Make Every Moment Count

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

It’s funny how we can reach Friday and say, “This has been a really long week!” Long, compared to what? A shorter week? I’m not talking about working hours, or those weeks when we get a holiday. Even then, they have a way of leveling the score. I’ve often said that when you get to skip a Monday at work, you get four more to make up for it. Can I get an amen?

Yet, at the end of these “long” weeks, we always say the same thing. “I just didn’t have enough time to get it all done!” Well, which is it? If the week was noticeably longer, that excuse pretty much goes out the window. And in all honesty, there are only two ways to make a week longer – flying west or waiting for the change to Standard Time. And that only happens once a year.

Still, it’s been an exceptionally long week for me. Let’s face it, time doesn’t always fly. The more challenging the situation, the slower that clock seems to turn. There were times this week when I was pretty sure mine was broken.

One of the nice things about working from home is that “home” doesn’t always have to be in the same place. I’ve been fortunate to work for a company that really doesn’t care where I’m located, as long as I’m online during working hours. That was an unintended consequence of the pandemic, but still a blessing. And this week, I’ve been in Florida to spend time with my dad.

Yesterday that time was spent in a hospital emergency room, literally all day. I won’t go into detail, except to say there were a few hours where I wasn’t sure the day would have a happy ending. One of the most heartbreaking things we’ll ever experience is watching that example of strength we’ve known all our lives slip further into a debilitating condition with only one eventual escape.

Thankfully, things started going our way late in the afternoon and he finished the day better stabilized and gaining strength. He’s got a long recovery ahead, and I know some days will be better than others. The best I can do is be here, and make sure he knows how much I appreciate the person he is and the person he’s helped me to become.

I’ve had several conversations with my daughters and oldest grandson this week, and the thing I keep telling them is never take anything for granted. For each person in our life, there will be a last visit and a last conversation. What we’ll never know is if it’s in the future or has already happened. And that’s why it’s so important that we take advantage of those opportunities to make the time count.

I worked with a guy years ago that I didn’t particularly like, and he felt the same about me. I really can’t say why. That’s just the way it was. Our conversations were typically laced with snide remarks and disdain. I still remember the day he made an especially rude comment to me and I suggested he should kiss my behind. I wasn’t always this nice.

A few weeks later, we had to team up on a manufacturing issue, and we worked really well together. He came to respect my abilities, and I came to respect his. We never went to lunch together, but it was a pleasant experience. A month later, he had an aneurism and died. I can’t remember my final words to him, but I will always know what they might have been. Thank God we were able to work past that.

Throughout our lives, we will come to know a lot of people. Some will mean the world to us, some will be mere acquaintances, and the rest will fall somewhere in between. And whether we mean to or not, we will each leave an imprint on one another in ways we may never know. That’s why it’s so important that we think before we speak, and atone for any transgressions as quickly as possible.

To that person at work whose smile we barely notice, a smile or a warm greeting from us could mean the world. The neighbor whose lifestyle offends us may be yearning for acceptance. Even the person in handcuffs in the back seat of a police cruiser deserves our compassion. And the best part is, it’s free. It costs nothing to offer a smile or a kind word. Will it make a difference? You may never know.

I’m confident I’ll have more opportunities to spend time with Dad and let him know how much he means to me. How many more is the great unknown. Pick up the phone. Write a letter. Go visit. You’ll never know when that last conversation about nothing in particular may truly be your last. Make it count.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Say What You Mean

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

It’s Hump Day. I remember having to explain that to a young friend from the Republic of Georgia. She had never heard the expression before, and it reminded me that a lot of what we consider to be common vernacular is not so common outside our own little community. Okay, full disclosure – that’s the first time I’ve ever used “vernacular” in a sentence. I’m feeling just a little giddy right now!

What is vernacular? Just a more expensive version of the word “language.” It’s like saying “cove” instead of “dead-end street.” They both mean the same thing. Which one you use depends entirely on the price of the houses. In a trailer park the sign simply says, “No Outlet.” To me, that one always sounded like a vague reference to a lack of restrooms. Yes, that’s really the way my mind works.

We often use fancy words to describe simple things. Sometimes, it’s just good marketing. Why would you consider buying a used car when you can buy a pre-owned automobile? And let’s be honest, a house trailer just isn’t as prestigious as pre-manufactured housing. Besides, once the wheels come off, it’s just a house, right? And doesn’t “son-in-law” sound nicer than “jerk who married my daughter?”

Okay, I’m gonna get in trouble here. Not with my daughter. She’s got a few colorful words of her own to clarify that sentiment. But that’s another story. The point is, when something isn’t as pretty as we’d like it to be, all we have to do is find more appealing ways to describe it. Politicians learn this premise early in life. Instead of an allowance, they hit their parents up for tax-deferred contributions.

I was reading the news last year and came across a new term I’d never seen before – “food insecure.” I had to read that a couple of times, because when I first read it, I thought it had something to do with gas station sushi. That’s about as insecure as you can get. Or the time Mom thawed the Thanksgiving turkey outside for three days in 80-degree weather. I issued advance warning to the whole family on that one.

But, as it turns out, it’s just a less painful way of saying somebody’s refrigerator is empty and the kids won’t be getting any dinner tonight. And I have to wonder, why do we feel the need to color that with anything other than its true shade of mottled gray tinted with desperation? Is it to make us feel less guilty about not dropping a can of soup in the church food pantry?

We do the same thing to describe our own circumstances. Nobody ever says, “We’re poor.” They’re having financial difficulty. Unemployment is more palatable if you’re just between jobs. And plus-sized sounds a whole lot nicer than overweight. My granddaughter gets really upset when I say I’m old. “You’re not old!” Well, in all honesty, this isn’t as old as I once thought it was. But let’s be real.

The challenge is when you think somebody may need a little help, but you don’t want to approach it in the wrong way. It’s especially delicate when the other person hasn’t opened up to you first. You know, like when you go into the business of selling weight loss products and want to approach a prospective customer. “Wow, you really need to visit my store!” That’s not the best way to make friends.

On the other hand, if you truly believe you have something to offer, something that another person needs and that can benefit their life in some way, you really owe it to that person to say something. It may be nothing more than friendly advice, from the perspective of somebody who’s been in a similar situation themselves, or as complex as a plan for doubling their income over the next year.

When we avoid these conversations, we make a decision for people that they may not want us to make. “I know you could use some extra cash and I can show you how to make some. But you wouldn’t be interested in what I’m doing, so I’ll save us both the trouble.” You might as well look at them and say, “I know something that could make your life better, but I’m keeping it to myself.”

We all face challenges in life. It may feel better to describe those challenges in “politically-correct” terms, but if the person we’re talking to doesn’t understand the vernacular (twice in one post!), we could be completely missing the chance to give or receive help. Sugar-coating may make the words easier to say and hear. Just don’t let the meaning get lost in the message.

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

Turn the Impossible Into the Inevitable

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

Normally at the start of a new week we’re full of anticipation about all the great things we’ll accomplish. Okay, more like mixed feeling about all the things we’ll witness. After last week, I think we’ll all be content to make it to Friday intact. Let’s face it, some parents go into the school year knowing they’ll never receive that congratulatory letter from the principal about their kid’s scholastic achievements.

It’s all about expectations – those visions we have of a certain outcome based on what we’ve seen to this point in time. Both of my daughters were capable of honor-roll performance, and I had a strong desire that they’d always do their best. But there were those days when I was happy just to see them get on the bus. You learn to accept life’s little blessings as they come.

I was listening to a motivational speaker a few days ago, and he talked about the progression of our expectations. Very often, new ideas immediately go into that circular file labeled “impossible.” The objections start before the idea is fully developed. “There’s no way this can work! If it were that easy, everybody would be doing it!” Giving up is easy when we don’t have any skin in the game.

But then we give it a second look, and maybe even test the water just a bit. It’s like a baby standing next to a coffee table, letting go for a few seconds at a time. It’s a leap of faith, backed by a lifetime of experience that says, “Sure, other people are doing it, so it’s not impossible. But in my case, it’s improbable. I’m just not as smart, or as strong, or as (insert your favorite attribute here) as they are.”

This would be a good place to examine why we consider new ideas in the first place. We don’t change the things we do simply for the sake of change. We have a goal. It could be as simple as finding an easier way to do a routine task, or as grand as achieving a lifelong dream. And a lifetime of experience has taught us that doing exactly what we’ve been doing isn’t producing the desired result.

Something needs to change. But that same lifetime of experiences is nagging at us the whole time, adjusting our expectations to nothing more than we’ve come to know. “What makes me think I can do this? What I want is for special people, and I’m not that special. Besides, I’ve lived my whole life without it.” Sound familiar? It’s a self-defeating attitude that seeks to avoid any form of disappointment.

But if the goal is strong enough, we give in and take that first step. We may keep one hand on the table, because we know how easily we can fall. But lo and behold, here we are still standing! The floor didn’t rise up to slap us, and odds are if we try another step, we may succeed yet again. This isn’t just possible, it’s probable! Sure, we’ll fall down. But the odds of success are moving into our corner.

Finally, we enter the realm of “inevitable.” You do something enough times to realize that, as long as you keep taking the right steps, you will eventually end up where you want to be. It’s no longer a matter of luck – it’s a law of nature. Success isn’t something you have to control. It happens because you’ve put something in motion that you can’t stop. All you have to do is meet it at the other end.

As we begin a new week, it’s inevitable that we’ll encounter experiences over the next few days that we can’t begin to anticipate. Some will be good, some not so good. And a lot of that depends on our expectations. If we expect good things, good things happen. We’ll still encounter our share of challenges, but challenges are a lot easier to manage when you expect to win.

I’ve said this before, but a professional baseball player expects to get a hit every time they step up to the plate. It doesn’t matter that, two-thirds of the time, they have to take that lonely walk back to the dugout. They’ve felt success. They know what’s possible. And they know that, as long as they stand at the plate and swing at enough good pitches, a base hit is inevitable. Maybe even a home run.

Focus on the dream and do the things you need to do. Nothing is impossible if even one other person has done it, and it’s only improbable if you don’t give it an honest try. That only leaves two other possibilities – probable, and inevitable. Expect great things this week, and great things are that much more likely to happen. Stare down that fastball and swing for the fences. Then get ready to run!

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

Not Until You Eat Your Brussels Sprouts!

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

Well, it’s been a week. I know, understatement of the century. That’s a nice way to avoid the more descriptive response, one that involves a legendary British detective and a lack of manure. Don’t spend too much time thinking about that one. I already did.

Thankfully, this week is coming to an end. Hopefully it’s not an indication of what 2021 has in store for us. If it’s any comfort, a year ago we welcomed the New Year with reasonably mild weather, no pandemic (that we knew of yet), and little more than a mild hangover to remind us of the preceding year. Then it all went to hell.

So, maybe this year will work in reverse. Get the bad stuff out of the way now so we can get to the good stuff that much sooner. You know, like those steamed Brussels sprouts for dinner. Mom didn’t make dessert very often, but every time she did, dinner included something I wouldn’t feed a skunk. I tricked her. I came to enjoy liver. I just never let her know it.

There’s something to be said for paying our dues and earning life’s rewards. There’s something to be said for skipping some of that obnoxious stuff, too. I’ve often said the best way to cook spinach is with coconut oil. It’s a lot easier to scrape into the trash that way.

Okay, if you’ve ever seen me try to run, you can fully appreciate the result of that thinking. I’ve always been one who wants to skip right to the good stuff and pay my dues later. You know, way later. Like when I’m too old to enjoy the fun stuff and don’t have anything else to fill my days. Besides, old people have to read books and eat healthy stuff. That’s the law.

Well, here’s the thing. Somewhere along the way, I got old. It happened while I was sleeping, because I certainly didn’t notice it while I was awake. I was too busy partying. I always figured we live life backward anyway. Retirement should come first, while you’re still young enough to enjoy it, and then you work yourself into an early grave. Okay, the first part sounds nice.

Of course, life has other plans. As long as there are bills to pay, kids to feed, and nobody is willing to send me to exotic locations so I can write about them in my spare time, the work part has to come first. And believe me, it has. When I got my first job at the age of 15, Mom tried to talk me out of it. “Once you start working, you’ll work the rest of your life.” File that one with “Don’t spit into the wind.”

Yes, Mom knew exactly what she was talking about. Aside from a few very brief periods of unemployment, I’ve been working nonstop for 48 years. When you’re 15, that’s inconceivable. Besides, by the age of 19 I was supposed to be a rock star and I’d have paid servants to do all that other work.

Well, strangely enough, it rarely works out that way. Most of us will work most of our lives, whether as a paid employee or an even harder working slave to the home. That’s just the way it goes. And if we want that phase of our life to end early and yield to a more relaxing and recreational existence, we have to eat a few extra servings of pungent green vegetables along the way.

It would be nice if we could just wave a magic wand and skip right to the good stuff. Or even put in a few hours of extra work and suddenly find success. But it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes, we have to beat our head against a brick wall for a long time before we see any appreciable results. And maybe that’s too much to ask. If so, modify your dreams. It’s really that simple.

But if there’s something you want, something you don’t have the ability to accomplish this instant, then resign yourself to the fact that you’ll have to work for it. The sooner that work begins, in earnest, the sooner that dream will materialize.

And here’s the thing – if you focus too heavily on results, especially in the beginning, frustration sets in and success becomes that much more elusive. Focus on the goal, and just do the work that needs to be done. It doesn’t matter if you got the desired results today, or any day. Success isn’t linear, and it doesn’t have to be. It just has to happen.

If you have a clear dream, you know the things you need to be doing. Get through the hard part now, and you’ll be enjoying the reward that much sooner. 

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Best Time to Plan for the Future is Before It Happens

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

So, I woke up yesterday with the best of intentions to write something really intriguing and stunningly insightful. Okay, I wake up with that intention every day. But if you’ve been with me any time at all, you know that’s kinda like a baseball player stepping up to the plate. They always expect a hit, and some believe every swing will be a home run. But more often than not, they whiff.

In my defense, I had to get ready for an early morning job interview yesterday. It’s the same job I’m doing now, for the same people I work with today. Only difference is who will sign my paychecks. I assume pay will be involved. We haven’t discussed that part yet.

If you remember my post from Monday, my contract with this company had expired and I was working on faith that the contract would be extended. Well, that came through late in the day, so I’m good for another few months while they decide if they like me enough to keep me around on a more permanent basis. Notice I said, “more permanent.” In the corporate world, that means “at least for this week.”

In my business, I talk to people a lot about income stability. Once upon a time, you found a job, went to work every day, and after 40 years of loyal service, you were sent home with a gold watch and a monthly check. If you were lucky, you climbed the ladder along the way, but not always. My grandpa worked on the same assembly line almost 50 years.

But anybody born after 1925 knows those days are long gone. Jobs come and go, and companies change their market focus on a dime. Part of that is the natural evolution of business. Last time I checked, there are very few companies still making slide rules, and they’re not actively hiring designers to enhance their product. On the other hand, if you have one of those dinosaurs at home, it’s probably worth a lot.

Another uncomfortable fact is that we’re all replaceable, at least in the corporate world, and company loyalty is usually a one-way street. It’s not that employers don’t value us or our work. But we have to accept the fact that we are little more than tools to get a specific job done, and every day newer and better tools pop up. Unless you’re a hammer. Some things are as good as they’ll ever get.

Throw in the fact that every day brings challenges we never anticipated, and what we know today is never certain. Two years ago, I had brain surgery that could have ended my work career for good. Several years before that my wife was driving to work when another car crossed the centerline. She was back to work in two months, but it could have been much worse.

I’m not trying to be a downer here, but we all have to acknowledge the fact that the life we live today can change in an instant. Having a backup plan has never been more critical than it is today. And no, I’m not talking about the lottery. If your idea of investing in the future involves a weekly Powerball ticket, we need to talk.

Yet, how many of us go through life with that lottery mentality that says no matter how bad things are today, something will magically happen, and we’ll live happily ever after? Sure, I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy, and I tend to focus more on the positive. But if we’re just sitting around waiting for good things to happen, we may be waiting a long time.

If something happened today and you were suddenly no longer able to work or find employment in your career field, what would you do? Could you retire today if you had to? Could you live on whatever you and the government have set aside for your golden years? Or would you have to invoke a Plan B and try something different?

And if the answer to that question is that you’d have to scramble and try something new, let me ask an even more important question – what are you waiting for? I’m not suggesting you change careers on the off-chance you’ll find yourself unemployed, but there are literally dozens of things you can build on the side that could either supplement or replace your current income should the need arise.

We buy insurance in the hope we’ll never need it, and thank our lucky stars if that time ever comes. Life happens. Things change. And the best-laid plans go awry. The impact of those events will depend largely on what you’re doing to reduce that impact. Today. When it counts. Hopefully, you’ll never need the extra income. And if not, I bet you could find some fun ways to spend it.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Don’t Stop Now – You May Be Closer Than You Think

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

“Trust me.” Those two words can evoke a multitude of different emotions, largely dependent on who’s doing the talking. “You have nothing to worry about. Everything will be alright.” Are you feeling that little twitch in the pit of your stomach? It usually means one of two things. Either there truly is nothing to fear, or we’ve completely overlooked the most immediate danger. That last one can bite hard.

As I shut down for the day last Thursday, I did so knowing that my employment contract was expiring in a few short hours. I also knew a contract extension was in the works, but not yet formalized. You know how these things go. Nobody is in a hurry until the clock runs out. Unless you’re the one waiting for some reasonable assurance you still have a job. Then it can’t happen quickly enough.

For what it’s worth, I’m planning to continue working this week, with only intestinal reassurance that I’ll continue to be paid. Yes, it’s a leap of faith. But I believe in my managers, even when they utter those dreaded words, “Trust me.” Sometimes, you have to look beyond the obvious and have confidence in what’s waiting down the road. Like dessert. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

I have little doubt most of you came into the new year with dreams for a brighter future. Hopefully you’ve transformed some of those dreams into actionable goals. You know, specific tasks you plan to accomplish by some self-imposed deadline. Unless your goal is simply to pay this months’ bills. In that case, the deadline has been pretty much established for you.

Okay, so let’s assume you have a goal. Now all you have to do is sit back and wait for it to magically happen, right? You know, it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve tried that approach, it never seems to work. I guess I’m just not wishing hard enough. I know what I want is attainable, because I’ve met people who have done it and they’re no smarter than me. Yet, they all say the same thing. Get busy!

Then they utter those dreaded words – “Trust me, Dave. Keep doing the work and the results will come.” Okay, when? Next week? Next month? Next year? And please, while we’re at it, define “results.” Seems to me failure is one of two possible results. Sure, success is another possibility, but between the two there are a whole lot of other potential outcomes. Which one is at the end of my rainbow?

If you nodded your head even once in those last two paragraphs, welcome to my world. Trust is a difficult thing, especially when what you want is pretty far out there and you’re not seeing immediate results. And then, as if you needed any discouragement at all, you can always count on somebody you admire to rub a little salt on the wound. “Are you still wasting your time with that? Get a life!”

Well, the best things in life don’t always come easily. In fact, the greater the reward, the harder you’ll have to work to achieve it. And you may never fully achieve the exact level of success you desire. If you want guarantees, send in a stale bag of chips for a refund. But one thing you can be sure of – unless you’re willing to put forth some extra effort, you’ve already reached the pinnacle of your success.

It was Thomas Jefferson who said that to have something you’ve never had you must do something you’ve never done. What old Tom forgot to mention is that, more often than not, you have to keep doing it. If you’ve ever played a musical instrument, you understand this concept. If you’ve ever allowed your kid to pick up a violin or brass instrument in the confines of your home, your reward is in Heaven.

It’s not enough to just take the first step. You have to keep on stepping. At first, it feels like you’re just spinning your wheels. Nothing goes according to plan. But, as a friend often says, ninety percent of what you try will never work, but that other ten percent will make you rich. And here’s the thing – none of us can control when that ten percent kicks in. It happens when it happens.

It’s hard to keep going when you’re not seeing results. Sometimes you have to work through a lot of failures to find success, and success almost never comes on a linear path. There will be curves, potholes, detours, and roadblocks, but the journey continues as long as you keep trying. Trust yourself and trust your plan. It may not happen as quickly as you’d hoped. But none of that matters once you get there.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

New Year, New Day … It’s How You Use It That Counts

Good morning, and happy New Year’s Eve!  I’m not sure we EVER thought it would get here.  Hope your day is off to a great start.

I’ve had a lot of fun reading the humorous (and sometimes not-so-humorous) farewells to 2020 on social media. It sure beats the political discourse that seems to work its way into every conversation from thunderstorms to family recipes. Well, call me old-fashioned, but I’d rather see pictures of puppies. Okay, and I watch Hallmark movies, too. So there.

Now that I’ve officially crumpled up my “man card,” let’s move on. It was faded anyway. But this is the last day of the year. It’s the day we bid farewell to what has, for most of us, been one of the worst years ever. And it’s my last chance to write something meaningful (if not at least a little funny) this year. Starting tomorrow, I get 365 chances to get it right. Buckle up!

Like many of you, I had things I needed to get done this year that just never floated to the top of the pile. As a consequence, I get to go outside today in near-freezing weather and finish up a couple of those chores. Every warm day we’ve had this winter somehow got filled with other things. You know, like sitting in front of the TV in my pajamas. Now I have to pay the piper.

Looking back on this year, it hasn’t been nearly as bad for us as it could have been. I got hired into my current job a week after the nation shut down for Covid, and I’m still employed today – “today” being the operative word.  My contract expires in 14 hours, so all bets are off on whether it gets renewed in time. Guess I’m not the only one who didn’t get it all done in 2020.

As we reach this point in the year, most of us are saying pretty much the same thing. “I had the best of intentions, but life just got in the way. Other stuff came up, time was short, and I just didn’t get it all done. But I did my best!” Uh huh. So, if we gave it our very best this year, what makes us think next year will be that much better? “Because it won’t be 2020 anymore!”

It’s easy to view external factors as the driving force behind success and failure. Oh, we like to take credit for accomplishments, but when it comes to something that didn’t go quite right, it’s a lot easier to look for a scapegoat. And believe me, with 2020 behind us, finding a scapegoat is a piece of cake. It’s right there in living color. So what?

Let’s get real for a moment. 2021 is just a number. It’s one year in our lives that begins in less than a day. Will tomorrow be magically different just because you can write a new number on your checks? If you’re like me, you’ll get that wrong for a month anyway. But what about the day after tomorrow, and the days after that? We can’t blame 2020 forever.

Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Seems I’ve heard that somewhere before. We don’t need a new year, a new month, or even a new day to start working toward our dreams. Tomorrow is a figment of your imagination. It’s the day that never comes, because once it gets here, it’s “today.” Okay, that was a lot funnier in the second grade. But you get the point.

That said, we do have one shot at beginning a new year and a new day all at the same time. After that, you have to wait another year. And given that a good percentage of the world will be hung-over by this time tomorrow, I’m betting all those plans for the new year will come with a headache-induced caveat … “tomorrow.” Yep. Tomorrow. The day that never comes.

So, try something different this year. Start now. Get your plans in order and start filling in dates on the calendar. Do it early, before you spike the eggnog. Go to sleep with your dreams clearly in focus. Then, when you wake up tomorrow, pick up those plans and get moving. “But nothing is open on New Year’s Day!” Perfect. That means no distractions. Just you and your goal.

If you’ve been waiting for the new year to begin, it’s here. Make the most of it. Use all 365 days to accomplish your dreams. My hope for each of you is that, at the end of 2021, you can say, “There goes one of the best years of my life. Not because it was an inherently good year, but because I made it so.” Then, take a bow and have a drink. You’ve earned it.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Don’t Just Look Ahead – Look Forward

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

It’s hard to believe this year is almost over. I read a post last night that said the way this year has gone, after 11:59 pm tomorrow, the clocks will change to 11:60 and just keep going from there.  It’s like all those butter-tub leftovers in Mom’s refrigerator. Some of those things are NEVER going away.

On the other hand, woe be to the person who dares to open one up, especially if the lid is bulging. You take those things straight to the dumpster, in tongs, at arm’s length, and still wear protective clothing. I think that’s the way 2020 will be. Throw it out and don’t dare take a peek to see what you missed. You can thank me later.

It’s been said that there’s a reason the windshield is a lot bigger than the rearview mirror. I guess that means what’s coming is more important than what’s passed. Besides, if there’s a semi with no brakes coming from behind, it’ll fill that mirror soon enough. And when you stop spinning, whatever was in the rearview may be in the windshield. Then it’s important again.

On the other hand, I once rode a rollercoaster where the trains on one track were facing backward. A mirror sure would have been nice there. Not that it would have done any good, because once you start up that first hill, you’re just along for the ride anyway. Oddly enough, it was a smoother ride not seeing what was coming. Facing forward, I always got beat up.

Sometimes, not seeing the future is a blessing. If we knew everything that was going to happen long before it does, we’d just spend that time worrying about the bad stuff and trying to make the good even better instead of just enjoying the ride. Oftentimes, I’ll ask my wife what she wants for dinner, and she just says, “Surprise me.” Okay, I only fell for that once.

There’s that part of us that needs to have a plan and know what to expect. It’s especially true with men. I think women are a lot less rigid about that, because they can always blame us. But statistics show that women, on average, live longer than men. Could it be that all the worry and planning and anticipation not only takes the fun out of life, but shortens it as well?

Besides, if you knew exactly what was going to happen, what would you do to change it? What could you do? I guess that depends what’s coming. If it’s a bill that’ll come due next month, you can spend that time trying to earn a little extra money. If it’s a tornado in the next county, all you can do is hunker down and hope for the best.

It all goes back to the serenity prayer. “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom always to know the difference.” Powerful words. Yet it’s something we never seem to fully embrace, because we want the power to change everything. You know, so we can screw that up as well.

Knowing what to expect every minute of the day means you don’t have to put any thought into what you’re doing now or what you’ll do next. And the moment we stop thinking, creativity goes right out the window. Sure, you know what’s coming. You have a plan. And your plans never change because you know the outcome already. Boring!

Some of life’s greatest moments come when we least expect them. A race car driver learns to steer out of a sideways slide in one instant of unexpected drama. A chef creates a masterpiece recipe by substituting one ingredient when they run out of the other. And businesses learn a whole new way of marketing when a virus closes their stores.

Sure, one day the race car driver looks like a hero and the next day they spin out of control and hit the wall. Sometimes the chef creates a legendary recipe, and sometimes it can’t go in the trash fast enough. And, sometimes new ideas change the face of business forever, and other times it’s like the “New Coke.” I’m betting a few executives lost their jobs over that one.

But as long as we straddle the rails on the known path, we never push ourselves to try anything different. We take life exactly as it comes, with no thought of changing anything. And yes, change is scary. Sometimes it leads to disaster. But life’s greatest successes came as the result of somebody stepping off the rails and trying something new.

Look ahead, not to see everything that’s coming, but to see the opportunity that’s waiting. Embrace obstacles. Learn from every mistake and gain from every loss. You already know how the story ends, so don’t let the bumps and dips spoil the ride.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Sometimes, You’ve Just Gotta Bend the Rules

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

Have you ever had something you really wanted to do, and everybody tells you that you have to earn it first? You know, pay your dues and all that happy stuff? It’s like sitting down to dinner as a child, staring at the chocolate cream pie sitting in the middle of the table, just beyond the pile of steamed Brussels sprouts on your plate. That, my friends, is the definition of cruelty.

I tried pinching my nose, mixing them with mashed potatoes, and spitting them into a napkin. Okay, a paper towel. We weren’t a napkin-and-china kind of family. And believe me, Mom caught onto that one real fast. It was like she had some kind of magical powers, X-ray vision to see inside a crumpled-up paper towel. Or maybe she was doing the same thing herself.

No matter what we want, there’s a price to be paid. Ask anybody what that price is, and you’ll get pretty much the same answer, because they all asked the same question and got the same answer. It’s like some sort of conspiracy. “Let’s make them all think the only path to happiness is a life of toil and sacrifice!” Um … can I see what’s behind Door #2?

I was chatting with a friend about this very topic this morning. She said we’re supposed to work and save and sacrifice until we have at least $1 million in our retirement account before we can even think about enjoying what we’ve been working for. Those are the rules, and we’re not supposed to even challenge them. And she didn’t like the rules any better than I do.

But who made the rules? They certainly never consulted me. I could have given them a few suggestions that would have made their heads spin. But 117 years ago, a couple of brothers in Ohio had the insane notion that men could fly. Seems to me that one worked out pretty well. Sometimes, rules are made to be broken. Rules, not laws. Apparently there’s a difference.

All our lives, we’re told to get a good education, climb the corporate ladder, and save for retirement. And that’s a great plan, for some people. But it doesn’t work for everyone. After 13 years of school, I couldn’t think of going back for more. So, I joined the Navy, and spent the next two years in school. They pretty much insisted on it.

Then I tried my hand at climbing the corporate ladder. That’s when I learned one of life’s most valuable lessons. Some ladders are a lot shorter than others, and some people get to skip a few rungs along the way. Worst of all, most of us find at some point in our lives that we’ve been scrambling like crazy to climb a ladder that’s propped against the wrong wall.

So, what if we were to try something a little out of the ordinary? What if we were to build our own wall, burn the ladder, and put in an express elevator instead? Who says we can’t retire until we’re 65? Who says we have to have a million dollars in the bank first? Who says you can’t live the dream until your body makes more noise than your first car?

What if somebody had suggested an alternate plan, way back when we were younger. Sure, get a good job. But while you’re at it, build something else on the side, something that will continue to supply income long after you decide to retire? Would you have followed their advice? Have you already done that? Are you willing to try it now? Nothing like putting you on the spot.

No matter what the destination, there’s always more than one way to get there. If you stick to the same path everybody else is on, it’s a lot more crowded and you miss all the fun along the way. Sure, you’ll have to stick your neck out a little and take a few risks. But you may just get there sooner, before all the good spots fill up. Isn’t it worth a try?

There’s nothing wrong with getting a good education and building a career. But if you’re working for that day when somebody else tells you it’s okay to stop, you may be working a long, long time. And that’s okay if it’s what you want. But if you want something better, to live your dreams while you’re still young enough to enjoy them, you may have to buck the system.

A new year is beginning, and along with it, a new opportunity to shape your future. You can decide, right now, whether you’ll continue to climb that rickety old ladder or find a faster way to the top. I guess it all depends what’s waiting for you when you get there. If it’s important enough, you’ll find a way. It all starts with a dream and the audacity to achieve it.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved