Work Hard, Play Hard – You’ve Earned It

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

I’m taking a rare day off in the middle of the week. I’d like to say I just felt like it, but that’s not quite true. I just don’t like to use my paid time off without a pretty good reason. I’d rather save it up for something fun. If I take off sick, halfway through the day I’m bemoaning the fact that I burned up a day of vacation time to sit around the house and feel bad. It’s just never been my thing.

I guess I got that trait from my dad. I remember asking him once if we could put the boat in the water and spend a day fishing. But Dad’s job required that he worked weekends, with two weekdays off. I remember saying, “Just call in sick. You’ve got all that sick leave anyway.” He said no and told me, “You never know when I may need that sick time for something real.”

Well, not too many years later, that premonition came home to roost. After a massive heart attack that almost ended his life, he had to spend the next three months going through corrective procedures and recovery before he was able to return to work. And he had enough sick leave on the books to cover every single day of that time. Message received, Dad.

Last year as I faced surgery, it was comforting to know I had enough paid time off on the books to cover the time before short-term disability would kick in. And, even at that, I still ended up having to sell back some vacation time because the company wouldn’t let me carry over more than 140 hours to the next year. I’ll have a balance at the end of this year as well.

Now, all that sounds good and responsible, right? But you know what else it is? It’s exhausting. There’s a reason companies don’t let us carry over an unlimited amount of vacation time from one year to the next. They want us to use some, because they know all too well the effects of burnout. It robs us of productivity and, left unchecked, can lead to some pretty serious health issues.

In my posts, I talk a lot about work and effort and getting things done. And those things are important. They keep our mind and body active, and that helps keep us alive. But there’s also a time to step away from work and enjoy a little of what you’ve been working for. Whether that’s a family vacation, a weekend outing, or just some quiet time at home, we need it.

Make no mistake, some of the healthiest and most vibrant people I know are the ones who always seem to be coming back from vacation in places most of us only dream about. And it shows in their productivity on the job. It’s not hard to put in a little extra effort when you’re well-rested. It’s also not hard to put in that extra effort when you know there’s something enjoyable coming.

I’ve mentioned a few times that I keep a picture of a motorhome on my desk. It’s not there to keep me from forgetting what it looks like. I can see them every day on the road as somebody else motors down the road, living my dream. I keep that picture because it reminds me every day of what I’m working for. It’s why I do the extra things I do. It’s what makes that extra effort worthwhile.

A song in the 1980s suggested that everybody’s working for the weekend. I think that was more a reference to short-term romance, but it raises an important question. Are we all just working to get through the week and take two days off, or do we have something bigger in mind? Is there something other than Friday that motivates us to get out of bed every day? I sure hope so.

We all have to earn a living and, for most of us, that means going to work every day. If you have dreams that your job won’t quite support, you may have to put in a little extra work on the side. But if you don’t take time to rejuvenate, and don’t have a reward waiting at the end, it’s just work. Do that for 45 years and you’ll see firsthand why some people grow old way before their time.

If you’re going to work, make sure you know what you’re working for. And take a little time along the way to sample the lifestyle you hope to achieve. The break will do you good. And the people around you may thank you for it as well.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Take a Breather – You’ve Earned It!

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

Those of you who have been with me for a while know I try to be an upbeat person who can find the good in just about any situation. I’ve always believed life is what we make of it, and if we choose to focus on the positive, we’ll get a little extra bounce in our step and find more reasons to smile. And let me tell you, it sure beats wallowing in the negativity that is just looking for a chance to sneak in.

But lately, it seems I’ve allowed that negativity to take a more prominent place in my mind. I find myself letting little things get under my skin more than normal, to the point that I don’t really even notice it. And I guess it’s starting to show. Several times lately, my wife has suggested I should go back and read a little more of what I’ve written each day. Ouch!

It can happen to any of us. Positivity isn’t something that comes naturally. It has to be practiced, sometimes with a conscious effort, in order to become a habit. That’s the way habits work. Negativity, on the other hand, doesn’t take much effort. If you pull the plug out of a sink, the water will drain out and air will take its place, because nature seeks to fill a void. Let the positive thoughts slip away, and negativity will rise to the surface.

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned signs of stress. We all like to think we can handle stress. Some folks even brag about it. “I thrive on stress!” No, you don’t. You may think you do, but the reality is stress erodes away your spirit until there’s no room left for anything but more stress. And along with stress comes the inability to enjoy life’s little treasures. Positivity out, negativity in. Just like clockwork.

Well, in a conference call yesterday afternoon, I was asked a simple question, and I gave a simple answer. No big deal. Twenty seconds later, another person on the call sent me a text message … “You sound happy!” Wow. I had to think back to what I’d said, and still didn’t realize it came off a bit abrupt. The next message was a little more direct. “You need a vacation.”

It’s easy to get so caught up in everyday life that we forget to slow down and enjoy everyday life. There are jobs to be done, bills to pay, people to see, things to fix, walls to paint, grass to mow, stores to shop, oil to change, trash to take out, and all those hundreds of little things that consume our day. At some point, we need to take a step back and say, “TIME OUT!”

And you know the answer most people give when you suggest that? “I can’t take time off … I’m too busy!” In the immortal words of astronaut Jim Lovell, Houston, we have a problem! It’s like saying you can’t go to sleep because you’re too tired. Trust me, you WILL go to sleep. It just may not happen exactly when or where you choose.

We all like to think nobody is quite as busy as we are. We wear it like a badge of honor. Because, if we’re busy, it means we’re productive. We’re getting things done. The world depends on us every day for its very existence, and we’re not about to let the world down. Sound familiar?

But sooner or later, your body and mind go off in a corner to chat behind your back, and when they come out, they have one word for you … enough! It’s time for a break. And if you don’t take one voluntarily, your body will find a way to make you do it. Now, let me ask you, which sounds more appealing? A week on the beach, or a week in bed wishing you were on the beach?

We’re raised to believe life is about working hard and getting ahead. And there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as we remember that life is also about taking time to smell the roses. It’s about dropping everything to enjoy what we’ve worked so hard to build. It’s about family, and dancing, and laughter. And if you dance like me, those last two come as a package deal.

When it’s time to work, give it your best effort. If you have to be there anyway, make it count. But know when it’s time to step away and give yourself a break. If you’re waiting for a “good” time to take off, forget it. Put something on the calendar and let it be known that you’ll be doing something else during that time. You’ll be happier, and so will everyone around you.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Recharge, Then Get Moving!

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

To follow up on Friday’s post, I left the hospital later in the day and got to spend the weekend at home. I’ve got some follow-up appointments with a couple of specialists, but they pretty much confirmed what my wife already knew – I’m a little dizzy. But in my defense, she knew that years ago and married me anyway. Go figure.

I spent most of the weekend resting at home. I did a few things, including some of the cleaning and reorganizing I’ve been putting off, and I did a little work for my business. But I also spent a fair amount of time in a recliner just relaxing. It seems to have been the perfect mix.

We all need to recharge our batteries. Even those things we love to do, the things that excite us the most, still take a toll on our energy. And every now and then, we have to slow down long enough to build some of that energy back up. But a battery that spends its life on a charger isn’t of much use to anybody. It just sits there doing nothing all day. Sound like anybody you know?

The key is knowing when to turn the charger off and put that energy to use. It’s all about balance. The harder we work, the more often we need to recharge. But the more we just sit around and recharge, the less we’re able to get done. And after a while, sitting around becomes a drain of its own. When you need to get up and do something, the energy just isn’t there.

Do you remember the old nickel-cadmium (NiCad) batteries? They were the original rechargeable batteries, and they did an amazing job. But they had one inherent flaw – if you recharged them too soon and too often, it reduced the amount of charge they could hold. Manufacturers called that “battery memory.” After a while, the battery was just incapable of holding a full charge.

We’re not so different. When we let ourselves drain down too far, we slow down and our ability to perform is significantly weakened. Do that long enough and we just stop. But if we spend all our time on a charger, rejuvenating after every little bit of effort, there comes a point where that little bit of effort is all we can do. Some call it laziness. I think there’s a little more to it.

When you exercise, you strengthen muscles and build endurance. Do that regularly, and a few things happen. At first, it hurts. You go home tired and the next day you wake up sore. But after a while, it just becomes part of your day. Your body looks forward to the workout, and rewards you with more energy during the day and the ability to work longer and harder without wearing out.

Your mind is much the same. As the old saying goes, use it or lose it. A lot of what we do during the day isn’t entirely physical. In fact, even when you’re exercising, you’re thinking. But thinking about what? Are you focused on how tired you are and how bad you smell? Or are you thinking about the good you’re doing for your body, and the great things you can do once you get back in shape?

Sitting around isn’t an entirely bad thing. But put that time to good use. Turn off the TV and read a good book. By “good” I mean something that’ll rejuvenate your mind and spirit. There’s nothing wrong with a good romance novel if that’s your thing. But balance it with some positive reading as well. Every bookstore has an entire section devoted to self-help and motivation. Pick one up.

Or just sit quietly and think about your goals. What will it take to accomplish those goals? What do you need to do first? What’s standing in your way, and what can you do to fix that? Talk it over with someone who shares your dream. Two heads are better than one. You’re still resting your body, but you’re keeping your mind active. And an active mind can solve any problem that comes along.

And when the rest is over, get up and get moving. You do it at work every day. They don’t mind you taking a little break now and then, but they expect you to get back to it when the break is over. Do the same for yourself. Your job will reward you with a paycheck. But you can reward yourself with so much more. And after all that work, don’t you deserve it?

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Relax and Dream a Little!

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

Do you have any plans for the weekend? I hope you’re looking forward to two days of fun and relaxation. As I said yesterday, we should work to live, not just to exist. Ants work to exist. But our creator decided we’re worth more. A lot more. We should be working for some of life’s more enjoyable experiences.

At work, we affectionately refer to Thursday as “Friday Eve.” But as I was telling somebody yesterday, lately it seems Friday is just the weekend’s Monday. That’s when all the work we didn’t get finished during the week (or that somebody else forgot to assign) hits like a ton of bricks. It seems everybody is scraping their plate right onto yours.

By the end of the day, we NEED a weekend. We go home too tired to do much of anything except slump down in a recliner and watch TV until bedtime, promising ourselves we’ll get up tomorrow morning and do something enjoyable. You know, like grocery shopping, laundry, mowing the lawn, or painting the porch railing … fun stuff.

But if you don’t do the work that needs to be done at home, who’s gonna do it? The answer to that question, for most of us, is nobody. It just won’t get done. So we spend our weekend doing all the things we didn’t have time to do during the week, and when Sunday night rolls around and we’re thinking of those fun things we wanted to do, none of them even made the list.

It’s important that we take care of the things that need to be done. It’s also important that we carve out some time for ourselves, to relax and enjoy some of what we’ve worked for. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. Dinner and a movie can be nice, or a backyard cookout with family and friends. It could be as simple as taking the kids for ice cream that doesn’t come out of your own freezer.

But as you’re doing that, try something different. Instead of talking about school or work or any of the other things that need to be done at home, take some time to talk about dreams. Share some of yours, and let others share some of theirs. Okay, don’t do this during a movie – they frown on that. But the time is there anyway. Make it fun!

I’ve mentioned this before, but my dad always used to tell me, “Boy, you’re a dreamer!” He didn’t say it in a condescending way, but it was somewhat of a reminder that my goals were a bit lofty. Still, the message it conveys can often be misinterpreted. Instead of, “I hope you can accomplish all of that”, it can sound a lot like, “Get your head out of the clouds!” Is that the message we really want to send?

We should encourage one another to dream. Not just our kids, but our family, friends, co-workers, and maybe even our bosses. One of our upper-level managers at work loves fast cars. And he’s taken a couple of trips to one of those “driving experience” venues where you put on a suit & helmet and take a high-powered race car out on the track for a few laps. I bet it’s exhilarating.

Now, let me tell you, if I wanted to get him to dream a little, all I’d have to do is drop a brochure for a race car driving school on his desk. Or I could just sit down and ask him about his last experience. I can guarantee you his eyes would light up. I’ve seen it happen several times. And I’m pretty sure that, for the rest of the day, some of that excitement stays with him. It has to.

My wife and I often find ourselves talking about our dreams. It sure beats complaining about work, or what we’re going to do about that slow-running bathtub drain. It brings us closer together, because it highlights our similarities instead of our differences. We’re happier. And, because we turned our dream into a goal, everything we do is focused on making it happen.

A close friend often asks, “What would your goals be if you knew you couldn’t fail?” It’s a powerful sentiment, because the truth it implies is that there’s absolutely nothing you can’t accomplish if you set your mind to it.

Don’t just work to exist. Work to enjoy more of what life has to offer. And when you get a couple of days off, let yourself experience a little bit of that lifestyle. Work will be there when you come back. It’s not going anywhere. But think of how much more energized you’ll be when you know why you’re doing it and what’s waiting for you at the end.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Recharge Those Batteries!

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

It occurred to me as I was getting dressed this morning, thinking of the things I need to do today, that I’ve spent a lot of time writing about work and doing the things we need to do and making up for lost ground when we start to fall behind. I guess it’s natural that we would think that way, because it’s pretty much the way we’re programmed from childhood.

But you know what? There has to be some kind of reward for all that hard work. And, no offense to the employers in the group, but I’m not talking about a work reward where you get a pat on the back, a new title, and even more responsibility. Sure, those things are important. But in a 168-hour week, we should only be spending about a fourth of that time at work. The rest of the time we live.

If you were to die today, your employer would be looking for your replacement before your funeral. Now, that sounds grim and maybe even a little cold-hearted, but that’s just the way it is. None of us are indispensable, at work or at home. We all like to think nobody could live without us but drive past any cemetery and you’ll have all the proof you need. Life goes on.

So, if you’re not putting in all this effort to save the world, why are you doing it? I ask people all the time what they want in life, and very few can give any kind of specific response. “Oh, I want to be healthy and have my family close by, to do well in my career, and retire someplace warm.” Yawn. Seriously? You can’t be a little more specific than that?

And the truth is, we spend so many of our waking hours working – either on the job or off – that we forget there’s a whole big world out there just waiting to be enjoyed. So, when we think of the things we’d like to do with that time, it takes conscious effort to bring them to the surface. We have to dig down deep, and even then, it’s not always easy.

Work can be a lot more enjoyable when you know why you’re doing it. A friend once told me that he visited a couple to discuss a business proposal and he’d asked them to tape a picture of their dream to the refrigerator before he got there. When he arrived, the refrigerator was plastered with the monthly bills. That was the extent of their dreams – simply to get through this month and on to the next.

Granted, the bills need to be paid. But beyond that, we all need something that excites us, something we truly enjoy. And I don’t know of anybody who enjoys paying bills. That’s a necessity of life, much like using the restroom.

So, let’s look at this in reverse. Instead of telling me what makes you get up and go to work each day, tell me what makes you want to go home. Not what makes you want to leave work – that could be as simple as escaping a really bad day on the job. But what makes you want to go HOME? What are you going to do there that’s so much more enjoyable than work? Hopefully, a lot.

That may be as simple as going to watch your child’s ball game or sitting on the porch reading a good book. It may be a weekend camping trip or a picnic in the park. It could be dinner with that special somebody, or lunch with friends after church. Or it could be just sitting around the table playing cards and feasting on really unhealthy snacks.

But give yourself time to think a little more, and you’ll come up with a whole list of reasons you’d like to come home. A Caribbean cruise, a European vacation, a new house with room for the kids to run and play, a motorcycle trip across the country, a motorhome trip to the next county, or a trip to watch the next Super Bowl live.

Work without a goal is just work. But when you know your “why” – the thing that excites you enough to make you get up and want to work – the days go by a lot faster. Take time each day to focus on your dreams. And at the end of a long day, relax or do something fun. It’ll rejuvenate your body, mind, and soul. And it’ll give you something to look forward to as you begin the next day.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Take a Breather – You’ve Earned It

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

It occurred to me as I was getting up this morning that we seem to talk a lot about work and goals and chasing our dreams. But somewhere in the middle of all that, we need to find a little time to just relax. I find it really refreshing on a Monday morning when I ask a co-worker what they did over the weekend and they say, “Not a thing.”

I had to leave work early yesterday to work from home. I very rarely get sick, but something found a side entrance a couple of days ago and made a beeline for my lungs. I guess it’s possible my immune system was weakened from a recent bout with an intestinal virus, but some at work suggested it may be nothing more than stress. That’s entirely possible.

When you burn the candle at both ends long enough, the flames meet in the middle and there’s nothing left to burn. But if you blow out the flame for a while, the wax hardens and turns back into a solid candle, ready to burn some more.

This isn’t my way of complaining about stress. We all face it, and we all deal with it in different ways. I like to think it’s what keeps us on our toes and makes us come up with creative ways to solve a problem. But stress, like snow melting down a hillside into a small stream, has a way of sneaking up on you. Next thing you know, the stream has overflowed and you’re battling a major flood.

That’s why it’s so important to step away sometimes. And it’s not enough to leave work so you can go home and work on something else. It may be a change of pace, and it may even feel relaxing. But you’re still working. And that includes things that we would normally consider recreation. Setting up camp is still work, whether it feels like it or not.

Granted, I know people who can get lost in things like gardening, or quilting, or woodworking. And getting outside with the kids is always fun. But none of those things involves simply sitting back and watching the day go by. They still require concentration, especially when there’s a baseball barreling toward your face. And they also require a certain amount of physical activity.

Just because something is fun doesn’t mean it’s completely relaxing. I love spending the day at a theme park with my grandkids, but there is nothing relaxing about that. I usually do it on a Saturday so I can spend Sunday recuperating. Except there’s grocery shopping to do, and all those chores I didn’t do Saturday. By Monday, I’m ready to go back to work so I can rest. Know the feeling?

I’m not a proponent of being lazy, but I think there are times when we have to just let ourselves shut down for a while. Resting is lying in a hammock under a shade tree. Getting up to flip burgers on the grill is work. Resting is curling up with a good book. Tending to laundry is work. Resting is kicking back on a beach or by the pool. Are you noticing a trend here?

You may not think you have the option to just shut down, but I’m willing to bet you can. Even if it’s just for a couple of hours after the kids go to bed. Better still, send them off to visit friends for a day and spend the day soaking in a warm bath. Next weekend you can take all the kids and let their parents have a weekend off. Sometimes we have to team up.

The important thing is that you find some time to just unwind. Our bodies were designed to work, but they also need rest. And sleep alone isn’t necessarily enough. Sometimes we need a little more. Listen to your body and when it says enough, then back off and give it a break. Whatever you’re not doing today will almost certainly be there tomorrow.

Nobody likes to let things pile up. But if you face every day worn out and beaten down, those chores will seem all the more cumbersome. Give yourself time to rejuvenate, and you may be surprised how easily you can get everything done. And you might find yourself with even more time to relax. I like the way that works!

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Time to Recharge Your Batteries?

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

My wife and I had dinner with an old friend last night who was in town for just a couple of days. It’s always nice catching up, especially outside of work where the conversation can go to pretty much anything but work. And maybe a couple of things about work you wouldn’t say inside the office. It happens. But we mostly talked about vacations and grandkids. Fun stuff.

I had a manager several years ago who had a simple rule when we all went out to lunch – we can talk about anything except the job. If anybody violated that rule, she’d call them down quickly. “Excuse me … were you taking about work?” It was just a friendly reminder that this was our time to socialize. Whatever is going on at work would still be there when we got back.

It’s important to get away sometimes, whether it’s work or family or even our favorite hobbies. You have to take a breather and focus on something else for a while, even if that “focus” is on nothing at all. Just taking in the world around you without any expectation for what happens next. It’s not only relaxing, it’s energizing. Few things can recharge our batteries like a little solitude.

And solitude doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be alone – just that you’re away from the bustle of everyday life. It means you’re enjoying something other than the routine. It means you’ve left all the cares of the world behind and you’re just enjoying the moment.

I’m the kind of person who loves to be around other people. I have the option to work from home, but I choose not to. When I’m at work, I’m focused on work. And I have the chance to not only chat with people through text messaging, but to stop by their desk and share a more personal moment. A few seconds is all it takes. I just like people.

On the other hand, I also like being alone sometimes. When I was on the road doing comedy, I had hours each day driving to the next show, and that was my private time to think, reflect on life, and write new jokes. Sure, by the end of the day I was craving a crowd, but that’s all part of it. And then after the show, I went back to the hotel and into my world of solitude until the next show.

It’s all about balance. Too much solitude can lead to withdrawal, and too much bustle can lead to burnout. I have a friend who is one of the most gifted writers I’ve ever met. She was asking me about Stephen King’s book on writing, and I had to be honest – I’ve never read it. She was shocked. “You’re a writer and you’ve never read that book?” I know. It’s almost a requirement of the job.

But when you sit in front of a computer for eight hours a day, writing technical manuals for other people to read, and then come home and write something more personal for a different audience, your eyes get tired of looking at words. Woodworking was my thing back then, and I when I needed a break from it all, I went downstairs to my shop.

I do read a little more now, mostly motivational books. At the end of a long day, I need that reminder that I have the power to accomplish great things. If you’re not getting your shot of positivity each day, I highly recommend it. Even fifteen minutes of reading will make a difference. Because, when you’re reading, no matter what it is, the outside world ceases to exist.

We all need that breather from time to time. Whether it’s dinner with a friend, driving through the country with your significant other, sitting by a river and watching boats go by, or just curling up on the sofa with a good book, we all need that escape. Even if it only lasts a short while, it makes a huge difference.

So, give yourself a little time to just enjoy whatever is happening at the moment. Schedule that time if you must and follow through. There will be times when you have to interrupt your plans, but don’t let everyone else’s whims become your priorities. Save some of that time for yourself. You’ve earned it. And even more importantly, you need it.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved