If Retirement is So Much Fun, Why Do We Wait So Long to Get Started?

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

Well, the weekend is over and it’s time to get back to work. I hope you enjoyed a couple of days of rest. And if it wasn’t restful, I hope it was exhilarating. We spend five days each week doing the things we have to do, so it’s only fair that we should be able to spend the other two doing the things we want to do. At least part of the time.

Imagine what it would be like to sleep until you feel like getting up, and then take your time getting started each day. As you sit down for your first cup of coffee, instead of dreading the morning commute, you would run through a mental list of things you could do today. You know, fun things. Sure, there would be some errands in the mix. But imagine if your time was truly your own.

For most of us, that time comes much later in life. After we’ve done all the other things we need to do, we’ve worked our mind and body until there’s not much left, and that mental list of things we could be doing each day is interrupted by medical appointments. Once we reach that age, getting in a car to go somewhere is usually not very exciting. It’s just one more chore we have to do.

Yet, for most of us, that’s what we have to look forward to. Work for 40-50 years until you’re too tired to do anything, then cut your pay in half and sit around the house watching 24-hour news. That and sifting through the newspaper to find out if there are any familiar names in the obituaries.

It’s no wonder most young people don’t plan for retirement. Who wants to put all that on paper, and then work for several decades to achieve it? It’s a lot more fun to take those vacations while you’re still young. And why hold off on buying that fancy sports car until you’re too old to drive it? A bigger house? Get it now, before you have to pay somebody to keep it clean.

It’s that mentality that puts a lot of younger people in poor financial shape and leads them into retirement with a fraction of the savings they’ll need to survive. But, like most other things in life, we always count on things somehow getting better by the time we reach that age. The house will be paid off, we won’t have car payments, and old people eat a lot less food. Besides, there’s always the lottery.

On the other hand, I’ve met a lot of young people who decided we’re doing this all wrong, and they’ve managed to squeeze in retirement about the time most of us were just getting started in life. Instead of waiting for somebody else to tell them how much they’re worth, they decided for themselves. And, wouldn’t you know, it’s a good bit more than the rest of us get paid. Go figure.

But it’s not about how much money they make. After all, there’s only a certain quality of steak you can buy, no matter how much you want to spend. And fancy cars spend about as much time in the shop as any other car – they just cost a lot more to fix.

And here’s the thing – it doesn’t take a major windfall or rich parents to put early retirement within reach. It just takes a little extra. When you don’t have enough to pay your bills, $100 might as well be a million. But after the bills are paid, that same $100 gives you peace of mind you didn’t have before. Another $100 raises the comfort level. Double that, and you can take a nice vacation.

Most of the people I know who retired early didn’t start out making a fortune. They found a way to make a little extra, and then applied the same principles to turn that little bit into a little more. They kept doing that until the day came when their side income surpassed what they made on the job, and early retirement became a choice they could make.

Some friends were talking the other night about their doctor, who’s still working at the age of 85. He doesn’t need the money – he works because he wants to. If we’re lucky, we’ll have that option. Maybe our mind and body will still be strong enough to keep going long after others our age have been forced to stop. I sure hope so.

The important part of all this is choice – doing what you choose to do, when you choose to do it. And while that may sound like a bit of a pipe dream, that existence is closer than you may think. All it takes is a little extra. Find a way to do that, and then just keep doing it. The opportunities are there. The life you want is waiting. All you have to do is decide what’s most important.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Goals are Great – But What’s Your Plan?

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off just right.

Well, it’s a new month and that means another chance to do the things we wanted to do last month, but never quite got done. Unless you live where I do and what you wanted to do was play outside in the water. I think we missed our chance on that for a while. But, as we discussed a few days ago, winter always turns to summer … eventually.

But if you had some other goals in mind, things that don’t require nice weather, now would be the time to refocus on those goals. I have a lot of things I need to do inside and now is the perfect time to get them done. Things like cleaning up the basement, going to the gym, and writing my book. If I could get any of that done over the next few months, I’d feel pretty good.

And then there are those other things, the ones we tend to describe in vague terms. “I need to get out of debt.” “I need to learn some marketable skills.” “I need to build my business.” “I need to do more with my family.”

When we say those things, we think we’ve pretty well defined what it is we need to do. But really, it’s no different than a military commander saying, “We need to win this war.” Duh! A third-grader can figure that out. Want to try a little harder, genius? Like, how do you plan on accomplishing that goal? What’s your strategy? What’s your plan? And when do you intend to get started?

Thankfully, military commanders don’t go into the battlefield with nothing more than a vague goal. They assess the situation, take stock of their assets, look for opportunities, and formulate a plan. And hopefully they do that pretty quickly, because the other side isn’t sitting back waiting for them to get out of bed. Odds are, they’re already on the move.

More often than not, we get a little more time to plan. Very rarely are we in competition with anybody else, and the stakes aren’t nearly as high. And that’s exactly why we have such a hard time accomplishing the things we need to do. If you’re like me, planning alone can take months or even years. I’m great at planning. But at some point, those plans need to be put into action.

Nobody likes a “to-do” list. Well, almost nobody. I guess some people rely on them like I rely on the battery in my car. But for most of us, it’s just another tedious task to complete before we can get anything else done. And at the end of the day, it’s one more reminder of what all we didn’t get done. Like we need any help with that. It’s like a GPS when you make a wrong turn … “Recalculating!”

But sometimes we need those written reminders to keep us on track. With all the distractions around us every day, it’s easy to find other things to occupy our time. Whether it’s TV, or phone calls, or email, or surfing the Internet, we can always find something to take up a few minutes when we really should be doing something else.

Most times, when we find ourselves engaged in idle activities that don’t do a thing to work toward our goals, it’s because we don’t really know what we should be doing in the first place. A list can help, but only if you know what to write on that list. If your only goal is to start a business, with no more detail than that, you’ll just sit there spinning your wheels until you burn out.

That’s where a little time spent studying and planning can make a world of difference. The more complex the project, the more time you’ll need. But it’s just a simple process of breaking it down into manageable steps. What is it you want to accomplish? How can that be done? What are the steps you need to take each day? What are the obstacles you’ll encounter?

The better you understand the details of what it is you want to accomplish, the easier it’ll be to do it. But don’t let planning become a paralysis. There comes a point where you hit the road, point yourself in the right direction, and work through the obstacles as they arise.

Most of the things we want to do are pretty straightforward. Go to the grocery store, clean the basement, make dinner. We don’t really need a written plan for that. But for the bigger goals in life, you need a solid idea of how you’ll get there, and what it’ll take to do it. Break it down into daily actions, step away from the distractions, and you’ll get there sooner than you think.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Who Says You Have to Act Your Age?

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

Today is a special day for kids around the world. Okay, not just kids, but those of us who still miss the innocence of youth. The traditions are different in various parts of the world, but here in the United States, kids will dress up as their favorite super-hero, princess, villain, or spook, and go around door-to-door with a bag for us old folks to fill up with candy. Why can’t we do that for cash?

Every year, there seems to be a debate over when a kid is “too old” for Halloween. Along with every group of young children dressed up in their favorite costume, there will be one or two teenagers dressed in the clothes they wore to school, holding out a bag without saying a word. And you know what? They get candy, too. If it makes them happy and keeps them out of trouble, why not?

If you can’t enjoy the fact that they’re trying to hang onto their youth just a little longer, look at it from another perspective. The conversation goes something like this:

“Trick or Treat.”

“Aren’t you a little old for this? You’re not even wearing a costume.”

“Yes I am.”

“What are you supposed to be?”

“A juvenile delinquent. Nice place you’ve got here. Is that your car?”

Is that the conversation you want to be thinking about right before you fall asleep? I find it a lot more relaxing (and reassuring) to just enjoy the evening and everybody who comes by. Besides, you never know when one of those teenagers may be the one that comes by a month from now and offers to shovel the snow off your sidewalks.

About a month ago, before I had injections in my lower back, I had to use a cane to get around. Not for stability, but to bear weight. One day after work, as I was getting out of the car with the cane in one hand and my lunchbox and laptop in the other, a teenage boy walking down the other side of the street asked if I needed any help. This from what some people like to refer to as the “me” generation.

