Harness the Habit of Success

It’s New Year’s Eve, and we all know what that means. Okay, forty years ago it meant something entirely different, beginning with a trip to the liquor store. From there, it was a party (or a series of parties) until the ball drops at midnight ringing in the new year, along with the obligatory kissing of every young lady in the room. Granted, there was nothing “obligatory” about that.
 
New Year’s Eve is also a time of reflection and resolutions. We reflect on all the things we messed up in the previous year and resolve to make changes in the new year. Just one more night of overeating and debauchery, and tomorrow morning we’re getting serious about this stuff! As soon as the hangover is gone.
 
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. It’s just too easy to lay out grand plans for the coming year, and even easier still to take a week or two off from those goals when you have the whole year to get them done. “I’ll stop smoking this year!” That’s a worthy goal. But it gives you a whole year to get it done, so if you’re still smoking in December, you haven’t really failed because you still have a month to go.
 
I read an article last week that said, according to a 2017 Marist poll, about a third of people who make a New Year’s resolution fail to stick with it. You know what that means. Most of the remaining two-thirds lied about it, or their only resolution was to continue breathing for the next year. Based on my own observations, the overwhelming majority of resolutions go unfulfilled.

The article went on to suggest something more meaningful and more likely to succeed. Instead of making New Year’s resolutions that give you a whole year to get it right, make Monday resolutions. Do it every week. If you succeed for the week, you’ve got something to celebrate. If you fall off the wagon, you get to start over in just a few days. Every year, you get 52 chances to get it right.
 
I think the article was spot-on, with one exception. When you know in the back of your mind that you can always start over next week, there’s no sense of urgency. If you mess up this week, it’s no big deal, right? You might as well have said, “This week I’ll give some thought to making a change, but if it’s too hard or inconvenient, I’ll just push it off to next week. Or the week after. No big deal.” That’s not commitment – it’s not even wishful thinking. It’s just words.
 
Try this instead. The first Monday (today), you commit to making a change. You have seven days to make that change. Then, every Monday after that, you commit to continuing what you’ve started. Instead of giving yourself a stack of “get out of jail free” cards at the beginning of the year, you build on the previous week’s success and keep moving in the right direction until you reach your goal.
 
This all ties in with a concept I’ve talked about a lot in the past – the habit of success. When you succeed at anything, even something small, you prove to yourself that you have the ability to succeed. The more you succeed at small goals, the easier it is to see yourself succeeding at bigger and better things. Do that often enough, and success becomes inevitable. Not likely – inevitable.
 
So, if you want to make a resolution for the year, try this … “I will start the year with a goal for the next seven days. Then, every Monday for the rest of the year, I will repeat that resolution for the coming week. I’ll succeed in small steps instead of one giant leap. And I’ll continue taking those small steps every week until I reach my ultimate goal.”
 
You can build a habit of success just as easily as you built a habit of tying your shoes in the morning. It’s all about setting small, achievable goals, and then accomplishing them. Do that over and over, and before you know it, you’ll become one of “those” people … the kind who, no matter what you try, you just can’t seem to lose. Let this be your year. Let this be your week. And let it all start today.
 
That’s all for now. Have an awesome day and a happy, healthy, and success-filled New Year!

© 2018 Dave Glardon

Wishbones and Backbones

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

Yesterday, I was reading a post where the writer quoted a long list of things we should teach our sons. I agreed with just about every one of them, because I’ve always believed we need to do a better job of passing strong values on to our kids.

One particular item on the list stood out, because of its sheer simplicity. “Don’t grow a wishbone where the backbone is supposed to go.” I did a little research and found that this quote originated from a writer named Clementine Paddleford, and it was written for daughters, not sons. “Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be.”

It’s not uncommon for sentiments such as this to be misquoted, or even re-directed. Still, I think the message remains strong, whether we’re talking about sons, daughters, or even ourselves. But, like many other such quotes, it’s easy to take it out of context and miss the meaning entirely.

“Don’t grow a wishbone.” Those four words, taken by themselves, have some pretty strong implications that fly in the face of what I’ve been promoting all this time. I talk about the importance of dreaming, and how it drives us to bigger and better things. And the closing words, “where the backbone ought to be,” could be misinterpreted as well. It would be easy to read this entire statement as, “Don’t dream of the things you want – stand up and demand them!”

And, to be honest, there are people in this world who live by that mantra. If you want something, take it. To the victor go the spoils, and everybody else can just live with their loss or grow a backbone of their own. We’ve all met people like this.

And, the problem with that line of thinking is that it assumes every gain in life must be balanced by a corresponding loss. I’ve been in business a few different times, and something I’ve never understood is the concept of a balance sheet. I guess for accountants, it’s pretty simple. But the notion that assets and liabilities must always balance out to a sum total of $0 is beyond my comprehension.

I read another post this morning, in a comedy forum of all places, that said “A rising tide raises all boats.” Now, there’s something I can understand. And, we’ve talked about this before – the concept that, by elevating those around us, we elevate ourselves as well. When the collective total increases, so does the individual average.

In accounting, balance sheets make sense (I guess). But in life, dreams are not a limited resource, nor are the things that enable our dreams. Money is a renewable resource. So are fancy homes, boats, airplanes, RVs, vacation packages, and just about anything else you can imagine. Winning yours doesn’t mean somebody else has to lose. There’s more than enough to go around.

So, let’s assume Ms. Paddleford wasn’t suggesting we don’t dream, or that we should “grow a backbone” and take what we want. I think the statement goes much deeper than that. To me, it says don’t let your ability to dream overcome your will to achieve. If there’s something you want in life, and you want it badly enough to wish for it, then have the guts to pursue that dream.

In terms of dreams, having a backbone means standing in the face of adversity and saying, “You can make things tough on me, but you can’t make me quit. I’ll stand against you day after day until you give up or just move on to somebody else, because I have already decided this shall be, and there’s no turning back. So, give it your best shot. I’ve got this.”

I doubt you can point to very many things in life that you achieved without any resistance whatsoever. Okay, people who have won the lottery may not agree, but that aside, just about every worthwhile thing you’ve accomplished in life came with some challenges. But determination and commitment carried you to the goal. Simply stated – you didn’t quit.

Should we grow a wishbone? Absolutely! And, unlike the one that comes with our Thanksgiving turkey, we need to make sure our own wishbone isn’t quite so brittle. It needs to be strong and resilient, something that can be bent, but never broken.

And that, my friends, takes commitment. It takes an unwavering belief in our ability to reach the goal, and a determination that nothing will stand in our way. Starting to sound a little like a backbone? I like the way you think!

A wishbone by itself can’t accomplish anything except pipe dreams. A backbone by itself can’t accomplish anything except standing in the way. But when you make the two work together, there’s nothing you can’t do, no goal you can’t achieve. At that point, the world is your playground, just waiting for you to enjoy whatever your heart desires.  

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

© 2018 Dave Glardon

What’s Your Plan?

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

It’s hard to believe we’re just over a week from Christmas. After that, the year winds down to a close and we’re off into the wild blue yonder of 2019. New years are a time of hope. Just like waking up each day, we get yet another chance to do things right, to make things go according to our own master plan.

I read something last week that really hit home. It said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” I had to think about that a few times before I fully absorbed the meaning. On the surface, it sounds like somebody is saying we have no control, that we’re only along for the ride. And if that’s the case, why try anything?

But I think the deeper meaning is that, while we can achieve a desired outcome, it’s impossible to plan all the steps along the way. If, every time we stepped up to the plate, we could count on a certain ideal pitch coming directly in middle of the strike zone, home runs would lose their luster. It would justbe another time at bat.

I’ve always enjoyed golfing. That is to say, I enjoy getting out there when I can, and I make the most of every minute. Some people want toget it over with in a mere 72 strokes, but I get my money’s worth. I hit that ball, and hit it, and hit it. Sometimes, that’s just getting out of the tee box and onto the fairway. Or on the water. Take your pick 

Years ago, I played in a “favorite club” tournament. It’s one of those outings where everybody brings one club to get from the tee to the green, and a putter to finish it off. It means making some pretty hefty assumptions before the game starts, namely that you can reliably hit the ball about the same height and distance with every swing. Anybody who’s ever played with me knows better.

I’m one of those people who can break out a pitching wedge 50 yards from the green and use up three more strokes getting to the middle of the sand trap. Or I can use the same club and, in a single stroke, overshoot the green by 100 yards. For any non-golfers out there, pitching wedges aren’t supposed to hit that far.

But that’s why most golfers carry a bag full of different clubs. If every stroke worked out exactly as planned, we’d never need a sand wedge.vWe’d also be able to play 18 holes with the same ball, but that doesn’t happen, either. My wife never asks my score. She only asks how many balls I lost.

It’s that way through most of life. We can tee up the ball, scan the fairway, check the wind, and pick out the “perfect” club. Everything looks ideal. Then we swing. After that, instead of following a plan, we react to reality. But, no matter what, we eventually end up on the green. The goal itself never changes, and we don’t stop trying until we get there.

It’s good to make plans. But it’s also important to accept the fact that plans are only the ideal path – the way we hope things will progress. But when reality kicks in, we’re forced to adapt on the fly and make the most of situations that aren’t always ideal. At that point, how we get to our goal isn’t nearly as important as just getting there.

When faced with a storm cloud, airline pilots have a mixed bag of tricks up their sleeve. Climb higher, drop lower, go around, or fly through the least intimidating part of the storm. Rarely do they give up and turn around. And even then, they only go back as far as necessary to safely wait it out until they can get back in the air and on to their planned destination.

Whatever your goals, rest assured things will rarely, if ever, go completely according to plan. And that’s okay. What’s important is that you play the hand you’re dealt and keep moving in the right direction until you reach your destination.

Whether it’s a new day, a new month, or a new year, making plans is important. But be ready for the unexpected, and never let it keep you from your dreams. As long as you’ve ordained the outcome with the simple word “this shall be,” nothing can stand in your way.

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

© 2018 Dave Glardon