Find Your Spare Tire Before You Need It

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

Yesterday morning was a jolt to the system. After 12 weeks of being able to start my day at my own pace, I found myself in unfamiliar territory – two rug rats who were a lot more awake than I was, and a tight schedule to get dressed, eat breakfast, and leave for work. Okay, “leaving” means climbing down a flight of stairs to the basement, but it counts.

Abrupt change is a shock to the system, even if it’s something you want. I have to be honest. I wasn’t heartbroken at the prospect of spending a few weeks at home in January. It was a taste of what retirement might be like. The verdict is in – I’ll survive that just fine when the time comes. I never resorted to leather sandals and black knee socks, but the rest felt pretty good.

Still, in the back of my mind, I knew it was temporary. Any time that fact slipped my mind, I had my wife to remind me. Women worry about these things a lot more than men. I knew we’d be okay. I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy most of the time. Any time it starts looking empty, I just pour it into a smaller glass. And a shot glass is still technically a glass. I’m just saying.

Thankfully we had some things going on the side before my job went away. Not enough to live on, but every little bit helps. It’s important to have something to fall back on while you still have the ability to stand. Because sooner or later, something will come along and kick your feet out from under you. And trust me, that ground gets a lot harder with age.

When that happens, our first reaction is usually some level of panic. Then we start to think a little more rationally. Finally, creativity slips in and we start looking at things we’d never considered. The only problem is most of those creative ideas require a little time to start generating an income. If only you’d started six months ago. Sound familiar?

And what happens? The crisis ends, and we go right back to what we were doing before. Only this time, it’ll be different. Because we said so, that’s why. And if the same thing happens again, we’ll be a lot better prepared. Only next time, it won’t be the same thing. It’ll be something you’d never anticipated. Like now. Who would’ve ever dreamed of something like this?

Well, you know what they say about doing the same thing and expecting different results. It’s delusional, at best. My street has two ends. They never change. I can drive from one end to the other, and I’ll always end up in the same place. It doesn’t matter how I drive, or what kind of car I use. The destination is always the same. Unless the brakes fail. Then things change real fast.

That doesn’t mean what you were doing before is all wrong. But if what you were doing left you high and dry with nothing but a savings account to fall back on, you may want to consider a different approach moving forward. And the time to get started is now – before the need arises.

Cars have a spare tire you hope you never need, but potholes happen. And when they do, they can literally knock the wind out of your tires. That’s pretty much true with most things in life. Things will never be the same as they were, and they won’t always go the way we’d planned. The question is, do you have a spare?

Dad always used to remind me to check the air in my spare tire. You see, it’s not enough to have something on the back burner, forgotten until the need arises. A spare tire needs an occasional shot of air, fire extinguishers need to be recharged, and fallback sources of income need to be running above idle. At the very least, keep some gas in the tank. Good stuff.

Change affects us all in different ways, and preparation helps to minimize the impact. Hopefully you were ready for this crisis. But could you do it again next year? It could happen. You can save yourself a lot of sleepless nights by finding that spare tire today. Hopefully you’ll never need it. In that case, it’s just money in the bank. And who couldn’t use a little of that?

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Breathe – This Too Shall Pass

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

Mine started off completely different. Before I even had my first cup of coffee, I went to the store to see if I could get lucky on some items that have been part of the panic hoarding. You know, a box of macaroni and a small bag of rice. Apparently, these things are part of the miracle cure for coronavirus. I never got that memo.

Since the stores are closed overnight for cleaning and re-stocking, I went at opening time. Well, a half-hour later, complete aisles were empty. It’s pretty obvious what happened last night. At least they were gracious enough to throw away the empty liquor bottles after the party ended.

This will eventually settle down, and then the stores won’t sell any of these items at all for another six months, except to those of us who only bought what we needed for the next week or two. Funny, there’s no shortage of hand soap. I guess if you use enough toilet paper, you don’t need it. Mom, are you listening?

Another thing that’s plentiful is dog food. I went to the store yesterday to hoard … I mean, buy … some of that. The shelves were completely full. I guess if this thing keeps going long enough, we can buy a little extra and mix it with some pinto beans and cheese to make a casserole. I mean, the dog has no problem eating our food. Fair is fair.

I remember when I was a kid walking into Grandma’s kitchen and she was snacking on something. Grandma had one glass eye and was nearly blind in the other. She saw me come in and asked, “Do you want some candy? It’s good!” I said, “Grandma, that’s dog food!” She couldn’t dig it out of her mouth fast enough. It went from tasty to poison in less than a second.

That story would be a whole lot funnier if it really was candy and I was just playing a trick on her. Needless to say, I never tried any. It may have been awesome. I’ll take her word for it.

They say desperate times call for desperate measures. I’m assuming the reason stores are out of Kleenex and paper towels is that, in a pinch, they can be used for cleaning something a little more personal. But when my granddaughter ran out of Kleenex and started wiping her nose with toilet paper, that’s where I drew the line. She can have one of my old tee shirts for that.

I hate to see forced hibernation, but that may be what it’ll take to let this all settle down. We need to get a grip. There is no shortage of toilet paper or any of these other items. They are just temporarily out of stock. That’s all. Granted, if you’re out and can’t buy any, that’s a problem. Just visit your neighbors. Odds are one of them has enough to supply the whole block.

Panic doesn’t solve problems – it creates them. When we approach a problem with a level head, solutions appear. Panic is a reaction that clouds our judgment and compounds problems. Whether the problem is health-related, financial, marital, or just about anything else, our ability to maintain an even keel and work through the problem is critical to our success.

Tackle what you can today, and worry about the rest tomorrow. In that time, some of the remaining issues will resolve on their own. And even if they don’t, you’ll be that much better suited to work through them. You eat an elephant one bite at a time. Do you have enough food and toilet paper for today? Then who cares if the store is empty? Move on to the next problem.

This crisis will go away. It may take a while, and we will certainly have to adapt in the meantime. But the sooner we settle down and face the real problems instead of creating artificial ones, the sooner we’ll be able to get on with the business of living. And that doesn’t stop with the coronavirus. It’ll be that way throughout the rest of your life.

Whenever you’re faced with a mountain of problems, break it down. Some are real problems, and some are perceived. Some require your immediate attention, and some will work their way through with no help from you. Focus on the things you can fix. One step at a time, one day at a time. Breathe in and breathe out. Lather, rinse, and repeat.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom always to know the difference.” Words to live by, now and always.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

If You’re Not Driving, You’re Just Along For The Ride

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off well.

If you’re among the majority of the nation, your day didn’t start out like last Tuesday. Kids are home from school, parents are working from home (if they’re able to work at all), and all around us the world is slowly grinding to a halt. Hopefully you’ve got enough of the essentials to carry you through for a few days, because your neighbors cleaned the shelves at the store.

There was a story in the news about a guy in Tennessee who rented a truck and bought up every bottle of hand sanitizer he could find. Once the stores were empty, he put the items on Amazon and eBay for as much as 80 times what he paid for them. Both outlets shut him down, and he’s stuck with 17,700 bottles he can’t sell. Now he can’t afford toilet paper. Instant karma.

I normally try to mix in a little humor in my posts, but there’s not a lot to laugh about in this crisis. I read yesterday that up to 80 million jobs will be impacted, and in the coming week as many as 10 million people could be out of work. Never mind the kids whose school year was interrupted, or the high school seniors who may be denied the spectacle of public graduation.

Life, as we know it, has changed. And while we will eventually weather the storm and come out safe on the other end, things we’ve taken for granted have changed forever. At the top of that list is our feeling of security. It’s a reminder that life can come along when we least expect it and change everything in a moment.

The last recession is still a vivid memory. Most of us were impacted by it, and it’s taken the better part of 12 years to recover. Yet, in a matter of days, most of those gains have been wiped out. Hopefully this crisis won’t last so long, but recovery will take time and the landscape will look very different when it’s all over. Where we fit in that landscape may yet be unknown.

When you rely completely on one source of income, your exposure to risk increases exponentially. That’s why I’ve always tried to have a few things I could fall back on. A little here and a little there adds up. When you’re working, it’s extra income. It’s a chance to enjoy some of life’s finer experiences. And if the job ends, it becomes your immediate means of survival.

You never know what may happen to change your situation. Two years ago, I had brain surgery. That could have put me out of commission for good. You could be on your way to work tomorrow and somebody decides to take your lane. It happened to my wife. All manner of things can happen to change life as you know it. The question is, what will you do then?

To the extent that you can rely on yourself for income, and not somebody else, you have a better chance of controlling the outcome of things over which you have little control. I’ve never once fired myself from a job. Have you? If your company closed its doors tomorrow, could you continue making an income on your own? Every little bit helps.

Dig the well before you get thirsty. You’ve read those words before. There are things we can all be doing now that may not make a major difference in the next week or so, and maybe not even for a few months. But they could make all the difference in the world as we move forward and find our new place in life. If you’re out of work already, why not put that time to use?

It’s funny how we scramble to find a quick solution when we need money, yet we’re quick to scoff at anything outside of the traditional 8-5 job. But at a time when so many companies are sending people home, doesn’t a business of your own make that much more sense? The problem isn’t a lack of opportunities. It’s an overabundance of misplaced pride.

If you’re over the age of 30, odds are somebody at some time has offered you the chance to build a home-based business. And, if you’re among more than 99% of the adult population, you turned it down. Granted, owning a business is no guarantee of success. You have to work at it, and you may still struggle. But right now, wouldn’t it be nice to have something to work at?

This crisis will end. And then something else will happen. That’s the reality of life. Handling those ups and downs will depend heavily on the choices you make now – before the need arises. To the extent that you control the variables, you control the results. Put yourself in the driver’s seat and you’ll never have to wonder where you’re headed.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

It’s Only a Crisis If You Didn’t See it Coming

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is starting off well.

I’ve often wondered what I would do if I got up in the morning and the coffee maker was broken. I know, if you’re a coffee drinker, that deserves an apology because it’s not a vision any of us wants to imagine. That rates right up there with flat tires and sitting down to the sound of the seat ripping out of your pants. At work. In a conference room. Full of the company’s top executives. Get the picture?

Thankfully, coffee makers don’t usually just quit all at once. You get a little advance warning. It starts brewing really slowly, it makes funny noises, and you start seeing chunks of something that doesn’t look like coffee grounds in the bottom of your cup. If that happens, run – don’t walk – to the nearest coffee maker store. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself without coffee when you need it the most.

It’s that way with a lot of things in life. You fall into a comfort zone where things are going well, and the thought of an abrupt change is the last thing on your mind. But it happens, and usually when you expect it the least. And it can require immediate action to avoid an even bigger mess. A lot of times, the outcome is largely dependent on our ability to act quickly at the first sign of trouble.

Rarely does anything go seriously wrong without at least some advance signs of trouble. Usually, we think about those signs after the wheel falls off the car and realize there was a noise we couldn’t quite identify, or a little extra sway in turns. It’s easy to write it off and just keep driving. But sooner or later, the problem will demand our attention. And the longer we wait, the more expensive it gets.

I have to take my car in for repairs this morning. I can’t quite describe the noise coming from the front end other than to say it sounds like I’m pushing a bulldozer blade down the road. And my car doesn’t have a bulldozer blade, so that’s probably not normal. And, thinking back, it’s been making little noises for a few weeks. I ignored those warnings, so now it’s shouting them at full volume.

But this isn’t really about coffee pots or cars. It’s about life. Because all through our life, things change. Relationships falter, the bank sends a foreclosure notice, the doctor walks in with bad news, or you find out you need a new job – like now. Any one of these things, or dozens of others, can throw you right out of your comfort zone and into full-blown survival mode.

It can hit you like a ton of bricks, but more often than not, there were signs of trouble long before the sky fell in. Those signs may have been subtle, or they may have like a red flashing light, something you couldn’t have missed with your eyes half-closed. But it’s easy to ignore those initial warning signs until they start screaming at us. By then, comfort has turned to crisis and we have no choice but to do something about it.

We talked earlier this week about creativity, and if you want to see creative thought in overdrive, put yourself in a crisis. You’ll dream up things you would never have thought of, simply because you don’t have any other choice. What you’ve been doing hasn’t worked, so now you have to do something different – maybe something you’ve never done before.

And most times, we look back later and wonder why we didn’t just do that in the first place. Maybe it was something so completely out of character, or out of our comfort zone, that it never really crossed our mind. And I’m not talking about anything immoral or illegal. Just a different approach that we never would have considered. But now, it’s the perfect fix. It’s the right thing at the right time.

Again, the change may be subtle, something you do without really batting an eye. It can also be something monumental that takes a complete leap of faith into the unknown. Or it could be something in between, where we have the option to make the easier move or to put it all on the line and make it work. Notice I didn’t say “hope for the best” – it’s all or nothing.

If we take notice at the first sign of impending trouble, we can usually avoid a crisis. And if we assess our options before they have to become choices, we can move in the direction we choose rather than the direction in which we’re pushed. A minor course correction may be all that’s needed, if we do it early enough. The goal never really changes – just the path you’ll follow to get there.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day and a fantastic weekend!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved