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

Just Stay in the Game!

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

I have two different routes I take on the way home from work each day, depending on what time I leave. Okay, I haven’t even left for work yet and I’m already thinking about how I get home. My manager probably won’t be too impressed by that but bear with me. There’s a point and it’s not how quickly I can end my day and get out of there.

As I said, I have two routes. There’s the express route, a six-lane highway that everybody else seems to find convenient as well. If I get out early enough and beat the traffic, that’s the easiest way to go. But lately, “early enough” doesn’t seem to be quite … well, early enough. I guess a few other people have caught onto that trick.

My other route takes me through residential areas and small country roads which, by coincidence, are right along the path of a huge tornado just a few weeks ago. There’s a lot of devastation along that route, and the last thing I want to do is get in the way of the cleanup. They’ll be at it for months.

But even in the few short weeks since the storm rolled through, a lot of the damage has been removed and reconstruction is well underway. Power lines are back up, stores are open again (for the most part), and people are back in what’s left of their homes. Blue tarps cover a lot of the buildings, and downed trees still dominate the landscape. But slowly, life is getting back to normal.

There’s a professional restoration service specializing in disaster cleanup whose slogan is, “Like it never even happened.” That’s a comforting thought, and I’m sure there comes a point where the visual reminders are largely gone. But there’s more to rebuilding than putting things back the way they were. The emotional restoration can take a lot more time and effort.

I’m sure nobody went to bed that night thinking they’d be awakened to the sound of tornado sirens, or that, before midnight, they would be standing outside what’s left of their home checking one another for injuries. Life has a way of throwing us a knuckleball now and then, and they tend to come without warning. One minute we’re on top of the world, and the next we’re fighting to survive.

Thankfully, most of life’s ups and downs aren’t quite that severe. You have a bad day at work, or the kids are being especially disobedient. The car has a flat tire, the power goes out, or the weed-eater won’t start. That last one happens a lot. Any one of these things can stress you out and take the smile off your face. But in the overall scheme of things, they’re pretty minor.

And all it takes is a small change, and the problem is gone, like it never even happened. Your day at work ends and traffic is light for a change. The kids give you a hug and tell you they love you. The spare tire is on, the power comes back up, and the weed-eater starts. All the frustration is behind you and you get back to whatever it was you were doing, without giving it another thought.

It’s too bad we can’t dust ourselves off so easily when it comes to other things … things that are probably just as important, if not more, but that we tend to take much more personally. Relationships would be at the top of that list. “I can forgive, but I can’t forget.” Okay, but if what you’ve “forgiven” keeps coming to the surface, odds are you’re still not quite there.

And we do the same thing with ourselves. We try something new, only to fall flat on our face. Whether it’s a new skill, a new business, a new job, or simply a new way home from work, we don’t go into anything expecting to fail. If we did, we’d never even try. That makes it all the harder when we do fail. Instead of learning from the experience, we beat ourselves up for even trying.

Success isn’t about avoiding failure. It’s about looking failure in the eye and saying, “I’m not afraid of you.” It’s about picking up the pieces when things go wrong and coming back even stronger. It’s about taking a look at what went wrong, and then turning your attention back to the goal. It’s about refusing to be beaten by something you didn’t even want in the first place.

Life isn’t always kind, and anything worth having will undoubtedly present some challenges along the way. But success isn’t about avoiding challenges – it’s about overcoming them. Keep your eye on the goal and never give up. You can do this!

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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

It’s All About the Choices We Make

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

As many of you know, I’ve been on a journey to lose weight. And it’s not just a few pounds I need to lose – we’re talking about a third of my body weight. I’ve had some good days and some not so good, but overall the good days are winning. Still, it doesn’t take much to set things back. One weekend on the road, sitting in a car and eating road food, is enough to turn things around.

It seems we always look for the perfect excuse to explain why we’re not doing the things we need to do. It’s too cold outside. It’s too hot. There’s nothing healthy on the menu. The gym is too crowded this time of day. My favorite TV show is on. And my all-time favorite … it was a buffet! What do you expect when you hand me an empty plate in front of all that food???

It’s all about choices, and we make them all the time, even when we’re not really thinking about it. I always got a kick out of people going into McDonalds and ordering a Big Mac, large fries, apple pie, and a diet Coke. Nice try, but at that point, I don’t think diet anything will do much good. You might as well just go for the real thing.

When I stepped on the scale this morning, it rewarded me for a weekend of poor choices. Okay, and a couple of days since the weekend as well. Once you get out of the habit of eating healthy, even for a few days, your body is so happy to have its comfort food back that you tend to just keep on going down the same path. At least I do. And it takes effort to turn it around.

Maybe the wiser choice would have been to just stay on the program in the first place. I have healthy things I could have taken on the road with me. I didn’t have to eat fast food. I could have eaten a salad instead of a burger. Or a plate of fresh fruit with breakfast instead of hash browns. The fact is, I looked at all the tasty things on that menu and threw weight loss right out the window.

Warm weather has finally arrived, and around my house, that means it’s time to fire up the grill. My wife loves grilling out, because I do it. Somehow, she’s never figured out how to light a grill or set the perfect cooking temperature. I’m beginning to think I shouldn’t have been so eager to learn how to use a washing machine, but that’s another story.

But even with the grill, we have choices. I can cook hamburgers and hot dogs, or I can cook skinless chicken and shrimp. I can cook barbecued ribs or lean pork. I can cook steaks or salmon. Okay, that last one is just for me. I’m not even allowed to cook it in the house and nobody else will eat it. Still, it’s a choice I can make. And I have little doubt I’ll make the wrong choice a bunch of times this summer.

And that’s okay. We’re only human. But when we make the wrong choice, we should at least try to minimize the damage with some of our other choices. And no, diet soda doesn’t count. Maybe some fresh fruit as a side dish, and a walk around the neighborhood after dinner. Maybe a healthy lunch on days when I know we’re having ribs for dinner.

And maybe it’s as simple as eating a little less of the bad stuff instead of gorging. People who are trying to lose weight call that a “cheat day.” They’ll even tell you it’s important to do that every now and then. I’m not so sure about that, but even if you do cheat a little, that doesn’t mean you have to go wild. Keep it in check and balance it with some healthier choices. Minimize the damage. That’s all.

We face choices every day. At work, at home, at mealtime, in family interaction, in our personal goals, at the grocery store, driving past the gym, and dozens of other times during the day. It’s the things we choose that make the difference. They shape our being, they shape our body, they shape our relationships, and they shape our future. Mistakes are inevitable. But keeping our eye on the goal is what determines where we end up.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved