You’ve Practiced – Now Do It!

I was thinking about my grandson today, wondering how he’s holding up in boot camp. A lot of memories started to flood in, and among them was his penchant for rehearsing conversations that may or may not ever take place. Do you know anybody like that? We’ve all done it at one time or another. But this kid takes it to a level of commitment I’ve never seen.

And I guess it’s good to think through what you plan on saying, especially if it’s something that may not be well-received. Like when you’re telling the boss you want a raise, or letting your wife know you’d rather not eat last night’s “special” dinner again this century. Get that one wrong, and you may not want to eat anything else she cooks for a while. I’m just saying.

But there comes a point where we can rehearse things so much, we never really get around to the real thing. And, even if we do, odds are nobody else was there for rehearsal, so they don’t know how the conversation is supposed to go anyway. You say something, and they think you want them to respond with whatever comes to mind, not some carefully scripted dialogue only you know.

In his book Ten Powerful Phrases for Positive People, Rich Devos wrote “If you wait until you have all the knowledge and experience you think you need, you’ll never take a risk or achieve a goal.” My mom had another way of expressing that thought, but I won’t repeat it here. Her philosophy was don’t take up space in the outhouse if you’re just sitting there thinking about it.

When I was getting ready to begin my career in standup comedy, I read several books, watched a few live open mic shows, then wrote what I thought was the funniest five minutes of material in the history of show business. Then I set up a video camera in the basement and practiced. That alone should have deterred me from ever stepping onstage, but I never claimed to be a genius.

Still, there came that point where I had to turn off the camera, set aside my notes, and make a decision … do I call the club and get a spot on the show, or just sit here and dream about it? I made the call. Not only did I book myself in the next open mic show, I invited everybody I knew to come watch. I guess I figured there was no way I’d chicken out with that many witnesses.

That was the first of about 1500 shows for me and, after a while, I got pretty good at it. But it wasn’t until I stopped rehearsing every set word-for-word as I paced nervously outside the club that I finally learned to relax and enjoy it. And that’s when my audiences started to enjoy it as well. Sure, I missed a few lines and made some mistakes. But I was the only person in the room that even noticed.

There are things we need to rehearse, or learn to a certain degree of expertise, before we’re ready to share our newfound skill with the rest of the world. Flying a plane would be at the top of the list, along with wrestling alligators, performing a high-wire act, and defusing live bombs. Any one of those could really mess up your day if you aren’t up to the task.

But most other things in life are a bit more forgiving. Yet we still let the fear of being slightly imperfect keep us from taking the first step toward achieving our goals. As a teenage boy, I was hesitant to ask girls out. Not because they might not be interested in me, but because I was afraid of flubbing the words and ruining my one and only chance at happiness. Seriously???

And I see that scenario play out all the time. We know the things we need to do in order to achieve our goals, but we hold back waiting for the perfect opportunity, or the perfect conditions, or until we’ve rehearsed the perfect sales pitch. And, because nothing is ever perfect, we never even try.

Most times, the only thing standing in the way of our happiness is ourselves. We can achieve anything we want, but we have to first accept that the timing will never be just right, and we’ll have to work through some less than ideal conditions. From the back of the plane, the pilot’s expertise in navigating a thunderstorm is awesome. Only he knows how close we came to catastrophe.

It’s important to take time to learn new skills and practice what you’ve learned. But never let the fear of imperfection keep you from stepping into the ring. Any New Yorker will tell you the way to get to Carnegie Hall is practice, practice, practice. But none of that matters if you never take the stage. That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Awesome Dream! What’s Your Plan?

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

The week is almost half over. Depending on your perspective, that could be cause for celebration or trepidation. If you did your Monday resolutions and set some goals for the week, you may be facing the reality that you’ve fallen a little behind and now it’s time to catch up. Or you could just be working for the weekend, in which case your goal is getting closer simply by virtue of the calendar.

We all have goals. And this is the time of year when we tend to think about them a lot. That doesn’t mean we actually do anything about them, but it’s the thought that counts, right? Sure, if you’re doing something helpful for somebody else or giving them a gift. But if it’s a goal you hope to actually accomplish, it may take a little more than noble intent.

And that’s where a lot of us fall down. It’s not necessarily that we aren’t willing to do the work. We’re industrious and hard-working. We just sometimes lack the creativity to think outside the box. We want to accomplish a goal, but can’t we just do it by repeating the same thing we’ve been doing all these years?

Let me ask you a question. Let’s say one of your goals is to take your family on a Hawaiian vacation. You say yes, your spouse says yes, everybody says yes. Except the bank. And sadly enough, that’s where most dreams die.

But let’s say your CEO made you a deal. “Give me an extra 7 hours a week for the next year. Break them up any way you want, but you have to give me an honest 7 hours a week. Do that for a year, and I’ll pay for your vacation. First class tickets, a resort hotel, all expenses paid.” Would you do it?

Absolutely! If you’d known it was that easy to get to Hawaii, you’d have done it years ago, right? You can ask your CEO to make that deal, but odds are it’s not going to happen. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee it.

So, why not put in those 7 hours a week doing something for yourself? That’s one hour a day. If you knew how to spend those 7 hours, you could pay for your own vacation at the end of a year. And next year, you could go back and do it again. Except this time, instead of just sightseeing and lounging around on the beach, maybe you could be looking at real estate.

All too often, we don’t even try because we aren’t willing to spend a little time figuring out how we could actually do it. We know it’ll take work, and work is something we do all day anyway. An extra hour is no big deal. But what kind of work? What can we do that won’t require a huge investment in money or time, but can really make a difference?

And we think about that as we sit in front of the TV wishing we knew how to get to Hawaii. After a day or two, the dream begins to fade and we’re right back where we started. If you’re lucky, maybe there’s a show on TV where you can watch other people sitting on that beach as they contemplate a few real estate deals. I guess they already put in their 7 hours.

Having a dream is the first step. Translating that dream into a goal is next, because until we quantify that dream and give it a timeline, it’s just wishful thinking. But, even with a goal, nothing can really happen unless we have a plan and put that plan into action.

If your goal for this week was to lose two pounds, you probably gave some thought as to how you could do it. Exercise a little, cut out sugary drinks, yogurt smoothies for breakfast, and skip the afternoon snacks. That may be enough to get the job done. Either way, it’s a plan. You can try it for a few weeks, see how it’s working, and make adjustments from there.

Getting to Hawaii is no different. You just need a plan. And sometimes, that means keeping your eyes open to possibilities you never thought of. It means turning off the TV long enough to focus on ways to make it happen. And it means you may have to do something you’re not already doing, because what you’ve done so far hasn’t worked. If it had, you’d be dreaming of something better.

There’s not much you can’t accomplish in this world if you have a dream, a goal, and a plan. All it takes is an open mind, belief in yourself, and a little imagination. The rest is just work.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Normal is Good – But You Can’t Stay Here Forever

Most of us spend our lives doing pretty much the same thing day after day, to the point that it just becomes routine. And if anything comes along to upset that routine, we tolerate it for the time being … and in the case of fun things like holidays or vacations, we really enjoy it … but in the end, we’re just happy to get back to that routine.

I’ve often wondered why we’re always in such a hurry to get back to normal, especially when “normal” is usually something less than what we would like it to be. That’s not to say we’re unhappy with our everyday life, or at least I hope not. But there’s a difference between being happy and wanting something more.

No matter how well things are going, there are things we’d all like to make a little better – a relationship we’d like to improve, a new skill we want to learn, a stronger family, a newer car, whatever. The day we stop wanting these things is the day we stop trying. And when we stop trying, we begin to lose what we had.

Throughout life, we’re constantly moving. Nobody wants to stagnate. And thankfully, that’s just not possible, even in nature. When a body of water isn’t moving, we say it’s stagnant. But the truth is, it’s just sitting there getting more repulsive by the day. Moss and bacteria continue to grow, the smell gets worse, until one day it becomes so consumed with the slime that it ceases to exist.

