Is Comfort Holding You Back?

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

I’ve been bad about getting my posts out each morning. I could make some excuses for that, but the bottom line is I just haven’t done it. There’s something about not having to get up for work each day that changes the whole routine. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been up, most days at the same time as before. But I have to admit, I’ve allowed my days to start off a lot slower than before.

Whether we like to admit it or not, we’re all creatures of habit. Some more than others, and I tend to fit into that category really well. I used to be spontaneous, but somewhere along the line I found a level of comfort in repetition and settled into a groove. That groove has served me well over the years, but I’d like to start shaking things up a little. You know, just enough to keep it interesting.

We’ve talked about this before, but comfort is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it gives you peace of mind. You know what to expect, and as long as nothing comes along to upset your routine, you can go through the day without much challenge. Life is good, and that’s the way you want it to be.

On the other hand, comfort breeds laziness. I’m not talking about kicking back on a beach after a year of working every day and saving money so you could spend a few days in a tropical paradise. That’s reward. You’ve earned it. But when you go back home, if you slip back into that routine of going to work every day and planning next year’s vacation, that’s your comfort zone.

That sounds counter-intuitive. I mean seriously, work is your comfort zone? Well, if it’s what you do every day without thinking about it too much, that’s exactly what it is. It’s your daily routine and you don’t dare shake things up. Because that involves risk – you know what to expect every day, even if it’s not something you really love. But it pays the bills and puts food on the table. Case closed.

Hopefully you’ve got a job that provides for your daily needs and lets you take that annual pilgrimage to the beach, or wherever you like to unwind. But here’s a crazy thought. What if you worked a little harder and took two trips to the beach instead of one? Maybe you could buy a condo and go there any time you want. What if you moved into that condo and could stroll the beach every day?

If you can dream it, you can do it. But accomplishing those dreams means doing something different, maybe something you’ve never done before. It means stepping outside your comfort zone. It might mean taking some classes or spending a little extra time at work learning a new skill. Maybe it means taking a second job and investing your paycheck. Or maybe even starting a business of your own.

Think for a moment about your greatest dream. Not a weekend vacation or a new car, but something really big. Now, ask yourself this question – if I knew that doing a certain thing each day would eventually lead me to that dream, would I do it? Then, ask yourself one more question. Within the bounds of legal and moral standards, is there anything I wouldn’t be willing to do?

That last question is important, because it exposes the limits of your comfort zone. Would you be willing to talk to strangers? Would you be willing to work a few extra hours every week? Would you be willing to learn a completely new skill, or study a topic that never caught your interest before? Would you be willing to travel to places you’ve never heard of, where nobody else wants to go?

As you enjoy your next vacation, take a good look around. There are people just like you who get to do this once a year and will soon head back to a routine existence that, if they’re lucky, will let them do it again sometime. And there are others who do this all the time, who will leave this destination for another one. The difference between them lies within their own personal comfort zone.

It’s good to be comfortable. We work for it, and we deserve it. But if you’re willing to stretch things a little, to step outside that comfort zone, you open a world of possibilities. If you can dream it, you can do it. The only limitation is within your own comfort zone. Take a look outside and see what’s there. It just may be worth a try.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Resolution or Resignation? It's All About Commitment

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

Did you make any resolutions for the New Year? How are you doing so far? I normally don’t make resolutions, because I don’t like being reminded halfway through January that I already failed. But this year I did. They’re personal, and mostly related to my mindset and outlook. And, I’ve decided that 32 years after leaving the Navy, it’s time to stop talking like a sailor. Okay, I had good intentions.

Resolutions are simply a new start. Doing something we want to start doing or dropping habits that no longer fit who we want to be. It’s about change and moving forward. Out with the old, in with the new. It’s the start of a journey toward a better version of ourselves, something we aspire to be. It’s a dream. But the moment we resolve to make it happen, we commit ourselves to that dream.

According to some sources, as many as 80% of us will fail to achieve our New Year’s resolutions. Why? I guess there are a lot of reasons, and I won’t go into them here. But the main underlying cause is that we just lack the commitment. We want to make a change. We know we should make that change. But at the end of the day, it’s just a little more trouble than it’s worth. Old habits die hard.

And nobody wants to admit they lack commitment, especially when we make that commitment to ourselves. We know deep down that we can accomplish anything if we just set our mind to it, but it’s hard to fully commit to something when deep down we’re not sure we want to do it. We want the result – just not the work that goes into it.

So, we make a half-hearted resolution that sounds something like this … “I need to lose some weight this year. I probably won’t be as skinny as I’d like, and I’m not giving up any of my favorite foods, but I’ll see if I can eat a little less and maybe exercise once or twice a week.” Sound familiar?

If you read that “resolution” again closely, you’ll see it’s full of everything except commitment. “I need to” … “I’ll probably come up short” … “I’m not giving up any of this” … “I’ll see if I can” … and “maybe”.  It’s just a lot of words, mixed in with a few excuses and an overall prediction of failure. If somebody said that to you, would you put any money on their chances of success?

Another reason we fail at resolutions is because we lack belief. Oh, we know it’s possible. Just not probable.  Before we even start, we put our success in the hands of fate. “If it’s meant to be, it’ll be.” That’s a nice sentiment if you don’t have any desire to influence the outcome of your own life. Instead of hoping for a miracle, how about creating one of your own?

It takes 21 days to change a habit. That doesn’t mean you can completely drop a habit in three weeks or form a new one. It means that if you keep repeating the same behavior for three weeks, it begins to fit into your comfort zone. It still takes a little willpower to stay on track, but in that short period of time, it starts to feel more natural. It’s becoming more a part of who you are.

And the easiest way to get through 21 days is one day at a time. When I quit smoking, I never once said “I’ll never smoke again.” I simply said, “I won’t smoke today.” That simple substitution of words made all the difference in the world. You can do anything for a day. And if you did it yesterday, you can do it again today. And tomorrow and the next day. One day at a time.

And if you happen to fall down, it’s only one day. You don’t have to start all over. Just pick up where you left off and get back on track. Strengthen your commitment. Write a short list of the reasons you made this decision in the first place and read it every morning until the urge to fall off the wagon starts to fade. If you can do it for a day, you can do it for life.

Change is hard, but it’s a necessary part of growth. As you envision the changes you’d like to make, don’t focus on the change itself but the end result. See yourself as the person you want to be. Reaffirm your ability to attain that goal every day. Believe in yourself, and anything is possible. Combine that belief with commitment and it becomes inevitable.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

If You Want to Change the Outcome, Change the Routine

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

As you go through your morning routine each day, does it ever occur to you just how much of a routine that is? With very minor exceptions, most of us do pretty much the same thing every day from the moment we get up until we get to work or begin whatever activities normally consume our day. I suspect even retired people have a routine. I’m not there yet, but I’ll find out soon enough.

My dog makes sure at least part of that routine goes uninterrupted. He’s patient while I get a shower and get dressed. But about the time he thinks I should be done, he’s patiently tapping his paws on the floor, waiting for me to sit in the recliner, give him his morning hug, and then let him out while I fill his food bowl. Then he comes in and starts the vitamin dance. He gets two. And he can count.

Dogs are such creatures of habit. And we are, too. When you get up tomorrow morning, try changing up your routine. If you normally brush your teeth first, do something else. Go to the kitchen and get a glass of water. Then brush your hair. Yes, before you get in the shower. Who cares if you’ll have to do it again? The fun part of this exercise is to see just how much it throws off your routine.

You may want to make a checklist the night before, because odds are you’ll forget something. You’ll get halfway to work and realize your computer is still sitting by the front door. Believe me, I’ve done that one without even trying. When we skip any step in our routine, intentionally or not, we’re like that confused dog, trying to find our place so we can get back to normal.

It’s all a matter of habit – habits so deeply ingrained in our very being that we do them without even thinking. Like wiping your mouth after a sip of water or closing a pen before you put it in your pocket. Oh, we miss from time to time. Something distracts us and we forget to do something. And then you get home and see a big blob of ink on your shirt pocket and realize what you forgot. Oops!

I guess I’m showing my age, because most shirts don’t have pockets anymore. Somehow, pockets have gone out of style. At least that’s what my wife keeps telling me. And that’s for women, because you carry a purse that’s big enough to hold the contents of six dozen pockets. If I need someplace to put a ballpoint pen, I’ve only got a couple of choices.

 And just like our morning routines, we have tastes in clothing, food, décor, and a bunch of other things that we’re reluctant to change. Are blue shirts a habit with me? Not really. But I do like blue shirts – with pockets. But, just like my favorite Halloween candy (peanut butter kisses), they’re getting harder and harder to find. So, I have to adapt. Reluctantly, I’ll admit. But I don’t have much choice.

We all like to think we’re spontaneous, but we’re creatures of habit more than we think. And if we want to change the direction of our lives, we have to change some of those habits. Because, just like a model train, the track always leads to the same destination unless we do something to change it. The train can’t make any turns on its own – it simply follows the track. Real trains do that, too.

It’s fun to watch a train run around in circles, but after a while it gets a little boring. The same thing happens when we put ourselves on a circular track where the scenery never changes. We get up every day at the same time, do the same things, follow the same routines, and then wonder why life never changes. It’s pretty simple. If you want to move ahead, you have to get on another track.

And that means shaking things up a bit. You have to break the routine and change some of those long-held habits. You might even have to try a different kind of candy or find someplace else to put your pen. But it’s the only way to move from where you are now to where you want to be.

Change is difficult, but you’ve done it before. All you have to do is decide on a new direction and break the routine enough to follow that path. The change may be so subtle, you barely even notice. But like a ship at sea, the smallest change can lead you to an entirely new destination. Set yourself on a new course and follow it to the end. There’s a whole world out there waiting to be discovered.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Success Just Woke Up To a Brand New Day!

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

I finally got some well-needed sleep last night. I’m not entirely sure what was standing in my way the nights before that, but by the time I got home from work yesterday I was almost dizzy with exhaustion. At times like that, you listen to your body and do what it says.

A doctor told me years ago you can never “get caught up” on missed sleep. I understand what he was trying to say – every time you cheat your body out of the minimum amount of rest it needs, it takes a toll. And sleeping extra hours next week won’t make up for it. But I would imagine the long-term toll is pretty small, and getting back on track is more important than crying over spilled milk.

Yesterday I got back on track with a few things that had fallen by the wayside. You know that feeling when you’re in the groove, beginning to make strides, and then slip back into your old habits? It’s kind of like losing a few pounds because you’re starting to eat sensibly. But then one day you get a craving for a cheeseburger and fries. Next thing you know, you’re right back where you started.

It doesn’t happen because you gave in to that craving one day. It happens because one day turned into two, and two turned into three, and three turned into a week. And it’s something we’ll fight the whole way until eating right becomes a way of life, because no matter how badly we want to change, our old habits exist within a comfort zone that we have a hard time leaving behind.

The same is true with the things we do to work toward our personal goals. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started writing a book over the years. Several books. I’ll get a burning idea, sit at the computer for a couple of days, and hammer out the first two or three chapters of what I’m certain will be my first masterpiece. Then other priorities slip in – things I can’t ignore. You know, like work.

Before long, the book is on the back burner and that computer doesn’t add a single word to the file I’d saved. By the time I’m ready to get back to it, I can’t quite pick up where I left off. The momentum is gone and, along with it, my original train of thought. So, I start over. I hammer out a couple of chapters and then along comes life. And so it goes, month after month, year after year.

I do the same thing in my business. I’ll get on a roll, doing the things I need to do each day, better and stronger than ever before. I’ll make a little progress and think maybe this is it. I’m on my way! Then, along comes life. I take a night off to catch up on housework, then along comes a really busy day at work, then grocery shopping and yard work, and next thing you know my goals are at a standstill.

The one thing I hear most from other people when we talk about goals is, “I just don’t have time.” I get it. We can’t just drop everything and work on a new project that isn’t paying the bills, and no matter what those other chores will still need to be done. But here’s the question we all need to answer. Could we find time for something fun, even if it isn’t moving us closer to our goals?

The answer to that question determines the probability of our success. No matter what we try to do, life will get in the way and old habits will always be waving from the sidelines. But if we do the right things long enough and consistently enough, they become our way of life. And in the process, success becomes a way of life. We learn to work through those obstacles instead of giving in to them.

It’s never too late to get back on track. That’s been a running theme in this week’s posts, and it wasn’t really an intentional thing. It just worked out that way. The question is whether that theme will find its way into our daily lives. It’s easy to get started toward a goal. It’s just as easy to stop. When we do anything long enough, it becomes a habit. And as we all know, habits are hard to break.

The key is forming the habits that will lead us closer to our goals and then feeding those habits every day until they become a way of life. What happened yesterday is history. It’s what we do today that counts. The moment you begin moving in the right direction, your goal becomes that much closer. Make the time. Find a way. Success isn’t convenient. But it sure is a nice place to end up.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved