It's Only A Habit If You Want It

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

I’ve learned that I’m a morning person. Anybody who knew me forty years ago would say no way. I could sleep till noon and not even feel bad about it. Dad used to tell me I’d be late for my own funeral. I always wondered, what’s the downside to that? If the date for my funeral has already been set, I don’t see any advantage in getting there early. Just start without me.

I have to admit, though, I took sleeping late to an art. Hey, if you’re gonna do something, do it right. The only problem is, people at work have this thing they call a schedule and they sit there with a cup of coffee, staring at the clock, getting madder by the minute because Dave’s late. Like you can’t do anything till I get there? Just jump right on in. I don’t mind.

I remember standing inspection in the Navy and, as the admiral passed by, he looked at the hash mark on my lower sleeve indicating that I’d been in at least four years. Then he looked at my chest and said, “Where’s your Good Conduct Medal, sailor?” I mumbled something full of consonants that sounded vaguely like, “I dmthvon, sir.” Excuse me? “I don’t have one, sir!”

And, here’s the thing. You don’t have to do anything special to get that medal. All you have to do is stay out of trouble. I couldn’t even handle that. And with one exception that we won’t discuss here because it’s still not legal in all fifty states, every time I got in trouble it was for sleeping late.  

Alarm clock, you say? Oh, I had a bunch of those. And I wasn’t stupid enough to get one with a snooze feature. Although, I have to admit, about the sixth time that went off, my roommates would have fixed the problem for me. No, I had one with a clanging bell that’ll wake the dead. In another county. Yeah, it woke me up. Just enough to slap the button and go back to sleep.

The boss finally came up with a solution. Put Dave on night shift. Oh, that worked like a charm! I could sleep past noon and still make it to work on time. You play the hand you’re dealt, right? Only problem is, my wife still thought I was supposed to do things around the house, and that messed up my sleep cycle completely. I finally had to learn to function like a normal adult.

That all changed the day I quit smoking. Well, two days later. I woke up at six in the morning, wide awake, and fully rested. Okay, I’d gone to bed 12 hours earlier, because I found that the best way to beat the nicotine fits was to sleep through them. But something happened that day. I was awake. I had energy. I could smell things. Oh, could I smell things! Time for a shower!

From that day on, I never overslept for anything. I haven’t used an alarm clock in almost 20 years. Of course, the older you get, the less you need one anyway because sleeping is about like riding a city bus. It stops at every intersection whether it needs to or not. All you have to do is pay attention and get off at the right stop, and you’ll never be late for anything.

All through life, we change. Things that used to be a challenge are instinctive, and things that used to be instinctive are a challenge. If you’ve ever seen me try to run, you’d know that. And then along comes the doctor telling us we have to stop doing the things that got us this far in life because, apparently, where we are isn’t exactly where we should be.

Some of it is simply the aging process, and the rest is just habits – things we do without even thinking about them. And the thing with habits is that, even though they seem to be instinctive, they’re really just a behavior that’s been repeated so many times it becomes instinctive. And all it takes to change a habit is to change the behavior and then repeat it. Over, and over, and over.

There are things we can’t control, and aging is one of them. But there’s very little in our daily routine that we can’t change if the reason is strong enough. Changing a habit because somebody tells you to inevitably leads to failure. But making a change because you want to leads to another habit – the habit of success. Focus on the reason, and you’ll always reach the goal.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Get Out Of Your Head – You're Making a Mess!

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

Have you ever come up with an idea, something that excites you beyond belief, and you just can’t wait to get started? It usually happens early in the morning or later in the evening. You know, as you’re getting ready to go to work or to bed and there’s nothing you can do about it for at least eight hours. By then, you’re already starting to have doubts. Naturally!

And it’s not because the idea changed. It’s the same as it was when you first thought of it. The timing hasn’t changed, aside from the eight hours you spent talking yourself out of it. Your bank balance is pretty much the same, unless you polished off a bottle of wine as you enjoyed some late-night shopping. So, what’s different now? Why is that great idea suddenly so bad?

It’s simple. You got inside your own head and killed the dream before it even got a chance to breathe. Way to go! You just saved yourself years of agony and millions of dollars, not to mention the ridicule of all those people whose opinions matter more than your own. Thank God you came to your senses in time! This could have been a catastrophe.

So, you go back to whatever it is you were doing. You know, something you had already decided wasn’t quite good enough, which is why you came up with the idea in the first place. You wanted something better. Something that would get you out of bed every morning with a smile on your face, just thinking of all those people who said you could never do it. You rock!

And maybe the idea wasn’t perfect. It happens. But you’ll never really know unless you give it a try. And then keep trying until you get it right. From the beginning of time, people dreamed of soaring with the birds. Oh, they tried. Some with less fanfare than others. I mean, jumping off a cliff while madly flapping your arms certainly makes a statement. Yet, here we are.

Motivational speakers always tell you to be careful who you let inside your head, because people can kill your dreams. They don’t mean to. It just happens. But sometimes, the worst person you can let inside your head is yourself. If killing our own dreams were an Olympic event, some of us would have enough gold medals to fill an entire room. You should see mine.

So, why? Why is it that we look so desperately for something to make life better, and then pass on everything that comes along? Or worse yet, we get started just long enough to convince ourselves it was a bad idea to begin with, and then we share that insight with everybody we know. “Don’t fall for that one. I tried!” No, you didn’t. All you did was trip over the first excuse.

But if clear the clutter out of the way, you can usually see past the negativity. Sometimes, the one thing that stops us from moving forward on anything is other people. We like to think we’re free spirits, but we rely on other people’s opinions like a teenager relies on their cell phone battery. What will they say? They’ll laugh. I just know it! How will I ever hold my head up again?

Well, get a clue. Unless they’re paying your bills, they don’t have an opinion – all they have are excuses. And the whole time you’re licking your wounds and wondering why this just didn’t work, they’re sitting in front of the TV with a beer, never giving it a second thought. Not because you let them get inside your head – because you let yourself get inside.

Until we can take ownership of our failures, we can never get on the path to success. And those failures begin and end inside our own head. The path may stray outside for others to dump their litter, but once we accept that litter as our own, the dream begins to die.

Other people can only litter your path with the garbage you give them. If you throw it away yourself, they’ll never get the chance. It’s your dream. It’s your life. It’s your head. You set the rules. And as long as you play by those rules, you’ll always come out on top.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Choking on Change? Take Smaller Bites

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

I think today I need to do a little research on inflammation. Something is causing my belly to swell. And before you go where we both know you’re about to go, I’m not gaining weight. Okay, I’m 12 pounds higher than I was a month ago, but I’m not gaining now. At least not since yesterday. So, it must be some kind of allergic reaction to something I ate. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

When I put my pants on this morning, or rather, when I tried to put my pants on this morning, the buttonhole had moved to the left. Not that much, but enough to make me twist and dance. An inch may not seem like much when you’re measuring area rugs, but it may as well be a mile when you’ve bent over, sucked in everything, and you’re still an inch short in getting your pants buttoned.

And they don’t make buttonhole extenders to close that gap. If you get on a plane and you’re too fat to buckle your seatbelt, they’ve got extenders for that. Not that I would know from personal experience. I guess I could just put on a belt and tighten it up like a noose. Then if I put on a really long shirt, nobody would know, right? If I had a shirt that long. They all shrunk. Don’t say it.

But it can be dangerous wearing clothing that’s a little too tight. And no, ladies, I’m not talking to you. Tight is good (to an extent). But if you have a body like mine, don’t do it. I was in a meeting once, wearing a dress shirt that was a little too snug, and when I reached for my pen a button popped off. I don’t mean it fell off and landed in my lap. It shot across the table so everybody could see.

Shirt buttons are relatively harmless in that regard, but if the metal button on my jeans were to fly off, especially under that much pressure, it could bring down a small plane. And never mind how many times I’ve sat down at work to the welcome sound of thread popping in the seat of my pants.

Yes, I need to go shopping. The problem is, most stores only carry clothing in “common” sizes, and apparently, I’ve reached the lower end of the “uncommon” bracket. No, I’m not huge. Well, depending on who’s standing next to me. I look pretty big next to those hardbodies in the gym, but next to Rush Limbaugh, I’d be invisible. Maybe I just need to make some new friends.

Okay all joking aside (well, most) the bottom line is I need to lose some weight. I’ve been saying that for several years, if you define “several” in terms of decades. This all started when I got out of the Navy, and it shot through the roof when I quit smoking. I remember my doctor telling me he’d rather I were 100 pounds overweight than smoking. All my brain took from that conversation was I had another 50 pounds to go.

And, before anybody says “Keto,” just don’t. In study after study (you know, those not paid funded companies selling pork rinds and cheese sticks), the Keto diet ranks dead last or close to it in terms of safety, heart health, usability, and bad breath. Okay, I threw that last one in from personal experience. Anybody who’s ever experienced “Keto breath” knows what I’m talking about.

So, the first order of business this morning is to buy a bigger pair of jeans. Thankfully there’s a Walmart nearby and nobody will even notice my pajamas. Then, I have to get serious about taking this weight off. Not the 12 pounds I’ve gained, but the whole enchilada. There I go talking about food again.

Losing weight is hard. Like anything else in life, it means doing something differently – making changes that you know you should make, but wish you didn’t have to. And we face lots of those decisions all through life. It’s easier if you set a goal and then work toward it. But I won’t lie, the goal alone doesn’t make the change any easier. Success, even just a little, makes the difference.

It’s okay to set a big goal, with the end result clearly in sight. But break that goal down into smaller, more manageable bites (food again), and celebrate those small wins. With each one, you’ll become that much more confident you can make it to the end. Focus on the small wins, and the bigger ones will come. Make that your goal for today. I did. But first, I need to go shopping.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

What Makes You So Special?

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

One of the things that amuses me most about kids is their perception of “fair.” It’s not fair they have to go to bed. It’s not fair they have to do homework while the other kids are playing. It’s not fair they have to clean their own room. It’s not fair that they only get one shot of bourbon in their sippy cup. Okay, that last one may not be entirely legal, but tell me you’ve never considered it.

As toddlers, we learn about fair play quickly. What’s yours is mine, and what’s mine is mine. We share. Toys, germs, broccoli, and mom’s lipstick. Funny, mom is all about sharing until you start sifting through her purse. And the other kids? Well, it depends who’s bigger. When you’re the little guy, you share. Everyone else receives. Those are the rules.

Somehow, we carry this slanted idea of fairness into adulthood. When I joined the Navy, I didn’t think it was fair that I was always the one to clean toilets. Nobody else took their turn. I mean, they had no qualms about using those toilets, but I was the one who got stuck cleaning them. No fair!!! Okay, I never actually said that. I only look stupid. Besides, there were lots of other toilets on that ship.

But then I put a couple of stripes on my sleeve, and things changed. All of a sudden, I got to sit there and sip coffee while the new guy got stuck cleaning toilets. And the whole time his face was screaming “no fair!” I did my best to hide my smile. Fair? You bet it is! Go get yourself some stripes! That’s your job now! Until the new guy goes on vacation. Then … well, you know. “Oh, Daaave!!!”

It’s that warped sense of fairness that holds us back in real life. On the job, in relationships, in society, and in business. We expect to be treated fairly. And we may even try to set a good example, but only until somebody else gives us the shaft. “Leftovers again??? And you think I’m gonna fix the brakes on your car? Yeah, hand me the toolbox!” Okay, in my defense, she never actually hit anything.

On the other side of that equation is the notion of entitlement. You want something, some form of reward that you haven’t yet achieved. Maybe it’s a promotion or a new job. Maybe it’s a bigger house. It could be as simple as a weekend without the company cell phone, or as grand as a new boat. But, do you really deserve it? I mean, everybody else would like a little of that action, too. Right?

One of the biggest things that holds us back from reaching our full potential is the feeling that we’re no more deserving of that success than anybody else. It’s hard to look a person in the eye when they’ve been working in the same job as you for the past ten years and, two years in, you’re applying for a promotion. Why you? How is that fair to them? You almost feel guilty even trying.

No matter what it is you want to accomplish, the first thing you have to get past is that feeling that you may not deserve it. Unless you break the law or sacrifice your moral values along the way, you deserve whatever level of success you can achieve. And if you do step outside the law, you still get what you deserve. Try looking the judge in the eyes and crying, “No fair!” I dare you.

Beyond that, if you’re willing to take a risk, make the sacrifices, do the work, and put up with other people’s BS along the way, you deserve whatever your heart desires. And what about that other person? Well, they could have the same thing as you. In fact, once you achieve your goals, you can show them how. Sometimes we do more for others simply by leading the way.

There is nothing in this world that is above your level of privilege. Sure, if you were born into a “normal” family you may have to work a little harder. But that only means you’ll appreciate your success that much more. Never sell out your dreams simply because you’re not sure you’re worthy. You are. Get that in your head now, and there’s not much that can ever hold you back.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Embrace Your Starting Point … Even If It Sucks

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

Yesterday I went back to the gym for the first time in (inaudible mumbling) days. Okay weeks. Alright, months. Let’s just air it all out right now. It’s been less than a year, so that’s where I’m stopping. And don’t ask when I was there last because I’m not even sure the YMCA computers keep records that long. Let’s just say it’s been a while.

This isn’t part of a New Year’s resolution. It’s more about spending too many hours sitting around the house every day. And that whimper I hear from the bathroom scale every morning. Last time I stepped on it the digital display just said “ERR”. I guess that beats “OUCH” but not by much.

Add in several years of lower back pain that’s getting worse with time, and the fact that I have to pay my grandson to carry a couple of 40-pound bags of salt to the basement, and it’s painfully obvious I have to do something. The only problem is they expect you to pick those weights up by yourself, and there isn’t a motorized exercise bike in the place. Only a set of pedals. Seriously?

The treadmill would be great, but you can’t just stand there. I’ve seen too many videos of what happens when people fall behind on that device, and it’s not pretty. But there is some perverse sense of satisfaction in standing with your feet on the side rails and watching the display rack up the miles. I can burn off 6,000 calories without even breaking a sweat.

Okay, we all know it takes a little more effort than that. I joke about fitness and my weight because it beats crying about it. And I think we all need to do that a little more. There’s nothing worse than trying to get out of a yoga pose as some anorexic diva complains about her belly fat. The first step toward self-improvement is accepting yourself just as you are. Only then can you get better.

We all have our own starting point, no matter what it is we’re trying to accomplish. For some, that starting point is at least a few degrees better than most of us would be thrilled with as a final goal. And that’s okay. I can’t set their goals any more than they can set mine. We can set expectations, but those are imposed. Kind of like the boss telling you when an assignment is due.

And make no mistake, those expectations have to be met. But in terms of goals, they’re little more than a mandate by somebody who’s less interested in your priorities than their own. On the job, that’s to be expected. Needs of the company have to be met. But off the job, we need to set our own expectations. And once we’ve established those expectations, they need to become goals.

The key is to approach those goals as if you’re being paid to succeed. And in every sense of the word, you are. But ask yourself at the end of the day if you met the expectations of the job. If you were paying yourself to do this, would you still have a job tomorrow? Or would you be sitting outside the boss’ office with a herd of penguins doing a Texas two-step in your belly? Be honest.

No matter what personal goals you hope to accomplish, start with these two truths in mind. First, you are perfectly acceptable just as you are. You don’t have to measure up to anybody else’s standard. And second, you have the ability to do anything you desire. Whether it’s fitness, weight loss, improved health, a stronger relationship, or increased wealth, it’s waiting to be claimed.

The ability to laugh at your predicament is a healthy start to working toward improvement, because it means you’ve accepted the reality of that situation. You’re not kidding yourself or anybody else. From there, it’s just a matter of deciding which way you want to go. The only thing standing in your way is your own desire. Okay, and a few non-motorized exercise machines.

If you want the machines (or the world) to move, you need to do the pushing. You can do this.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You Can't Fail If You Don't Try

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

No, I didn’t drop off the face of the earth. No, my account wasn’t hacked by a political troll. I didn’t have my morning coffee until mid-afternoon yesterday, so that’s my defense against anything I may have said or done that made a few heads spin. But I know you’re my friends, and if my lack of coffee went further than I’m aware, I’m sure I can count on you for bail money.

It’s the first Monday in a new month. For those of us in the northern hemisphere, that would be the dead of winter. I’ve often wondered why people south of the equator don’t just advance the calendar six months so we can all dread February equally. Or maybe we should just turn our calendar back six months, though enough people whine about August already. I’m not sure I could handle that.

This is typically a week when those of us who made resolutions take a few moments to reinforce our goals. That’s not to say we’ll do anything more about it – we just admit we blew it and remind ourselves why it was important in the first place. For another week or two, most local gyms will still be pretty well packed. But by mid-month, all those workout clothes will be in a Goodwill bag.

I have to say I’ve done pretty well with my resolutions so far. Granted, cutting certain words out of your vocabulary isn’t that great an accomplishment, especially when you’re not out in morning traffic every day. But I’m trying. I had a few others as well, and I’m hitting about 50% on those. Half the battle is recognizing where you’re falling short. But the other half is doing something about it.

We make a big deal about New Year’s resolutions, but they’re really no different than any other goal we may set during the year. So let’s stop calling them resolutions and just call them what they are … pipe dreams. Okay, goals. Some would say the two are about the same, but I say there’s one big distinction between the two. Intent. Premeditation. The willingness to see it through.

A goal without a plan is just a dream, and a plan without action is somebody else’s roadmap to success. And years down the road, we’ll tell people, “I had an idea about that once, but I failed.” No, you didn’t. You can’t fail if you don’t try. And that’s what stops most of us from taking that first step. Inaction is life’s only certain hedge against failure. It’s also a guarantee against success.

Which brings me to an important point. The absence of failure doesn’t mean you’ve succeeded, and the absence of success doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Read that again. You can’t fail until you stop trying, but success will still take a little more effort. And as long as you’re in the hunt for success, you haven’t failed. Both are absolutes at opposite ends of the spectrum. Action is what lies between.

So, try this. Find the most obnoxious person you know and share your goals with them. Tell them the great things you’ll do in the coming year, and then sit back and await the inevitable barrage of criticism. Then do yourself the best favor you possibly can. Succeed. Not just a little, but all the way. If for no other reason, than to rub their big fat nose in it. By then you’ll be able to afford the protection.

A goal is simply a dream with a due date. But as long as you’re willing to give yourself a free pass on that due date, it’ll never happen. Figure out what needs to be done and do it. See it through to the very end. And if it still doesn’t work, at least you’ll have earned the right to say you failed. But odds are, you’ll be telling a completely different story.

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