We’re pretty much the same. Every day, we’re changing. We face new challenges, we adapt to new situations, we tackle new opportunities. Avoiding those changes doesn’t mean we cease to grow. It just means we grow in the wrong direction. We start backsliding until we hit a point of critical mass, where we either have to start moving forward or just cease to exist.

That doesn’t mean we die. It just means we stop living. There’s a huge difference. Because to live is to grow and thrive, to face those challenges and tackle new opportunities. And, because we’re not insects, there has to be an element of happiness along the way. But happiness alone doesn’t mean we’re growing. It just means we’re enjoying that temporary situation in which we live today.

Notice I said temporary – because no matter where you are in life, it’s never permanent. You can enjoy it or lament it today, but tomorrow it will change. The change may not be anything dramatic. In fact, you may not even notice it on a day to day basis. But, over time, it will become more and more distinct.

Hopefully most of those changes are for the better. I’ve seen people go both ways. And, after a while, that becomes their new “normal.” Not only the situation, but the general trend. Newton taught us that a body in motion tends to remain in motion. And we’re no different. If we start sliding backward, we generally continue in that direction until something changes.

That’s why it’s important to be continually moving forward. It’s okay to enjoy “normal” as long as we don’t hang around too long. Sooner or later, we’ll wear out our welcome and be forced to move again. And here’s the thing – it’s just as easy (and likely) to move back as it is to move forward. And vice-versa.

If we never allow ourselves to come to a complete standstill, odds are we’ll keep moving in the same direction. So, make sure you’re moving forward. Enjoy what you’ve worked for, make the most of your current situation, and do your best to be happy. But don’t let that sense of contentment trick you into thinking you’ve reached the ultimate destination. It’s still out there, waiting to be found.

Change is inevitable, and as long as we continue to draw air into our lungs, we’re never really sitting still. Make sure you’re moving in the direction you want and, if not, don’t just hit the brakes. Do a Hollywood-style screeching tire turnaround and start moving the other way.

Normal may feel comfortable. It may even fool us into a sense of complete satisfaction. But unless we’re willing to step beyond normal, we’ll never know how much better things can be.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You Won’t Do What???

Have you ever awakened in the morning with a song going through your head – a song you haven’t heard in months or maybe even years, and one you may not even like? Of course, you have. It happens to all of us. We have no idea why that song popped into our head and, try as we might, we can’t shake it until something else comes along to take its place.

If you enjoy any of the music from the early 90s, you’re probably familiar with these lyrics: “I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that.” The song was first recorded in 1993 by Michael Aday, better known to most of us as Meat Loaf, and it reached the #1 spot on the charts in 28 countries.

That’s the song I woke up with this morning, and it’s still playing through my head. Thankfully, this is one I really liked. Yesterday I woke up to Janis Joplin. I’m sure for some of you, that would have been a great way to start the day. I’m pretty sure it was my brain’s way of punishing me for going to bed so late.

So, why am I writing about that this morning? Well, two reasons. First, it’s a vivid reminder of the fact that our brain can retain just about anything for a long, long time, and it can bring it back to the surface when we least expect it. Good things and bad, so be careful what goes in.

But in the context of motivation and success, I think it raises a pretty important point. We all want the best life has to offer, but we tend to draw a lot of lines when it comes time to actually do something about it. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We should have limits, especially when it comes to something that is completely against our values.

Still, that leaves a lot on the table. We all have things we want, dreams that we can describe in vivid detail. And, while we’re in the dream mode, our imagination can become the world’s best add-on salesman. “You want the tour package to go with that? How about a luxury suite? And you wouldn’t want to travel this far in a coach seat … we’re talking first class, right?” And your brain says, “YES!!!”

Okay, so what happens when it’s time to start working toward that dream? That’s when the song starts playing: “I would do anything for (insert your favorite dream here) … but I won’t do THAT.” Really? A moment ago, you were adding options like a kid at the ice cream buffet. No extravagance is too great. After all, you deserve this. You’ve earned it!

“But you mean I actually have to work for it???” The list of options hits the floor and is quickly replaced by an even bigger list of limits. Okay, you’ll work for it. Maybe even a little extra. As long as it’s not too much extra effort, and it doesn’t cut into bowling night. And it can’t be anything that involves sales or talking to strangers. After all, you still have a little pride!

Try something, just for fun. At the top of a sheet of paper, write down one of your biggest dreams. Don’t hold back – let’s go for the gold. Immediately below that, write down all the reasons you want this. Then, draw a line across the page and begin listing all the things you’re not willing to do to get it. You can leave off the illegal and immoral things – you won’t need them.

If you’re being completely honest, you can describe your dream and all the reasons you want it in the top half of the page. But you’ll probably need several sheets of paper to finish the list of things you won’t do to get it. “I would do anything for (top of the page), but I won’t do that (the rest).” It’s a real eye-opener.

In talking with people about their dreams, I find this to be the case more often than not. The “I won’t do that” list can be pretty long and, after a while, even they begin to realize they’re not even describing personal values or hard limits. It’s just a convenient list of excuses. “I could have had that if I wanted it, but I wasn’t willing to do THAT.”

If your dreams are important enough, you’ll find a way. It’s there – you just have to set aside your inhibitions (and maybe even a little pride) and make it happen. Make excuses or make memories. That’s the bottom line. Take an eraser to your “I won’t do that” list and you’ll open a world of possibilities. From there, all you have to do is pick one and let the magic begin.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Dust Off Your Dreams

Monday isn’t a day we tend to celebrate. The weekend is over and, for most of us, it’s back to work. The boss thinks you should be completely rested and ready to hit the ground running. But those of us who have actually met the reality fairy know better. We know that Monday morning is when we suffer the hangover from trying to cram a week’s worth of activity into two days.

On the other hand, the kids are back in school, so there’s that. Sometimes, you have to find the good in any situation. As a parent who raised two teenage girls, I know the feeling well. The only problem is, the teacher gets tired of them before the boss gets tired of us. Why haven’t schools ever learned the concept of overtime?

Monday is also the first day of a whole new week of opportunities. It’s a chance to either pick up where you left off last week in your pursuit of a personal goal, or to begin working on something entirely new. And, regardless of how much rest you actually got over the weekend, your brain is rejuvenated and ready. If only you could get your body to catch up.

Last week, I suggested Monday resolutions. Did you give it a try? How did it go? If you’re like most of us, you did well some days, and spent the rest of the week nursing the bruises from falling off the wagon. That’s okay. Once you get to be my age, the problem isn’t sticking with a resolution. It’s remembering what you decided to do in the first place.

Luckily, God saw that coming and invented something to help us through those times. It’s called paper. Things that are clear in your mind today tend to become a little cloudy over time, especially when they’re not front and center every day. But words on paper never change. The same goes for words on a computer. How many politicians found that out the hard way?

Besides refreshing our memory about exactly what we decided to do, written goals serve as a constant reminder that we’re probably not taking the right steps to achieve that goal. Okay, for some people it’s another box to check off right before they reach around and pat themselves on the back. If you’re one of those, more power to you. The rest of us need a little help.

And, here’s the thing … when you put those goals in writing, don’t hide them in the bottom of a desk drawer where you’ll never see them again. Leave them out, in plain sight, where you’re sure to see them every day. Who cares if somebody else sees it? They may end up giving you the moral support you need to see it through. You know, right after they get up off the floor from laughing.

But, here’s an important thing to remember. If your goals wouldn’t make anybody else at least smile in that “you really are delusional” kind of way, you’re not trying hard enough. It needs to be something a little bigger than tying your shoes each morning. Stretch your imagination. Think big. At least tie them in a double knot.

When we keep our goals front and center, it’s that much harder for life to push them off to the side. Roadblocks become speed bumps or, at the very worst, the beginning of a detour that will eventually put us right back on track. And, along the way, we just might make a few new friends or find something worth coming back to check out.

It’s hard to focus on personal goals when demands of the job kick in, or when you’re in the middle of trying to handle any of life’s other priorities. But, the more you can keep that goal in front of you, the more cemented it becomes in your mind. It’s not there to remind everyone else – it’s there to remind you.

Get some pictures of what you want most and put them up where you can see them several times a day. Put one on the refrigerator. If you’re like me, you’ll see that one at least a couple of times. Put extras anywhere else you spend a fair amount of time.

And, if somebody else sees them, that’s even better. Well, within the constraints of Human Resources policy. Early retirement is a worthy goal, but let’s not force the issue. Still, when people ask about your picture, that’s a chance to reaffirm your goal. “That’s a picture of our next vacation.” Unless they have access to your bank book, they’ll never know the difference.

Goals are like any other priority in life. Unless we keep them dusted off, they can lose their luster really fast. And, much like that prized centerpiece on the living room table, the more prominently you keep it on display, the more likely you are to keep it shined up. So, keep your dreams visible. And be sure to spend a little time admiring them. They are, after all, some of your most prized possessions.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

What is Your “Why”?

Well, the holidays are over and it’s back to the grind. This is the time when we reflect on good times shared with family and friends, and face (for most of us) the longest stretch of the year before our next paid holiday. And if you live in the northern hemisphere, you get to contend with winter at the same time. And the hits just keep on coming!

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the post-holiday blues. The celebrations are over, the decorations are put away, and we’re expected to pick up right where left off, full speed ahead. Meanwhile, the credit card bills are coming in and we’re trying to figure out how to stretch what little is left in our checking account to cover expenses for the next month.

That said, it’s also a time of renewal. It’s a time to get back on our feet, shake off any lingering baggage from the previous year, and move forward with a sense of purpose. Whether you made a resolution for the whole year, or just for one week as I suggested in Monday’s post, this is where the rubber meets the pavement.

Like many of you, I need to lose weight. Okay, I need to lose a pretty fair amount of weight. I’m a member at a local gym and, over the past few years, I’ve exercised pretty regularly. That is to say, I’ve gone through periods of a few months where I exercised almost daily, and then several more months where I didn’t go at all. It happens.

But in my time at the gym, there’s something I’ve noticed. Every year, starting in the first week of January, the gym is full of fresh faces, people I’ve never seen there before. The morning workout crowd is about three times its normal size for a month or two, and then all those new faces are gone.

And there’s a simple reason for this. It’s not a lack of willpower, or failed resolutions, or anything of the sort. It’s simply the natural result of working toward a goal without a firm understanding of why you’re doing it in the first place.

It’s easy to set goals, and probably just as easy to start working toward them. But if we don’t know the real reason why, it won’t last very long. Ask somebody why they’re in the gym, and they can offer a bunch of superficial reasons. “To lose weight.” “To get healthy.” “To get my doctor off my back.” But those are goals – they don’t explain why.

This time of year, another common goal is paying off some bills. That may mean anything from cutting monthly expenses like cable TV or dinners out, to taking on a part-time job or even starting a business. And the goal is simple – we need more money, so we can pay off some bills. But why?

Maybe the goal is to pay down the credit cards, so we can spend more next Christmas. Maybe we want to save a down-payment for a new house or car. Maybe we want extra money for vacations or to send the kids to college. And maybe we just want a safety net, so we can start saving for retirement.

Whatever the reason, it’s important to understand what it means to you. Losing weight isn’t a reason – it’s a goal. Why do you want to lose weight? To get off your blood pressure medicine? To look more attractive? To fit into the seat of your favorite rollercoaster? It could be that simple.

Root cause analysis is a method of identifying a problem by continually asking the question “why?” The plane crashed. Why? Because it fell out of the sky. Why? Because the engine stopped. Why? Because it ran out of fuel. Why? Because it was raining, and the pilot didn’t want to risk getting water in the tanks by doing a visual inspection. Ah, now we’re getting somewhere.

Sometimes, you have to follow the same process to get to the real reason why you want to make a change. And once you’ve got that bottom-line reason firmly planted in your mind, the excuses seem to melt away. You wake up every day with a solid vision of what you’re doing, and why. It’s what drives you to succeed when you’d rather take a break.

We’ll talk more about this later, but for now, take some time to get your “why” firmly planted in your mind. It may take some time, and a few sheets of paper. But it’s worth the effort, because when you combine a goal with belief and a firm understanding of why, nothing can stand in your way.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Dreams for the New Year

Happy New Year! I hope your day is off to a great start.

It’s hard to believe 2019 is here. My daughter shared a post this morning with a warning from a popular computer retailer 19 years ago, advising us to shut off our computers before midnight. As the world watched in anticipation of all the bad things that could possibly go wrong because of the Y2K issue, the new millennium came in without a hitch.

Throughout history, there have been times when we expected the worst. Religious devotees have predicted the end of the world, right down to the date and hour. Outbreaks of deadly viruses have sparked fears of a global pandemic. The entire Cold War was based on the very realistic threat of a massive nuclear war. And the Y2K issue predicted the simultaneous crash of every computer-driven system on the planet.

Yet here we are, alive and kicking, and launching into a brand-new year. Go figure.

Could any of those things have gone wrong? Absolutely. But they didn’t. And that was largely due to preparation and intervention. On any given day, there are things in our world that can bring us to our knees if we’re not careful. And it’s good to be aware of those potential disasters, so we can do our best to avoid them.

That said, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in these things that we miss the beauty of living. In the movie “Blast from the Past”, a family retreated into their private fallout shelter at the height of the Cuban missile crisis and remained there for the next 35 years. Their son, born in the shelter, had no exposure to anything known of the outside world beyond the year 1962.

Okay, so that’s Hollywood, and it made for an entertaining, though improbable, scenario. But how many people do you know who spend their life hiding from a perceived danger, waiting for the hammer to fall? Some are a lot more afflicted by this mindset than others, literally refusing to leave the house for fear of disaster. Others spend their days out in the world, where they can spread the effects of their pessimism among the rest of us.

It’s difficult to accurately estimate the number of optimists and pessimists in the world, mostly because it’s not something that can be scientifically diagnosed. Hundreds of polls and surveys have been conducted, but let’s be real – how many people would actually describe themselves as a pessimist? But, if you talk to people long enough, you’ll figure out who’s who.

And, make no mistake – a little dose of pessimism can be healthy in a world where things can and do go wrong. We need to be aware of the dangers around us and understand the potential impact. But, like fresh cayenne pepper, a little pessimism goes a long way.

As we begin a new year, it’s important that we look ahead with hope, and the knowledge that we can make a difference in our world. It’s important to identify those things that have been holding us back and do whatever is necessary to overcome them. It’s a time to put the past behind and move forward.

It’s also a time to dust off those dreams and pick one or two for the coming year. Not to dream about, but to accomplish. And, here’s something to think about – if all of your dreams can be accomplished in a single year, you’re not dreaming big enough. Try harder. We should all be working toward at least one goal that will carry us into the following year and beyond.

Take a few moments over the coming days to feed those dreams. Drive through a section of town where property values are on another planet. Go to an open house in a neighborhood where you’d like to live. Visit an RV or boat show. Have a family dream night with the kids. Buy a travel magazine or go to the library and check out a book on your dream destination.

If we only focus on that little part of this planet and this life that fills our own reality, we’ll completely miss all the wonderful things that are waiting to be discovered. We can sit in our own self-imposed fallout shelter for the next 35 years or get out and enjoy what’s right outside that imaginary steel door.

There are people for whom the things we think are beyond reach are part of their everyday reality. They’re no smarter than you are, and they’re no more deserving. They just got there first. Dare to dream. Allow yourself to believe. Then get up off the couch and make it happen. Dreams really do come true, but only if we make them. Let 2019 be your year.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved