Build On Your Successes, Not Your Mistakes

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

Today will be a day of recuperation for me. Through a combination of age, weight, and not taking very good care of this body, I’ve got a condition doctors lovingly refer to as degenerative disc disease, along with a couple of other things I can’t quite pronounce. Combined, it means my lower back is pretty much gone, and it’s not going to get much better. Thankfully, it’s usually not nearly this bad.

With something like this, you resign yourself to the reality that some days will be better than others and try not to overdo it on the good days. Well, okay. That’s what sane people do. When I have a good day, my brain says, “You can beat this! Just get up and stretch it out a little.” And other days it just says, “Have fun, because you’re gonna pay for this one.”

I remember a time when that was my mentality about a lot of things. You’re out for a drink after work and the next thing you know it’s dinnertime. You call home and say, “Just a little longer.” Then it’s getting dark and you call to say, “Let me finish this drink and I’ll be home.” By now she’s fuming, and your inebriated brain says you’re in trouble anyway, so you might as well enjoy it.

I’m pretty sure we’ve all done that from time to time, in various ways. Maybe it’s a day on the job when you’re just not feeling it. Your work is stacking up and there’s no way you’ll get it all done. After a while, your brain starts making excuses. “Take it easy. There’s no way you’ll get all this done, no matter how hard you try. You’re in trouble anyway. Save your energy for tomorrow.”

Okay, we probably don’t do that on the job very often, because if we did, we wouldn’t be on the job for long. But how often do we do that with our own goals? You know there’s something you should be doing (or not doing) and there’s that nagging voice in your head that says you deserve a little fun. “All work and no play …” You know the rest of that one. It’s a song that plays in our minds a lot.

I know the things I need to do to make my back a little better. Exercise would be at the top of the list. Not anything intense – just walking or even a little stretching. Yoga would be great, or even swimming. I know all this. I just don’t do it. On the other hand, I know I have to lose weight. But that cheeseburger last night was just too good to pass up (not to mention the birthday cake later).

And it’s not like I’m doing things blindly, with no concept of the price I’ll pay later. I stood at my desk yesterday for a full five minutes talking myself into a healthy lunch instead of take-out from a local Thai restaurant. I knew the implications of making the wrong decision. And I made the right choice. This time. But how many times do we make the wrong choice, fully aware of the consequences?

We all make mistakes. That only makes us human. But when we allow those mistakes to pile up, simply because “I’ve already messed up anyway,” it’s that much harder to get back on track. And as we see ourselves slipping further from our goals, we begin to justify not even trying. Why bother if, after all that extra effort, you’ll just come up short anyway?

Yesterday we talked about those small steps – seemingly insignificant, but added together they can make a huge difference. It’s the same when we do the things we shouldn’t do. We may get away with it a few times, but after a while it catches up. And that’s when we find ourselves in a hole with nothing but a shovel to dig our way out.

I didn’t do anything intentional to mess up my back. But I did do a few things that I probably could have put off once I knew things were headed in the wrong direction. Just like I’ve done a few things I didn’t need to do instead of working on the things I should be doing for my personal goals. We all do it. And we all pay a certain price. The question we have to ask is whether that price is worth it.

Sure, we can always turn things around and get back on track. But it’s easier to keep a train moving than to get a train moving. We’ll slip up now and then, and that’s okay. What’s important is that we correct our mistakes instead of letting them become an excuse for making even more mistakes. Every step we take leads us in a certain direction. Make sure it’s the direction you want to go.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Success Begins With a Dream, But Habits Drive the Outcome

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

By lunchtime today, the week will be half over. That means you can celebrate the halfway point of all those things you wanted to do this week. You’re getting close, and the rest is just a downhill slide. By this time Friday, you’ll be looking at a short list of things to finish before you reach your goal. And they all lived happily ever after.

If it’s only that last sentence that sounds like a fairy tale, congratulations. You’re among the fortunate few. For the rest of us, everything in that paragraph has the makings of a fairy tale, including the part about the week being half over. We all know better. The week will continue through the weekend, and we’re nowhere close to being halfway to our goals for the week. We’re lucky if we even started.

If that’s your version of reality, you’re in good company. I’m sure there are statistics on this, but I don’t really feel like looking them up because they’d be pretty dismal. I’d venture to say most of us miss our goals on a fairly regular basis. Yet we get up each day, breathe in and out, and life goes on. In fact, after a while, missing goals becomes just a normal part of life. It just becomes a habit.

Now, I guess if you never set any goals in the first place, you wouldn’t have any reason to hang your head. You can’t miss the target if you never take the shot. And for some people, that’s their built-in defense mechanism against disappointment. “I know I’ll never accomplish that. Why make myself feel like even more of a failure? I’ll just keep doing what I’ve been doing. It’s not that bad.”

And, therein lies the problem – “it’s not that bad.” We not only allow ourselves to get comfortable with our current circumstances and convince ourselves we’re happy about it. We may have distant visions of a better life, and we may even dream a little. But what if, in the process of trying to build something better, we lose what we’ve got? “Things aren’t so bad. Don’t rock the boat.”

It’s all a matter of habit – something to which we’ve become completely accustomed to the point that we don’t even think about it. Everything from what time we get up each day to how we comb our hair, brush our teeth, and even the order of body parts that get washed first in a shower, is habit. You do the same thing the same way every day, and it becomes a normal part of life.

The same is true of our circumstances. We may think they’re controlled by external forces, like our family heritage, our neighbors, our co-workers, and most of all, the company payroll clerk. “If only I had more money, I could change this!” “If only they’d give me that promotion.” “If only I’d been born into a wealthy family.” “If only …” Yeah, fill in the blanks. The end result is pretty much the same.

Because, at the end of the day, it’s just an excuse for not doing anything to change our circumstances. It’s a habit. It allows us, at least in our own mind, to place the blame on some other person, thing, or event. “It isn’t my fault!” Well, okay. If that makes you sleep better at night, hang onto those excuses. But make no mistake, life won’t suddenly change just because it feels sorry for you.

It’s one thing to be content with your life. That’s a goal we should all strive to achieve. But being content doesn’t mean we can’t want something even better. It doesn’t mean we can’t set an even stronger example for our children. And it doesn’t mean we can’t get up each day and try a little harder to achieve even more in life. Being content isn’t living – it’s just a comfortable path to the end.

And it all comes back to habits. Are you in the habit of setting goals or avoiding them? Are you in the habit of working toward those goals or sitting there thinking about it? Are you in the habit of accepting accountability for your circumstances or making excuses? The answer to each of those questions feeds into another important habit – the habit of success.

Yes, success can become a habit, one that consistently leads us to bigger and better things. And it’s a habit every one of us can develop the same as we developed the habit of going to work. Success begins with a dream. It means setting aside those feelings of comfort and contentment and working toward something better. And it means doing that every day until we reach our goal. It’s a habit.

It’s been said that success occurs when our dreams are bigger than our excuses. Embrace your dreams and step over those excuses. Leave them behind for the next person. You’ve got bigger and better things to do.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Make Excuses or Achieve Results – You Can’t Do Both

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

Have you ever set a goal and, halfway through you begin to have that sinking feeling you’ll never make it? It’s even worse when the time is half gone and you haven’t really even started. You get that panicky feeling, and then start to formulate a plan. A plan to get back on track, a plan to get as much done as possible, or a plan to bow out with a handy excuse. At this point, anything will do.

Hopefully that’s not how it works, but all too often we take door number 3. It’s the easy way out. Besides, it was your goal anyway. It’s not like anybody is holding you to the fire, and your job certainly isn’t on the line as a result. You can always just set another goal next month. Right?

We can be very forgiving of ourselves when we miss goals, but we’re not so gracious when somebody else misses theirs. When the cable company says their technician will arrive before noon, and nobody shows up until late in the afternoon, we’re not too happy about that. And odds are we’ve already made several phone calls to complain. At that point, we don’t want excuses – we want results.

But what happens when we miss a goal we’ve set for ourselves? Excuses are not only applicable, they’re a welcome reprieve. That project at work took longer than expected. The car needed new tires. The weather didn’t cooperate. People we were supposed to meet didn’t show. And my personal favorite – “I just ran out of time.”

Okay, if you’re getting the idea I’ve dropped a few excuses over the years, you’re right. I’m no different than anybody else. None of us wants to accept, much less admit, that we came up short because we didn’t try hard enough. There has to be a reason, some other person or force of nature that’s to blame. Otherwise, it’s all on us.

That probably works when we’re explaining it to somebody else, but how well does it work when we say it to the person in the mirror? Sure, the excuse is real. We’re not making it up. And it really did complicate matters a bit. But is that the real reason we didn’t reach our goal? More often than not, it was just a speed bump that we decided to use as a parking bumper.

I talked yesterday about putting forth the effort – just doing what needs to be done, regardless of the results. Jeff Foxworthy, one of my favorite comedians, once shared some thoughts on looking for something we’ve lost. We look high and low, under beds and in the closet. All that time, it’s nowhere to be found. Then finally, there it is … in the last place we looked. Well, duh!

His point was pretty simple – we always find everything in the last place we looked. You wouldn’t keep looking for something after you’ve found it. “I have it right here in my hand, but I want to keep looking just to be sure.” It’s an amusing observation, but it also illustrates another point. You keep looking until you find what you’re looking for. If you stop halfway through, you’ll never find it.

That seems to happen a lot with keys. They even make key fobs that beep when you ping them from your cell phone. If you can find your cell phone. They tend to walk away from the last place we saw them as well. But hey, if there’s another phone in the house, you can always use that one to call your own. Unless you’re like me and the ringer is on silent.

Okay, that was fun, but you get the point. When you’re looking for something you desperately need, you don’t stop until you find it. And the closer you get to crunch time, the harder you look. You enlist help, you pick things up and move them, you flip things over, you do whatever it takes to get the job done. Failure is not an option.

When we approach our personal goals with the same sense of relentless commitment, two things happen. First, we get a lot closer to our goal than we would have with a bag full of excuses. We may not reach our goal, but we’ll get close enough to finish it up with just a little extra effort. And just as importantly, we become the kind of person who doesn’t quit. We become that person who sees everything through no matter what.

Excuses are handy, and they may make you feel a little better at the time. They may even provide a certain amount of cover in explaining failure to others. But at the end of the day, they’re just excuses. Double up your efforts and you won’t have time to worry about excuses. You’ll be too busy racing toward that goal.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved