Make Excuses or Achieve Results – You Can’t Do Both

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

Have you ever set a goal and, halfway through you begin to have that sinking feeling you’ll never make it? It’s even worse when the time is half gone and you haven’t really even started. You get that panicky feeling, and then start to formulate a plan. A plan to get back on track, a plan to get as much done as possible, or a plan to bow out with a handy excuse. At this point, anything will do.

Hopefully that’s not how it works, but all too often we take door number 3. It’s the easy way out. Besides, it was your goal anyway. It’s not like anybody is holding you to the fire, and your job certainly isn’t on the line as a result. You can always just set another goal next month. Right?

We can be very forgiving of ourselves when we miss goals, but we’re not so gracious when somebody else misses theirs. When the cable company says their technician will arrive before noon, and nobody shows up until late in the afternoon, we’re not too happy about that. And odds are we’ve already made several phone calls to complain. At that point, we don’t want excuses – we want results.

But what happens when we miss a goal we’ve set for ourselves? Excuses are not only applicable, they’re a welcome reprieve. That project at work took longer than expected. The car needed new tires. The weather didn’t cooperate. People we were supposed to meet didn’t show. And my personal favorite – “I just ran out of time.”

Okay, if you’re getting the idea I’ve dropped a few excuses over the years, you’re right. I’m no different than anybody else. None of us wants to accept, much less admit, that we came up short because we didn’t get the job done. There has to be a reason, some other person or force of nature that’s to blame. Otherwise, it’s all on us.

That probably works when we’re explaining it to somebody else, but how well does it work when we say it to the person in the mirror? Sure, the excuse is real. We’re not making it up. And it really did complicate matters a bit. But is that the real reason we didn’t reach our goal? More often than not, it was just a speed bump that we decided to use as a parking bumper.

I talked yesterday about putting forth the effort – just doing what needs to be done, regardless of the results. Jeff Foxworthy, one of my favorite comedians, once shared some thoughts on looking for something we’ve lost. We look high and low, under beds and in the closet. All that time, it’s nowhere to be found. Then finally, there it is … in the last place we looked.

His point was pretty simple – we always find everything in the last place we looked. You wouldn’t keep looking for something after you’ve found it. “I have it right here in my hand, but I want to keep looking just to be sure.” It’s an amusing observation, but it also illustrates another point. You keep looking until you find what you’re looking for. If you stop halfway through, you’ll never find it.

That seems to happen a lot with keys. They even make key fobs that beep when you ping them from your cell phone. If you can find your cell phone. They tend to walk away from the last place we saw them as well. But hey, if there’s another phone in the house, you can always use that one to call your own. Unless you’re like me and the ringer is on silent.

Okay, that was fun, but you get the point. When you’re looking for something you desperately need, you don’t stop until you find it. And the closer you get to crunch time, the harder you look. You enlist help, you pick things up and move them, you flip things over, you do whatever it takes to get the job done. Failure is not an option.

When we approach our personal goals with the same sense of relentless commitment, two things happen. First, we get a lot closer to our goal than we would have with a bag full of excuses. We may not reach our goal, but we’ll get close enough to finish it up with just a little extra effort. And just as importantly, we become the kind of person who doesn’t quit. We become that person who sees everything through no matter what.

Excuses are handy, and they may make you feel a little better at the time. They may even provide a certain amount of cover in explaining failure to others. But at the end of the day, they’re just excuses. Double up your efforts and you won’t have time to worry about excuses. You’ll be too busy racing toward that goal.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

If You Can Make it to the Finish Line, You Win

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

Not long ago, a friend at work was training for a marathon. I remember thinking I’d like to be able to do that someday. Not because I love running – I’d rather get another vasectomy. And I couldn’t win if everybody else made ten wrong turns and took a nap in the middle. I’d like to be able to do it just to prove to myself that I can.

Now, let’s set some expectations. In my case, “running” a marathon would include 100 yards of light jogging at the start, followed by several miles of walking at various levels of slowness, with a halfhearted jog in the final 50 yards. And maybe a few jogs in the middle if there’s a particularly attractive woman looking my way. You know, like Sandra Bullock. In a bikini.

I don’t know that I’ll ever run a marathon, or even a half-marathon. But I would like to get out and do a 5k walk. My doctor says walking is healthy. He says it’ll make me lose weight. Well, the jury is still out on that, because either the doctor or my bathroom scale has been lying. But I do find that I’m able to get through cold and flu season mostly unscathed. That’s worth a few blocks after lunch.

I also take vitamins – really good vitamins that have proven their value over and over. I knew I was onto something when the doctor looked at my blood test results and smiled. He never smiles. My numbers aren’t perfect, but they’re a lot better than they were before. And at this age, better is good enough. Better can add a few years to your life and ward off infirmity a few years longer as well.

Sometimes, it’s not about the win, but simply staying in the game. I used to watch NASCAR races every week. Invariably, people would spin out and crash into the wall, and cars would be completely demolished. The team would work feverishly to get their car back on the track, no matter how long it took. Meanwhile, the rest of the field kept racking up the laps.

Finally, you’d see the car come back out, looking like a bulldozer held together with duct tape. The front bumper was hanging off, the hood was crumpled, the back end looked like it had been smacked by a freight train, and every side panel was rippled like a crinkle-cut French fry. The engine was smoking, and the car could barely run the speed limit. You know, in a residential area.

And you’d have to wonder why they even bothered. There’s no way they could win the race. Sometimes, they were so far behind they couldn’t even add a single point to their total for a possible run at the season championship. They were on the track for one reason and one reason only – they came there to race. And as long as the car was able to complete a single lap, they were going for it.

We face similar decisions all through life. We start something we know we can’t finish, but we try anyway. The boss gives us a job we’ve never done before with an impossibly short deadline. We know we’ll never get it all done in time, but we give it our best. And somehow, in the 11th hour, things start going our way and we get a lot more done than we’d ever imagined. Maybe not all, but enough.

If you think about it, I’m sure you can come up with several examples of that in your own life. So, let me ask you a question. What personal goals have you set aside year after year, simply because you can’t see yourself ever crossing the finish line? Or maybe you just realized it would take several years to get it done and you’re waiting to find a shortcut that’ll get you there faster. Meanwhile, nothing gets accomplished.

I’ve been trying for several years to lose weight. By that I mean I’ve been thinking and talking about it for several years. And along comes the doctor, telling me that I should set a goal of losing 1-2 pounds per month. “But it’ll take TWO YEARS to do that! I can’t wait that long!” Well, you know what? If I’d started two years ago, I’d be a lot closer to my goal today. Maybe not all, but enough.

Sometimes it’s not about coming in first, but simply making it to the finish line. It’s about setting a goal, and not letting anything keep you from trying. You may fall down. You may spin out. And you may even hit a concrete wall. But as long as you’re willing to get back in there and give it your best, you win. Put together enough of those little wins and nothing can stand in your way.

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