Keep Feeding Your Brain – There’s Always Room For More

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

This will be a week of training for me. Two different topics, and it’ll take up nearly every moment of each workday until Friday. Then we get to catch up on everything else we missed during the week. Isn’t that the way it usually goes? It’s like taking vacation. You get a week off, but you spend a week getting caught up before you go and another week catching up when you get back. Fun.

Still, I’ll never forget the advice my dad gave me when I joined the Navy. Well, the advice I can share here, anyway. Some of the rest is a blur. But one day he told me to never turn down any class that was offered – get as much education as they were willing to give. That’s the one piece of Dad’s advice I followed, and I still follow it to this day. You can never learn too much.

Well, again, I guess that depends on the setting. My oldest daughter used to give a little more information than I cared for. Ignorance may not be bliss, but sometimes it beats the alternative. But when it comes to something I can use on the job, or that can get me closer to my dreams, I’ll take all I can get.

Best of all, most of my co-workers will be in town this week to join us. Most of our team is home-based in states I normally only pass through, so the only contact we have is a morning conference call and texting about work. It’s rare that we actually get to see one another.

There’s a lot more going on this week besides the training, including a quarterly meeting for our entire team. And we’ve mixed in some after-work activities as well. Nothing like getting together with some old friends for an evening of camaraderie (and drinks). Last time we went bowling. Suffice to say we won’t be doing that again. Hopefully ever.

I don’t think most of us actually look forward to sitting in a classroom all day, trying to take notes and keep up with the instructor while battling the effects of carbohydrate overload that comes from sampling too many donuts and bagels. Some days, there isn’t enough coffee in the world. In the Navy, they always told us to stand up if we got sleepy. I never sat down.

Still, there’s something about learning a new skill, even if you don’t think you’ll ever use it. Just to know some of the background workings of the systems we use is interesting, and sometimes helpful. Because when you know how a system is put together, you know its strengths and limitations. And when things break, it gives you a little background on what it may take to fix it.

Granted, there are times when we fill our head with so much information that it’s hard to see past the written facts. The Navy took a lot of time to teach us the inner workings of a transistor, from a purely theoretical perspective. To this day, I can’t tell you a thing about it, other than to rattle off some terminology that means nothing to me. All I needed to know was how to tell when it’s broke.

But, as with most other things, you can’t really tell if something’s working unless you know what it’s supposed to do. Unless you can define success, failure becomes a lot more ambiguous. That’s why we sometimes find ourselves running full speed ahead down the wrong path – we don’t have a clear idea of the intended outcome, so we just keep going and hope the goal will step into our path.

We don’t know anything without learning it first. Even things that seem obvious, like “don’t put your hand on a hot stove” had to be learned. And some of those lessons came the hard way. So, any time you can put yourself in a setting to learn something the easy way, take advantage of it. Your brain can absolutely handle the excess knowledge. And you never know when it may come in handy.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Best Plans Are the Ones That Result in Action

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

How many times during the day do you do something completely off the cuff, with no plan at all other than to get it done? You visualize the end product, and just dive in, figuring things out as you go. I used to do that with woodworking all the time. I never worked from a set of plans. I’d just imagine what I wanted to build, then head to the shop and start sawing boards. Okay, I measured first.

We have an Amish-style clock hanging by the front door, made of cherry that I bought with no concept of what I planned to do with it. I just liked the wood. It was about this time of year, and I came up with the idea of making my wife a clock for Christmas. Of all the things I ever built, that one is my favorite. I love the way cherry ages with time.

I can look at that clock and see every mistake I made along the way. There weren’t many, because I put my best effort into it. But there was a little sapwood on the top piece that never aged like the rest, and I always planned to put another top piece on it. When I told my wife, she dared me to touch anything. She loves it just the way it is, and I’m not sure she could find a single mistake if she looked for it. She only sees the beauty, and the love with which it was made.

So, take it down a notch. Instead of thinking of the great creations you can make that will leave other people in awe, think of the simple things you do every day that require nothing more than a solid effort on your part. You could plan every step from start to finish, but planning just fills up an otherwise clean sheet of paper. Nothing happens until you get up and get to work.

And most things are really that simple. Just get started, and the rest will flow until the job is complete. It’s that first step that always seems to get in the way. Maybe it’s procrastination, or maybe it’s other legitimately important priorities. But until we carve out the time and actually get started, it’ll be just a passing thought.

If you have to write anything on paper, let it be a checklist of things you plan to do. And as you write that list, do it with the commitment that you won’t go to bed until everything on the list is done. A speaker at our last conference referred to that as “earning your pillow.” And let me tell you, nothing feels better than snuggling up in bed at night knowing everything you planned to do is done.

It’s easy to do the easy things. Grab a sandwich on the way to work instead of making one at home. Send a few emails. Pick up the extra shoes by the front door and put them away. Wipe down the stove. Go to the drive-thru to pick up a prescription. We can find all kinds of time to fill our day. But do you find the same time to do the things that really matter?

Earn your pillow. Make a list and commit to it. Check things off instead of crossing them off. You’ll probably find more than enough time if you just get busy instead of thinking about it. Prioritize your list and tackle the big ones first. That way, when you run out of steam later in the day, all that’s left is to pick up those shoes and wipe down the stove.

Do that, and you’ll find yourself accomplishing much more than ever before and moving closer to your goals with each passing day. Procrastination will become a thing of the past, and success will become a natural part of life. Then all you have to do is dream a little bigger and see what you can accomplish next.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Magic Never Goes Away – Just Keep Looking

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

Well, it had to happen sooner or later. The white stuff started falling out of the sky yesterday evening and it’s still there. Looks like a couple of inches, and that’s about as close to accurate as I’ll get, because anything more would require that I step outside and actually see how deep it is. That’s not gonna happen. I only look stupid.

I remember a time in when snow was cause for celebration. It was magic. A white blanket over God’s not-so-green earth. A new playground. Sledding and ice skating and all those fun things we used to do. My dog is in heaven. He runs around the yard with his nose to the ground, bulldozing a trail through the snow with every step. It’s something new, and he’s making the most of it.

Yet, half a century later, it’s not that magical anymore. Sledding has been replaced by trying to stay on the road, and ice skating is what you do getting from the house to the car. And let me tell you, the ground gets a whole lot harder when it’s cold. Emergency rooms throughout the area will treat more broken bones today than they have all year.

It seems to work that way with a lot of things. Think back to the first time you rode a bicycle. That was a day of excitement. Nothing in your life could measure up to that one proud moment. Then you fell, but it was worth it. One day the training wheels came off and you were in heaven. Then one day you wanted to borrow the car and Dad said, “You have a bike.” It didn’t feel so special then.

I know people who still love to ride. In fact, I have a friend who spent more on his bike than I spent on my first five cars combined. I live in an area where old railroad trails have been converted into bike paths, and you can crisscross the entire state without riding on a single road. Not to say that stops people from riding on the hilliest, curviest country roads they can find. But that’s another story.

Think about your first day at work. Not this job – your very first job. For one in three adults, that first job had something to do with food (I use the term loosely). You stood in front of the mirror, brushed your hair, admired your uniform and name badge, then proudly walked down the street for everyone to see that you were now among the gainfully employed. Then you found out why they call it work.

It’s even that way with kids. You hold them in your arms, before they even go home, and can’t imagine how you ever got this far in life without them. They’re precious. They’re adorable. Every sound, every facial expression, every movement of the hands (and bowels) is special. First they crawl, then they walk. And then they turn two and leaving for work is once again a source of excitement.

I think most of life works that way. You work for a promotion, and a year later it’s just another job. You move into a new home, full of excitement, but before long it’s just another house. You start a business, full of excitement, and then one day you find yourself just going through the motions. You stand at the altar with your best friend in life, and ten years later you’re just paying bills together.

Don’t get me wrong. All of those things are awesome, and if you look hard enough, there will always be enough moments of excitement to remind you why you wanted it in the first place. But looking for excitement, by itself, usually leads to problems. What we should be looking for are goals. You’ve accomplished what you set out to do. So, what’s next? Dream a little. Together.

Dreams are the ultimate use of our imagination, and imagination is the first step in every worthwhile thing you’ll ever accomplish in life. Don’t focus on what is – imagine what could be. What if? Those are the two most important words in any endeavor. What if this job leads to bigger things? What if you added a sunroom to the house? What if that snow were actually a sunny Gulf-coast beach?

And what if all the years leading up to this day were just some sort of rehearsal for what’s yet to come? What if your very best days to this point were just a teaser of what lies ahead? What if you stopped saying “what if” and did something about it?

For every one of us, the future begins today. We can either find the magic we once saw in simple things and turn it into even greater things. We can enjoy what we’ve built to this point or build something even bigger. And if we can simply get out of our own way, we can find the same excitement in each moment that we did the first time we experienced it. It’s up to you. Make it count.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Getting Cold? Then Crank Up the Heat!

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

We’re officially entering that time of year where everything we’ve done over the previous year comes home to roost. People coughing and sneezing, wondering why they didn’t take better care of their health. Looking at the upcoming holidays, and wishing they’d set aside a little more savings. And the New Year, less than two months away, a constant reminder of those failed resolutions.

Already the stores have changed their seasonal displays to maximize their income from holiday sales. It’s a strategy retailers learned years ago. Some of us are old enough to remember when Sears had a nut and candy display strategically placed at the bottom of the escalator where the smell could waft up through the store captivating everyone who came close enough to get a whiff.

The sights, sounds, and smells are carefully designed with one goal in mind – getting their share of your holiday spending before anybody else has a chance. And it doesn’t matter if you’re only there to pick up some bread and milk. They know sooner or later you’ll bring your kids with you, and then it’s off to the races with a cash register waiting at the finish line.

And the stores don’t really care how much you saved, because they know we’ll max out our credit cards and spend money that should be going to something else in order to make this once-a-year celebration the best it can be. After all, it’s not the little ones’ fault we didn’t save more during the year. Why should they have to pay for our mistakes?

That was my thinking for years. The holidays became just another time of stress. We’d count the paychecks left in the year and celebrate when we realized the last payday would come on or just before Christmas Eve. Maybe Santa would come after all! Sure, all those bills we put off will still be due in January (with a late charge added on), but January can take care of itself. Right?

Trust me, I’ve been there. And a lot more recently than I’d care to admit. Most of us have a tendency to live in the moment and figure out tomorrow when it comes. And those who don’t, those who carefully plan every action to achieve the desired long-term outcome, usually miss out on some of the spontaneity of life. Sometimes it’s nice not knowing exactly what tomorrow will bring.

But life has a way of giving us hints, whether we pay attention to them or not. That new ticking sound coming from your car’s engine. The damp clothes after an hour in the dryer. That slowly growing brown stain on the ceiling next to the chimney. And that general feeling of fatigue after a full night of sleep. All subtle hints that, if you don’t do something to intervene, things could get worse.

But hey, we’re taught to be positive, right? Focus on the good in life, and don’t imagine the worst every time things aren’t just perfect. But optimism isn’t the delusional belief that nothing bad will ever happen. It’s simply the knowledge that, when bad things do happen, you’ll somehow find a way to get past the challenge and come out on top.

In church, we’re taught to focus on our faith and to know that, no matter how bad things get, the Lord will provide. We’re also taught that we get a little more of a helping hand when we try to help ourselves. But somehow, we seem to miss that little tidbit of advice. Tomorrow will take care of itself. Right now, I’m having fun!

All through the year, squirrels spend their days scampering around and generally enjoying the simple life. But as soon as the days start turning cooler, they begin stocking their nest with fallen nuts and anything else that can be used to get them through the winter. They don’t know why they’re doing it. They just do. And no matter how bad the winter is, they emerge happy and healthy on the other end.

We all have to face the consequences of our choices, both good and bad. The trick is to learn from any mistakes and try not to repeat them again next year. First and foremost, take care of your health. You don’t keep getting second chances on that. If you know you have expenses coming up, do something about it. Save more or earn more. And if the car is making a funny noise, check it out.

It all comes back to a simple concept I’ve mentioned before – dig the well before you get thirsty. Plan ahead. And if you missed that step, don’t just kick the can to the curb and hope somebody else will pick it up. Starting late is better than not starting at all. You can always make things better. And think of how much easier it’ll be next time around.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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

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