The Mood Won’t Strike Until You Poke It

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

Imagine, if you will, a surgeon with a patient on the table, doing what surgeons do. The patient is asleep, the incisions have been made, and the heart is fully exposed. Halfway through one of the most delicate procedures known to man, the surgeon puts down his scalpel, pulls off his mask, and says, “Sorry folks – I’m just not in the groove today. I’m gonna let this one slide. Go tell the family.”

I don’t believe that’s ever actually happened, but it would certainly change the day for several people, least of all the person clinging to life on the operating table. But you have to wonder how many times the surgeon was a little more tired than normal or had an argument with his wife before leaving for work. The patient has no idea, but it’s likely the surgeon isn’t at his very best that day.

No matter how good we are at what we do, there will always be days when we’re just not fully up to par. And it would be easy to just go back to bed until we feel more energized. But we know from experience that, when we put things on hold because we’re not fully in the mood, that mood never gets any stronger. We just waste the day beating ourselves up for not doing anything.

If you do that on the job, you’ll probably be invited to sit down with the boss for a one-on-one chat. The first time may be friendly and constructive, but if it happens too many times you’ll find yourself looking for someplace else to spend your days. Employers are pesky about these things. They pretty much expect our best every day.

But when it comes to your own priorities, those dreams that make you smile and inspire visions of a happier life, you’re in business for yourself. You’re the CEO, the CFO, the Vice President of Marketing, the Production Manager, and the company’s sole employee. Nothing gets done unless you do it yourself.

So, here’s the question … if you were paying yourself to work toward your dreams, would you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth? Or would you call yourself into the office, lay down the law, and issue an ultimatum? I think, if we’re being completely honest, most of us would say we’re a pretty good employee on the job, but not so good when it comes to our own priorities.

There are lots of reasons. After a full day on the job, it’s not easy to carve out time to go to work for yourself. It’s dinnertime, you’re tired, you’re hungry, and the kids need a little quality time as well. Monday night you go bowling, Tuesday is movie night, Wednesday you go out for ice cream, and on and on it goes. Who has time for anything else?

So, pick up the calendar and look for a day when you won’t be doing anything. I dare you. Even if you find one, something else will see that empty day and sneak in to fill the time. Another week goes by, another month, and eventually another year … and still you’re no closer to your dreams than you were to begin with. Yet somehow, we just keep giving ourselves a pass.

At some point, we need to become that grumpy boss nobody wants to see. We need to set goals and demand results. Not from other people – this isn’t their dream, it’s yours. If you want anything to happen, you have to make it happen yourself. Nobody but you will complain if you take a night off. Unless you hold yourself to the fire, nobody else will. It’s all on you.

You don’t have to be completely up to par every day, but you do have to be committed. A little effort is better than none at all, and when you take those first steps, it’s easy to get in the groove and keep going. Success happens when your dreams are bigger than your excuses. Make the time, and make the time count. The reward is yours to enjoy.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

What’s Stopping You Now?

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

I finally got some things accomplished this weekend that I’ve been wanting to do. Okay, I should say my grandson got something accomplished for me. I paid him, so it’s fair. I like having outdoor lights for Christmas, but I don’t like climbing a ladder fifty-two times to hang them. He’s still young enough to get on the roof. And, he’s still more likely to bounce if he falls. Voila! Problem solved.

I normally try to get the lights up a little earlier, when it’s still reasonably warm. I just don’t turn them on until the week of Thanksgiving. And I’ll turn them off at the start of the New Year. But that doesn’t mean they’ll be coming down. I’m the guy who leaves the lights up until Easter. Sorry, there’s something about ladders and ice on the ground that gives me the willies.

There are some jobs we can do before they actually need to be done. Hanging outdoor lights is one of them. Though I did read a news article about a family that received a citation from their homeowner’s association for putting out decorations a couple of weeks early. I think that one falls under the heading of “get a life.” If somebody else’s celebration bothers you that much, look the other way.

But most things happen in real time and we have to respond and adapt. Sure, we can plan our work week, at least in terms of when we have to be at work and when we hope to come home. Starting time is always pretty well set in stone, but the workday doesn’t always end at a set time. That’s just part of the job. Somehow, it never seems to work that way with lunch breaks. Go figure.

When you really think about it, there are very few things in life we actually plan. For most of us, if we even have a calendar, there’s not much in it other than birthdays, anniversaries, and vacations. My wife keeps everything in her phone calendar, which means I don’t have to. At least not for anything that involves both of us. But thank God the doctor’s office calls to remind me of my appointments.

I guess the point is, we pretty much live day to day. We take things as they come, and handle the immediate needs as they arise. The rest goes into a bucket that we dip into any time we have a few minutes on our hands and there’s nothing good on TV. Seems that happens a lot more these days. The Forrest Gump channel plays the same movie all week. All that changes are the commercials.

The problem with that approach is we never seem to dig deep enough in that bucket to find the things that will bring us closer to our dreams. Unless working until you’re 80 is part of your dream, and in that case, knock yourself out. But if there are other things you want, maybe a little earlier in life, at some point you’ll need to do something about it.

We handle the important things because we don’t have any other choice. Some things just won’t be ignored. It’s the things that can be ignored that keep us from enjoying the life we desire. “I’ll get to it tomorrow.” “Next week.” “After the holidays.” If any of this sounds familiar, welcome to the club. We all do it to some extent. And to the extent that we drag our feet, our dreams slip further away.

Only you can decide which of your dreams are important and how much you’re willing to do to achieve them. But they’ll always be just a passing thought or a picture on the refrigerator until you dig down into that bucket and get busy. And the sooner you do, the sooner you’ll be living those dreams. Focus on the goal and don’t let anything stand in your way. Least of all, yourself.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Keep Feeding Your Brain – There’s Always Room For More

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

This will be a week of training for me. Two different topics, and it’ll take up nearly every moment of each workday until Friday. Then we get to catch up on everything else we missed during the week. Isn’t that the way it usually goes? It’s like taking vacation. You get a week off, but you spend a week getting caught up before you go and another week catching up when you get back. Fun.

Still, I’ll never forget the advice my dad gave me when I joined the Navy. Well, the advice I can share here, anyway. Some of the rest is a blur. But one day he told me to never turn down any class that was offered – get as much education as they were willing to give. That’s the one piece of Dad’s advice I followed, and I still follow it to this day. You can never learn too much.

Well, again, I guess that depends on the setting. My oldest daughter used to give a little more information than I cared for. Ignorance may not be bliss, but sometimes it beats the alternative. But when it comes to something I can use on the job, or that can get me closer to my dreams, I’ll take all I can get.

Best of all, most of my co-workers will be in town this week to join us. Most of our team is home-based in states I normally only pass through, so the only contact we have is a morning conference call and texting about work. It’s rare that we actually get to see one another.

There’s a lot more going on this week besides the training, including a quarterly meeting for our entire team. And we’ve mixed in some after-work activities as well. Nothing like getting together with some old friends for an evening of camaraderie (and drinks). Last time we went bowling. Suffice to say we won’t be doing that again. Hopefully ever.

I don’t think most of us actually look forward to sitting in a classroom all day, trying to take notes and keep up with the instructor while battling the effects of carbohydrate overload that comes from sampling too many donuts and bagels. Some days, there isn’t enough coffee in the world. In the Navy, they always told us to stand up if we got sleepy. I never sat down.

Still, there’s something about learning a new skill, even if you don’t think you’ll ever use it. Just to know some of the background workings of the systems we use is interesting, and sometimes helpful. Because when you know how a system is put together, you know its strengths and limitations. And when things break, it gives you a little background on what it may take to fix it.

Granted, there are times when we fill our head with so much information that it’s hard to see past the written facts. The Navy took a lot of time to teach us the inner workings of a transistor, from a purely theoretical perspective. To this day, I can’t tell you a thing about it, other than to rattle off some terminology that means nothing to me. All I needed to know was how to tell when it’s broke.

But, as with most other things, you can’t really tell if something’s working unless you know what it’s supposed to do. Unless you can define success, failure becomes a lot more ambiguous. That’s why we sometimes find ourselves running full speed ahead down the wrong path – we don’t have a clear idea of the intended outcome, so we just keep going and hope the goal will step into our path.

We don’t know anything without learning it first. Even things that seem obvious, like “don’t put your hand on a hot stove” had to be learned. And some of those lessons came the hard way. So, any time you can put yourself in a setting to learn something the easy way, take advantage of it. Your brain can absolutely handle the excess knowledge. And you never know when it may come in handy.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Best Plans Are the Ones That Result in Action

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

How many times during the day do you do something completely off the cuff, with no plan at all other than to get it done? You visualize the end product, and just dive in, figuring things out as you go. I used to do that with woodworking all the time. I never worked from a set of plans. I’d just imagine what I wanted to build, then head to the shop and start sawing boards. Okay, I measured first.

We have an Amish-style clock hanging by the front door, made of cherry that I bought with no concept of what I planned to do with it. I just liked the wood. It was about this time of year, and I came up with the idea of making my wife a clock for Christmas. Of all the things I ever built, that one is my favorite. I love the way cherry ages with time.

I can look at that clock and see every mistake I made along the way. There weren’t many, because I put my best effort into it. But there was a little sapwood on the top piece that never aged like the rest, and I always planned to put another top piece on it. When I told my wife, she dared me to touch anything. She loves it just the way it is, and I’m not sure she could find a single mistake if she looked for it. She only sees the beauty, and the love with which it was made.

So, take it down a notch. Instead of thinking of the great creations you can make that will leave other people in awe, think of the simple things you do every day that require nothing more than a solid effort on your part. You could plan every step from start to finish, but planning just fills up an otherwise clean sheet of paper. Nothing happens until you get up and get to work.

And most things are really that simple. Just get started, and the rest will flow until the job is complete. It’s that first step that always seems to get in the way. Maybe it’s procrastination, or maybe it’s other legitimately important priorities. But until we carve out the time and actually get started, it’ll be just a passing thought.

If you have to write anything on paper, let it be a checklist of things you plan to do. And as you write that list, do it with the commitment that you won’t go to bed until everything on the list is done. A speaker at our last conference referred to that as “earning your pillow.” And let me tell you, nothing feels better than snuggling up in bed at night knowing everything you planned to do is done.

It’s easy to do the easy things. Grab a sandwich on the way to work instead of making one at home. Send a few emails. Pick up the extra shoes by the front door and put them away. Wipe down the stove. Go to the drive-thru to pick up a prescription. We can find all kinds of time to fill our day. But do you find the same time to do the things that really matter?

Earn your pillow. Make a list and commit to it. Check things off instead of crossing them off. You’ll probably find more than enough time if you just get busy instead of thinking about it. Prioritize your list and tackle the big ones first. That way, when you run out of steam later in the day, all that’s left is to pick up those shoes and wipe down the stove.

Do that, and you’ll find yourself accomplishing much more than ever before and moving closer to your goals with each passing day. Procrastination will become a thing of the past, and success will become a natural part of life. Then all you have to do is dream a little bigger and see what you can accomplish next.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Magic Never Goes Away – Just Keep Looking

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

Well, it had to happen sooner or later. The white stuff started falling out of the sky yesterday evening and it’s still there. Looks like a couple of inches, and that’s about as close to accurate as I’ll get, because anything more would require that I step outside and actually see how deep it is. That’s not gonna happen. I only look stupid.

I remember a time in when snow was cause for celebration. It was magic. A white blanket over God’s not-so-green earth. A new playground. Sledding and ice skating and all those fun things we used to do. My dog is in heaven. He runs around the yard with his nose to the ground, bulldozing a trail through the snow with every step. It’s something new, and he’s making the most of it.

Yet, half a century later, it’s not that magical anymore. Sledding has been replaced by trying to stay on the road, and ice skating is what you do getting from the house to the car. And let me tell you, the ground gets a whole lot harder when it’s cold. Emergency rooms throughout the area will treat more broken bones today than they have all year.

It seems to work that way with a lot of things. Think back to the first time you rode a bicycle. That was a day of excitement. Nothing in your life could measure up to that one proud moment. Then you fell, but it was worth it. One day the training wheels came off and you were in heaven. Then one day you wanted to borrow the car and Dad said, “You have a bike.” It didn’t feel so special then.

I know people who still love to ride. In fact, I have a friend who spent more on his bike than I spent on my first five cars combined. I live in an area where old railroad trails have been converted into bike paths, and you can crisscross the entire state without riding on a single road. Not to say that stops people from riding on the hilliest, curviest country roads they can find. But that’s another story.

Think about your first day at work. Not this job – your very first job. For one in three adults, that first job had something to do with food (I use the term loosely). You stood in front of the mirror, brushed your hair, admired your uniform and name badge, then proudly walked down the street for everyone to see that you were now among the gainfully employed. Then you found out why they call it work.

It’s even that way with kids. You hold them in your arms, before they even go home, and can’t imagine how you ever got this far in life without them. They’re precious. They’re adorable. Every sound, every facial expression, every movement of the hands (and bowels) is special. First they crawl, then they walk. And then they turn two and leaving for work is once again a source of excitement.

I think most of life works that way. You work for a promotion, and a year later it’s just another job. You move into a new home, full of excitement, but before long it’s just another house. You start a business, full of excitement, and then one day you find yourself just going through the motions. You stand at the altar with your best friend in life, and ten years later you’re just paying bills together.

Don’t get me wrong. All of those things are awesome, and if you look hard enough, there will always be enough moments of excitement to remind you why you wanted it in the first place. But looking for excitement, by itself, usually leads to problems. What we should be looking for are goals. You’ve accomplished what you set out to do. So, what’s next? Dream a little. Together.

Dreams are the ultimate use of our imagination, and imagination is the first step in every worthwhile thing you’ll ever accomplish in life. Don’t focus on what is – imagine what could be. What if? Those are the two most important words in any endeavor. What if this job leads to bigger things? What if you added a sunroom to the house? What if that snow were actually a sunny Gulf-coast beach?

And what if all the years leading up to this day were just some sort of rehearsal for what’s yet to come? What if your very best days to this point were just a teaser of what lies ahead? What if you stopped saying “what if” and did something about it?

For every one of us, the future begins today. We can either find the magic we once saw in simple things and turn it into even greater things. We can enjoy what we’ve built to this point or build something even bigger. And if we can simply get out of our own way, we can find the same excitement in each moment that we did the first time we experienced it. It’s up to you. Make it count.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

If Retirement is So Much Fun, Why Do We Wait So Long to Get Started?

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

Well, the weekend is over and it’s time to get back to work. I hope you enjoyed a couple of days of rest. And if it wasn’t restful, I hope it was exhilarating. We spend five days each week doing the things we have to do, so it’s only fair that we should be able to spend the other two doing the things we want to do. At least part of the time.

Imagine what it would be like to sleep until you feel like getting up, and then take your time getting started each day. As you sit down for your first cup of coffee, instead of dreading the morning commute, you would run through a mental list of things you could do today. You know, fun things. Sure, there would be some errands in the mix. But imagine if your time was truly your own.

For most of us, that time comes much later in life. After we’ve done all the other things we need to do, we’ve worked our mind and body until there’s not much left, and that mental list of things we could be doing each day is interrupted by medical appointments. Once we reach that age, getting in a car to go somewhere is usually not very exciting. It’s just one more chore we have to do.

Yet, for most of us, that’s what we have to look forward to. Work for 40-50 years until you’re too tired to do anything, then cut your pay in half and sit around the house watching 24-hour news. That and sifting through the newspaper to find out if there are any familiar names in the obituaries.

It’s no wonder most young people don’t plan for retirement. Who wants to put all that on paper, and then work for several decades to achieve it? It’s a lot more fun to take those vacations while you’re still young. And why hold off on buying that fancy sports car until you’re too old to drive it? A bigger house? Get it now, before you have to pay somebody to keep it clean.

It’s that mentality that puts a lot of younger people in poor financial shape and leads them into retirement with a fraction of the savings they’ll need to survive. But, like most other things in life, we always count on things somehow getting better by the time we reach that age. The house will be paid off, we won’t have car payments, and old people eat a lot less food. Besides, there’s always the lottery.

On the other hand, I’ve met a lot of young people who decided we’re doing this all wrong, and they’ve managed to squeeze in retirement about the time most of us were just getting started in life. Instead of waiting for somebody else to tell them how much they’re worth, they decided for themselves. And, wouldn’t you know, it’s a good bit more than the rest of us get paid. Go figure.

But it’s not about how much money they make. After all, there’s only a certain quality of steak you can buy, no matter how much you want to spend. And fancy cars spend about as much time in the shop as any other car – they just cost a lot more to fix.

And here’s the thing – it doesn’t take a major windfall or rich parents to put early retirement within reach. It just takes a little extra. When you don’t have enough to pay your bills, $100 might as well be a million. But after the bills are paid, that same $100 gives you peace of mind you didn’t have before. Another $100 raises the comfort level. Double that, and you can take a nice vacation.

Most of the people I know who retired early didn’t start out making a fortune. They found a way to make a little extra, and then applied the same principles to turn that little bit into a little more. They kept doing that until the day came when their side income surpassed what they made on the job, and early retirement became a choice they could make.

Some friends were talking the other night about their doctor, who’s still working at the age of 85. He doesn’t need the money – he works because he wants to. If we’re lucky, we’ll have that option. Maybe our mind and body will still be strong enough to keep going long after others our age have been forced to stop. I sure hope so.

The important part of all this is choice – doing what you choose to do, when you choose to do it. And while that may sound like a bit of a pipe dream, that existence is closer than you may think. All it takes is a little extra. Find a way to do that, and then just keep doing it. The opportunities are there. The life you want is waiting. All you have to do is decide what’s most important.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Your Dreams Don’t Care How You Get There

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

I was thinking yesterday about the story of a man who yearned to win the lottery. Oh, the things he’d do and the places he’d go. He even turned to prayer. “Please God, let me win the lottery!” Still nothing. Week after week, his prayers went unanswered. Finally, in desperation he cried out again … “Please God! Why won’t you help me?” A booming voice from the Heavens replied, “Help me out here Jim … buy a ticket!”

We all have things we want, things we’d like to do, goals we’d like to accomplish. And sometimes, the answer is right there in front of our face and it’s so simple we don’t give it a second thought. Or worse yet, we do give it a second thought but it’s not the opportunity we were hoping for. We wanted something a little more exciting or glamorous. So, we keep waiting for the next one to come along.

Make no mistake, if your dreams rely on winning the lottery, you’re almost certainly in for some disappointment. We all know the odds. And sure, for those who win, the reward is instant. All those things they wanted are now there for the taking. And, according to statistics, within 3-5 years it’s all gone and they’re right back where they started, but with an insane amount of debt.

There’s something to be said for earning things the old-fashioned way, through work and dedication. And I think the reason we don’t like hearing that is because we’ve done it for all these years and still haven’t reached our goals. Worse yet, inflation seems to keep those goals about the same distance away with each passing year. Your pay goes up, and so does the price of your dream. Ugh!!!

So, the key is to do something different. Some people go back to school so they can increase their earnings, but most of that increase goes to pay off school loans. There are areas of the country where you can make more money for doing the same thing you do now, but the cost of living in those areas is that much higher. You could take a second job, but how long can you keep up that pace?

Again, sometimes the answer is right there in front of your face. Somebody comes along and shows you how to make a little extra money, maybe even a lot. But it’s not something you ever saw yourself doing. Maybe you’ve had friends who tried the same thing and it didn’t work for them. And how will you hold your head up when people laugh and say, “Really? That’s your plan???”

A lot of people tried to fly for centuries before the Wright Brothers ever lifted off from the dunes of North Carolina. Some of them never got off the ground. Some watched their creations disintegrate on the first take-off attempt. And some, armed with nothing more than faith and a pair of flimsy wings, fell to their demise from a cliff. For anybody with half a brain, there were plenty of reasons not to try.

And then along came two brothers from Dayton, Ohio with no more brains than the others, driven by a simple dream – to climb into a machine of their own creation, and soar with the birds. That was 116 year ago and look at where we are now. Do you think they ever imagined supersonic jets and trips to the moon? They just wanted to fly. And the dream was big enough to drive them to succeed where others had failed.

And here’s the thing – the Wright Flyer wasn’t all that different than many other early designs that never got off the ground. But they knew they were onto something and kept going where others had failed. It was the perfect combination of wingspan, airfoil design, propeller size, and even headwind, that allowed them to make that first flight of 120 feet – less than the wingspan of most airliners.

If there’s something you want, a burning dream that won’t go away, don’t hold back just because others have failed. In 61 years on this planet, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen a Rolls Royce driving down the street. But I’ve seen thousands of Ford Pintos. Does that mean only a handful of people want a Rolls? Or does it mean only a handful were willing to get one?

Opportunity knocks, but it doesn’t stand there pounding on the door until you turn off the TV, get out of your recliner, grab a drink, and make your way slowly to the door. It knocks once and then moves on. Meanwhile, you go back to the recliner waiting for a better opportunity to come along. And as you’re getting comfortable, somebody else is that much closer to your dream.

Don’t judge your possibilities by other people’s failures. You can succeed where others simply quit trying. You just have to want it more.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved