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

The Best Plans Are the Ones That Result in Action

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

How many times during the day do you do something completely off the cuff, with no plan at all other than to get it done? You visualize the end product, and just dive in, figuring things out as you go. I used to do that with woodworking all the time. I never worked from a set of plans. I’d just imagine what I wanted to build, then head to the shop and start sawing boards. Okay, I measured first.

We have an Amish-style clock hanging by the front door, made of cherry that I bought with no concept of what I planned to do with it. I just liked the wood. It was about this time of year, and I came up with the idea of making my wife a clock for Christmas. Of all the things I ever built, that one is my favorite. I love the way cherry ages with time.

I can look at that clock and see every mistake I made along the way. There weren’t many, because I put my best effort into it. But there was a little sapwood on the top piece that never aged like the rest, and I always planned to put another top piece on it. When I told my wife, she dared me to touch anything. She loves it just the way it is, and I’m not sure she could find a single mistake if she looked for it. She only sees the beauty, and the love with which it was made.

So, take it down a notch. Instead of thinking of the great creations you can make that will leave other people in awe, think of the simple things you do every day that require nothing more than a solid effort on your part. You could plan every step from start to finish, but planning just fills up an otherwise clean sheet of paper. Nothing happens until you get up and get to work.

And most things are really that simple. Just get started, and the rest will flow until the job is complete. It’s that first step that always seems to get in the way. Maybe it’s procrastination, or maybe it’s other legitimately important priorities. But until we carve out the time and actually get started, it’ll be just a passing thought.

If you have to write anything on paper, let it be a checklist of things you plan to do. And as you write that list, do it with the commitment that you won’t go to bed until everything on the list is done. A speaker at our last conference referred to that as “earning your pillow.” And let me tell you, nothing feels better than snuggling up in bed at night knowing everything you planned to do is done.

It’s easy to do the easy things. Grab a sandwich on the way to work instead of making one at home. Send a few emails. Pick up the extra shoes by the front door and put them away. Wipe down the stove. Go to the drive-thru to pick up a prescription. We can find all kinds of time to fill our day. But do you find the same time to do the things that really matter?

Earn your pillow. Make a list and commit to it. Check things off instead of crossing them off. You’ll probably find more than enough time if you just get busy instead of thinking about it. Prioritize your list and tackle the big ones first. That way, when you run out of steam later in the day, all that’s left is to pick up those shoes and wipe down the stove.

Do that, and you’ll find yourself accomplishing much more than ever before and moving closer to your goals with each passing day. Procrastination will become a thing of the past, and success will become a natural part of life. Then all you have to do is dream a little bigger and see what you can accomplish next.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved