Your ‘Wagon’ is Right Where You Parked It

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

When I saw my surgeon a couple of weeks ago, he told me I can start exercising again. By that, I think he meant something other than lifting food to my mouth. I’ve always done pretty well with that. He told me to ease back into it, which is no problem at all. I’ve learned over the years that exercise isn’t something you just jump right into. Unless you like pain.

I went a couple of times, and already my lower back is making me pay for it. I didn’t do anything intense, but apparently what I did do was a little too much. You see, extra weight and back problems never play nicely together. You have to lose the weight to make your back feel better, but exercise kills your back. It’s the proverbial Catch-22.

So, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that, at least initially, I have to do exercises where my back is fully supported. And I’m pretty sure my recliner isn’t part of the solution. That means I have to find a way to sit comfortably while I make myself sweat. Maybe a chaise lounge chair on a sunny beach? It could work!

As luck would have it, they just built a brand-new YMCA a half-mile from home, so I went in the other night for a tour. It’s pretty impressive. Two gymnasiums, two pools (one for warm-water therapy), an overhead walking track, and a huge workout room with every type of exercise apparatus known to man. Some of them are even motorized. Now, that’s my kind of exercise!

But what struck me the most was how many people were there. The place was packed. There wasn’t a treadmill to be found, and I know those basketball teams had a lot more than five players on the court. My tour guide told me it’s like that in the early evening. She also said it’s a new facility, so everyone wants to be there. For now.

Finally, I asked her if she thinks a lot of that is what we call the “resolution crowd.” You know, people who make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, and then hit the gym every day through January and the first week or two of February. After that, you never see most of them again. Kinda like the crowd in church on Easter Sunday. She replied, “Oh, yeah!”

Granted, nobody wants to go to the gym when it’s so packed you can’t move. But, on the other hand, I’d really like to think the majority of those people will stick with it. I used to go into the gym the first week of January, see all the new faces, and say a prayer that they’d keep coming. Maybe all that praying is why they stopped. Guess I should have kept it to myself.

And the important thing is, they made the effort. I have to believe people who start working toward a goal and fall off the wagon are at least able to remember why they started it in the first place, then dust themselves off and climb back on. I say that because I’m one of them. I’m great at starting projects. It’s just the follow-through that gives me trouble.

Still, with very few exceptions, we can always start again. We can get back to the gym or get back to that healthy diet. We can finish painting the basement or clean out the garage. We can write that book, build that business, or climb that mountain. Whatever it was we started and stopped (or never quite started in the first place), we can go back and finish it.

As long as we’re breathing, we’re never completely out of the game. Granted, there are things I can’t do at this age and physical condition that I wish I could do. But I can improve my physical condition to make some of them a little more possible. I may never run a marathon, but maybe someday I can walk one. Sometimes we have to tweak our goals, but we should never just let them die.

Exercise is like a lot of other things in life. When you haven’t been doing it for a long time, you need to ease back into it and find your sweet spot. Too much too fast can cause some serious problems. And, like exercise, you can ease your way back into anything else you’ve started and let slide. The goal is still there, and the path to success hasn’t really changed. You just need to get back on track.

You never truly fail until you stop trying. And, as I’ve always said, better late than never. If there’s something you want, no matter how many times you’ve tried before, keep on trying. You’ll get there.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Feed Your Dreams to Help Them Grow

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

We were talking yesterday about dreams and how, for too many of us, the ability to dream seems to fade as we grow older. I’m not sure if that’s because we’ve been kicked down a few times too many, or because we just don’t have much that excites us anymore. Either way, it’s something I hope never to experience. There’s just too much in life I still haven’t accomplished.

I’m the kind of person who can usually describe my dreams in pretty vivid detail. Not the kind I have while I’m asleep … those are usually gone by the time I get my first look at the clock. But in terms of goals and plans for the future, I have no problem with that. Those visions are crystal clear.

Still, we all need to feed our dreams from time to time. It’s not enough to see a motorhome drive down the road and say, “Someday!” I’m a proponent of putting up pictures where you’re sure to see them a few times a day, but pictures lack depth. Sometimes, you need to experience the real thing.

Well, as luck would have it, there’s an RV show in town this weekend and we’re headed over there for a little dream-building this Saturday. I doubt we’ll find the exact floorplan and options we want right there on the showroom floor, but that’s okay because the bank says I still have to wait a little longer before I get my own set of keys. But you know what? They’ll still let you look!

Now, I’ll admit a motorhome is a pretty lofty dream, at least for some people. That won’t stop me from owning one, but it’s a little more involved than buying a refrigerator or a new car. And I know there are people who wouldn’t even consider going to a show or a dealership until they have the money to close the deal. But that can take a long time. Dream-building makes it happen sooner.

A friend often tells the story of giving a presentation in Mexico to an audience that didn’t speak a word of English. As he was telling them to put a picture of their dream on the refrigerator, a woman in the back started jumping up and down and yelling in excitement. He asked the interpreter what she was saying, and he said, “She has a dream! She wants a refrigerator!”

There’s a certain humor in that, but also a certain level of humility. A refrigerator is usually no big deal, because very few of us have ever lived without one. Like too many other things, we generally take them for granted. As long as they’re working and keeping the food cold, we seldom give them a second thought. But for some people, that IS the dream.

The perceived extravagance of our dreams varies by our ability to attain them. Thirty years ago, I worked for a company that built world-class motor yachts. These boats were the very definition of opulence. The first boat I worked on, the captain was opening two boxes of double-stemmed Waterford crystal. The glassware in those two boxes cost $15,000. No special reason – just because.

Now, for people who can afford luxury like that, my dream of owning a motorhome is pretty frugal, especially since I’d have to drive it myself. And to the person living in a mansion, a mobile home isn’t all that impressive. But I remember a time when owning a double-wide was a dream that took us from one dealer to another, three years before we were actually able to buy one.

It’s all a matter of perspective. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. But you can bet the person who’s completely happy with their current circumstances won’t be doing much of anything to make things better. It all has to start with a vision, a dream of something that’s worthy of a little effort.

When we keep our dreams in focus, our brain starts working with a sense of purpose. Instead of accepting those dreams as a passing vision, it tries to make them materialize. And nothing feeds that energy better than putting yourself in the middle of your dream, right there in the driver’s seat. The deeper you immerse yourself into that version of reality, the more likely you are to achieve it.

Our brains think in pictures, and that’s why it’s so important to have pictures of dreams where we’ll see them several times a day. But sometimes, we need to step beyond the two-dimensional world and truly experience the sights, sounds, and smells associated with our dreams. That’s when they become real.

So, feed those dreams. They may seem far off at the moment, but you’re getting closer every day.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reser

You’re Never Too Old to Dream

In 2017, 79-year-old Lucy Capers crossed the stage at the University of Maryland’s graduation to accept her diploma and degree of Bachelor of Science in Computer Studies. Let me say that again. She was just shy of 80 years old with 13 great-grandchildren and was graduating with people more than 50 years younger. When asked why, she simply said, “I always had a desire to know things.”

I love these stories. It’s worth turning on the news, just on the off-chance something like this will come up. Maybe that’s partly because I’m only 18 years from that age myself. It’s nice to know people can and do still get out there and chase their dreams, even when most others their age would be happy to kick back and coast through the final ride.

My grandson and I have always enjoyed a day at the local theme park. I still enjoy the thrill of a good rollercoaster, especially the ones that defy gravity with loops, corkscrews, and inversions. And as I stand in line for those rides with people who aren’t old enough to buy their own ice cream, it’s heartwarming to see people older than I am in the same line.

Now, I can’t say my doctor would be all that happy about seeing me in that line. That’s okay. He’s too wimpy to ride these things anyway. But there seems to be a misconception that, once we reach a certain age, we’re supposed to start acting like old people.

I’ve always tried to instill a spirit of youth and hope in my daughters and grandchildren, and I’m sure most of you do as well. I always told them they could accomplish anything they set their mind to and encouraged them to embrace their dreams. And let me tell you, kids can dream! It’s hard sometimes not to bring them back to “reality”, but it’s so important that we don’t.

So, at what point in life do we decide dreams are to be reeled in and it’s time to face the real world? For me, it began in high school. I had grand visions of life as a rock star, complete with a waterfront mansion and my own personal yacht. That’s when Dad started coaching my dreams a little and suggested maybe I should come up with a more realistic plan. Okay, his exact words were “get your head out of the clouds and find a real job,” but you get the idea.

And he didn’t mean to be negative. I didn’t mean to be negative as I gave my daughter some career advice when, at the age of 17, she informed me that she was looking for something “in management.” There are, after all, certain steps we have to take if we want to climb a particular ladder. You may skip one or two rungs along the way, but you can’t just jump right to the top.

And, even though I had to dash her dreams for the moment and tell her that being “third key” at the vitamin store just isn’t all that impressive on an executive resume, she eventually climbed that ladder and moved to the top of her career field. Because, like her dad, she never stopped dreaming. Her sister is the same. I guess the nut really doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

What made a 79-year-old think she could go to college and get a degree? The same thing that makes a toddler think they can climb the shelves of the refrigerator to reach the marshmallows. It’s an inner desire, a fire that just won’t be extinguished, and a brain that never learned the meaning of “impossible.”

What are your dreams? More importantly, which of your dreams have you pushed to the side over the years? You know, they never really die. Like an abandoned puppy, they sit there just waiting for the right person to come along and enjoy them for what they are, and what they can become.

Several months ago, a Michigan man found out the rock he’d picked up and had been using as a doorstop for the past 30 years was actually a meteorite worth $100,000. Wonder how many people kicked that rock out of the way before he came along?

You’re never too old to dream. And you’re never too old to act on those dreams. Give up on that whole concept of acting your age and accepting whatever life throws your way. And stop leaving your dreams on the side of the road because you picked up too much extra baggage along the way and something had to go.

Life will deal you enough disappointments without adding any more of your own. And the best way to work through those disappointments is to keep those dreams alive. If you have kids, you’ve probably told them “you can do anything you set your mind to.” Well, maybe it’s time to say it again. Only this time, stand in front of the mirror when you do it.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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