Stay Ahead – It’s the Best Way to Keep From Falling Behind

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

Yesterday was a productive day. I picked off some routine assignments, the kind of thing I do every day. And then, I tackled something a little more intense – one of those jobs that really needs to be done, but you don’t want to start unless you’re certain you can finish because, by the time you get back to it later, things will have changed. Know the feeling?

Now, that doesn’t mean it’ll still be in the same shape when I get to work this morning. But at least we’re at a solid ground-zero. It’s like cleaning my garage. Last time my daughter did it for me, and it looked awesome. For a week or two. But once you start actually working in there again, things get moved around and before long, it’s just one big mess again.

I guess if I were the kind of person who always puts everything in its place and cleans up every time I do anything, that wouldn’t happen. I’ve got two neighbors who are never embarrassed about leaving their garage door open. They even invite people inside. If I let anybody in my garage, they may never be seen again.

But that’s a story for another day. The point is, you can give something your very best effort and make it really shine, but without regular attention, it’ll soon look like my garage. I mow the lawn, and it looks beautiful. A week later, it needs it again. If I wait another week, it’ll look pretty bad. One more week and the city will be mowing it for me. And I hear they put a pretty high value on their work.

I guess it’s a good thing work doesn’t get done once and never have to be done again, because if it did, we’d all be unemployed. Sure, it’s frustrating to find a mess after all that hard work, but that’s why they pay us to come back. And, thankfully, you’re usually not doing the same work again. It just feels that way.

Try doing something positive for yourself, and you’ll see this in full swing. You save a little money, and an unexpected bill comes in. You save a little more, and the refrigerator breaks. You save again, and the car starts sputtering. No matter what you’re trying to do, life goes on in the background. And sometimes, it seems you’ll never get caught up.

But here’s the question – do you quit your job because the bills keep coming in? Sometimes it’s tempting, but it’s also a quick way to find out what happens when you stop treading water and let gravity take the wheel. Or do you dig down a little deeper and find a way to solve the problem?

Two steps forward, one step back – seems I’ve heard that somewhere before. But even at that pace, you’ll eventually get where you want to go. Getting ahead takes more than just doing what’s necessary to keep up. It means doing a little extra. If you stop every time you make a little progress, you’ll soon find yourself right back where you started. Because life moves whether we do or not.

Staying ahead of the game means getting up a little earlier, going to bed a little later, or putting in a little more effort when you’ve earned a break. And sometimes it means realizing that the progress you just made will soon be erased, so instead of waiting for the inevitable, you get ahead of the game. If I’d done that with my garage, I’d be able to walk through it without tripping.

On the job, we know this. We put in that extra effort because that’s what we’re paid to do. But when it comes to our own personal goals – you know, the ones where nobody is paying us – it’s a little easier to take a breather, especially if you just accomplished something worthwhile. “Wow, I had to work hard for that one! And as soon as I catch my breath, I’ll move on to the next one.”

The problem is, we never seem to fully catch our breath unless something is driving us to keep moving. It takes a lot more energy to stop and start than it does to just keep things moving. That’s momentum. And every time we stop, not only do we have to find the energy to get moving again, the rest of the world keeps moving. Forward, backward, it doesn’t matter. Life never stands still.

Build on your successes. Find a strategy that works and just keep repeating it. If what you’re doing isn’t enough, then do a little more. There will always be setbacks. Things will break, deals will fall through, and some of what you’ve done will need to be done over. Keep moving, and those setbacks become speed bumps – they may slow you down, but then can never really stop you.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Clock is Running … What’s Your Score?

Good morning, and happy Friday! We made it through another week. I hope yours has been awesome.

This morning I have a biometric screening at work – blood test, body measurements, all those things that normally don’t start the day off well for somebody with my physique. I’ll get the results in a few days and they’ll tell me the things I’ve done well and all the things I could’ve done better. That second list will be the longer of the two. No surprises there.

It’s important to get a measure of your standing from time to time, because that’s a measure of success. If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know where you need to go. I know about things like blood pressure, weight, and body fat. I measure them regularly. But the stuff on the inside is a little more of a mystery. This is where I find out how all the outward stuff is affecting the rest.

And when I get my results, I’ll know exactly where I stand right now, and what needs to be fixed. I already know how to fix those things. But sometimes, we need to know the current score in order to prioritize what needs to be done next.

It’s the same with anything you’re trying to accomplish. Project managers draft detailed project plans to set milestones and track progress through the life of a project. Banks send those statements every month that shows our progress toward saving more than we spend. And the GPS shows our progress toward a desired destination. And mine seems to say “recalculating” a lot. Just me?

It’s important to stop occasionally and take stock of where you are, what you’ve accomplished to date, and then reassess your next step. Whether you’re cooking dinner or playing chess, progress is an important measure of what you need to do to keep moving toward your goal. And it lets you know when it’s time to take an unscheduled turn or pit stop to get things back on track.

As we talk about our dreams and goals, it’s easy to just throw them out there with a simple one-word timeline – “Someday.” It’s a goal, and we plan to do it at some point in life. But with such a vague definition of when this is all supposed to happen, it’s pretty hard to track our progress along the way.

Let’s say your goal is a European vacation for the whole family. Twelve countries in five days. I’ve never understood the fascination with breezing across borders without slowing down to enjoy the scenery, much less sample the local cuisine. But some people seem to enjoy that.

You probably have an idea of how much that will cost. In today’s dollars, that is. You save a little every month for several years, and watch it grow. Every year, you see yourself getting a little closer. Emergencies come along and set you back. The car needs repairs. Your kid needs braces. Then there’s college, a new roof on the house, and all the other things that come along.

And by the time you have everything in place and you’re ready to pack up and go, inflation has more than doubled the price. Now you’re back to square one. Maybe not all the way, but how many more years will it take to make this happen? And how many other things will come along to mess up your plans even more?

Cemeteries are the resting place of unfulfilled dreams. All those things a person never had a chance to do are buried right along with them. And after the funeral, the family decides to pool their resources and take that vacation mom always dreamed of … you know, in her honor. And the whole time they’re saying, “Mom would have loved this!” Yeah, probably so.

The time for living our dreams is now – while we’re still alive and have the chance to do something about it. But we have to put measures in place, so we know where we are and what still remains to be done. And we have to check along the way to see if the goal has moved. Destinations don’t move around much, but what it takes to get there may change dramatically along the way.

Life is full of surprises, some good and some not so good. By knowing where we’re going and how far we’ve come, those surprises turn into detours rather than roadblocks. Instead of getting to the end of life and lamenting the things we never got to do, we can bask in the memory of the things we’ve done. And memories live on, long after our dreams have been laid to rest.

Dream, set goals, and make plans. But most importantly of all, make sure you’re getting closer as you go. You only have the rest of your life. Make it count.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved