Success Awaits, but Sometimes You’ve Gotta Try the Etouffee

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

The other night, we were watching The Princess Diaries. Yes, it’s an old movie and yes, I’m a guy. But I think we established in yesterday’s post that I’m not overly macho. Any chest hair on this body was purely accidental, and it doesn’t have many neighbors.

There was a line in that movie that I wrote down, because I knew it would come in handy someday. I had no idea it would be so soon, or that it would be over something as simple as looking at a dinner menu. But, especially in the deep south, that can be an adventure in itself. “The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all.” That was the line.

I thought about that as I looked over a menu in southern Louisiana that included everything from plain old cheeseburgers to a seafood platter full of stuff I can’t even pronounce. And I know from the few times my mom tried making Creole dishes, there’s a certain art to it. Let’s just say Mom was no artist. At least not in that regard. But dammit, she tried!

So, in Mom’s honor, I decided to sample some of the local cuisine. I asked the waitress for a recommendation and ended up with fried catfish and crawfish etouffee over rice.

For those who don’t know, etouffee is a French word for stew. And stew is an American word for “whatever we had sitting around.” In Creole country, etouffee simply means, “don’t ask.” But I didn’t come this far to eat cheeseburgers. You only live once. And you’re not really living if you never try anything new.

If you want my review of crawfish etouffee, you can skip to the end or just keep reading, because I really am hoping to make a point with this. You see, I’ve always been the guy who goes into the same restaurants and never looks at the menu, because I already know what I’m going to eat. If the chef wanted to poison me, they could plan it weeks in advance.

But when it comes to other things, I’ve always been a little more adventuresome. Especially on the job, I’ve never been afraid to try something new, to stretch my boundaries a bit, and raise my hand when everybody else is sitting on theirs. It’s served me well over the years, and I’ve seen some impressive career success that can’t be explained any other way.

Another quote that fits this topic is one you’ve heard from me before … to have something you’ve never had, you must do something you’ve never done. It means stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new. And that’s scary. But if what you’ve been doing all these years was ever going to work, it would have already happened.

When we open our mind to new ideas, opportunities for success grow exponentially. We experience things we never knew and learn new skills we never imagined. Some of those skills and experiences are a bust. There are parts of every success that are as enjoyable as steamed Brussels sprouts. Yes, I’ve tried them. Many times.

But other things we thought we would never like become second-nature. After a while, we may even come to enjoy them. And some will become our favorite part of the journey. If you had told me forty years ago I would spend my life writing system requirements, I would never have given up drinking. But nobody else wanted to do it, so I did. And I positively love it.

Ask somebody to describe their dreams, and their eyes light up. We love sharing the things that excite us. And the more excited a person is about their dreams, the more likely they are to achieve them. Until you show them a way to do it, a way that isn’t exactly what they’d planned. “Yeah, I won’t be doing that!”

So, what’s more important … reaching your goal, or how you get there? You can always follow the same path everyone else is on, and it may lead you to your dreams. But odds are, if you try something the rest of them aren’t willing try, you’ll get there faster. And you may even get someplace better, someplace so amazing you’d never even dreamed of it.

My first bite of crawfish etouffee was a bit of a shock to the tastebuds. But the second bite was a lot more pleasant, and I found myself thoroughly enjoying a dish I would never have tried a few years ago. Most of all, I gained the courage to try something else new.

The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all. Open your mind. Throw caution to the wind. Dreams await those who are willing to try something new. Are you?

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Success Never Makes Excuses

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

In case you’re trying to figure out this “daily” posting strategy of mine, you’re not alone. If you do figure it out, let me know. Seems I start every day with the best of intentions, and then the day tells me exactly how it plans to go. I’ve tried citing the day for insubordination, but so far it doesn’t seem to care. It just laughs and says, “Keep up!”

So, I write when I can. If that’s how I made my living, I’d have to be a little more proactive. You know, like writing my post the night before when I’m still reasonably awake and there’s nothing good on TV. I thought living in an RV would somehow add to my free time, but as it turns out, we still do pretty much the same things we used to. We just do them someplace else.

Granted, I still work every day, so it’s not like we’re on a permanent vacation. But I have a feeling retirement will be pretty much the same. At least I hope so. I’ve seen what happens when people retire and find a recliner that fits their butt more perfectly by the day. No thanks! I want to be on the move as long as I’m physically able.

Which means if I want to write a daily post, I have to carve out the time. If I want to finish my first book, I have to carve out even more time. And then there’s my day job, my personal business, grocery shopping, emptying tanks, grilling dinner, and that semi-annual wax job that’s coming due this month. Do we see a bit of a trend?

Life seems to have little regard for any plans we’ve made. It has plans of its own. It’s like getting married and realizing that poker night isn’t a shared priority. Not that poker night was ever a thing with me. I only say it to sound macho. Anybody who knows me isn’t fooled by that a bit. Somewhere along the way, Lethal Weapon turned into Steel Magnolias. I’m just saying.

And in much the same way that life has little regard for our plans, success has little regard for our excuses. It’s pretty simple. You either do it, or you don’t. There’s really no in-between. It’s like that unfinished book in my computer. Okay, I have a few of them. That doesn’t make me a multi-published author. It makes me a guy who started a bunch of stuff he hasn’t finished.

Now, if my only goal was to write, I’ve accomplished that. Over the past two decades, I’ve written a few thousand copyrighted pieces. Some have even been published in newspapers, magazines, and other people’s books. But if you do a search on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, you won’t find anything with my name. They pretty much insist you actually finish the book first.

And therein lies the challenge. Success isn’t some predefined entity that eagerly awaits our arrival. It’s a personal status we each define for ourselves. We decide what it means, how it looks, and when we’ve arrived. And we do that at the very outset, when we’re still just dreaming about it. Everything from that point on is just a step in the process.

I can see a book with my name on it. That’s success. I can make that part happen. I can see a successful business with regular monthly income that’ll let me continue this lifestyle indefinitely. That’s success, and I can make that part happen. The problem is, I can also let a dozen other things get in the way and rightfully point to them as a barrier to my success.

Excuses do a good job of explaining why something didn’t happen, but they don’t really soften the blow. Especially when I know that I could find that extra hour each day to do what I need to do. I could get up an hour earlier, go to bed an hour later, work through lunch, take the laptop outside in the evening, or skip a couple of television shows. And I can’t make excuses for that.

You see, life doesn’t care if we succeed or not. And that’s a hard pill to swallow. But in order to work past that, we have to accept a couple of fundamental truths. The first is that we define success in our own terms … nobody else defines it for us. We decide what’s enough. And second, we have to accept that success is ours to achieve. Nobody else can do it for us.

We’re all busy. We all have other things fighting for our time. We’re all living in the age of Covid, and none of us can do a thing about the weather. Success doesn’t care. It’s simply a goal we set for ourselves. It doesn’t matter what’s standing in our way. It’s what we do about it that counts.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Who’s Holding You to Your Dreams?

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

It’s raining here. Not that rain is an inherently bad thing, but I neglected to empty the RV’s holding tanks last night. You know, when it wasn’t raining. In my defense, the tanks weren’t quite full. Kinda like a trash can that’s not quite spilling over. The big difference is, I can’t put my foot in the holding tank and smash it down to make more room. I didn’t even try.

Years ago, my daughter and son-in-law were living with us. To say he was a trash-stacker is like saying Al Capone dabbled in crime. He could recreate the Eiffel Tower using egg shells, paper towels, and empty milk cartons. I finally put a piece of tape on the wall behind the can and wrote “FULL.” Like he could see it behind all that trash. Okay, like he could read. But that’s another story.

If I said anything about Mount Trashmore, he would simply put his size 11 foot in it and smash it down so tight you needed a blowtorch and a prybar to get the bag out. And on those rare occasions when he actually did take the trash out, he simply set it on the front porch. Not like it was raining and the dumpster was full. He was just lazy.

I guess that’s why he never made it as an RV dweller. He bought an old motorhome with the intent they’d live in it. They tried for a week or two, but it didn’t last. My daughter said they gave up because it was too cold. I think his tanks filled up.

Daily chores are a lot like holding tanks. At first, it’s just a little bit of stuff in the bottom that you never even notice. But tanks have a way of filling up. And don’t let anybody fool you with those little orange sachets that promise to cover up the smell. All they do is turn the poop orange. Kinda like those “debt consolidation” loans. Sooner or later, you still have to pay.

A friend once told me that getting rich is easy. Just do for people the things they’re not willing to do for themselves. It’s the very essence of the service industry. The nastier the job, the more you can charge for it. When the drainpipes are clogged, you don’t ask the plumber how much he charges. You just open your checkbook and let him fill in the amount.

To be fair, there are certain things we shouldn’t attempt on our own. Wiring your house to the light pole is one of those jobs that could go seriously wrong. Demolition is best left to the professionals. And have you ever seen those videos of a do-it-yourselfer in a flannel shirt with a chainsaw? Let me summarize it for you … somebody’s about to lose a trailer.

It’s easy to understand why we would farm that work out to somebody better suited (and more heavily insured). And sure, we can always make the kids take out the trash or cut the grass. I even taught my grandson how to empty the tanks. Those are jobs that have to be done, and ignoring them will only make it worse in the long run.

But when it comes to your dreams, it’s easy to put those tasks on the back burner for a day or two. You know, until you’re better rested and you have a little more time. The problem is, days turn into weeks, and weeks turn into decades (yes, I skipped a few steps there). All the while, the dream still waits.

Those are the tasks that nobody notices except you. There’s no telltale sign to let anybody know they were missed. They just sit there, invisible to the world. To everybody but you. But in those moments when you’re looking at your life as it is and how it could be, they stand out like a flashing red light.

It’s been said that we’re either building our own dreams or somebody else’s. But there’s a third option – just sitting around, exchanging oxygen. And don’t get me wrong. Oxygen is a pretty big deal. But whether we’re building our dreams or just thinking about them, we use pretty much the same amount. So, why not put it to good use?

It’s easy to ignore those jobs that don’t get us in trouble. Nothing stinks, and nobody cares. But at the end of the day, you still know. And the question we all have to answer is, if you were paying somebody to build your dreams for you, would they still have a job? For most of us, the answer isn’t pleasant. But it’s one we have to face if we want anything to change.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

How Big Is Your Dream?

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

Ask any young child what they want to be when they grow up, and I can guarantee not a one of them says, “I want to work at Walmart!” And if you work at Walmart, keep reading because I’m just making a point. As kids, we have grand visions of how our life will be – much better than anything our parents ever imagined. I wanted to be a surgeon. Ask me how that turned out.

About the time I discovered girls, I noticed they had an affinity for rock stars. My sister had posters of every Teen Beat idol plastered all over her bedroom walls. Okay, none of them were technically “rock stars,” but at the age of 12, I could definitely see the potential. So, I learned to play a guitar and launched a lifetime career in musical stardom. You know how that turned out.

I’m willing to bet if you ask anybody you know what they wanted to be when they were five or ten, it’s nothing remotely close to what they’re actually doing today. And I’m willing to bet every one of our parents said the same thing. “You can do anything you want, sweetheart! Yes, you can!” Until the day they told us to get our head out of the clouds and find a real job.

If you ever wonder what happened to our ability to dream, there it is. As kids, we can imagine anything. I’ve been learning a song on the guitar that perfectly captures that imagination – Puff the Magic Dragon. Yes, I’m really that old. But the lyrics are a bit troubling, because halfway through the song, little Jackie loses his imagination and Puff is left all alone. He just grew up.

So, what is it about growing up that takes such a toll on our imagination? I think part of it is just the world around us. Let’s face it, others don’t always find value in our dreams of a better life. That’s especially true on the job. It’s okay to work hard and try to advance. Just don’t get too big for your britches! You still need this job. You always will. That’s part of the master plan.

And you can’t blame them. It’s like a father training his son how to run the farm, only to watch him run away and join the circus. Sure, the kid may be happy and living his own dream. But dad is left to find somebody else he can train in half the time. And preferably someone who will buy his own food for the next 18 years.

And even if nobody steps on our dreams, life happens. Bills come due, promotions go to the other person, and we find ourselves working two jobs just to make ends meet. It’s hard to even remember our dreams at that point, much less put any energy into them. And that’s when we need our dreams the most.

Albert Einstein once said that your imagination is a preview of what’s to come. Napoleon Hill took it a step further and said if you don’t see riches in your imagination, you’ll never see them in your bank account. Now, maybe that sounds a little too simplistic, but both of those men accomplished a lot. Is it possible they’re really on to something?

I was listening to a motivational speaker who said we’ll never leave where we are until we see ourselves where we want to be. Now, whether you believe in any of this or not, can we at least agree that it all begins with a dream? If we want something better, enough to work for it, we have to believe deep down that we can actually achieve it. Otherwise, it’s just work.

Believing we can achieve begins with seeing success before it ever happens. Experience success first, even if only in your imagination, and it becomes that much easier to attain. Do you have a dream book? Someplace where you not only list your dreams, but put in pictures to make them more real? Photoshop yourself into those pictures if you have to. You’re not breaking any laws.

And here’s the most important part – if you’re going to use your imagination, think big! It takes the same amount of energy to dream of a used car as a new one. And, oddly enough, it takes the same amount of effort on a daily basis to achieve it. One just takes a little longer. If you can do the work for a small dream, you can certainly do it for a big one.

When you already know how the story ends, getting there is that much easier. Focus on the destination, and the path will present itself. The road may not look like you’d imagined, but if you keep pressing, that road becomes a success story … yours. Make it a story worth telling.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Success Rewards Consistent Effort

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

You know how you go to the grocery store just to pick up that special flavor of ice cream, only to find they’re sold out? That happens a lot at my local store. They’ll have forty-two varieties of cheese puffs, but not the brand I want.  Any more, I just take my shopping list to the Customer Service desk and tell them, “Here’s a bunch of stuff you don’t have. Trust me.”

It’s pretty much the same when you head south to escape the cold and the cold follows you south. Sure, it’s not snowing, but nighttime temperatures have been below freezing almost every day, and the furnace needs an all-night babysitter. Every morning the windows are iced over – on the inside. Manufacturing defect, they say. I have another name for it.

There are just times in your life when you expect things to be a certain way, and anything less is unacceptable. Not disappointing, because that suggests that maybe you expected too much to begin with. You know, like it’s your fault. Unacceptable means somebody, or something else is completely to blame. You got the shaft, and karma isn’t the least bit sorry about it.

Karma … there’s a word we use a lot. It usually means somebody is about to have a bad day. It’s a form of retribution for something we’ve done to somebody else, and we can’t even blame them when it happens, because they had nothing to do with it. You know, other than praying for karma to teach us a lesson. Try proving that one in court.

But karma sometimes works the other way around. Do nice things for people enough times in your life, and somehow nice things will come your way. Help enough other people to succeed, and success smiles on you. Put in a little extra effort every day on the job, and eventually the right people will notice. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but it’ll happen.

Karma, if you break it down to basic terms, simply means what goes around comes around. Good things happen to good people. If you live by the sword, you die by the sword. You reap what you sow. I could probably quote a few other tidbits of karmic wisdom, but you get the point. Life’s rewards are usually proportional to the effort we put in. Usually.

That doesn’t mean it you’re a good person, the store will always have your favorite kind of ice cream, or that the sun will break through every cloud just because you deserve it. Nice people suffer heartache and disappointment like anybody else. And just because a person is having a run of bad luck, that doesn’t mean they deserve it.

But success generally comes to those who pursue it the most. That doesn’t mean they work harder or faster, or that they invest more money than the rest of us. It simply means they work with a level of consistent determination that will not be denied. Go to one store, and they may not have the ice cream you want. Go to enough stores, and somebody is bound to have it.

It’s the law of averages. If you do the right thing enough times, sooner or later it’ll pay off. How many times? Well, unless you can give a definitive answer to that question, you need to try at least a few more times. The answer is different for each of us, and for each different goal we pursue. Even with the weather, sooner or later it’ll turn nice. Even if you live in Alaska.

If you have a dream, or maybe even just a simple goal, you know what it takes to achieve it. You know the things you need to do. Sure, you can buy a lottery ticket and hope for the best, but odds are you’ll get there a lot faster if you consistently do the things that need to be done.

Success never comes fast enough when there’s something we want. And “law of averages” is the last thing you want to hear when you keep running into roadblocks. But, as a friend often says, nine out of ten things we try will never work, but that last one will make you rich.

Is ten times enough? Fifteen? Twenty? The only way you’ll answer that question is to keep trying. But if you stop after the first try, or the first store, or the first week at a southern destination, you’ll never know what may be waiting just around the bend. If the dream is worth having, then give it a fighting chance. You may be closer than you think. That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Who’s Keeping Track of Your List?

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

Well, another week is behind us. Almost. I guess there’s still a full day to go. I saw a meme on Facebook a while back that showed a disheartened face with the words, “When you’re ready to go home and the boss reminds you that you still have eight hours to go.” Still, it’s Friday. That’s like telling a kid there’s only a week left until Christmas.

Time drags, except when you’re on vacation. I’ve often wondered how that is for retired people. Several times I was talking to my dad and he’d ask, “Is today Saturday?” When you don’t have to work, you get to ask questions like that. The best I get is waking up on Thursday, thinking it’s Friday. “Yes!” turns to “Damn!” in three seconds flat.

Friday is a day of celebration, no doubt. It’s also the day when we start making a mental “to-do” list for next week. The first five or thirty-six items on the list are easy – just start with everything you didn’t get done this week. “Well, that one will have to wait. But I have to get it done Monday. No excuses!” Famous last words.

I still have an 8-foot mud flap in the RV that I was going to install before we left. But it was cold outside, and I need some additional hardware to install it. At our first campsite, I was going to rearrange all the storage bays. Six weeks later, that’s still on the list. My freelance assignment is overdue, I’ve run out of vitamins, and we still need to get an oil change. And the list goes on.

Okay, in my defense, I do have some valid excuses. We spent four weeks visiting Dad and then planning his funeral. We’ve been visiting relatives we don’t often see, I work during the day, and it’s been raining. For any day of this trip, I can tell you exactly why I didn’t get anything done. Can I just cross off a few for good intent?

Okay, some things truly will go away on their own. Ignore the oil change long enough, and you won’t have to worry about it anymore. Let the car payment slide, and you won’t have one much longer. Procrastinate on your tax returns and … sorry, that one doesn’t go away. But you get the point. Vanishing problems aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

On the other hand, there are some things that just aren’t as critical. If you can’t find time to weed the flower bed, nobody else will even notice. After six years of weeds, I learned my lesson. Don’t plant flowers. It takes a lot of time, you end up dirty and sore, and by mid-summer it’ll all be weeds anyway. So, just let the weeds grow. In fact, water them and they’ll die.

But, when time is running short, those are the tasks we always seem to do first. They may be personally rewarding, but at the end of the day all those other things we needed to do are still sitting there, waiting for a spot on next week’s list. Sometimes we need a little motivation. Run the clippers up the back of your head, and you’ll find time for that haircut. Trust me.

When my mother-in-law moved in, my wife’s sister knew that painting the inside of her closet would be low on my list of priorities. So, she slapped a wide patch of contrasting paint on the closet wall, then left the rest for me. Well, two can play that game. I think it’s about time she should paint her living room.

No, I wouldn’t do that to somebody else’s house. But sometimes, we do need that extra incentive to get things done. My business mentors have suggested getting an accountability partner. Somebody you trust enough to share your dreams, and who knows you well enough to call BS when you’re making excuses.

Share your goals. “By this day, I will (insert your favorite lie here).” Put it in writing, and then slip it into their pocket. Tell them to call you every week to see how you’re doing. You may be able to fake success on social media, but your accountability partner knows better. Sooner or later, you’ll either get on the ball or call it quits.

We have accountability partners on the job. We have them at home. And we have some we don’t even know in police cars and courtrooms. They all hold us to task, in one way or another. Find somebody who will do the same when it comes to your dreams, and you open a whole new world of opportunity.

Excuses make us feel better, but they don’t bring us any closer to our dreams. Make yourself accountable. Get things done. There will be plenty of time to rest when you’re finished.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You Can Only Achieve What You’re Willing to Change

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

I think it was Mark Twain who said everybody complains about the weather, but nobody is doing anything about it. I thought about that yesterday as I drove for six hours through varying intensities of rain, only to arrive at our destination in time for the tornado warnings to go off. And I did pretty much the same thing everybody else does when that happens. I hunkered down and prayed.

And the whole time, I was thinking about family and friends in the great white north, battling blizzard conditions on top of a bed of ice. It sure makes the rain a little more palatable. In fact, if it were a little warmer, I might have gone outside to dance in the rain. I’m kidding. Anybody who has ever seen me dance knows how that would end. “Group, this is Dave. He’s going to be here awhile.”

But, back to the original issue – we complain about the weather, but we never do anything about it. You know, except complain more. “It’s too hot! It’s too cold! It’s muggy! I’m freezing! Who can drive in this stuff?” Whine, whine, whine. And we’re good at it, too!

The point Mark Twain was trying to make is that there’s nothing we can do about the weather. I beg to differ. We can move. Having lived in two completely different climates, I’ll take hot over cold any day. Never once have I had to go outside and shovel sunshine. Besides, that’s why God made swimming pools.

Yet, when you suggest that to somebody who’s miserable in their current surroundings, they can immediately come up with a laundry list of reasons why change isn’t practical. “This is where my roots are. I hate my job, but it pays the bills. The house is too small, but it’s all I can afford. Besides, the kids …” Yeah, if all else fails, blame it on the kids. They’re not listening anyway.

Change is hard. It’s scary. It’s stressful. It takes planning, and preparation, and accepting the possibility of failure. “What if I end up worse off than I am now?” That’s a very real fear, and not without basis. Failure doesn’t just happen on its own. We have to try something first, and sometimes we crash & burn. That’s all part of it.

Would a new job offer better possibilities than the one you have today? Maybe. Could the company decide to restructure and get rid of all the new folks? Yep. It happens every day. The same is true of just about any change we decide to make, whether it’s moving to another state, taking a promotion, starting a business, or buying a car. All you can do is roll the dice and hope for the best.

Change never comes without risk. Get over it. If you want safe & sound, just keep doing what you’ve been doing. At least you can count on that, right? Until the company shuts down, the market crashes, a tornado wipes out the neighborhood, or somebody pretends to be you and cleans out the bank. I don’t worry about that one. If anybody ever steals my identity, they’ll give it back. Trust me.

Sure, change is scary. Almost as scary as staying the same. The most successful people in the world have dreams, things they’d like to achieve or some change that would make life even better. The difference is, they’ve already embraced change, which is why they’re so successful to begin with. Success isn’t a talent we’re born with. It’s a mindset we develop over the course of a lifetime.

Success is nothing more than some level of dissatisfaction with the way things are, and a willingness to do something about it. Every modern convenience was borne of somebody’s dissatisfaction with the status quo. Every job was created because somebody saw a need and did something to fill it. And every beach house was built because somebody said, “That’s where I want to live!”

If there’s something you want, some change that would make life more enjoyable, what are you waiting for? Do something about it! I’m not suggesting you just chuck it all, abandon the house, and go live on the beach. But if living on the beach fits your dreams, then make it happen. Save some money. Start a business. Find a better job. Put the wheels in motion today. That part you can control.

Change makes all things possible. Roadblocks turn into speed bumps and obstacles become launch pads. We may not be able to choose the changes that are required, but we can decide which ones we’re willing to make. Embrace change, and destiny is no longer a matter of fate – it’s whatever we want it to be.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Is Health a Part of Your Dreams?

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

One of the last things I promised my dad, while he was still coherent enough to understand, was that I’d lose weight and get healthy. Granted, we had differing ideas on exactly how that’s done. Dad was always a firm believer that weight is 100% related to what goes in your mouth. I tend to believe it takes a combination of both diet and exercise. Which is why I’m still fat.

Not because I’m wrong – but because that’s two disciplines at once, each a beast of its own and a tall mountain to climb. I can modify my eating. I can exercise. But doing both at once is like standing on my head while juggling chainsaws. Sooner or later, you grab a Big Mac by the wrong end and fall completely off the wagon. And once you do, it’s all so easy to go back to old habits.

Just before he went into the hospital, Dad’s doctor gave him a diet and Dad decided it would be the magic elixir to restore my health, vitality, and youth. The only problem is that diet included no red meat – ever. Okay, I know red meat isn’t the best thing for your health. But Dave without any red meat isn’t good for anybody’s health. Trust me on that.

Years ago, I lost 40 pounds. I was going to the gym most days, and my diet consisted of a modified version of what I’d been eating. By modified, I don’t necessarily mean abbreviated, though smaller portions were part of my strategy. I just made a few small changes, things I could live with for the long-term. You know, until I wasn’t living with them anymore.

I didn’t fall off the program because I got bored with it, or it was too hard to follow. By then, I truly enjoyed working out and didn’t miss any of the things I’d given up in my daily consumption. But life has a way of throwing a knuckleball when you least expect it. In my case, it was the birth of a granddaughter, and all the subsequent evenings in the hospital, complete with fast-food dinners.

It’s been said that it takes 21 days to form a new habit, and several weeks to fully accept it. Old habits, on the other hand, can be picked up in twelve seconds flat. That’s how long it took me to wolf down that first hot & juicy (translate – lukewarm & greasy) cheeseburger. Throw in a large order of fries (it was going to be a long night) and I was right back where I started. Four months later, so was my weight.

So, why is a motivational writer talking about health and fitness? Because health and fitness are a big part of a complete and fulfilling life. That’s not to say sick and disabled people can’t be happy – they can, and many have learned to enjoy an abundant life despite the challenges. But I think every one of them will tell you they’d rather be healthy as well.

Dreams, the kind that motivate us to get up and do something, rarely involve sitting in the sand as everybody else is racing into the water. Few people have visions of rolling down the boardwalk in a wheelchair or cruising the campground on a mobility scooter. We want to walk, and climb, and run, and dance. Okay, maybe not so much running. It’s not as fun as it looks.

Does that mean a strict diet with smells and flavors that would make a catfish vomit? Does it mean running (literally) to the gym every morning for a three-hour workout followed by tofu bacon and cream of quinoa? Does it mean celery sticks for lunch and a protein shake for dinner before the evening run? No. But it does mean making a few sensible choices.

Those choices begin in the grocery store, and end on a dinnerplate. They begin with turning off the TV and taking an evening walk instead. They begin with eating healthier foods and supplementing to make up the difference. It’s about habits – things we do without even thinking about them. And the best way to form healthy habits is to make small changes and build from there.

Some habits need more of a big-bang approach, like smoking and drinking where cold-turkey is often the best way to go. But for other habits, especially those that aren’t inherently unhealthy (you know, like eating), small changes can get you on the right track. Once you get used to those changes, add in something new. One step at a time, one day at a time. One win at a time.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Nice Goal! But What’s In It For You?

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

I need to go shopping. I know, that’s not something men say very often. But I need a suit. One that actually fits. I’ve got plenty of jackets with non-matching pants, but the buttons won’t close and the pants are mix and match. You know, like navy blue against plaid, or vice-versa. Fashion has never been my thing. My wife can attest to that.

I’ve been talking about buying a suit for years. “When I finally lose this weight, I’m gonna buy myself a nice suit.” It finally occurred to me that, if I’d just bought the suit the first time I thought about it, the damn thing would still fit, and it would probably be worn out by now. Can I get an amen?

How often do we do that? We condition one goal on another, as some sort of reward for doing something we know deep down we’ll never do. But who wants to buy a nice suit right before they lose weight? Then you just have to give it away and go buy another one. Boo-hoo! I doubt many women would even give that a moment of thought. “I lose weight AND get to go shopping? Yeah!”

So, as a consequence, I’ve spent the past 20 years going to dressy functions looking like I just stepped out of the Goodwill store. And, for good reason. I think that’s exactly where most of my suit jackets came from. Not that there’s anything wrong with them, or shopping at Goodwill. They’re in pretty good shape. And, according to my wife, thirty years ago they were right in style.

But let’s be honest. Men’s fashions don’t change much. From year to year, they pretty much stay the same. Okay, the powder-blue leisure suit I wore for my high-school senior picture is a little dated, and the white shoes & belt would draw a few laughs. But the jeans I buy today look exactly like the ones I bought in 1976. They’re just a lot bigger.

Okay, back to the original point – conditioning something we want on a goal we may or may not ever achieve. We think it’s motivating. Doctors even feed us that crap. “Promise yourself you’ll buy a new article of clothing for every ten pounds you lose.” Okay, but do I have to return it when I gain the weight back? I’ve lost the same ten pounds a hundred times. Give me a break!

There is something to be said for dangling a carrot on a stick, especially when you’re trying to do something challenging or unpleasant. And let’s be real, dieting is not at the top of our list of dreams. Losing weight, sure. That’s the pleasant part. I tried telling myself that if I’d eat right for six months, I’d reward myself with a lower bathroom scale reading. The scale had other ideas.

Now, ask me if I actually ate right for six months. No, don’t. We both know the answer to that one. I know what I need to do, but doing it takes a little more willpower. And that’s especially true when the reward part isn’t materializing the way we’d planned. “Ten pounds this month, ten pounds next month, nine the month after that, by Christmas I’ll be back in onesies!” Right.

Rewards are an important part of goals as long as the goal is realistic, and the reward is proportional to the effort. A new car may motivate you to make a few phone calls to build your business, but if those phone calls only net an extra $4 profit, that’s not going to buy much of a car. On the other hand, it’s not realistic to think a few extra phone calls will quadruple your income.

But a couple of phone calls a day, over the span of a few months, could set the wheels in motion for something much bigger than you’d ever imagined. A couple of hours each week learning a new skill could put you in line for a promotion later in the year. And, according to my doctor, if I lose a pound a week, I’ll eventually get to my goal weight. Too bad I didn’t start that two years ago.

It’s the small changes that make the biggest difference. But we have to repeat them every day, without fail. That takes patience. It takes faith. It takes constantly reminding ourselves why we’re doing it in the first place. And that’s where the reward comes in. What will YOU get out of this? What will be YOUR reward when it’s all over?

Get a picture of that reward and hang it someplace you’ll see it several times every day. And if you need a suit sooner or your car dies before you reach that goal, do what you have to do. But keep working toward the goal. Find another reward, something even better. Now that you know how to achieve those rewards, the sky is the limit!

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Don’t Just Change Your Habits – Replace Them

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

I made a commitment to myself at the beginning of the year. I don’t call it a resolution, because in 1998 I resolved to never make a New Year’s resolution again. It’s the one time I’ve been able to follow through beyond January 10, and I’m not about to give in now.

So, this one is technically a commitment. Okay, it’s more of a pipe dream, because so far I haven’t done a single thing to accomplish this goal. One look at my waistline and you’ll be able to guess what it entails. I want to start eating healthy and lose some weight. You know, in the sense that “some weight” can be interpreted to mean “something around 100 pounds.” Give or take a few.

I’ve promised myself I’d make these changes since a few weeks after Moses parted the waters. I’ve made that vow every time my pants slip below the biggest part of my belly and head for the floor. I’ve said it every time my lower back spontaneously combusts from standing in a checkout line. Okay, I say it every time I have to bend over and tie my shoes. Some days I’m happy to just sit up.

And, don’t get me wrong. I am trying. Well, I intend to. You know, right after the potato chips and Twizzlers are gone. I had oatmeal for breakfast yesterday. Does that count? I mean, come on. Any time you can get somebody this big to skip the bacon and eggs for a single serving of oatmeal, that should be worth six pounds by itself. How many healthy things do I need to eat?

I have good intentions, and I know the things I need to do. I just have trouble putting it into practice. It’s like the guy who goes into McDonalds and orders two Big Macs, a large order of fries, an apple pie, and a diet soda. If you think I’m joking, you should see me make a salad. It starts off healthy. But by the time I’m done adding eggs, bacon bit, cheese, and creamy dressing, it might as well be a hot fudge sundae.

It all comes down to habits. Years ago, I lost almost forty pounds by making small changes over time, changes I could live with for the long haul. There were some food substitutions, like egg whites instead of whole eggs, rye bread instead of white, and meal bars instead of fast food. Throw in a little portion control, and the pounds started slowly coming off.

What happened? Well, my new habits gave way to old ones. When my youngest granddaughter was born, we spent the better part of a week going to the hospital every day after work, and it was dinnertime, and there was a Wendy’s on the way and … well, you get the picture. Within six months, my all that “lost” weight magically reappeared.

Anybody who thinks habits are hard to form has never given in to a habit they’d previously broken. I smoked cigarettes for 23 years. And, like most things I do, I didn’t smoke just a little. The day before I quit, I smoked three full packs. And truly, that’s been the one bad habit I broke without ever going back. Quitting was easy. I did it six times.

The last time was 23 years ago, and so far, I haven’t gone back. There’s one simple reason. I know that, for the rest of my life, I’ll be a chain-smoker in remission. And one cigarette is all it would take to undo two decades of success. Habits are that strong. They’re like an ex-girlfriend you can never seem to shake. And all it takes is a single text message to get the whole thing started again.

Breaking an old habit isn’t enough. We have to form new habits to take their place. And the new habit needs to be one that doesn’t leave us feeling empty or deprived. If I were to give up fried chicken forever, that decision would be doomed to failure. It just isn’t going to happen. But I can use an air fryer instead of a deep fryer. I can cut it down to one piece instead of four, and monthly instead of weekly.

The first step is identifying the unhealthy or counter-productive habit we want to change. Then we have to find something to take its place. And it doesn’t even have to be a direct substitute. Like putting away the leftovers after a meal instead of leaving them out for a grazing. Taking a walk instead of an after-dinner drink. Or reading a book instead of surfing the internet.

Habits are simply our default response to a given situation. But defaults can be changed any time they no longer support our needs and needs change every time we dare to dream. Match your habits to your needs, and every dream becomes that much more attainable.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved