Next Year – It’s The Day That Never Comes

Good morning! I hope your day (and your month) is starting off just right.

Yes, it’s a new month. Officially, this marks the end of mourning for all those New Years resolutions we buried earlier in the year. We can finally set aside our feelings of guilt and get on with life. You know, pretty much the way it was last year. Only now, we have a head-start on next year’s resolutions. “This time I really mean it!”

Do these things accumulate? Because my pile of unfulfilled resolutions is getting pretty big. You know, if “big” can really be used to describe a mountain. Except I think a mountain is easier to climb. Resolutions are about as firm as marshmallows. At some point, you’d just fall in. Then you’d have a new resolution. “Next year, I’m climbing out of this mess!” Meanwhile, you smother.

A resolution is a promise we make to ourselves. It’s a vision of self-improvement and a brighter future in which we live life to its fullest because we’re too awesome to do anything else. Okay, maybe it’s nothing more than smaller clothing and some admiring eyes on the beach. Right. The only way I’ll get admiration on the beach is by cruising past in a million-dollar speed boat.

Personally, I see two problems with resolutions. First, we seem to think that by simply flipping a page on the calendar, we can undo years of undesired habits and form completely new ones. Kinda like my algebra teacher pointing at Sheldon Cooper’s chalkboard and saying, “Look again! It’s so simple!!!” Okay, it’s like my dog mastering the concept of Daylight Savings Time. Better?

Change is never simple. It takes effort. It takes commitment. And it takes bribery. There has to be a reward. Whether that’s a new bathing suit, dinner at your favorite restaurant, a weekend vacation, or getting the bill collectors off your butt, the payoff has to be worth the effort. Change itself isn’t a goal – it’s just another job that you can’t pawn off on somebody else.

The other problem with resolutions is they create this mindset that we can only make positive changes at some predetermined date on the calendar. Let’s face it, halfway through a night of cramming for a final exam, you’re faced with the reality that you should have started studying weeks ago like all the other bookworms. What right do you have to pass this test now?

Ridiculous? Don’t be so sure. There is a lot more truth in those words than we’d like to believe. Because we’ve been taught from birth that hard work and sacrifice are the only ways to attain any level of success. And if we haven’t worked hard and sacrificed to this point, we feel unworthy of success. It has to be in the past, not in the future. Or, so we think.

And because we haven’t done it in the past, we wait for the next window of opportunity, a time when we can start making the changes necessary to achieve the things we desire. You know, like next year. Next year is always a good time. Especially since it never comes, because once it gets here, it’s not “next year” anymore. That’s still 12 months away.

Well, if a calendar is what it takes to get you started, it’s here. Today is a new day. It’s the start of a new week, and the start of a new month. Whatever changes you initiate today will be a month old by the first of April and ten months old by next year. It may be too late to do anything in January, but it’s never too late to do something today.

The results will never change until you change your approach. That begins the day you decide your dreams are more important than a page on the calendar. Call it a resolution, a promise, a goal, or whatever you want. Just make it happen. A year from now, you can be halfway there or still just talking about it. The year will pass either way. It’s what you make of it that counts.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Make Success the More Attractive Option

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

In Sunday’s sermon, our pastor pointed out the fact that it, according to studies performed by somebody who at least claims to know, January 12 is the date by which most New Year’s resolutions go by the wayside. That means if you got through the day yesterday with your resolutions still intact, you’re above average. Kinda sobering, isn’t it?

This doesn’t mean that most people fell off the wagon and had a bad day in the first twelve days of the year. It means they simply quit trying. Out with the new, in with the old. It wasn’t that important anyway. Besides, there’s always next year. And the year after, and the year after that. Yet, according to a Quinnipiac poll, about 75% of Americans are optimistic about a brighter future.

Well, not to be the bearer of bad news, but the words “brighter future” imply change. That means we can’t keep doing the same things we’ve been doing and expect better results simply because we’re good and we deserve it. If we want our future to change, we have to change our present. That could be simple or extreme, but the longer things stay the same, the longer they’ll keep staying the same.

I guess what troubles me the most isn’t that people slip up and fall off the wagon on their resolutions so early in the year. Falling down is a part of moving forward. We all do it. But, if the people who conduct these studies are correct, it means that the majority of people stopped even trying to get back up. They fell down, possibly into a comfortable position, and just decided to stay there.

When we decide to make a change, we often give ourselves an out … a place of refuge in case things don’t go according to plan. My wife wanted to sell our house, buy a motorhome, and hit the road. I want to buy a less expensive motorhome and keep the house. You know, just in case. Now, you can decide for yourself which of us has the better plan. But it does illustrate my point.

One school of thought says before you make a drastic change, have a fallback plan. Give yourself an out in case you need it. Of course, that gives you the option to chicken out when things get a little rough. On the other hand, nothing says commitment like jumping off a cliff in a glider you designed and built yourself. It’s called sink or swim. Success is the only option. Other than … you know.

But most of the changes we decide to make aren’t that clear-cut. If your goal is to go on a diet and lose weight, what happens if you fail? Well, you go back to eating the foods you’ve always loved and never have to exercise. If your goal was to quit smoking, failure means you get to avoid nicotine withdrawal and foul mood that goes along with it. You simply go back to what you were doing.

Unless we find a way to make failure more unpleasant than success, we’ll never change anything. “I’ll donate five dollars to a rival political party every time I use the F-word.” That’ll get your attention! Especially if you commit and don’t give yourself a free pass just because you slammed your finger in the car door. Or you accidentally broke the yolk on your egg. You know, whatever.

The best way to make failure more unpleasant than success is to focus on why you want to make a change. See yourself in a smaller bathing suit by summer. Better still, go online and order one. Commit. Get rid of all the ash trays. Commit. Write a check to you least favorite politician. Then deposit that money in your vacation account. Every day, you get to decide which is more important.

If you’ve made it to this point in the year without completely giving up on your goals, you’re ahead of the game. The odds of success are already in your favor. That doesn’t mean you haven’t slipped up once or twice. It means the dream is still stronger than the urge to give up. And as long as you keep your priorities lined up that way, there’s nothing that can stop you from achieving your goal.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Forget the Resolutions – It’s Time to Dream!

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

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve. Not only the last day of the year, but the last day of the decade. Twenty years ago we were all freaking out about global devastation as our computers mysteriously lost their ability to know what day it was. I wondered about all those poor souls whose lives depended on a computer-driven cardiac pacemaker. That had the potential to be a midnight we’d never forget.

By some estimates, companies spent today’s equivalent of more than $400 billion to combat the perceived threat of what was commonly known as the “Y2K bug.” For those of you too young to remember, it was pretty simple. Computers used to use a two-digit date format (e.g., “99” instead of “1999”), because nobody really expected them to last long enough to see a new century. They did.

So, all of a sudden, we were faced with the prospect of a device that was supposed to be smarter than a three-year-old suddenly thinking it was operating in the year 1900. It was kinda like that NASA probe that crash-landed on Mars because a bona fide rocket scientist calculated the descent speed in feet per second rather than meters. Oops!

Well, we rang in the year 2000 without any of the disasters that could have been caused by computers run amok. And a lot of the people working in the IT industry on programs to prevent those disasters were suddenly out of work. So, they went home and invented social media. And here we are.

As we ring in the New Year, our minds often turn to our hopes and dreams. It’s not like we can’t dream any other time of year, but this is when we really stick our neck out and go for the gold. “I’m gonna quit smoking, lay off the booze, stop chasing wild women, lose 200 pounds, and become a millionaire!” Okay, alcohol is usually at the root of those aspirations, but you get the idea.

This is a time when we dare to dream just a little more. Because we’re not talking about what we plan to do tomorrow, or even next week. Besides, for a lot of people, tomorrow will involve an ice bag and a lot of aspirin. But it’s easy to make plans when you’ve got a whole year to get started. And therein lies the problem. The end of January comes, and you say, “But I still have eleven months!”

Then comes February, and March, and April.  By June you’re saying, “As soon as summer break is over, I’ll get started.” Then comes September and the kids are back in school. And guess what? You still haven’t made a step in the right direction. Oh well, there’s always next year.

Well, this time we get not only the start of a new year, but a new decade. Now, if you took that to mean you’ve got ten more years to get started on your goals, we need to talk. The idea is to get everything done long before then so you can start on something else. Because, trust me, nothing you can dream of today can hold a candle to what you could potentially do ten years from now.

What stops us from dreaming, or at least halts those dreams before they ever take flight, is one simple question … how on earth can I ever do that? It’s been said that when there’s a will there’s a way. Sometimes we don’t have to know how we’ll do something. We just need a goal. In a little over three hours, my job will come to an end. I don’t know how I’ll find another one. I just know that I will.

So, instead of worrying about the details of how you’ll accomplish your goals, take a day or two to just focus on the dream. Put it in writing. Get pictures. Fill in all the details. Make that dream so crystal-clear in your mind that you can see and feel it wrapping closer around you with each passing day. It doesn’t matter how you’ll do it. What matters is knowing the end result.

I’ve asked this question several times in the past – what would your goals be if you knew you couldn’t fail? For the next two days, approach your dreams from that perspective. Put failure out of your mind and just focus on the goal. Then see what kind of ideas pop up over the coming days. You already know what to do. All you need is a reason to do it.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day, and a safe and happy New Year!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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