Life Begins Where Your Comfort Zone Ends

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

Sometimes when I wake up in the morning, I think, “This isn’t where I’m supposed to be.” Okay, there have been times in my life when I was relieved to find myself in familiar surroundings. Mostly back in the 70s, but we won’t go there. They say if you can remember the 70s, you didn’t really enjoy it. Well, I must have had one hell of a good time.

But I’m not talking about waking up in a strange place, wondering how you got there and what you may have done in the hours leading up to that. Not that I’d know the feeling. I’ve never done that and you can believe I’ll never do it again. I’m talking about that feeling where you take a look around and say, “This isn’t my life. This isn’t where I was supposed to be.”

When I was sixteen, I knew exactly how my life would turn out. I’d be a rock star, performing on stages around the world with thousands of adoring fans screaming my name. I’d have a two-story mansion with a yacht at the dock and no less than a dozen fine automobiles. I’d pilot my own private jet and spend my days surrounded by beautiful women. Life would be one big party.

So, how did all that turn out? I spent 15 years as a stand-up comedian, performing to tens of people in biker bars around the country. I do live in a two-story house (counting the basement), my yacht looks more like an aluminum skiff, and I’ve owned at least a dozen cars, though none could really be called an “automobile.” Some even started – most days.

I’ve never flown a jet, but I did almost crash-land a Cessna on my third (and final) flying lesson. I spend my days surrounded by women, but they’re all hanging from branches on my family tree. And the only time anybody screams my name is when the toilet paper roll is empty or a spot on the ceiling sprouts legs and starts moving.

And you know what? I wouldn’t change a thing. Up until now, that is. Well, maybe that time I found myself sitting in the back seat of a Sheriff’s cruiser with three of my buddies, but you know … that was back in the 70s, too. I remember it because it wasn’t much fun. But, for the most part, I’m pretty happy with the way things turned out.

Now, if I’m still enjoying this same existence a year from now, the gods and I are going to have a talk. More like I’m gonna talk and they’re gonna listen. Because, even at the ripe old age of 62, I still have dreams. And they don’t involve spending my days this far from the beach. Or the sun, for that matter. Global warming sucks, but they could at least send a little my way.

Or, I could just find a way to put myself closer to warm weather and beaches. You see, there’s a solution for every problem. Even steamed broccoli. It’s called a trash can. But no matter what you’d like to change in life, there’s a way to do it. The problem is we put ourselves in situations where making that change is a lot more difficult than it needs to be.

Every day people get up, get dressed, and go to a job they despise. Why? Because it’s there. It’s secure. It’s what they know. They live in a town they can’t stand, yet they keep putting down deeper roots. They dream of being someplace else, but don’t take any steps to get there. Because, no matter how much we want something different, there a certain comfort in what we know.

So, what’s the answer? Get a little uncomfortable. Start by focusing on the reasons you want things to change instead of just turning on the TV and watching reruns of Bonanza. Get out and see how the other side lives. Pick up some travel magazines or take a weekend vacation. Imagine the life you want instead of existing in the life you’ve got.

Then get ready to step outside your comfort zone for real – not just in your mind. Because the results don’t change unless you change the approach. To have something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done. It means taking a risk, putting yourself out there, and leaving the safety net behind. It means embracing discomfort to find a higher level of comfort.

A dream is nothing more than an existence that’s at least slightly above where you are now. It doesn’t have to be grand – just enough to make a difference. And to get there, all you have to do is stretch your boundaries. Maybe a little, maybe a lot. But once you do, you’ll wonder why it took you so long to get started.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

It’s Only A Habit If You Want It

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

I’ve learned that I’m a morning person. Anybody who knew me forty years ago would say no way. I could sleep till noon and not even feel bad about it. Dad used to tell me I’d be late for my own funeral. I always wondered, what’s the downside to that? If the date for my funeral has already been set, I don’t see any advantage in getting there early. Just start without me.

I have to admit, though, I took sleeping late to an art. Hey, if you’re gonna do something, do it right. The only problem is, people at work have this thing they call a schedule and they sit there with a cup of coffee, staring at the clock, getting madder by the minute because Dave’s late. Like you can’t do anything till I get there? Just jump right on in. I don’t mind.

I remember standing inspection in the Navy and, as the admiral passed by, he looked at the hash mark on my lower sleeve indicating that I’d been in at least four years. Then he looked at my chest and said, “Where’s your Good Conduct Medal, sailor?” I mumbled something full of consonants that sounded vaguely like, “I dmthvon, sir.” Excuse me? “I don’t have one, sir!”

And, here’s the thing. You don’t have to do anything special to get that medal. All you have to do is stay out of trouble. I couldn’t even handle that. And with one exception that we won’t discuss here because it’s still not legal in all fifty states, every time I got in trouble it was for sleeping late.  

Alarm clock, you say? Oh, I had a bunch of those. And I wasn’t stupid enough to get one with a snooze feature. Although, I have to admit, about the sixth time that went off, my roommates would have fixed the problem for me. No, I had one with a clanging bell that’ll wake the dead. In another county. Yeah, it woke me up. Just enough to slap the button and go back to sleep.

The boss finally came up with a solution. Put Dave on night shift. Oh, that worked like a charm! I could sleep past noon and still make it to work on time. You play the hand you’re dealt, right? Only problem is, my wife still thought I was supposed to do things around the house, and that messed up my sleep cycle completely. I finally had to learn to function like a normal adult.

That all changed the day I quit smoking. Well, two days later. I woke up at six in the morning, wide awake, and fully rested. Okay, I’d gone to bed 12 hours earlier, because I found that the best way to beat the nicotine fits was to sleep through them. But something happened that day. I was awake. I had energy. I could smell things. Oh, could I smell things! Time for a shower!

From that day on, I never overslept for anything. I haven’t used an alarm clock in almost 20 years. Of course, the older you get, the less you need one anyway because sleeping is about like riding a city bus. It stops at every intersection whether it needs to or not. All you have to do is pay attention and get off at the right stop, and you’ll never be late for anything.

All through life, we change. Things that used to be a challenge are instinctive, and things that used to be instinctive are a challenge. If you’ve ever seen me try to run, you’d know that. And then along comes the doctor telling us we have to stop doing the things that got us this far in life because, apparently, where we are isn’t exactly where we should be.

Some of it is simply the aging process, and the rest is just habits – things we do without even thinking about them. And the thing with habits is that, even though they seem to be instinctive, they’re really just a behavior that’s been repeated so many times it becomes instinctive. And all it takes to change a habit is to change the behavior and then repeat it. Over, and over, and over.

There are things we can’t control, and aging is one of them. But there’s very little in our daily routine that we can’t change if the reason is strong enough. Changing a habit because somebody tells you to inevitably leads to failure. But making a change because you want to leads to another habit – the habit of success. Focus on the reason, and you’ll always reach the goal.

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

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