Forget the Clouds and Focus on the Forecast

Good morning, and happy Hump day! I hope your day is starting off well.

Those of you who have been following my posts for a while know I’ve been trying to lose weight. The bathroom scale knows how well I’ve been doing in that endeavor. For a while it was smiling at me almost every day. But over the past week or so, it hasn’t been quite so gracious. I’m thinking it needs a new battery. Maybe a few.

One of the reasons it’s so hard to lose weight is because the feedback is both instantaneous and brutally honest. The scale isn’t out to ruin your day or make you feel like a big fat loser. It has one job – report the facts. And the fact is, our weight can fluctuate from one day to the next. That’s why it’s important to focus on the overall trend instead of the daily feedback.

It’s that way with a lot of things in life. A couple of years ago, my grandson and I built a shed with nothing more than a pile of lumber and my own imagination. And let me tell you, nothing very gratifying took place in the first few days. Turning over the ground and leveled is not fun work, and at the end all you have is a rectangle of dirt and some patio stones to show for your effort.

But over the next few days it began to take shape. And what sits in my backyard now is something worthy of all that effort. But there was enough frustration early on in the project to make us both question our sanity in taking on such a project. It happens.

In our business, things don’t always go according to plan. I’ll do the work that needs to be done, and nothing happens. I’ll fill my calendar with appointments, and the gods of destruction will swoop in and fill everybody else’s calendar with something else. People I need to call are not available. Customers need a little more time to decide. It’s all part of the game.

And any one of those setbacks could be enough to make a pessimist point to them and say, “See? I told you this won’t work!” But the overall trend tells a different story. It says, “You’re moving, and in the right direction. Just stick with the plan and you’ll get there.”

Setbacks are inevitable in anything we try to do. The boss changes requirements of the job just as you’re almost finished. Parts break. Pipes leak. Fuses blow and lights burn out. And that all-important tool you just can’t do without is nowhere to be found. Sure, it’s frustrating. But do we throw up our hands and walk away, or keep pushing forward?

When it’s our daily job, we don’t have a lot of choice in the matter. We mumble under our breath, let out a sigh of exasperation, and get back to work. We may even spend our entire lunch break checking the local job boards. But, short of actually finding another job, we do what has to be done.

So why are we so quick to give up on the things that matter most to us? There’s something you need to do toward your goals, but by the time you get home from work you’re just too tired. Besides, there’s grass to mow, bills to pay, dinner to eat – who has time? Excuses, excuses, excuses.

And it’s even harder in the very beginning when progress is that much harder to see. If I’d already lost thirty pounds, a week of bad news each morning would be a minor setback. But looking at the scale every day and seeing your original weight is a little harder to overcome.

The closer you are to the beginning of your goal, the harder it can be to see progress. My grandson and I spent a lot of time getting the ground leveled for that shed, and our only visible reward was a rectangle of dirt. The foundational work isn’t very gratifying, but it still needs to be done. Because, until we’ve built that foundation, we can’t begin to build on top of it.

As you define your goal, remember that every little step you take is a step closer toward your eventual success. But you have to keep taking those steps. Setbacks are simply a reminder that, if this was easy, everybody would be doing it. They exist to give us those gentle course corrections we need from time to time. And they’re a reminder that we need to keep going, to work past them.

Don’t let setbacks keep you from reaching your goals … on the job, at home, on the drive, or in your personal endeavors. Just keep doing what you need to be doing, and you’ll get there. It works every time.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Build Those Invisible Results

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is starting off well.

Today begins a new month and, for anyone who started a New Year’s resolution, it’s a critical milestone. If you’re still sticking to your plan, congratulations! Whatever it is you wanted to change has now become a part of who you are. It’s a habit and, as you know by now, habits can be hard to break. So, give yourself a pat on the back.

If you’re back to square one, you’re not alone. According to a January 2019 article by Inc Magazine, the failure rate for resolutions is about 80%. For most of us, getting started isn’t the hard part. But by mid-February, most of us lose our resolve. Change takes work. And sometimes, it’s easier to just stick with what we know.

Part of the problem with resolutions is that we can be a bit unreasonable. We expect too much and set ourselves up for failure in the process. If you haven’t been to a gym in the past five years, getting there five days a week is asking a lot. Maybe a goal of at least two days a week would have been more realistic. If things are going well, you can always build from there.

Also, as we’ve discussed a few times in the past, when you give yourself a whole year to make a change, there’s no pressure. You’ve got all the time in the world, and if you haven’t even begun by now, there’s still time. But when you make Monday morning resolutions, you’re under a much tighter deadline and are less likely to just blow it off.

But I think the biggest challenge in sticking to change is our need for immediate gratification. You’re eating healthier, you’re walking more every day, you’ve cut back on the snacks, but the morning trip to the bathroom scale doesn’t show any progress at all. After seven days of that, your brain says this just isn’t working. At that point, quitting can even make sense.

What we fail to recognize sometimes is that you have to build a foundation before you can raise a building. What you’re doing today may not be evident for a week or two, maybe even longer depending on what you’re trying to change. Most doctors agree that the weight loss (or gain) you see this week is the result of what you did last week. It doesn’t show up right away.

And that’s with weight loss, where results can be measured every day. What about things where the results are a little harder to see? Like eating more vegetables to improve your health or studying for an exam that’s three months away? Your immune system is getting stronger, and your brain is being filled with knowledge. But how do you measure that?

Oftentimes, we don’t know the good we’ve done for ourselves until it’s crunch time. When everyone in the house is sneezing and coughing, you breeze through unscathed. You get your test score and you passed with flying colors. That’s when all the seemingly invisible work you were doing pays off.

But what if you got sick anyway? What if you failed the test miserably? It happens. When my daughter went through nursing school, she was devastated to find that she’d failed her microbiology class. In fairness, it’s very common for students to fail that class first time around. Some things are a lot more difficult than others.

It’s easy to get discouraged. You begin to wonder if anything you do will make a difference. Maybe this just isn’t your thing. And that, my friends, is where the rubber meets the pavement. Either you get some traction and get moving again or go sliding off into a ditch. Or, you decide not to take a risk at all and just sit there in the middle of the road watching life pass you by.

My daughter took that class again the next semester and passed. She’s a Registered Nurse today and has risen to the top of her career path. Because she had a goal and wasn’t going to let a setback end her dream. And in overcoming that setback, she learned just how strong she really is.

We’ve all got that strength inside us. We’re born with it and it never completely goes away. It’s what gave you the determination to sit, crawl, walk, and talk. All major events in a child’s development, and all things where early failures made the task seem monumental. But you did it anyway, because you refused to quit.

Challenges are a part of life. And sometimes we need to build a foundation to stand on before we can step over them. Just because you don’t see results today, that doesn’t mean they’re not building beneath the surface. Keep your eye on the goal and find that inner strength. The results will come. And all those challenges you faced will make them that much sweeter.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved