. That means we can’t keep doing the same things we’ve been doing and expect better results simply because we’re good and we deserve it. If we want our future to change, we have to change our present. That could be simple or extreme, but the longer things stay the same, the longer they’ll keep staying the same.

I guess what troubles me the most isn’t that people slip up and fall off the wagon on their resolutions so early in the year. Falling down is a part of moving forward. We all do it. But, if the people who conduct these studies are correct, it means that the majority of people stopped even trying to get back up. They fell down, possibly into a comfortable position, and just decided to stay there.

When we decide to make a change, we often give ourselves an out … a place of refuge in case things don’t go according to plan. My wife wanted to sell our house, buy a motorhome, and hit the road. I want to buy a less expensive motorhome and keep the house. You know, just in case. Now, you can decide for yourself which of us has the better plan. But it does illustrate my point.

One school of thought says before you make a drastic change, have a fallback plan. Give yourself an out in case you need it. Of course, that gives you the option to chicken out when things get a little rough. On the other hand, nothing says commitment like jumping off a cliff in a glider you designed and built yourself. It’s called sink or swim. Success is the only option. Other than … you know.

But most of the changes we decide to make aren’t that clear-cut. If your goal is to go on a diet and lose weight, what happens if you fail? Well, you go back to eating the foods you’ve always loved and never have to exercise. If your goal was to quit smoking, failure means you get to avoid nicotine withdrawal and foul mood that goes along with it. You simply go back to what you were doing.

Unless we find a way to make failure more unpleasant than success, we’ll never change anything. “I’ll donate five dollars to a rival political party every time I use the F-word.” That’ll get your attention! Especially if you commit and don’t give yourself a free pass just because you slammed your finger in the car door. Or you accidentally broke the yolk on your egg. You know, whatever.

The best way to make failure more unpleasant than success is to focus on why you want to make a change. See yourself in a smaller bathing suit by summer. Better still, go online and order one. Commit. Get rid of all the ash trays. Commit. Write a check to you least favorite politician. Then deposit that money in your vacation account. Every day, you get to decide which is more important.

If you’ve made it to this point in the year without completely giving up on your goals, you’re ahead of the game. The odds of success are already in your favor. That doesn’t mean you haven’t slipped up once or twice. It means the dream is still stronger than the urge to give up. And as long as you keep your priorities lined up that way, there’s nothing that can stop you from achieving your goal.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Resolution or Resignation? It's All About Commitment

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

Did you make any resolutions for the New Year? How are you doing so far? I normally don’t make resolutions, because I don’t like being reminded halfway through January that I already failed. But this year I did. They’re personal, and mostly related to my mindset and outlook. And, I’ve decided that 32 years after leaving the Navy, it’s time to stop talking like a sailor. Okay, I had good intentions.

Resolutions are simply a new start. Doing something we want to start doing or dropping habits that no longer fit who we want to be. It’s about change and moving forward. Out with the old, in with the new. It’s the start of a journey toward a better version of ourselves, something we aspire to be. It’s a dream. But the moment we resolve to make it happen, we commit ourselves to that dream.

According to some sources, as many as 80% of us will fail to achieve our New Year’s resolutions. Why? I guess there are a lot of reasons, and I won’t go into them here. But the main underlying cause is that we just lack the commitment. We want to make a change. We know we should make that change. But at the end of the day, it’s just a little more trouble than it’s worth. Old habits die hard.

And nobody wants to admit they lack commitment, especially when we make that commitment to ourselves. We know deep down that we can accomplish anything if we just set our mind to it, but it’s hard to fully commit to something when deep down we’re not sure we want to do it. We want the result – just not the work that goes into it.

So, we make a half-hearted resolution that sounds something like this … “I need to lose some weight this year. I probably won’t be as skinny as I’d like, and I’m not giving up any of my favorite foods, but I’ll see if I can eat a little less and maybe exercise once or twice a week.” Sound familiar?

If you read that “resolution” again closely, you’ll see it’s full of everything except commitment. “I need to” … “I’ll probably come up short” … “I’m not giving up any of this” … “I’ll see if I can” … and “maybe”.  It’s just a lot of words, mixed in with a few excuses and an overall prediction of failure. If somebody said that to you, would you put any money on their chances of success?

Another reason we fail at resolutions is because we lack belief. Oh, we know it’s possible. Just not probable.  Before we even start, we put our success in the hands of fate. “If it’s meant to be, it’ll be.” That’s a nice sentiment if you don’t have any desire to influence the outcome of your own life. Instead of hoping for a miracle, how about creating one of your own?

It takes 21 days to change a habit. That doesn’t mean you can completely drop a habit in three weeks or form a new one. It means that if you keep repeating the same behavior for three weeks, it begins to fit into your comfort zone. It still takes a little willpower to stay on track, but in that short period of time, it starts to feel more natural. It’s becoming more a part of who you are.

And the easiest way to get through 21 days is one day at a time. When I quit smoking, I never once said “I’ll never smoke again.” I simply said, “I won’t smoke today.” That simple substitution of words made all the difference in the world. You can do anything for a day. And if you did it yesterday, you can do it again today. And tomorrow and the next day. One day at a time.

And if you happen to fall down, it’s only one day. You don’t have to start all over. Just pick up where you left off and get back on track. Strengthen your commitment. Write a short list of the reasons you made this decision in the first place and read it every morning until the urge to fall off the wagon starts to fade. If you can do it for a day, you can do it for life.

Change is hard, but it’s a necessary part of growth. As you envision the changes you’d like to make, don’t focus on the change itself but the end result. See yourself as the person you want to be. Reaffirm your ability to attain that goal every day. Believe in yourself, and anything is possible. Combine that belief with commitment and it becomes inevitable.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Winter Blues Got You Down? Then Get Busy!

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

Well, winter is in full swing here in Ohio. I know, some of my friends in the great white north are saying, “You just now figured that out?” And to others in the southern states, all this means is a light jacket in the morning. Regardless of where you live, it’s gotten noticeably colder. And change isn’t something we all handle with a sense of complete grace.

I first heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) a couple of years ago. I guess it’s been around since the first caveman had to hibernate for the winter, but we live in an age where every human emotion has to have a name. It’s like bipolar disorder. It’s nothing new. I knew people in high school who could flip in an instant. We just had other names for that.

But that feeling of cabin fever, of being stuck in the house forever, of breathing the same air all day and never getting any fresh oxygen to replace what we’ve used, and staring glumly out the front window, is all part of what we’ve come to know as SAD. I guess that’s an appropriate acronym. I wonder if the person who named it did that on purpose?

According to Mayo Clinic, the symptoms are pretty clear – oversleeping, appetite changes, weight gain, and low energy. Check, check, check, and check. Causes can be anything from a disruption to your normal circadian rhythm to reduced serotonin and melatonin levels. But before you medicate yourself, talk to your doctor. Odds are, you just have the winter blues. But you never know.

Oddly enough, the Mayo Clinic also lists symptoms for summer SAD. Seriously? What would that be? Suntan? Sand in your toes? An urge to plant flowers or eat ice cream on the front porch? I guess I’ve never considered any of that to be an ailment. Funny – one of the symptoms they mention for summer SAD is weight loss. Guess that’s why I don’t understand. I’ve never had it.

Call it what you want, I think it’s mostly just the natural human tendency to resist change. Whether we like the way things are or not, change throws our system out of whack. That’s why so many lottery winners are bankrupt within a few years. The change is too sudden, and they can’t handle it. So they subconsciously do everything imaginable to get back where they were – their comfort zone.

Okay, so being broke is a comfort zone? That’s hard to digest, especially for people who are broke and desperately want things to be different. But there’s a certain level of confidence in what we know, good or bad. We know what to expect each day. We know how to handle it. And we know how it will affect us. Sometimes, change is a little more intimidating than just going with what we know.

Two things can help us adjust to change. First is making the change slowly, so we can adjust as it occurs. Anybody who has ever quit smoking cold-turkey knows exactly what I mean. Trying to taper off slowly may not be as effective, but it’s certainly less stressful. It’s the sudden change of quitting on the spot that brings on those powerful cravings and mood swings. So, whenever possible, slow it down.

Secondly, you need that feeling that you deserve the change – it’s something you’ve worked for, a goal you’ve been trying to achieve, and you’ve made the necessary sacrifices to make it happen. It’s not change that was thrust upon you, like the onset of winter. It’s something you wanted badly enough to earn it.

If winter isn’t having the desired effect on your emotional health, the best thing you can do about it is find something else to occupy your time. Instead of staring out the front window, play some games or put a puzzle together. Pick up a hobby. Read a good book. Better still, write one. Start a business. Anything constructive will take your mind off the weather and give you something to feel good about.

Yes, Seasonal Affective Disorder is real. Most of us feel it to some degree, even if we love playing in the snow. The key is to find something better to occupy your mind. Make it something constructive, and when the snow melts, you’ll somehow feel you’ve earned it. Now, if we could just find a way of making us feel we’ve earned winter. I’m not sure I can spend that much time on the beach.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

When It Comes to Optimism, We're All Mutts

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

The movie Pretty Woman was on this past weekend (again) and I found myself watching (again). Either I need some better cable options, or Hollywood is falling down on the job, because it seems the same movies keep playing over and over and over. Last week I jokingly mentioned the Forrest Gump channel. If you missed that movie last time it was on, have no fear – it’s coming again.

One of the scenes I always enjoyed in Pretty Woman was when they went to the opera. As the lights were dimming for the opening act, Richard Gere told Julia Roberts that a person’s first reaction to the opera is very dramatic. They either love it or hate it. If they love it, they will always love it. If they don’t, they may learn to appreciate it, but it will never become part of their soul.

It’s that way with my morning posts. Sometimes I’m really happy with what I wrote, and other times I feel I left something on the table. But the responses let me know that, even when I think I missed the mark, it was just what at least one person needed to hear that day. That’s why I love reading the responses. It puts us on a more personal level.

Yesterday, a very perceptive friend responded with a tough question – “Are you talking to yourself?” I know I give this impression of a rock-solid optimist who never frowns and always sees a brighter future, but the truth is I’m no more delusional than any one of you. Well, maybe a little. But the point is, there are days when I need to read my posts as much as anyone.

Having a positive outlook doesn’t mean you’re never down. There will be days when you feel the weight of the world crashing down, and times when hope is about as distant as that exotic destination you know you’ll probably never get to visit. Some days you won’t feel like doing anything, and dreams go from a burning passion into a silent resignation that nothing will ever change. It happens.

On the other hand, feelings of despair don’t necessarily mean you’re a pessimist. In a world where everything has become so polarized that you’re either this or that and there’s no in-between, your personal outlook is likely a mixed bag of good, bad, and indifferent. It doesn’t mean you’re mixed up. It just means you have emotions like every other person, and some days one is more prevalent than the others.

It means you can see a better life, with enough clarity to be drawn to it, but with enough restraint to keep you from getting in over your head. It means you believe in yourself enough to dream, but you also live in a world where reality says some dreams will take a lifetime of work. And it means you have the ability to shed tears like anybody else, but you also know the sun is shining on the other side.

This is a time of year when a lot of people experience feelings of immense joy and excitement. It’s also a time when just as many people fall into a deep depression that even they can’t quite explain. Same day, same weather, same traffic, same everything. But it affects us all in very different ways.

The point is that none of us are a complete package of optimism or pessimism. Yesterday, I’m told, was National Mutt Day. Well, maybe we should haver been celebrating ourselves, because in a lot of ways, we’re mutts. There are no absolutes in our lives or our outlook on life. We all have a little of this and a little of that, in varying proportions. That’s what makes us unique. It’s what makes us human.

Sometimes, the best way to talk ourselves out of a mood of despair is to talk somebody else through the same transition. It may not change everything on the spot, but it does help us look a little closer to find that ray of sunshine we so desperately need. And in helping others find hope and possibilities, we find hope and possibilities for ourselves.

Life is in a constant state of flux, and no mood ever lasts forever. Feeling down doesn’t mean you have to stay there, and when you’re on top of the world, there will still be days when things aren’t perfect. None of us will ever be happy and optimistic all the time. The best we can do is look for those things that bring us closer and focus on them until the clouds go away. And they will. They always do.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Behind the Darkest Clouds, Sunshine Awaits

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

For those of us in the northern states (affectionately referred to as the “Midwest” because we just don’t like admitting we’re in the north), things are definitely changing. In the past two weeks the leaves have started to turn, and morning temperatures are something a little less than comfortable. Summer is officially over, and we know what that means – winter begins next week.

That’s the way it seems to go lately. It’s all or nothing. And I know there are people who are giddy at the thought of snow and all the “fun” stuff that comes with it. You know – slush, ice, scraping the windshield in sub-freezing temperatures, shoveling the sidewalks, and busting your butt on icy hard pavement at least once every other week. Do I sound a little biased?

But, short of moving someplace within a hundred miles of the equator, seasonal changes are just something I have to accept. We all do. Granted, winter doesn’t officially start for another two months, but my body doesn’t have a calendar. It only knows cold, hot, and something in between. Winter is when I start wearing long-sleeve shirts. I broke them out last week.

But the colder it gets, the more I remind myself it’s only temporary. It doesn’t seem that way somewhere around February, but I know that sooner or later, the warm weather will return and I can terrorize the neighbors with short pants and sleeveless shirts. I used to mow the lawn with no shirt, but they asked me to stop doing that. They even took up a petition.

Life has its fair share of changes as well. You’re riding along at a nice pace, things are going well, and all of a sudden something comes along to throw a wrench in the spokes. Depending which wheel it is, you either come to a grinding halt or get thrown over the handlebars. And life doesn’t seem to care whether you’re up for the challenge or not. It pretty much enjoys catching you off-guard.

When I was younger, it seems most of those challenges were related to money. My system of budgeting was that, as long as there was money in the bank, I could still write checks. In fact, I wrote a few I shouldn’t have. The bank would call, I’d make up some lame excuse, we’d laugh, and then they’d slap me with a service charge to take even more of what they already knew I didn’t have.

Back then, any unexpected expense was a crisis. If I got up in the morning and the shampoo bottle was empty, that was a big deal. A flat tire on the way to work meant no lunch for a week. If the refrigerator died, we’d be eating canned beans for a month. On the upside, it kept people from hovering over my desk all day. They generally kept their distance.

But somehow things always worked out. That’s not to say we didn’t take our share of kicks. Not much can compare to getting a certified letter from the mortgage company that says it’s time to move. And when you pull up in a moving van, all the neighbors who never spoke to you in the years you lived there suddenly drop by. “Yes, we found someplace much nicer to live. Are you here to help or stare?”

I’ve been on top of the game for a good portion of my life, and I’ve hit rock bottom a few times as well. And the one thing I’ve learned over the years is that life is a lot like the weather. It can be sunny and warm one day, then cold and rainy the next. And about the time you get tired of the cold drizzle, along comes the snow. And then it gets sunny and warm again and you get to start all over.

Mom always used to say that when you hit rock bottom, there’s only one way you can go – up. When things are as bad as they can possibly be, they can only get better. That’s usually not much comfort when you’re dragging the weight of the world in the deepest canyon you’ve ever seen, but even canyons end at some point.

It would be nice if we could anticipate all the bad things in life and just avoid them. And to an extent, we can. Financial issues aren’t much of a problem to people who have lots of money. So, the answer to that one seems pretty simple – make a little more money. But even that doesn’t stop health issues and the heartache of family struggles.

We all face adversity. Sometimes it comes on slowly and leaves fast, and other times it comes on fast and hangs around a long time. But, just as winter turns to spring, adversity will ease. So, clear your mind and look for a solution. You may not find a way out, but you can always make things better.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Where’s Your Sense of Adventure?

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

When was the last time you were asked to do something different, something you’ve never done before? It happens on the job all the time. “You’ve done such a great job on such-and-such, I know you won’t have any problem with this!” Sound familiar? It falls into that last line in your job description … “And any other such duties as may be assigned.”

It’s a little scary sometimes, but in the end, we usually do the job pretty well. Maybe that’s because of experience and conditioning. Everything we’ve done in the past has taught us everything we need to know for the job at hand. Sometimes, the boss isn’t just giving you a pat on the back. They know you’ve got what it takes, and they have confidence in your ability to do whatever is necessary.

It feels good knowing that not only does somebody have confidence in you, but that their confidence wasn’t misplaced. And I think we work a little harder to validate that. Nobody wants to be the last choice, the person who gets the assignment simply because everyone else was too busy. It’s like being the last person chosen for the team. You got the spot, but only because nobody else was there.

So, let me turn this line of thinking around. When was the last time you actively set out to do something you’ve never done before? Not because it was assigned and you had no choice, but because you decided to tackle something completely different? We do it all the time, just most times without any fanfare. There’s no cheering section and no pats on the back for a job well-done.

I think that’s a lot of the reason we don’t do more of these things. That, along with the fact that when you try something new, the results aren’t always guaranteed. I’m sure any stylist can tell you there are a lot of women who leave the beauty salon disappointed, or maybe even in tears. And all they can do is wait for their hair to grow out so they can get back to the way it was.

It happens with me sometimes when I decide to cook a new dish. I’m excited about it the whole time, just thinking about how much my family will enjoy my new creation. But those taste tests in the middle aren’t very promising, and before it’s even halfway there my wife yells from the living room to see what’s on fire. Sometimes it all comes together, but sometimes you crash and burn.

When that happens, do you try again? Or do you lick your wounds and vow never to do that again? Well, if it’s something as simple as a new meal item, you can always go online and get a more reliable recipe. You can even check the stars to see how well others like it. But when it comes to something as personal and semi-permanent as your hair, it’ll take a lot to find that sense of adventure again.

Now, for the final question – how many times have you thought about something that could raise you to a higher level and put you closer to your dreams, but never even gave it a try? And in making that decision, you probably came up with a laundry list of reasons for not trying. “It’ll never work.” “That’s just not me.” “I don’t have time.” You know, excuses. Or as Mom always said, any old port in a storm.

So, we keep doing what we’ve been doing and hoping for a better result. Well, back to the kitchen, if you follow the same recipe over and over and over, odds are it’ll come out pretty much the same every time. If you want different results, you have to change it up. Or, as I’ve said several times before, to have something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.

It’s simple logic, but most of us spend our entire lives trying to prove it wrong. I think that’s partly human nature, the desire to go against conventional wisdom and come out on top. But there’s also fear of failure. And, rather than admit our fears openly, we just convince ourselves that we never really wanted that dream anyway. After all, we’ve lived just fine without it. Right?

It’s okay to stick with the tried and true. If it suits your personality, and you’re okay with things going pretty much the way they always have, then don’t rock the boat. But if that sense of adventure is yearning for a little more excitement, or just better long-term security, then maybe it’s time to consider something different.

We all have different goals in life, and those goals are as personal to us as the hairstyles we choose. Changing things up can be a little scary, but you never know what’s on the other side of a mountain until you climb up and take a peek.

I’ll be offline for the next few days, so if you don’t hear from me just enjoy the break. I’ll be back with you before you know it!

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Be Sure You’re Chasing the Right Dreams

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

Today marks the beginning of a new month. One in which many of us, especially in the northern climates, will see some change. Leaves will begin to turn brilliant colors and fall to the ground, temperatures will go from warm to brisk (and some days downright cold), and stores will begin to change their inventory from summer and back-to-school to holiday gifts, decorations, and treats.

Those treats get me every time. I’ve been trying to add one feature to our outdoor display each year, but there are three problems with that …. putting it up, taking it down, and storing it until next year. Ladders and I don’t get along so well these days. But treats? Yeah. I pick them up, I put them down, and storage is never a problem. Walking it off next year is another matter entirely.

Along with a new month comes a new chance to set and achieve new goals. If you’ve been following my daily ramblings, you know I’m in the midst of some changing priorities. The goals I had at the beginning of last month have changed, in some ways pretty dramatically. Life has a way of doing that. So, you adapt. You redirect, refocus, and get back in the game. Life goes on.

And that doesn’t mean we have to give up our dreams. They may change a little, and we may find simpler and more effective ways to accomplish the same objective. But the ultimate goal is still there. The journey isn’t over because one road closes. You break out the old map (remember those?) and find an alternate route. And then you listen to the GPS for the next twenty minutes – “Recalculating!”

I’ve often wondered why a GPS doesn’t have an option to initiate a detour. Or even to let you get off the highway to fill the tank and grab a bite to eat without those incessant reminders that you’re not following directions. There’s no “give me a break” button, or even a mute. It’s either on or off, and the whole time it’s focused on one thing – getting you to your destination the fastest way possible.

All too often, we go through life the same way. We’re so focused on that optimal path that we fail to appreciate the scenery along the way. And about the time we hit a roadblock, we just sit there waiting for it to go away. Because this is our path – this is the way we’ve always seen it transpiring, and anything else means taking a step back and admitting some level of defeat.

I imagine the early pioneers knew that feeling all too well. I’ve mentioned before flying across the country and thinking of all those people who crossed those mountains in covered wagons. On a good day with flat terrain, you might put ten miles behind you. But once you hit those mountains, it could take several months to find a way across. I’d hate to guess how many times they had to turn back.

But the goal was there, ever present in their minds. They dreamed of a new life in a new location, and that dream made all the hardships worth it. And I’m sure some of those cities between Oklahoma and California were settled because somebody said, “I’m sick of this wagon! Welcome to your new home!” It happens.

But for those who kept going, the ground went from dusty and rocky to lush and green, full of promise. And, here’s the important part. What separates the barren land of the desert from the greenery of the west coast is one final mountain range. Cross those mountains and everything changes. Stop one day short, and you’ll never even know it’s there.

With each new month comes a new opportunity to re-assess and re-establish our goals. It’s a time to look back at our progress so far and make sure the path we’re on is leading us where we want to go. It’s also a time to ask ourselves why that destination was so important in the first place, and if it’s really the destination we’re after, or simply the journey. Sometimes, getting there is the most fun.

We often find that what we really want isn’t necessarily waiting at the end of the road, but somewhere along the way. Buying an airplane would give me the freedom to go pretty much anyplace I want. But if travel is the ultimate goal, that same money will pay for a lot of plane tickets. Sometimes, what we think we want is simply a means to accomplish an even greater goal.

We all need time to re-assess our goals and make sure we’re chasing the right dream. The beginning of a new month is the perfect time. Make sure what you’re after is what you really want, and that the path you’re on is leading in the right direction. The only thing worse than being 100 miles from your exit is realizing you’ve driven 100 miles past it.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved