Change or Maintain – You Can Only Choose One

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

If you’ve ever spent much time around a toddler, you’ve come to learn two valuable truths. First, whatever they’re doing right now, they will keep doing until the cows come home. Hopefully it’s something you don’t mind, like singing the same song for the forty-third time. Second, their mood will turn on a dime, and your little angel will turn into a demon in six seconds flat.

And once that downward spiral begins, it’s not stopping any time soon. The only thing that seems to work is letting them run down completely until they fall asleep from sheer exhaustion. Then, there’s at least a snowball’s chance they’ll wake up in a better mood. Maybe.

I talked about kids and naps the other day, so I won’t go into that again now. But the point I wanted to make is that, whatever wave we seem to be riding at the moment, we tend to ride that wave until it reaches the shore and there’s nothing left to do but go find another wave. Or until it dumps us off midstream. Been there!

Body weight is one of those waves for me. It’s something I’ve struggled with over the years, and the first thing I learned is that none of those fad diets works. It’s like bungee jumping. You go down really fast, then the laws of physics take over and you snap right back to where you started. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Seems I read that somewhere.

The other thing I learned is that my body likes to maintain. Whatever it’s doing today, it wants to keep doing. If I’ve been maintaining a steady weight, I may gain a pound or two, but it comes right back down. Same thing happens if I lose a pound or two. Now, if I maintain a trend, upward or downward, my body seems to say, “Okay, this is what we’re doing. Got it!”

So, the challenge for me is to get the weight going the right direction long enough to convince my body that’s what it’s supposed to do. And just like a dog begging for a treat at the same exact time every night, it somehow finds a way to shed those pounds. Now, if I could just get my body to learn new tricks as quickly as my dog, I’d have it made.

We’re creatures of habit. I’m sure that’s no startling revelation for any of you. Whatever it is we’re used to, we tend to follow that trend until something comes along to change it. That change may be forced on us, like a visit from the boss saying it’s time to find a new job. Or it could be something we decided to change on our own, like exercise and proper diet. Right.

But once we get used to those changes, they become a way of life. If the change moves us in the wrong direction, it should be no surprise when we arrive at the wrong destination. And it’s not like we don’t know it’s happening. On the other hand, if we’re headed in the right direction, we tend to continue that way until we get where we want to be. Just like magic.

The problem is, those changes are usually subtle. You don’t wake up in the morning and think, “Oh no! I’ve gained another pound!” We have bathroom scales to make that announcement. If mine isn’t doing what I want, I blame it on the batteries. But the point is, we have ways to measure our progress, so the long-term outcome should be no real surprise.

As a business analyst, one of the first things I do on any project is define the “as-is” scenario. Where are we today, and how are we maintaining that? The next step is gap analysis – what changes need to be made to reach our desired goal? From there, it’s simply a matter of implementation and feedback. Take action and measure the results.

I’m willing to bet most of you could quickly answer the question, “Where would you like to be in five years?” That’s easy. Somewhere better than here! But unless we do something to move the needle, odds are we’ll still be right where we are. The change doesn’t have to be drastic. It just has to be sustainable, and in the right direction. From there, nature pretty much takes control.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Sure, it’s What You Do … But is it Getting You Where You Want to Be?

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

Yesterday, my four-year-old grandson decided he didn’t need a nap. After all, he’s “almost five!” Never mind that his six-year-old sister was on the couch next to him sawing logs. You don’t have to tell that little girl to take a nap. She looks forward to it. And woe be to the person who tries to wake her up. With that little lady, you let her come around in her own sweet time.

Naturally, by early evening the lack of sleep was starting to manifest itself with horns and a forked tail. I even warned him that would happen. “What happens when you don’t sleep? You get tired, and then you start doing things you shouldn’t, and then you get in trouble.” His solution for that is pretty simple – look the other way. Then everybody’s happy.

It’s all about habits, or what we’re used to doing on a regular basis, often without even thinking about it. I touched on habits yesterday. It was easy getting into the habit of getting up a little earlier and writing a morning message. And it was just as easy getting into the habit of sleeping a little later and saying, “maybe tomorrow.” In fact, that one didn’t take any effort at all.

Habits are like that. They don’t even care if you’re doing the right thing or not. They just care about doing the same thing the same way, every single day. And not for any good reason other than, “That’s what I do!” As a business analyst, I constantly challenge that kind of thinking. Do you do it this way because it’s the best way, or because that’s the way you’ve always done it?

When I quit smoking, my first thought was, “What will I do after dinner?” I always had a cigarette. Well, that one was easy. I just never stopped eating. Twenty-two years later, the proof is hanging in my closet. A friend suggested I’d be equally lost for something to do after … you know. Let’s just say that one doesn’t work like eating. Believe me, I tried.

I’ve suggested in the past that habits are easy to form and even easier to break. But I guess that depends on the habit. If it’s something good you need to start doing, those can be the hardest habits to form. Likewise, if it’s something enjoyable you need to stop doing, those are the hardest habits to break. On the other hand, I stopped talking back to Mom in one try. I had help.

You can form (or break) any habit in 21 days. That’s not to say the behavior will become so ingrained in you that you can’t possibly do anything else, and there will be days when you still struggle with it. But in a matter of three weeks, you can repeat a behavior often enough that it becomes the default response to a given situation. After that, it becomes easy.

I’ll be writing more on this in the coming months. In fact, I may write a book on it. Because the one thing that stops us from modifying our habits is fear. How will I ever do this? It’ll take forever! Well, when we put fear aside, great things happen. Unless somebody triple-dog dares you and your response is, “Hold my beer!” I’ve seen those videos. They’re not pretty.

But that aside, if there’s something you want to change, all it takes is 21 days. Or less if my Mom is the motivating force. All you have to do is decide what you want to change, and why. Get that firm in your mind, and the rest is easy. And you can do anything for three weeks. Almost. Once those three weeks are over, it’s a simple matter of lather, rinse, and repeat.

Which habits are keeping you from reaching your dreams? Which habits would bring you closer? If what you’re doing now isn’t getting you where you need to be, then something has to change. Don’t let that change alter your dream. You can accomplish pretty much anything you want, if you want it badly enough. Start with the habits and let’s check back in a few weeks.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

What Are You Willing to Change?

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

It’s Friday Eve! It’s also the last day of the month. I think in some ways, this month has dragged on forever. And in other ways, it went by pretty fast. That may have some bearing on the amount of bourbon left in the liquor cabinet, or it may be the reason for how much is left. Sometimes it’s hard to tell, but I’m sure there’s a scientific relationship in there somewhere.

I almost never drink. It’s not really a conscious decision – I just don’t do it very often. Still, when my doctor asks how much I drink, I have to ask how many previous years we’re including in that average. This year? Zero. I may have two or three drinks in a month, sometimes not even that. But in the 70s I made Dean Martin look sober. And let’s not talk about Tommy Chong.

I’ve said this before, but habits are easy to form and hard to break. I don’t think I’ll get much argument there. But the ease of developing a habit is inversely proportional to how good that habit is for you. Crack cocaine, I’m told, is so addictive it can become a habit after just one use. But try going on a healthy diet and see how long that one takes.

And the reverse is true of trying to break a habit. The more destructive it is, the longer it takes. You can fall off that healthy diet in the Taco Bell drive-thru, but it can take several weeks of in-patient rehabilitation to beat a drug habit. I don’t know why that is – it just is. Except running. I broke that habit in six minutes flat. Maybe it’s not so good for you after all.

The thing is, most of what we do every day is a matter of habit. We get up at roughly the same time and follow a familiar routine. We brush our teeth in pretty much the same motion every time. We get dressed in pretty much the same order every day. We usually put the same shoe on first, and I always put my socks on before my shoes. Tell me that’s not a habit.

And if you think we’re creatures of habit, pay attention to your pets. They have a routine that will NOT be disrupted. My dog, at 8:00 every night, gets a treat. Okay, he’s spoiled, and I may have had a hand in that. I did it two nights in a row, and he caught on fast. And he knows when it’s 8:00. Now, if I could just get him to understand the difference between standard time and daylight savings.

Even on the job, where assignments change and the boss is always coming up with new challenges, we have habits. Ever notice that when the boss is about to throw your routine out of whack, it’s never a challenge – it’s an “opportunity.” All that means is you get to fit something else into your day, and he gets to look good to his boss. That’s just how it works.

On the job, the right habits make us worth our weight in gold. And most of us have those habits when somebody is paying us to do it. But what about those things you pay yourself to do? You know, the ones where nobody but you really cares if they get done, and the reward is a little less certain than a weekly paycheck? “I’ll work on that tomorrow – it’s poker night.”

And here’s the thing. Only you can decide if poker night is more important than your other goals. Maybe it is, and that’s okay. But if you want something more out of life, maybe down the road a few years, some of those habits will have to change. And the sooner you start building those new habits, the sooner you’ll achieve those new goals.

As a teen, I always said “I’ll party until the day I die!” Well, somewhere along the way my priorities changed. I still enjoy a raucous night with family & friends, and I occasionally have that second drink just because. But it’s no longer a habit. And that’s simply because there are other things I want more.

Part of dreaming is thinking of ways to make those dreams come true. To have something you’ve never had, you must do something you’ve never done. There’s no getting around that. Form the habits that will let you do those things you’ve never done, and do them consistently, and you’ll be that much closer to your dreams.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

It’s Only A Habit If You Want It

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

I’ve learned that I’m a morning person. Anybody who knew me forty years ago would say no way. I could sleep till noon and not even feel bad about it. Dad used to tell me I’d be late for my own funeral. I always wondered, what’s the downside to that? If the date for my funeral has already been set, I don’t see any advantage in getting there early. Just start without me.

I have to admit, though, I took sleeping late to an art. Hey, if you’re gonna do something, do it right. The only problem is, people at work have this thing they call a schedule and they sit there with a cup of coffee, staring at the clock, getting madder by the minute because Dave’s late. Like you can’t do anything till I get there? Just jump right on in. I don’t mind.

I remember standing inspection in the Navy and, as the admiral passed by, he looked at the hash mark on my lower sleeve indicating that I’d been in at least four years. Then he looked at my chest and said, “Where’s your Good Conduct Medal, sailor?” I mumbled something full of consonants that sounded vaguely like, “I dmthvon, sir.” Excuse me? “I don’t have one, sir!”

And, here’s the thing. You don’t have to do anything special to get that medal. All you have to do is stay out of trouble. I couldn’t even handle that. And with one exception that we won’t discuss here because it’s still not legal in all fifty states, every time I got in trouble it was for sleeping late.  

Alarm clock, you say? Oh, I had a bunch of those. And I wasn’t stupid enough to get one with a snooze feature. Although, I have to admit, about the sixth time that went off, my roommates would have fixed the problem for me. No, I had one with a clanging bell that’ll wake the dead. In another county. Yeah, it woke me up. Just enough to slap the button and go back to sleep.

The boss finally came up with a solution. Put Dave on night shift. Oh, that worked like a charm! I could sleep past noon and still make it to work on time. You play the hand you’re dealt, right? Only problem is, my wife still thought I was supposed to do things around the house, and that messed up my sleep cycle completely. I finally had to learn to function like a normal adult.

That all changed the day I quit smoking. Well, two days later. I woke up at six in the morning, wide awake, and fully rested. Okay, I’d gone to bed 12 hours earlier, because I found that the best way to beat the nicotine fits was to sleep through them. But something happened that day. I was awake. I had energy. I could smell things. Oh, could I smell things! Time for a shower!

From that day on, I never overslept for anything. I haven’t used an alarm clock in almost 20 years. Of course, the older you get, the less you need one anyway because sleeping is about like riding a city bus. It stops at every intersection whether it needs to or not. All you have to do is pay attention and get off at the right stop, and you’ll never be late for anything.

All through life, we change. Things that used to be a challenge are instinctive, and things that used to be instinctive are a challenge. If you’ve ever seen me try to run, you’d know that. And then along comes the doctor telling us we have to stop doing the things that got us this far in life because, apparently, where we are isn’t exactly where we should be.

Some of it is simply the aging process, and the rest is just habits – things we do without even thinking about them. And the thing with habits is that, even though they seem to be instinctive, they’re really just a behavior that’s been repeated so many times it becomes instinctive. And all it takes to change a habit is to change the behavior and then repeat it. Over, and over, and over.

There are things we can’t control, and aging is one of them. But there’s very little in our daily routine that we can’t change if the reason is strong enough. Changing a habit because somebody tells you to inevitably leads to failure. But making a change because you want to leads to another habit – the habit of success. Focus on the reason, and you’ll always reach the goal.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Successful Habits Can Only Lead to Success

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

I slept a little later than normal today. That’s what happens when you don’t use an alarm clock. Most days I wake up within five minutes of the same time, a time when most sane people are still sound asleep. It started two days after I quit smoking, and that was almost 22 years ago. I have an alarm clock, but I don’t know if I could set it to go off because I’m pretty sure I threw away the instructions.

I used to be the guy who was late for everything. Dad always used to say I’d be late for my own funeral. He said it like it was a bad thing. Personally, I don’t want to arrive early for that one. The later the better. But if being somewhere relied on my ability to wake up in the morning, all bets were off. If I had to catch an early flight, I stayed up all night because I knew I’d never wake up on time.

But as I said, two days after I quit smoking, that all changed. I woke up that morning rested and ready for the day, with a level of energy I hadn’t seen in more than 20 years. There’s something to be said for giving your lungs the ability to exchange oxygen. And in the months that followed, I became more rested and more energetic by the day. That, alone, was worth the price of admission.

Habits can be hard to break. I smoked for 24 years. And it’s not like I picked a date on the calendar and mentally prepared for it. The date chose itself. I didn’t even taper off. The day before I quit, I smoked almost three packs. I had no thought of giving it up until that morning when my body said, “Enough!” As I spent the first two hours of my day hyperventilating, the choice was made for me.

I’d tried to quit before, but never made it past the first couple of days. And I was a grumpy SOB the entire time. Everybody around me paid for my begrudged decision to quit something I should never have started in the first place. Normally, by the third day, my wife would buy a pack for me.

But something happens when you make the decision to do something because it’s what you want to do. Not because you know you should, or even because you know the consequences of not doing it. Those reasons are forced on us, and we naturally fight back. Even if we know what we’ve been doing is unhealthy or destructive. “I’ll change when I’m good and ready!” Sound like anyone you know?

That was the first element in my success – I quit because I decided it was time. It was a decision I made on the spur of the moment. I’m not really even sure I decided to quit for good that morning. I just made a decision not to smoke that day. And then I made that same decision again every day. I never really quit. I just said, “I won’t smoke today.”

It’s been suggested that it takes 21 days to change a habit. I’ve quoted that a few times in my posts. But in researching that topic (yes, I really do such things), I’m learning that three weeks is just the beginning. Depending on the source, it can take anywhere from 66 to 90 days to make a behavior so automatic that you no longer even think about it – you just do it.

But it’s during the first 21 days that you establish the behavior that will eventually become a habit. That’s when you figure out how you want things to go, and how to get back on track when you stumble. By the end of that time, you know what you’re doing and any discomfort with the new behavior is gone. It’s become a natural part of your life. Now, it’s just a matter of repetition.

There’s nothing you can’t change if you want to make that change. You can drop an old habit or form a new one. Both are pretty much the same. It’s all a matter of changing a certain behavior to become the person you want to be. Do it consistently, one day at a time, and in just a few weeks you’ll be well on your way. The remaining month or two is simply for reinforcement.

Habits are simply behaviors that we repeat instinctively. We can choose the behaviors, and we can choose to repeat them until they become a natural part of our day. Pick the behaviors that will lead you closer to your goals and success is not only possible, it’s inevitable.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Procrastinate Tomorrow – Get Busy Today!

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

This will be a busy weekend for me. For the past several weeks, I’ve been staring at a job that needs to be done, and now it’s time to pay the piper. I’m starting to realize if I’d broken it down into a list of smaller tasks, I’d probably be done by now. After 61 years, you’d think I’d have learned.

We’ve talked about this before – how we tend to put off those bigger jobs because we can’t set aside enough time to do the whole thing, so we don’t really do anything. Meanwhile, time marches on until the day comes when it has to be done, all at once. Makes you wonder, if you didn’t have time to work on this a month ago, what makes you think you’ll find the time to do it now?

It’s simple. you’ll find the time because you have to. It’s crunch time, and there’s no other option. I’d like to say we all do this, because it would make me feel a little less lazy. But the fact is, there are some people who don’t put things off until the last minute. If it’s a smaller job, they get it done. No excuses. With bigger jobs, they break them up and do a little each day.

I tend to stand back and look at the whole mountain, thinking of how much time and effort it’ll take to get to the other side. There are things I need to do for my business, and from a distance, they can look pretty daunting. I want to write a book, but that’s going to take some time. I need to clean up and reorganize my basement, but there’s a LOT of stuff down there to move, put away, or pitch.

And what happens? I find myself sitting here on yet another Friday morning thinking about how I can get some of this done, when the answer is really simple. Just do it, the same as I do eating broccoli … break it down into bite-sized pieces, pinch my nose, and have a bite. Do that enough times and the job is done.

My business goals can’t be achieved in a day. It’ll take a long series of small successes to get where I need to be. My book can’t be written all at once, even if I stay up all night. But if I had been putting in an hour a day, the same as I do with my morning posts, how far along would I be? And with the basement, it’s pretty simple. The dumpster can handle one extra bag of trash each week. So, fill it.

And here’s the real problem. Procrastination becomes a habit. At first, it’s pretty simple. You don’t have time to rebuild the car’s engine this weekend. It’ll have to wait. And that’s one of those jobs that truly has to be done all at once. But habits don’t stop at the big stuff. They just keep growing. Which explains why I’ve had a new toilet seat sitting in a box for the past month.

A toilet seat? Seriously? How long do you think it would take me to replace that? Well, far less time than I’ve spent re-attaching the old one every time it decides to come loose. But that only happens when you’re in the bathroom for another reason – something that truly is more pressing. And by the time you’re done, and your hands are washed, who wants to mess around with toilet seats?

Do you see a trend here? My wife does. In fact, it’s become such a way of life that she doesn’t even say much about it anymore. But it’s an easy trap to fall into. It’s also a pretty easy habit to break. Habits are nothing more than a routine to which we’ve become accustomed. Start a new job and you’ll learn a new routine pretty quickly. We can do the same in every area of our lives.

Most experts say it takes about three weeks to form a new habit. That’s 21 days. Unless you’re in military basic training, in which case new habits come in a matter of hours. But if you decide to make a change and commit to it, within three weeks it’ll be something you do as a matter of habit. Do it long enough, and it’ll take the same committed effort to fall back into your old habit.

Okay, in my case, maybe “effort” isn’t the operative word. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to say “tomorrow.” But the point is, we can either live with the things we’d like to change, or change them. You may not achieve your ultimate goal in three weeks, but you can become the person who is able to attain that goal. And, when you think about it, that has to happen first anyway.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Break a Tradition to Find the Possibilities Hidden Inside

Good morning. It’s Friday! I hope your day is starting off well.

For many of us, this will be a weekend of religious observances, and a day with family accented by some traditional meals. For others, it’s just a normal springtime weekend to observe their own weekend traditions. Whatever your plans, I hope the weekend is just perfect.

It seems traditions work their way into our life, sometimes completely by accident. But once they become ingrained in us, it’s hard to deviate. But sometimes that deviation can lead to new traditions, or even a tradition of just seeing where life takes you. That can be fun as well.

Nearly twenty years ago when our girls were visiting a grandparent out of state, my wife and I decided to take a long weekend and go someplace. We didn’t know where we wanted to go – we just wanted to get away for a couple of days.

I remember as I was loading our luggage for the trip, I asked my wife, “So, which way are we going? North, south, east, or west?” She shrugged her shoulders and said, “I don’t know – pick one.” We hit the road, with no real idea of where we’d end up. And we had one of the most incredibly relaxing and enjoyable weekends ever.

Traditions can be great (not that we’ve ever had a real “tradition” for weekend outings), but they can limit your imagination and lead to a somewhat mundane existence. When we go to any of several familiar restaurants, I rarely even look at the menu because I already know what I’ll be eating. And sure, I get something I really like each time. But I always wonder what I may be missing.

Traditions are nothing more than habits, but with a more celebrated existence. Our family tradition of baked ham and macaroni & cheese casserole on Easter Sunday is a habit. One I really enjoy, mind you, but still a habit. And one that limits other possibilities. Like this year, when the menu will be traditional summertime cookout fare – hamburgers, hot dogs, and potato salad.

Notice how one tradition just slipped in there over another? Pretty sneaky, if you ask me. But it happens, because we’re all creatures of habit. We have routines that have become comfortable, and when decisions need to be made, we naturally gravitate to them. So, instead of a single tradition, we have a few. Then it’s just a matter of drawing one out of the hat.

And we follow this routine through much of what we do in our lives. I have certain combinations of clothing I wear. When I put on my blue pants, there are just a couple of shirts I’ll wear with them. And, most of the time, those shirts only get worn with my blue pants. So, the only real decision I make each morning, is which pair of pants to put on. From there it’s eenie-meenie-miney-mo.

In yesterday’s message, I stressed the point that we need to be willing to try new things. And sometimes those new things are so far outside the box, we’d have never thought of them on our own. When somebody suggests them, our brain immediately comes up with a dozen different reasons to resist. And if those reasons aren’t good enough, there are a dozen more behind them.

It’s simply because what we’ve been doing to this point in life is coloring inside the lines, following a pre-defined path that we laid out for ourselves. But if we want to turn the current picture into a masterpiece, we have to be willing to color outside the lines. We have to be willing to change those habits that have restrained us to this point and find some that will lead us where we want to be.

I’m not bashing traditions. We all have them, and there are some we have no desire to change. I could go to a Chinese restaurant for Easter – I just choose not to. And that resistance to something new will keep me from ever knowing what may have been. It’ll keep me in the same silo in which I’ve lived to this point in life. And in this case, it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

But if there are traditions and habits that are holding you back, change them. If something new could lead you to where you want to be, do it. The mind is like a parachute – it only works when it’s open. Be receptive to new ideas, new habits, and new traditions. And then shut your brain down long enough to get past those excuses and examine the possibilities. What a difference it can make!

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Perseverence (and Coffee) Can Make Everything Right

Good morning! It’s Hump Day! I hope your week is going well.

Every morning, as I make my rather large cup of coffee, I have to run it in two batches – the first is 12 ounces and the second is an additional 8 ounces. It’s simply because my coffee maker doesn’t have a mega-cup setting, and I’m not about to start my day without a mega-shot of caffeine. Those who work closest to me can fully appreciate that.

But after the initial 12-ounce run this morning, my coffee maker decided that was it for now. I waited patiently, and then not-so-patiently, and still it wouldn’t reset itself for an additional brew. I finally gave it the computer-style reboot (pulled the plug) and it decided to work, after I reset the time and all those other fun things. I hope this was just a fluke. I kinda depend on this thing to start my day.

It’s just part of my routine. We all have one. As I get dressed each day, my dog is waiting outside my bedroom door, just to be sure I’m not going back to bed. I go to the living room, sit in the recliner, and he props up across my left leg for a morning hug. Then it’s outside for him, and when he comes back, he gets his morning vitamin and eats his food while I make a mega-cup of coffee. Every day.

We do these things so automatically, we rarely even think about them. Unless the coffee maker decides to test my aging heart, in which case I have to improvise. Or panic. It could have gone either way. We improvise first, and if that doesn’t work, we panic. Can I get an amen?

When an animal does something without thinking about it, we call that “natural instinct.” Okay, I’m not sure dogs have a natural instinct to start dancing around at 7:30 every night because the human is supposed to give them a treat at 8:00. I’m not even sure it’s a habit. If you want my opinion, he’s spoiled. But I only have myself to blame for that.

And how did 8:00 become the official hour for a treat? Because the human (me) did it a few nights in a row at the end of a particular TV show. It’s funny how habits are formed. I didn’t intent do make that a nightly thing with him. It just worked out that way.

I think it’s a little amusing – it takes us about three weeks to form a new habit. If there’s something you’re desperately trying to change, do it consistently for 21 days and it’ll become a part of your life. But, since every years of a dog’s life equals seven years of a human life, that means it only takes a dog three days to form a habit. I walked right into that one.

So, what happens when I go to his favorite cabinet and the bag of treats is empty? He understands “all gone,”, but he doesn’t understand “Daddy forgot to buy some at the store last week.” It’s treat time, and there’d better be something in that magic cabinet. If not, then open the refrigerator. There’s cheese in there. He’s not stupid.

Sometimes we have to improvise. And that’s not always as easy as it sounds. It’s time to start cooking dinner and you realize the roast is still thawed. So, tonight we have grilled cheese. Problem solved. But when you get halfway to work and the car starts flashing that dreaded “check engine” light, you don’t have a lot of options. That’s when even the most devout atheist begins to pray.

As I stared at the coffee maker this morning, I began to wonder if I’d have to start my day with a half-cup of coffee, and how my wife would feel when she had to start her day without. We don’t have instant coffee in this house, so my only Plan B is to stop by the gas station on the way to work. And I’m sorry, but that’s just not a truly acceptable substitute.

Things will happen to mess up the best of plans. You’re on vacation and you hit a detour. The hotel you’d planned to stay in is full. You get a flat tire on the way, and finally arrive at Wally World only to find the park is closed. It happens to the best of us. But somehow, you find the resolve to keep going.

Anybody can breeze through an easy day and come out looking good. It’s how we handle those not-so-easy days that makes us who we are. Just take a step back, assess the situation, and re-focus on the goal. There’s always another way to get there. All you have to do is find it.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The 21-Day Turnaround

Good morning! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend.

Well, it never fails. I bragged Friday morning about losing a few pounds and something happened over the weekend to spike my appetite. I know what part of the problem was, but the end result was I shoveled more food in my mouth than I needed and I’m back up a couple of pounds. Still a net loss since a week ago, but not as much as I’d hoped.

That’s the reality of weight loss, especially as we get older. I’ve learned that my body likes consistency. Whatever I weigh now, it’ll try to maintain that weight despite any amount of dieting and exercise. The body, and especially the mind, are intricate systems that are designed for self-preservation. And they resist any change that threatens that consistency.

On the other hand, I’ve learned that when I begin to consistently lose (or gain) weight, my body tries to maintain that momentum. I guess the trick is to get moving in the right direction and maintain that movement long enough that the body can adapt and accept the new direction. A week just isn’t enough. Thankfully, a week of weight gain isn’t enough either. If it was, I’d be in serious trouble.

It’s that way with a lot of things in life. We decide we need a change and start going through the motions to make it happen. If we’re really sold on the idea, that first week is easy. We do the things we need to do, or stop doing the things we shouldn’t do and, by all outward appearances, we’re on the way to success. Then comes the weekend. Or the second week, or the third.

It takes 21 days to form a new habit. For the first three weeks, whatever changes we’re trying to make are completely out of our comfort zone, whether it feels that way or not. We’re taking something we’ve done for probably a long time and trying to force ourselves to do something different. And our mind and body will resist that change until it becomes a habit.

Habits are things we do without thinking about them. They’re second nature. We do them just because that’s what we do. And the longer we maintain a habit, the more automatic it becomes. Which is why it’s just as hard to break an old habit as it is to start a new one. In fact, new habits usually mean we have to give up old habits. I guess it’s just nature’s way of maintaining balance.

I smoked for 23 years. Quitting wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be, once I really decided to do it. But for the first three weeks, I had to continually remind myself not to smoke. At the end of meals, I had to think about it. Waking up in the morning, I had to think about it. At work when we went on break, I had to think about it. Until one day, not smoking became a habit.

The same is true when we’re just trying to form a good habit. Maybe you want to start getting up earlier each day. Or maybe you want to start spending an hour each day reading something inspirational. It could be something you want to do to earn extra income or spending more time with family. Whatever it is, it’ll take about three weeks before that new action becomes a habit.

And once that happens, you’ll find that you no longer have to figure out what to rearrange in your schedule to accommodate your new habit. You’ll move things around without thinking about them. And when something else comes along and tries to take up that time, you’ll say no. “That’s my time for doing (whatever).” It just becomes part of your day.

That’s not to say things won’t happen to throw you off track. They will. And there will be days you just can’t make it happen. You handle the situation and move on. But once that’s over, you get back to normal. So, the trick is getting to a point where “normal” includes the things you need to do. If not, you’ll have to start those habits all over.

If there’s something you want to change, then do it. Let today be the first day. Mark it on the calendar. Then mark another date three weeks out – that’s the day your new life becomes a habit. All you have to do until then is just keep on doing whatever it is you’ve decided to do (or not do). And if you slip up a little along the way (you will), just get back on track. Success is still there, waiting for you to arrive.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Change is Not a Four-Letter Word

We’re all creatures of habit. Some a little more than others, but we all get into a comfort zone and tend to stay there until something comes along to change that. Those habits could be anything from which side of the bed we sleep on to which shoe we put on first, the route we follow driving to work, and how we spend our first five minutes on the job each day.

Most of our habits are completely inconsequential. Does it matter where you sit in church, or which shoe goes on first? Not a bit. In fact, some experts suggest we should change those habits from time to time, just to break up the monotony.

Beyond that, I think it can help us learn to adapt to change, so the thought of changing a habit isn’t quite so daunting. Because, let’s face it, we tend to make a big production of changing our habits. We make resolutions, set dates, create checklists, and put stars on our daily calendar like a kindergarten teacher to show the days we were “good.”

It’s no wonder we’re so reluctant to change. And if it’s that hard to change something relatively minor, how on earth can we tackle the changes that really matter, things like giving up smoking, losing weight, following an exercise program, or devoting a little time each day to building a business? All of these things can have a profound impact on our lives. And the stronger the impact, the more we resist making the change.

I think two things hold us back. The first is comfort. It’s human nature to seek a place of comfort. And when things are going well, and nothing is forcing us to change, it’s easy to sit back and say, “This isn’t so bad. I’ve done it this way all these years, and I’m still alive. In fact, I kind of enjoy how things are going right now. Why rock the boat?”

That’s great if you want to stay right where you are until the reaper pays a visit. But if you want to step things up a notch, something has to change. To have something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done. That’s one of my favorite quotes, and it resonates perfectly in this context.

The first step in making that change is to get a little uncomfortable. If we’re cruising along with little or no discomfort, there’s little incentive to change. We know what we really should do, but the urgency just isn’t there. Until the mortgage company calls and says pay up or pack up. I hope none of you ever have to experience that, but I think we can all agree, it would light a fire.

Beyond that, we need to break these major changes down into smaller bite-size pieces. One of my goals for the year is to finalize my financial situation in preparation for retirement. If you could see my bank and 401k statements today, you’d know that’s a huge undertaking. And, I’ll be honest – looking at the end goal, it’s really hard to visualize.

But, if I break it down into smaller goals – paying down the credit cards, shedding some unnecessary expenses, and building some sources of ongoing income, it becomes a little more realistic. And if I take any one of those goals and break it down even further, I can come up with a list of actionable items that can be accomplished in a relatively short amount of time.

It’s all about habits. Form the right habits, and you’ll work toward your goal without really thinking about it. It becomes second-nature. And once that habit is firmly in place, you can start working on the next one. Instead of trying to leap-frog right to your ultimate goal, you do it 21 days at a time.

If there’s something you’d like to change, a habit you’d like to develop (or break), it only takes three weeks. You may or may not reach your big goal by the end of the year, but think of how much closer you’ll be. All it takes it to get a little uncomfortable with the status quo, make a decision to do something about it, then commit to doing that for the next three weeks.

It’s been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing, day after day, and expecting different results. To have something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done. Embrace change, one little step at a time, and there’s nothing you can’t accomplish. That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved