What is Your “Why”?

Well, the holidays are over and it’s back to the grind. This is the time when we reflect on good times shared with family and friends, and face (for most of us) the longest stretch of the year before our next paid holiday. And if you live in the northern hemisphere, you get to contend with winter at the same time. And the hits just keep on coming!

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the post-holiday blues. The celebrations are over, the decorations are put away, and we’re expected to pick up right where left off, full speed ahead. Meanwhile, the credit card bills are coming in and we’re trying to figure out how to stretch what little is left in our checking account to cover expenses for the next month.

That said, it’s also a time of renewal. It’s a time to get back on our feet, shake off any lingering baggage from the previous year, and move forward with a sense of purpose. Whether you made a resolution for the whole year, or just for one week as I suggested in Monday’s post, this is where the rubber meets the pavement.

Like many of you, I need to lose weight. Okay, I need to lose a pretty fair amount of weight. I’m a member at a local gym and, over the past few years, I’ve exercised pretty regularly. That is to say, I’ve gone through periods of a few months where I exercised almost daily, and then several more months where I didn’t go at all. It happens.

But in my time at the gym, there’s something I’ve noticed. Every year, starting in the first week of January, the gym is full of fresh faces, people I’ve never seen there before. The morning workout crowd is about three times its normal size for a month or two, and then all those new faces are gone.

And there’s a simple reason for this. It’s not a lack of willpower, or failed resolutions, or anything of the sort. It’s simply the natural result of working toward a goal without a firm understanding of why you’re doing it in the first place.

It’s easy to set goals, and probably just as easy to start working toward them. But if we don’t know the real reason why, it won’t last very long. Ask somebody why they’re in the gym, and they can offer a bunch of superficial reasons. “To lose weight.” “To get healthy.” “To get my doctor off my back.” But those are goals – they don’t explain why.

This time of year, another common goal is paying off some bills. That may mean anything from cutting monthly expenses like cable TV or dinners out, to taking on a part-time job or even starting a business. And the goal is simple – we need more money, so we can pay off some bills. But why?

Maybe the goal is to pay down the credit cards, so we can spend more next Christmas. Maybe we want to save a down-payment for a new house or car. Maybe we want extra money for vacations or to send the kids to college. And maybe we just want a safety net, so we can start saving for retirement.

Whatever the reason, it’s important to understand what it means to you. Losing weight isn’t a reason – it’s a goal. Why do you want to lose weight? To get off your blood pressure medicine? To look more attractive? To fit into the seat of your favorite rollercoaster? It could be that simple.

Root cause analysis is a method of identifying a problem by continually asking the question “why?” The plane crashed. Why? Because it fell out of the sky. Why? Because the engine stopped. Why? Because it ran out of fuel. Why? Because it was raining, and the pilot didn’t want to risk getting water in the tanks by doing a visual inspection. Ah, now we’re getting somewhere.

Sometimes, you have to follow the same process to get to the real reason why you want to make a change. And once you’ve got that bottom-line reason firmly planted in your mind, the excuses seem to melt away. You wake up every day with a solid vision of what you’re doing, and why. It’s what drives you to succeed when you’d rather take a break.

We’ll talk more about this later, but for now, take some time to get your “why” firmly planted in your mind. It may take some time, and a few sheets of paper. But it’s worth the effort, because when you combine a goal with belief and a firm understanding of why, nothing can stand in your way.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Dreams for the New Year

Happy New Year! I hope your day is off to a great start.

It’s hard to believe 2019 is here. My daughter shared a post this morning with a warning from a popular computer retailer 19 years ago, advising us to shut off our computers before midnight. As the world watched in anticipation of all the bad things that could possibly go wrong because of the Y2K issue, the new millennium came in without a hitch.

Throughout history, there have been times when we expected the worst. Religious devotees have predicted the end of the world, right down to the date and hour. Outbreaks of deadly viruses have sparked fears of a global pandemic. The entire Cold War was based on the very realistic threat of a massive nuclear war. And the Y2K issue predicted the simultaneous crash of every computer-driven system on the planet.

Yet here we are, alive and kicking, and launching into a brand-new year. Go figure.

Could any of those things have gone wrong? Absolutely. But they didn’t. And that was largely due to preparation and intervention. On any given day, there are things in our world that can bring us to our knees if we’re not careful. And it’s good to be aware of those potential disasters, so we can do our best to avoid them.

That said, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in these things that we miss the beauty of living. In the movie “Blast from the Past”, a family retreated into their private fallout shelter at the height of the Cuban missile crisis and remained there for the next 35 years. Their son, born in the shelter, had no exposure to anything known of the outside world beyond the year 1962.

Okay, so that’s Hollywood, and it made for an entertaining, though improbable, scenario. But how many people do you know who spend their life hiding from a perceived danger, waiting for the hammer to fall? Some are a lot more afflicted by this mindset than others, literally refusing to leave the house for fear of disaster. Others spend their days out in the world, where they can spread the effects of their pessimism among the rest of us.

It’s difficult to accurately estimate the number of optimists and pessimists in the world, mostly because it’s not something that can be scientifically diagnosed. Hundreds of polls and surveys have been conducted, but let’s be real – how many people would actually describe themselves as a pessimist? But, if you talk to people long enough, you’ll figure out who’s who.

And, make no mistake – a little dose of pessimism can be healthy in a world where things can and do go wrong. We need to be aware of the dangers around us and understand the potential impact. But, like fresh cayenne pepper, a little pessimism goes a long way.

As we begin a new year, it’s important that we look ahead with hope, and the knowledge that we can make a difference in our world. It’s important to identify those things that have been holding us back and do whatever is necessary to overcome them. It’s a time to put the past behind and move forward.

It’s also a time to dust off those dreams and pick one or two for the coming year. Not to dream about, but to accomplish. And, here’s something to think about – if all of your dreams can be accomplished in a single year, you’re not dreaming big enough. Try harder. We should all be working toward at least one goal that will carry us into the following year and beyond.

Take a few moments over the coming days to feed those dreams. Drive through a section of town where property values are on another planet. Go to an open house in a neighborhood where you’d like to live. Visit an RV or boat show. Have a family dream night with the kids. Buy a travel magazine or go to the library and check out a book on your dream destination.

If we only focus on that little part of this planet and this life that fills our own reality, we’ll completely miss all the wonderful things that are waiting to be discovered. We can sit in our own self-imposed fallout shelter for the next 35 years or get out and enjoy what’s right outside that imaginary steel door.

There are people for whom the things we think are beyond reach are part of their everyday reality. They’re no smarter than you are, and they’re no more deserving. They just got there first. Dare to dream. Allow yourself to believe. Then get up off the couch and make it happen. Dreams really do come true, but only if we make them. Let 2019 be your year.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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