Well, How Did Those Plans Work Out?

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

As I sit here in complete peace and quiet, my wife is at our daughter’s house getting her kids ready for school. One is in kindergarten, one is in first grade. Oh yeah, and they have a 20-year-old brother. Don’t ask. I told my daughter she did that completely backward. I’ve tried calculating her age when these two get into their teenage years. I ran out of fingers and toes.

I remember when our oldest was born and people would say, “You’re so young to be starting a family.” Okay, I was 22, my wife was 18 – they were talking to her. And my response was always the same. “We’re doing this now so that, when we get older, our kids will be grown and moved out and we’ll have all that time to ourselves.” Read that again. Now you can laugh.

Oh, she moved out. On her 18th birthday, as we were putting candles on a cake, she was packing her bags. It wasn’t a pretty day. But in a little over a year she was home. A year later we became grandparents. At least she did it while we were young. By the time he grew up, we’d still have plenty of time for ourselves (more laughter).

Meanwhile our youngest graduated high school and took off to college. We were so proud. A year later that excursion ended. Well, the actual college part of it. I was still paying for those classes five years later.

All the while, we were doing the parent thing for a third time. My grandson was my best buddy. We did everything together – amusement parks, trips to the “guy store” (Sears), basketball in the street, and his first rock concert. I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with my grandparents, and I wanted him to have a different experience. Then he grew up.

I knew it was coming the first time I took him to football practice and, as he was getting ready to get out of my truck, I said, “Hey! Where’s my kiss?” He looked at the team assembled in front of us, then looked at me like, “Are you nuts?” The look in his eyes said it all. I settled for a half-hearted hug and accepted a sad reality. Grandpa wouldn’t always be the center of his universe.

Life changes. And yet, the more it changes, the more it stays the same. I’ve lost count of how many times our daughters have moved back in “for a week or two.” Since the first one moved out in 1998, we’ve had an empty nest for a total of about five years. And just about the time our oldest granddaughter was feeding herself, along came two more.

You know what they say about the best-laid plans. Forty years ago, I really thought we’d be out traveling the country by now, retired and wealthy, flying back to see the kids whenever we started missing them. Okay, forty years ago I still thought I’d be a rock star. Yeah, that never happened.

Now, as we plan what I hope will be a long winter escape in the motorhome, I think of the life we’d be leaving behind. The kids, our house, family dinners, babysitting, mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, trash night, the neighbor’s dogs … uh huh. I won’t even be looking in the mirror for semis.

But I know that, about a month into that trip, we’ll start missing home. A month later we’ll wonder why we ever left. Two months later we’ll come home and immediately start planning our next trip. Because that’s what life is about – planning the next trip and reminiscing about the last one. Or figuring out what went wrong. That one seems to happen a lot.

I’ll never forget what my dad told me right before I left for the Navy. He said, “The two best duty stations in the world are the one you just left and the one you’re going to.” Okay, he told me a few other things as well, but we won’t go there. Suffice to say most of Dad’s lessons were pretty much on the mark. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

No matter what plans you’ve made, life will have a say in their execution. And even when things go just the way you’d planned, you find that it’s not always what you thought it would be. But as long as we continue to dream, nothing is ever permanent. The outcome can be whatever we want it to be. And even that can change.

Life isn’t measured in years – it’s measured in the experiences we have and the memories we make. Nothing ever goes completely according to plan, but there’s beauty to be found in those diversions. Just keep your eye on the goal and never give up. And when you get there, just think of all the extra stories you can tell.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Goals are Great – But What’s Your Plan?

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off just right.

Well, it’s a new month and that means another chance to do the things we wanted to do last month, but never quite got done. Unless you live where I do and what you wanted to do was play outside in the water. I think we missed our chance on that for a while. But, as we discussed a few days ago, winter always turns to summer … eventually.

But if you had some other goals in mind, things that don’t require nice weather, now would be the time to refocus on those goals. I have a lot of things I need to do inside and now is the perfect time to get them done. Things like cleaning up the basement, going to the gym, and writing my book. If I could get any of that done over the next few months, I’d feel pretty good.

And then there are those other things, the ones we tend to describe in vague terms. “I need to get out of debt.” “I need to learn some marketable skills.” “I need to build my business.” “I need to do more with my family.”

When we say those things, we think we’ve pretty well defined what it is we need to do. But really, it’s no different than a military commander saying, “We need to win this war.” Duh! A third-grader can figure that out. Want to try a little harder, genius? Like, how do you plan on accomplishing that goal? What’s your strategy? What’s your plan? And when do you intend to get started?

Thankfully, military commanders don’t go into the battlefield with nothing more than a vague goal. They assess the situation, take stock of their assets, look for opportunities, and formulate a plan. And hopefully they do that pretty quickly, because the other side isn’t sitting back waiting for them to get out of bed. Odds are, they’re already on the move.

More often than not, we get a little more time to plan. Very rarely are we in competition with anybody else, and the stakes aren’t nearly as high. And that’s exactly why we have such a hard time accomplishing the things we need to do. If you’re like me, planning alone can take months or even years. I’m great at planning. But at some point, those plans need to be put into action.

Nobody likes a “to-do” list. Well, almost nobody. I guess some people rely on them like I rely on the battery in my car. But for most of us, it’s just another tedious task to complete before we can get anything else done. And at the end of the day, it’s one more reminder of what all we didn’t get done. Like we need any help with that. It’s like a GPS when you make a wrong turn … “Recalculating!”

But sometimes we need those written reminders to keep us on track. With all the distractions around us every day, it’s easy to find other things to occupy our time. Whether it’s TV, or phone calls, or email, or surfing the Internet, we can always find something to take up a few minutes when we really should be doing something else.

Most times, when we find ourselves engaged in idle activities that don’t do a thing to work toward our goals, it’s because we don’t really know what we should be doing in the first place. A list can help, but only if you know what to write on that list. If your only goal is to start a business, with no more detail than that, you’ll just sit there spinning your wheels until you burn out.

That’s where a little time spent studying and planning can make a world of difference. The more complex the project, the more time you’ll need. But it’s just a simple process of breaking it down into manageable steps. What is it you want to accomplish? How can that be done? What are the steps you need to take each day? What are the obstacles you’ll encounter?

The better you understand the details of what it is you want to accomplish, the easier it’ll be to do it. But don’t let planning become a paralysis. There comes a point where you hit the road, point yourself in the right direction, and work through the obstacles as they arise.

Most of the things we want to do are pretty straightforward. Go to the grocery store, clean the basement, make dinner. We don’t really need a written plan for that. But for the bigger goals in life, you need a solid idea of how you’ll get there, and what it’ll take to do it. Break it down into daily actions, step away from the distractions, and you’ll get there sooner than you think.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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