But that’s a story for another day. My point today is that it’s easy to look at other people and decide for ourselves whether they’re too young or too old for whatever they’re doing. Okay, too young may be more a matter of practicality than opinion. My youngest grandson would love to drive my car, but it’s safe to say he won’t be doing that any time soon.

But on the other end of the spectrum, we have people who are too old for whatever we deem fit. “Why don’t you act your age?” How many times have you heard that one? How many times have you said it? Whether it’s playing silly games as a third-grader, trick-or-treating as a teenager, or getting your ears pierced at the age of 50, people love to impose their own standards of what’s appropriate at a given age.

So, here’s the question – who decides what’s appropriate and at what age? Is there a book somewhere that I haven’t read? Was it part of the birds and bees talk that my dad conveniently skipped? Did they teach it in church when I was out of town? Seems it would help if they’d at least publish it in the newspaper once a year.

The reality is, you’re never too old for anything you can still enjoy. Period. And the moment you buy into the thinking that you’re too old, you immediately begin aging at a much faster rate. And we all know what’s on the other end of aging. So, why are we in such a hurry to speed it up? Worse yet, why are we so adamant about imposing monotony on people who are still trying to enjoy life?

There’s a time to act our age, to be certain. At work, they appreciate my sense of humor as long as I can mix it with the appropriate amount of professionalism and still get the job done. My bank appreciates deposits in excess of my withdrawals. And the mortgage company appreciates a payment each month, even if there are a lot more fun things to do with that money.

But beyond that, what’s wrong with having a little fun along the way? As adults, most of us like to get away from the kids, meet some friends, and enjoy an evening of music and laughter (and maybe even a few “adult” beverages). We went to an Elton John concert several years ago, and let me tell you, old people still know how to rock! The look on the younger people’s faces was priceless.

Don’t be so quick to teach younger people that it’s not okay to act young. Let them enjoy it a few years longer. Adulthood is coming fast enough. This is their time. Help them make the most of it.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

How Big Are Your Dreams?

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

As most of you know, my wife and I drove across the country a couple of weeks ago to attend a motivational conference. When you’re on the road that long, you pass pretty much every type of vehicle known to man, and possibly a couple I’d never seen before. In some of those states they have rigs where one truck is pulling three trailers. At highway speed. In a crosswind. Need I say more?

We always used to look at other cars and, sooner or later, we’d see one and say, “That’s what I want someday!” Well, I can honestly tell you that doesn’t happen anymore. We’re really happy with the car we’ve got. It’s comfortable, reliable, roomy, and easy on gas. And when the snow falls, it’s got all-wheel drive to brave the elements. I can’t imagine anything much better than that.

Maybe that’s because we’ve outgrown the days of always wanting something nicer (and more expensive). Maybe it’s because we’ve reached that age where a car is transportation – a means of getting from one place to another. And maybe it’s because we did our research and bought the car that matches our needs completely. That would be a first.

But mostly, I think we’ve grown to an age where cars just aren’t that special anymore. At least not the new ones. Now, give me a 70s vintage muscle car, or a pickup from the early 50s, and I’d be grinning from ear to ear. I like old cars. Especially cars that are just a little older than I am. I see one on the road every now and then, but it doesn’t happen very often.

On the other hand, our eyes were immediately drawn to just about every motorhome we passed on that trip. My wife would ask what kind it was and, more often than not, I could give her an accurate answer. I’ve done my research. When I turn on Facebook, it automatically pops up RV ads. Sure beats the days when my computer thought I needed pills to correct an unwanted male condition.

I have to be honest. About a month ago, I was ready to go shopping. For RVs, not blue pills. And not just shopping, I was ready to buy. But deep down, there was this nagging thought that we would be settling for something a little less than what we really want. My wife, on the other hand, thinks I’m shooting for the stars. Somewhere in between those two is where we’ll eventually end up.

As I mentioned yesterday, there’s this nagging issue of my job. It could end in a couple of months, and that would make those monthly payments a bit of a nuisance. But that’s just a technicality. The bank may not see it that way, but they don’t have my sense of adventure. What’s really stopping me right now is that we still haven’t decided exactly what we want. We’re still in the dreaming mode.

And make no mistake, it’s easy to let your imagination fly when you’re enjoying the scenery on cruise control and a 45-foot diesel pusher motors past pulling a “dinghy” that’s bigger than the car we’re driving. Some of these rigs have price tags nearing a million dollars. I guess you’d have to enjoy the road a lot more than I do. Besides, until they build a bridge to Hawaii, I’d eventually run out of road.

Still, somewhere between what I was ready to buy and a rig like that, there lies a realm where my dreams continue to exist. I don’t want to settle for something less than what we really want. And I don’t want to buy something now, just to pull into the campground and look at every other motorhome around us wishing we’d waited just a little longer.

One of the things they stressed at our conference is that, if you’re going to dream, dream big. Reach for the stars. That doesn’t mean you have to dream of the biggest and best, but don’t settle for a pup tent just because it gets you out of the house. Because odds are, until that pup tent wears out, you won’t be able to justify anything bigger. And pup tents never wear out. They last forever.

When you dream, take time to define exactly what it is you want. Not what’s available at the moment, or what you think you can afford – dream of what you really want. If something is worthy of your dreams, it has to be worthy of your effort. And if you’re going to put in the effort, you don’t want to settle for second-best.

A big dream doesn’t take any more effort than a small one. It may take a little more time, but you’re going to be working anyway, right? So, why not work for what you really want? Dream big. There’s no limit to what you can achieve.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

One Person’s Struggle is Another Person’s Dream

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

I always say “good morning” but that’s just from my perspective. For some of you, the workday is half over and some of you are getting ready to climb into bed. That could be due to your work schedule or your location on this planet. It’s nice to know my words reach people literally around the world each day. It’s also very humbling.

As I write each morning, I try to think about the words and phrases I use and remind myself that not everybody in the world understands exactly what I mean. A co-worker from another country once asked me to explain what “Hump Day” means. It’s easy to assume everyone knows it means the half-way point in the week. But I’m sure somebody had to explain it to me once. Then it made sense.

We all approach life from different perspectives. Some were born to privilege and thought everybody had a swimming pool and tennis courts in the back yard. Others were born on the other side of the tracks, and to them, a swimming pool was any body of water bigger than a bathtub. It’s just a matter of what we’ve come to accept as everyday life.

The same is true on the job. To me, a hard day is working through challenging issues and people who don’t respond to email. To another person, it’s coming home with sore muscles from too much physical labor. And, as a comedian once reminded me after I’d suffered a particularly brutal show, to a cop, a bad night at work means he’s got people shooting at him. It’s all a matter of perspective.

I remember once when I was being sent to Chicago to do some work for my company. I had requested a cash advance to cover my travel expenses, because I didn’t have any extra money in the bank. I asked several times during the day, and my request fell on deaf ears. Finally, I told them to make sure I was booked in a hotel with a restaurant so I could charge my meals to my room. I was broke.

The manager who was sending me on the trip said, “Just charge it to your credit card and we’ll reimburse you when you get back.” That’s great for some people, but I didn’t have a credit card. At that point in my life, no bank was stupid enough to give me one. When I told him I didn’t have one, he gave me an incredulous look and said, “You don’t even have a Master Card?”

I found out last Friday that my job may be ending in a couple of months. I’ve known for a while this day may be coming, and I have to admit it’s been a little difficult adjusting to that reality. Then I went to church Sunday and we were asked to pray for two women in a rehabilitation center, and one whose brother suddenly passed away last week. All of a sudden, my problems began to shrink.

It goes along with the old saying about a man who was sad because he had no shoes until he met a man who had no feet. No matter how bad we think we’ve got it, somebody else has it worse. I try to remind myself of that in the morning when traffic suddenly comes to a halt because of an accident. Sure, it’s an inconvenience. But somebody’s day is starting off a whole lot worse than mine.

It works the other way as well. When we’ve worked to achieve a certain level of success, whether it’s on the job, as a parent, as an athlete, or even as a writer, it’s easy to get a little smug and think we’re special. We find ourselves in the presence of others who aren’t quite as accomplished as we are, and we puff our chest out just a little further. Life is good, and we have a right to be proud.

It’s good to be proud of our accomplishments. But if we allow that to go too far, it’s easy to overlook the reality that some who have accomplished much less have worked every bit as hard as we have, if not harder. If effort alone could make a person successful, every plumber and mechanic would be rich, and corporate executives would be sweating out this month’s bills.

Most of us go through life only truly understanding our own perspective. We think we know what it’s like for others, but we really don’t. Even if you’ve been at rock bottom, it’s easy to forget how that feels when you’re back on top. And it’s easier still to assume everybody else can climb up as quickly as you did. And it’s just as easy for them to assume you got all the lucky breaks.

Perspective is an amazing thing. The same rays of sun can tan the skin and damage crops. It’s just a matter of how we look at it.

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

Your Dreams Don’t Care How You Get There

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

I was thinking yesterday about the story of a man who yearned to win the lottery. Oh, the things he’d do and the places he’d go. He even turned to prayer. “Please God, let me win the lottery!” Still nothing. Week after week, his prayers went unanswered. Finally, in desperation he cried out again … “Please God! Why won’t you help me?” A booming voice from the Heavens replied, “Help me out here Jim … buy a ticket!”

We all have things we want, things we’d like to do, goals we’d like to accomplish. And sometimes, the answer is right there in front of our face and it’s so simple we don’t give it a second thought. Or worse yet, we do give it a second thought but it’s not the opportunity we were hoping for. We wanted something a little more exciting or glamorous. So, we keep waiting for the next one to come along.

Make no mistake, if your dreams rely on winning the lottery, you’re almost certainly in for some disappointment. We all know the odds. And sure, for those who win, the reward is instant. All those things they wanted are now there for the taking. And, according to statistics, within 3-5 years it’s all gone and they’re right back where they started, but with an insane amount of debt.

There’s something to be said for earning things the old-fashioned way, through work and dedication. And I think the reason we don’t like hearing that is because we’ve done it for all these years and still haven’t reached our goals. Worse yet, inflation seems to keep those goals about the same distance away with each passing year. Your pay goes up, and so does the price of your dream. Ugh!!!

So, the key is to do something different. Some people go back to school so they can increase their earnings, but most of that increase goes to pay off school loans. There are areas of the country where you can make more money for doing the same thing you do now, but the cost of living in those areas is that much higher. You could take a second job, but how long can you keep up that pace?

Again, sometimes the answer is right there in front of your face. Somebody comes along and shows you how to make a little extra money, maybe even a lot. But it’s not something you ever saw yourself doing. Maybe you’ve had friends who tried the same thing and it didn’t work for them. And how will you hold your head up when people laugh and say, “Really? That’s your plan???”

A lot of people tried to fly for centuries before the Wright Brothers ever lifted off from the dunes of North Carolina. Some of them never got off the ground. Some watched their creations disintegrate on the first take-off attempt. And some, armed with nothing more than faith and a pair of flimsy wings, fell to their demise from a cliff. For anybody with half a brain, there were plenty of reasons not to try.

And then along came two brothers from Dayton, Ohio with no more brains than the others, driven by a simple dream – to climb into a machine of their own creation, and soar with the birds. That was 116 year ago and look at where we are now. Do you think they ever imagined supersonic jets and trips to the moon? They just wanted to fly. And the dream was big enough to drive them to succeed where others had failed.

And here’s the thing – the Wright Flyer wasn’t all that different than many other early designs that never got off the ground. But they knew they were onto something and kept going where others had failed. It was the perfect combination of wingspan, airfoil design, propeller size, and even headwind, that allowed them to make that first flight of 120 feet – less than the wingspan of most airliners.

If there’s something you want, a burning dream that won’t go away, don’t hold back just because others have failed. In 61 years on this planet, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen a Rolls Royce driving down the street. But I’ve seen thousands of Ford Pintos. Does that mean only a handful of people want a Rolls? Or does it mean only a handful were willing to get one?

Opportunity knocks, but it doesn’t stand there pounding on the door until you turn off the TV, get out of your recliner, grab a drink, and make your way slowly to the door. It knocks once and then moves on. Meanwhile, you go back to the recliner waiting for a better opportunity to come along. And as you’re getting comfortable, somebody else is that much closer to your dream.

Don’t judge your possibilities by other people’s failures. You can succeed where others simply quit trying. You just have to want it more.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved