Success Rewards Consistent Effort

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

You know how you go to the grocery store just to pick up that special flavor of ice cream, only to find they’re sold out? That happens a lot at my local store. They’ll have forty-two varieties of cheese puffs, but not the brand I want.  Any more, I just take my shopping list to the Customer Service desk and tell them, “Here’s a bunch of stuff you don’t have. Trust me.”

It’s pretty much the same when you head south to escape the cold and the cold follows you south. Sure, it’s not snowing, but nighttime temperatures have been below freezing almost every day, and the furnace needs an all-night babysitter. Every morning the windows are iced over – on the inside. Manufacturing defect, they say. I have another name for it.

There are just times in your life when you expect things to be a certain way, and anything less is unacceptable. Not disappointing, because that suggests that maybe you expected too much to begin with. You know, like it’s your fault. Unacceptable means somebody, or something else is completely to blame. You got the shaft, and karma isn’t the least bit sorry about it.

Karma … there’s a word we use a lot. It usually means somebody is about to have a bad day. It’s a form of retribution for something we’ve done to somebody else, and we can’t even blame them when it happens, because they had nothing to do with it. You know, other than praying for karma to teach us a lesson. Try proving that one in court.

But karma sometimes works the other way around. Do nice things for people enough times in your life, and somehow nice things will come your way. Help enough other people to succeed, and success smiles on you. Put in a little extra effort every day on the job, and eventually the right people will notice. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but it’ll happen.

Karma, if you break it down to basic terms, simply means what goes around comes around. Good things happen to good people. If you live by the sword, you die by the sword. You reap what you sow. I could probably quote a few other tidbits of karmic wisdom, but you get the point. Life’s rewards are usually proportional to the effort we put in. Usually.

That doesn’t mean it you’re a good person, the store will always have your favorite kind of ice cream, or that the sun will break through every cloud just because you deserve it. Nice people suffer heartache and disappointment like anybody else. And just because a person is having a run of bad luck, that doesn’t mean they deserve it.

But success generally comes to those who pursue it the most. That doesn’t mean they work harder or faster, or that they invest more money than the rest of us. It simply means they work with a level of consistent determination that will not be denied. Go to one store, and they may not have the ice cream you want. Go to enough stores, and somebody is bound to have it.

It’s the law of averages. If you do the right thing enough times, sooner or later it’ll pay off. How many times? Well, unless you can give a definitive answer to that question, you need to try at least a few more times. The answer is different for each of us, and for each different goal we pursue. Even with the weather, sooner or later it’ll turn nice. Even if you live in Alaska.

If you have a dream, or maybe even just a simple goal, you know what it takes to achieve it. You know the things you need to do. Sure, you can buy a lottery ticket and hope for the best, but odds are you’ll get there a lot faster if you consistently do the things that need to be done.

Success never comes fast enough when there’s something we want. And “law of averages” is the last thing you want to hear when you keep running into roadblocks. But, as a friend often says, nine out of ten things we try will never work, but that last one will make you rich.

Is ten times enough? Fifteen? Twenty? The only way you’ll answer that question is to keep trying. But if you stop after the first try, or the first store, or the first week at a southern destination, you’ll never know what may be waiting just around the bend. If the dream is worth having, then give it a fighting chance. You may be closer than you think. That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You Can Only Achieve What You’re Willing to Change

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

I think it was Mark Twain who said everybody complains about the weather, but nobody is doing anything about it. I thought about that yesterday as I drove for six hours through varying intensities of rain, only to arrive at our destination in time for the tornado warnings to go off. And I did pretty much the same thing everybody else does when that happens. I hunkered down and prayed.

And the whole time, I was thinking about family and friends in the great white north, battling blizzard conditions on top of a bed of ice. It sure makes the rain a little more palatable. In fact, if it were a little warmer, I might have gone outside to dance in the rain. I’m kidding. Anybody who has ever seen me dance knows how that would end. “Group, this is Dave. He’s going to be here awhile.”

But, back to the original issue – we complain about the weather, but we never do anything about it. You know, except complain more. “It’s too hot! It’s too cold! It’s muggy! I’m freezing! Who can drive in this stuff?” Whine, whine, whine. And we’re good at it, too!

The point Mark Twain was trying to make is that there’s nothing we can do about the weather. I beg to differ. We can move. Having lived in two completely different climates, I’ll take hot over cold any day. Never once have I had to go outside and shovel sunshine. Besides, that’s why God made swimming pools.

Yet, when you suggest that to somebody who’s miserable in their current surroundings, they can immediately come up with a laundry list of reasons why change isn’t practical. “This is where my roots are. I hate my job, but it pays the bills. The house is too small, but it’s all I can afford. Besides, the kids …” Yeah, if all else fails, blame it on the kids. They’re not listening anyway.

Change is hard. It’s scary. It’s stressful. It takes planning, and preparation, and accepting the possibility of failure. “What if I end up worse off than I am now?” That’s a very real fear, and not without basis. Failure doesn’t just happen on its own. We have to try something first, and sometimes we crash & burn. That’s all part of it.

Would a new job offer better possibilities than the one you have today? Maybe. Could the company decide to restructure and get rid of all the new folks? Yep. It happens every day. The same is true of just about any change we decide to make, whether it’s moving to another state, taking a promotion, starting a business, or buying a car. All you can do is roll the dice and hope for the best.

Change never comes without risk. Get over it. If you want safe & sound, just keep doing what you’ve been doing. At least you can count on that, right? Until the company shuts down, the market crashes, a tornado wipes out the neighborhood, or somebody pretends to be you and cleans out the bank. I don’t worry about that one. If anybody ever steals my identity, they’ll give it back. Trust me.

Sure, change is scary. Almost as scary as staying the same. The most successful people in the world have dreams, things they’d like to achieve or some change that would make life even better. The difference is, they’ve already embraced change, which is why they’re so successful to begin with. Success isn’t a talent we’re born with. It’s a mindset we develop over the course of a lifetime.

Success is nothing more than some level of dissatisfaction with the way things are, and a willingness to do something about it. Every modern convenience was borne of somebody’s dissatisfaction with the status quo. Every job was created because somebody saw a need and did something to fill it. And every beach house was built because somebody said, “That’s where I want to live!”

If there’s something you want, some change that would make life more enjoyable, what are you waiting for? Do something about it! I’m not suggesting you just chuck it all, abandon the house, and go live on the beach. But if living on the beach fits your dreams, then make it happen. Save some money. Start a business. Find a better job. Put the wheels in motion today. That part you can control.

Change makes all things possible. Roadblocks turn into speed bumps and obstacles become launch pads. We may not be able to choose the changes that are required, but we can decide which ones we’re willing to make. Embrace change, and destiny is no longer a matter of fate – it’s whatever we want it to be.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Don’t Just Change Your Habits – Replace Them

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

I made a commitment to myself at the beginning of the year. I don’t call it a resolution, because in 1998 I resolved to never make a New Year’s resolution again. It’s the one time I’ve been able to follow through beyond January 10, and I’m not about to give in now.

So, this one is technically a commitment. Okay, it’s more of a pipe dream, because so far I haven’t done a single thing to accomplish this goal. One look at my waistline and you’ll be able to guess what it entails. I want to start eating healthy and lose some weight. You know, in the sense that “some weight” can be interpreted to mean “something around 100 pounds.” Give or take a few.

I’ve promised myself I’d make these changes since a few weeks after Moses parted the waters. I’ve made that vow every time my pants slip below the biggest part of my belly and head for the floor. I’ve said it every time my lower back spontaneously combusts from standing in a checkout line. Okay, I say it every time I have to bend over and tie my shoes. Some days I’m happy to just sit up.

And, don’t get me wrong. I am trying. Well, I intend to. You know, right after the potato chips and Twizzlers are gone. I had oatmeal for breakfast yesterday. Does that count? I mean, come on. Any time you can get somebody this big to skip the bacon and eggs for a single serving of oatmeal, that should be worth six pounds by itself. How many healthy things do I need to eat?

I have good intentions, and I know the things I need to do. I just have trouble putting it into practice. It’s like the guy who goes into McDonalds and orders two Big Macs, a large order of fries, an apple pie, and a diet soda. If you think I’m joking, you should see me make a salad. It starts off healthy. But by the time I’m done adding eggs, bacon bit, cheese, and creamy dressing, it might as well be a hot fudge sundae.

It all comes down to habits. Years ago, I lost almost forty pounds by making small changes over time, changes I could live with for the long haul. There were some food substitutions, like egg whites instead of whole eggs, rye bread instead of white, and meal bars instead of fast food. Throw in a little portion control, and the pounds started slowly coming off.

What happened? Well, my new habits gave way to old ones. When my youngest granddaughter was born, we spent the better part of a week going to the hospital every day after work, and it was dinnertime, and there was a Wendy’s on the way and … well, you get the picture. Within six months, my all that “lost” weight magically reappeared.

Anybody who thinks habits are hard to form has never given in to a habit they’d previously broken. I smoked cigarettes for 23 years. And, like most things I do, I didn’t smoke just a little. The day before I quit, I smoked three full packs. And truly, that’s been the one bad habit I broke without ever going back. Quitting was easy. I did it six times.

The last time was 23 years ago, and so far, I haven’t gone back. There’s one simple reason. I know that, for the rest of my life, I’ll be a chain-smoker in remission. And one cigarette is all it would take to undo two decades of success. Habits are that strong. They’re like an ex-girlfriend you can never seem to shake. And all it takes is a single text message to get the whole thing started again.

Breaking an old habit isn’t enough. We have to form new habits to take their place. And the new habit needs to be one that doesn’t leave us feeling empty or deprived. If I were to give up fried chicken forever, that decision would be doomed to failure. It just isn’t going to happen. But I can use an air fryer instead of a deep fryer. I can cut it down to one piece instead of four, and monthly instead of weekly.

The first step is identifying the unhealthy or counter-productive habit we want to change. Then we have to find something to take its place. And it doesn’t even have to be a direct substitute. Like putting away the leftovers after a meal instead of leaving them out for a grazing. Taking a walk instead of an after-dinner drink. Or reading a book instead of surfing the internet.

Habits are simply our default response to a given situation. But defaults can be changed any time they no longer support our needs and needs change every time we dare to dream. Match your habits to your needs, and every dream becomes that much more attainable.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Turn the Impossible Into the Inevitable

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

Normally at the start of a new week we’re full of anticipation about all the great things we’ll accomplish. Okay, more like mixed feeling about all the things we’ll witness. After last week, I think we’ll all be content to make it to Friday intact. Let’s face it, some parents go into the school year knowing they’ll never receive that congratulatory letter from the principal about their kid’s scholastic achievements.

It’s all about expectations – those visions we have of a certain outcome based on what we’ve seen to this point in time. Both of my daughters were capable of honor-roll performance, and I had a strong desire that they’d always do their best. But there were those days when I was happy just to see them get on the bus. You learn to accept life’s little blessings as they come.

I was listening to a motivational speaker a few days ago, and he talked about the progression of our expectations. Very often, new ideas immediately go into that circular file labeled “impossible.” The objections start before the idea is fully developed. “There’s no way this can work! If it were that easy, everybody would be doing it!” Giving up is easy when we don’t have any skin in the game.

But then we give it a second look, and maybe even test the water just a bit. It’s like a baby standing next to a coffee table, letting go for a few seconds at a time. It’s a leap of faith, backed by a lifetime of experience that says, “Sure, other people are doing it, so it’s not impossible. But in my case, it’s improbable. I’m just not as smart, or as strong, or as (insert your favorite attribute here) as they are.”

This would be a good place to examine why we consider new ideas in the first place. We don’t change the things we do simply for the sake of change. We have a goal. It could be as simple as finding an easier way to do a routine task, or as grand as achieving a lifelong dream. And a lifetime of experience has taught us that doing exactly what we’ve been doing isn’t producing the desired result.

Something needs to change. But that same lifetime of experiences is nagging at us the whole time, adjusting our expectations to nothing more than we’ve come to know. “What makes me think I can do this? What I want is for special people, and I’m not that special. Besides, I’ve lived my whole life without it.” Sound familiar? It’s a self-defeating attitude that seeks to avoid any form of disappointment.

But if the goal is strong enough, we give in and take that first step. We may keep one hand on the table, because we know how easily we can fall. But lo and behold, here we are still standing! The floor didn’t rise up to slap us, and odds are if we try another step, we may succeed yet again. This isn’t just possible, it’s probable! Sure, we’ll fall down. But the odds of success are moving into our corner.

Finally, we enter the realm of “inevitable.” You do something enough times to realize that, as long as you keep taking the right steps, you will eventually end up where you want to be. It’s no longer a matter of luck – it’s a law of nature. Success isn’t something you have to control. It happens because you’ve put something in motion that you can’t stop. All you have to do is meet it at the other end.

As we begin a new week, it’s inevitable that we’ll encounter experiences over the next few days that we can’t begin to anticipate. Some will be good, some not so good. And a lot of that depends on our expectations. If we expect good things, good things happen. We’ll still encounter our share of challenges, but challenges are a lot easier to manage when you expect to win.

I’ve said this before, but a professional baseball player expects to get a hit every time they step up to the plate. It doesn’t matter that, two-thirds of the time, they have to take that lonely walk back to the dugout. They’ve felt success. They know what’s possible. And they know that, as long as they stand at the plate and swing at enough good pitches, a base hit is inevitable. Maybe even a home run.

Focus on the dream and do the things you need to do. Nothing is impossible if even one other person has done it, and it’s only improbable if you don’t give it an honest try. That only leaves two other possibilities – probable, and inevitable. Expect great things this week, and great things are that much more likely to happen. Stare down that fastball and swing for the fences. Then get ready to run!

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

Not Until You Eat Your Brussels Sprouts!

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

Well, it’s been a week. I know, understatement of the century. That’s a nice way to avoid the more descriptive response, one that involves a legendary British detective and a lack of manure. Don’t spend too much time thinking about that one. I already did.

Thankfully, this week is coming to an end. Hopefully it’s not an indication of what 2021 has in store for us. If it’s any comfort, a year ago we welcomed the New Year with reasonably mild weather, no pandemic (that we knew of yet), and little more than a mild hangover to remind us of the preceding year. Then it all went to hell.

So, maybe this year will work in reverse. Get the bad stuff out of the way now so we can get to the good stuff that much sooner. You know, like those steamed Brussels sprouts for dinner. Mom didn’t make dessert very often, but every time she did, dinner included something I wouldn’t feed a skunk. I tricked her. I came to enjoy liver. I just never let her know it.

There’s something to be said for paying our dues and earning life’s rewards. There’s something to be said for skipping some of that obnoxious stuff, too. I’ve often said the best way to cook spinach is with coconut oil. It’s a lot easier to scrape into the trash that way.

Okay, if you’ve ever seen me try to run, you can fully appreciate the result of that thinking. I’ve always been one who wants to skip right to the good stuff and pay my dues later. You know, way later. Like when I’m too old to enjoy the fun stuff and don’t have anything else to fill my days. Besides, old people have to read books and eat healthy stuff. That’s the law.

Well, here’s the thing. Somewhere along the way, I got old. It happened while I was sleeping, because I certainly didn’t notice it while I was awake. I was too busy partying. I always figured we live life backward anyway. Retirement should come first, while you’re still young enough to enjoy it, and then you work yourself into an early grave. Okay, the first part sounds nice.

Of course, life has other plans. As long as there are bills to pay, kids to feed, and nobody is willing to send me to exotic locations so I can write about them in my spare time, the work part has to come first. And believe me, it has. When I got my first job at the age of 15, Mom tried to talk me out of it. “Once you start working, you’ll work the rest of your life.” File that one with “Don’t spit into the wind.”

Yes, Mom knew exactly what she was talking about. Aside from a few very brief periods of unemployment, I’ve been working nonstop for 48 years. When you’re 15, that’s inconceivable. Besides, by the age of 19 I was supposed to be a rock star and I’d have paid servants to do all that other work.

Well, strangely enough, it rarely works out that way. Most of us will work most of our lives, whether as a paid employee or an even harder working slave to the home. That’s just the way it goes. And if we want that phase of our life to end early and yield to a more relaxing and recreational existence, we have to eat a few extra servings of pungent green vegetables along the way.

It would be nice if we could just wave a magic wand and skip right to the good stuff. Or even put in a few hours of extra work and suddenly find success. But it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes, we have to beat our head against a brick wall for a long time before we see any appreciable results. And maybe that’s too much to ask. If so, modify your dreams. It’s really that simple.

But if there’s something you want, something you don’t have the ability to accomplish this instant, then resign yourself to the fact that you’ll have to work for it. The sooner that work begins, in earnest, the sooner that dream will materialize.

And here’s the thing – if you focus too heavily on results, especially in the beginning, frustration sets in and success becomes that much more elusive. Focus on the goal, and just do the work that needs to be done. It doesn’t matter if you got the desired results today, or any day. Success isn’t linear, and it doesn’t have to be. It just has to happen.

If you have a clear dream, you know the things you need to be doing. Get through the hard part now, and you’ll be enjoying the reward that much sooner. 

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Don’t Stop Now – You May Be Closer Than You Think

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

“Trust me.” Those two words can evoke a multitude of different emotions, largely dependent on who’s doing the talking. “You have nothing to worry about. Everything will be alright.” Are you feeling that little twitch in the pit of your stomach? It usually means one of two things. Either there truly is nothing to fear, or we’ve completely overlooked the most immediate danger. That last one can bite hard.

As I shut down for the day last Thursday, I did so knowing that my employment contract was expiring in a few short hours. I also knew a contract extension was in the works, but not yet formalized. You know how these things go. Nobody is in a hurry until the clock runs out. Unless you’re the one waiting for some reasonable assurance you still have a job. Then it can’t happen quickly enough.

For what it’s worth, I’m planning to continue working this week, with only intestinal reassurance that I’ll continue to be paid. Yes, it’s a leap of faith. But I believe in my managers, even when they utter those dreaded words, “Trust me.” Sometimes, you have to look beyond the obvious and have confidence in what’s waiting down the road. Like dessert. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

I have little doubt most of you came into the new year with dreams for a brighter future. Hopefully you’ve transformed some of those dreams into actionable goals. You know, specific tasks you plan to accomplish by some self-imposed deadline. Unless your goal is simply to pay this months’ bills. In that case, the deadline has been pretty much established for you.

Okay, so let’s assume you have a goal. Now all you have to do is sit back and wait for it to magically happen, right? You know, it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve tried that approach, it never seems to work. I guess I’m just not wishing hard enough. I know what I want is attainable, because I’ve met people who have done it and they’re no smarter than me. Yet, they all say the same thing. Get busy!

Then they utter those dreaded words – “Trust me, Dave. Keep doing the work and the results will come.” Okay, when? Next week? Next month? Next year? And please, while we’re at it, define “results.” Seems to me failure is one of two possible results. Sure, success is another possibility, but between the two there are a whole lot of other potential outcomes. Which one is at the end of my rainbow?

If you nodded your head even once in those last two paragraphs, welcome to my world. Trust is a difficult thing, especially when what you want is pretty far out there and you’re not seeing immediate results. And then, as if you needed any discouragement at all, you can always count on somebody you admire to rub a little salt on the wound. “Are you still wasting your time with that? Get a life!”

Well, the best things in life don’t always come easily. In fact, the greater the reward, the harder you’ll have to work to achieve it. And you may never fully achieve the exact level of success you desire. If you want guarantees, send in a stale bag of chips for a refund. But one thing you can be sure of – unless you’re willing to put forth some extra effort, you’ve already reached the pinnacle of your success.

It was Thomas Jefferson who said that to have something you’ve never had you must do something you’ve never done. What old Tom forgot to mention is that, more often than not, you have to keep doing it. If you’ve ever played a musical instrument, you understand this concept. If you’ve ever allowed your kid to pick up a violin or brass instrument in the confines of your home, your reward is in Heaven.

It’s not enough to just take the first step. You have to keep on stepping. At first, it feels like you’re just spinning your wheels. Nothing goes according to plan. But, as a friend often says, ninety percent of what you try will never work, but that other ten percent will make you rich. And here’s the thing – none of us can control when that ten percent kicks in. It happens when it happens.

It’s hard to keep going when you’re not seeing results. Sometimes you have to work through a lot of failures to find success, and success almost never comes on a linear path. There will be curves, potholes, detours, and roadblocks, but the journey continues as long as you keep trying. Trust yourself and trust your plan. It may not happen as quickly as you’d hoped. But none of that matters once you get there.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

New Year, New Day … It’s How You Use It That Counts

Good morning, and happy New Year’s Eve!  I’m not sure we EVER thought it would get here.  Hope your day is off to a great start.

I’ve had a lot of fun reading the humorous (and sometimes not-so-humorous) farewells to 2020 on social media. It sure beats the political discourse that seems to work its way into every conversation from thunderstorms to family recipes. Well, call me old-fashioned, but I’d rather see pictures of puppies. Okay, and I watch Hallmark movies, too. So there.

Now that I’ve officially crumpled up my “man card,” let’s move on. It was faded anyway. But this is the last day of the year. It’s the day we bid farewell to what has, for most of us, been one of the worst years ever. And it’s my last chance to write something meaningful (if not at least a little funny) this year. Starting tomorrow, I get 365 chances to get it right. Buckle up!

Like many of you, I had things I needed to get done this year that just never floated to the top of the pile. As a consequence, I get to go outside today in near-freezing weather and finish up a couple of those chores. Every warm day we’ve had this winter somehow got filled with other things. You know, like sitting in front of the TV in my pajamas. Now I have to pay the piper.

Looking back on this year, it hasn’t been nearly as bad for us as it could have been. I got hired into my current job a week after the nation shut down for Covid, and I’m still employed today – “today” being the operative word.  My contract expires in 14 hours, so all bets are off on whether it gets renewed in time. Guess I’m not the only one who didn’t get it all done in 2020.

As we reach this point in the year, most of us are saying pretty much the same thing. “I had the best of intentions, but life just got in the way. Other stuff came up, time was short, and I just didn’t get it all done. But I did my best!” Uh huh. So, if we gave it our very best this year, what makes us think next year will be that much better? “Because it won’t be 2020 anymore!”

It’s easy to view external factors as the driving force behind success and failure. Oh, we like to take credit for accomplishments, but when it comes to something that didn’t go quite right, it’s a lot easier to look for a scapegoat. And believe me, with 2020 behind us, finding a scapegoat is a piece of cake. It’s right there in living color. So what?

Let’s get real for a moment. 2021 is just a number. It’s one year in our lives that begins in less than a day. Will tomorrow be magically different just because you can write a new number on your checks? If you’re like me, you’ll get that wrong for a month anyway. But what about the day after tomorrow, and the days after that? We can’t blame 2020 forever.

Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Seems I’ve heard that somewhere before. We don’t need a new year, a new month, or even a new day to start working toward our dreams. Tomorrow is a figment of your imagination. It’s the day that never comes, because once it gets here, it’s “today.” Okay, that was a lot funnier in the second grade. But you get the point.

That said, we do have one shot at beginning a new year and a new day all at the same time. After that, you have to wait another year. And given that a good percentage of the world will be hung-over by this time tomorrow, I’m betting all those plans for the new year will come with a headache-induced caveat … “tomorrow.” Yep. Tomorrow. The day that never comes.

So, try something different this year. Start now. Get your plans in order and start filling in dates on the calendar. Do it early, before you spike the eggnog. Go to sleep with your dreams clearly in focus. Then, when you wake up tomorrow, pick up those plans and get moving. “But nothing is open on New Year’s Day!” Perfect. That means no distractions. Just you and your goal.

If you’ve been waiting for the new year to begin, it’s here. Make the most of it. Use all 365 days to accomplish your dreams. My hope for each of you is that, at the end of 2021, you can say, “There goes one of the best years of my life. Not because it was an inherently good year, but because I made it so.” Then, take a bow and have a drink. You’ve earned it.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Don’t Just Look Ahead – Look Forward

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

It’s hard to believe this year is almost over. I read a post last night that said the way this year has gone, after 11:59 pm tomorrow, the clocks will change to 11:60 and just keep going from there.  It’s like all those butter-tub leftovers in Mom’s refrigerator. Some of those things are NEVER going away.

On the other hand, woe be to the person who dares to open one up, especially if the lid is bulging. You take those things straight to the dumpster, in tongs, at arm’s length, and still wear protective clothing. I think that’s the way 2020 will be. Throw it out and don’t dare take a peek to see what you missed. You can thank me later.

It’s been said that there’s a reason the windshield is a lot bigger than the rearview mirror. I guess that means what’s coming is more important than what’s passed. Besides, if there’s a semi with no brakes coming from behind, it’ll fill that mirror soon enough. And when you stop spinning, whatever was in the rearview may be in the windshield. Then it’s important again.

On the other hand, I once rode a rollercoaster where the trains on one track were facing backward. A mirror sure would have been nice there. Not that it would have done any good, because once you start up that first hill, you’re just along for the ride anyway. Oddly enough, it was a smoother ride not seeing what was coming. Facing forward, I always got beat up.

Sometimes, not seeing the future is a blessing. If we knew everything that was going to happen long before it does, we’d just spend that time worrying about the bad stuff and trying to make the good even better instead of just enjoying the ride. Oftentimes, I’ll ask my wife what she wants for dinner, and she just says, “Surprise me.” Okay, I only fell for that once.

There’s that part of us that needs to have a plan and know what to expect. It’s especially true with men. I think women are a lot less rigid about that, because they can always blame us. But statistics show that women, on average, live longer than men. Could it be that all the worry and planning and anticipation not only takes the fun out of life, but shortens it as well?

Besides, if you knew exactly what was going to happen, what would you do to change it? What could you do? I guess that depends what’s coming. If it’s a bill that’ll come due next month, you can spend that time trying to earn a little extra money. If it’s a tornado in the next county, all you can do is hunker down and hope for the best.

It all goes back to the serenity prayer. “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom always to know the difference.” Powerful words. Yet it’s something we never seem to fully embrace, because we want the power to change everything. You know, so we can screw that up as well.

Knowing what to expect every minute of the day means you don’t have to put any thought into what you’re doing now or what you’ll do next. And the moment we stop thinking, creativity goes right out the window. Sure, you know what’s coming. You have a plan. And your plans never change because you know the outcome already. Boring!

Some of life’s greatest moments come when we least expect them. A race car driver learns to steer out of a sideways slide in one instant of unexpected drama. A chef creates a masterpiece recipe by substituting one ingredient when they run out of the other. And businesses learn a whole new way of marketing when a virus closes their stores.

Sure, one day the race car driver looks like a hero and the next day they spin out of control and hit the wall. Sometimes the chef creates a legendary recipe, and sometimes it can’t go in the trash fast enough. And, sometimes new ideas change the face of business forever, and other times it’s like the “New Coke.” I’m betting a few executives lost their jobs over that one.

But as long as we straddle the rails on the known path, we never push ourselves to try anything different. We take life exactly as it comes, with no thought of changing anything. And yes, change is scary. Sometimes it leads to disaster. But life’s greatest successes came as the result of somebody stepping off the rails and trying something new.

Look ahead, not to see everything that’s coming, but to see the opportunity that’s waiting. Embrace obstacles. Learn from every mistake and gain from every loss. You already know how the story ends, so don’t let the bumps and dips spoil the ride.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Sometimes, You’ve Just Gotta Bend the Rules

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

Have you ever had something you really wanted to do, and everybody tells you that you have to earn it first? You know, pay your dues and all that happy stuff? It’s like sitting down to dinner as a child, staring at the chocolate cream pie sitting in the middle of the table, just beyond the pile of steamed Brussels sprouts on your plate. That, my friends, is the definition of cruelty.

I tried pinching my nose, mixing them with mashed potatoes, and spitting them into a napkin. Okay, a paper towel. We weren’t a napkin-and-china kind of family. And believe me, Mom caught onto that one real fast. It was like she had some kind of magical powers, X-ray vision to see inside a crumpled-up paper towel. Or maybe she was doing the same thing herself.

No matter what we want, there’s a price to be paid. Ask anybody what that price is, and you’ll get pretty much the same answer, because they all asked the same question and got the same answer. It’s like some sort of conspiracy. “Let’s make them all think the only path to happiness is a life of toil and sacrifice!” Um … can I see what’s behind Door #2?

I was chatting with a friend about this very topic this morning. She said we’re supposed to work and save and sacrifice until we have at least $1 million in our retirement account before we can even think about enjoying what we’ve been working for. Those are the rules, and we’re not supposed to even challenge them. And she didn’t like the rules any better than I do.

But who made the rules? They certainly never consulted me. I could have given them a few suggestions that would have made their heads spin. But 117 years ago, a couple of brothers in Ohio had the insane notion that men could fly. Seems to me that one worked out pretty well. Sometimes, rules are made to be broken. Rules, not laws. Apparently there’s a difference.

All our lives, we’re told to get a good education, climb the corporate ladder, and save for retirement. And that’s a great plan, for some people. But it doesn’t work for everyone. After 13 years of school, I couldn’t think of going back for more. So, I joined the Navy, and spent the next two years in school. They pretty much insisted on it.

Then I tried my hand at climbing the corporate ladder. That’s when I learned one of life’s most valuable lessons. Some ladders are a lot shorter than others, and some people get to skip a few rungs along the way. Worst of all, most of us find at some point in our lives that we’ve been scrambling like crazy to climb a ladder that’s propped against the wrong wall.

So, what if we were to try something a little out of the ordinary? What if we were to build our own wall, burn the ladder, and put in an express elevator instead? Who says we can’t retire until we’re 65? Who says we have to have a million dollars in the bank first? Who says you can’t live the dream until your body makes more noise than your first car?

What if somebody had suggested an alternate plan, way back when we were younger. Sure, get a good job. But while you’re at it, build something else on the side, something that will continue to supply income long after you decide to retire? Would you have followed their advice? Have you already done that? Are you willing to try it now? Nothing like putting you on the spot.

No matter what the destination, there’s always more than one way to get there. If you stick to the same path everybody else is on, it’s a lot more crowded and you miss all the fun along the way. Sure, you’ll have to stick your neck out a little and take a few risks. But you may just get there sooner, before all the good spots fill up. Isn’t it worth a try?

There’s nothing wrong with getting a good education and building a career. But if you’re working for that day when somebody else tells you it’s okay to stop, you may be working a long, long time. And that’s okay if it’s what you want. But if you want something better, to live your dreams while you’re still young enough to enjoy them, you may have to buck the system.

A new year is beginning, and along with it, a new opportunity to shape your future. You can decide, right now, whether you’ll continue to climb that rickety old ladder or find a faster way to the top. I guess it all depends what’s waiting for you when you get there. If it’s important enough, you’ll find a way. It all starts with a dream and the audacity to achieve it.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Sideline May Feel Safer, But It’s Pretty Hard to Score

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

Well, Christmas is behind us, and that means just a few more days of 2020. I don’t know of too many people who will shed any tears over the passing of this year. Tears of joy, maybe. You know, like when my wife handed me a brand-new guitar Christmas morning. I cried a little. So, there, I said it! My daughter is still in shock. She hasn’t blinked in three days.

Somebody shared a post Saturday that said, “It’s 364 days till Christmas, and my neighbor already has his outdoor lights up!” Yeah, I would be that neighbor. In fact, mine will likely be up until April, or until my grandson needs some cash, whichever comes first. I’m betting on him to win that race. In fact, he may come through before the end of the week.

Sure, it’s funny, but it’s something to think about. In a few short days, 2020 will be in the mirror and we’ll have 12 months to try and undo all the things we messed up this year. You know, so we can arrive at this point in 2021 and say, “Next year, it’s gonna be different!” Seems to me I said that a year ago. And a year before that, and a year before that, and … you get the picture.

And you know, I really can’t complain about my life to this point. I have a great job, a roof over my head, food on the table, and an RV for those times when we need an escape. My health is good, I can still crawl under the car and get back up, and, as of this moment, none of the bills are late. Of course, the new stack isn’t here yet. The Postal Service says they’re “in transit.”

There’s a meme making its rounds on social media, suggesting we should not openly declare that 2021 will be our year. Instead, we should sneak in quietly while nobody is looking, and just blend in with the wallpaper. That way, we can get through most of the year completely unnoticed. Because, you know, bad things never happen if you’re invisible.

That may be true to some extent, but in my experience, trouble seems to have no problem finding me, no matter how well I hide. It’s like sitting in the back of the classroom, hoping the teacher can’t see that far. But they can. And they all know the only reason we’re sitting in the back is because we weren’t prepared for class in the first place.

So, while we may escape a few of life’s challenges by fading into the background, we also shield ourselves from the very thing we do want – success. I don’t care who you are, there’s something you want that you don’t have today, material or non-material, and there’s a part of you that will never be completely fulfilled until you achieve it.

So, yeah, you can hide from 2021 and all the bad karma you think is waiting for anybody bold enough to stand up and say, “Enough of this! It’s my turn to win!” But, in doing so, you accept the very existence you were hoping to avoid. Maybe you’ll get through the year unscathed. But you’ll be sitting there a long time waiting for that winning lottery ticket to drop out of the sky.  

Never once have I seen an ad on TV for the local water plant. They don’t come looking for us, because they don’t have to. If you want to turn on the faucet and get water, you have to call them. Good fortune is pretty much the same. It doesn’t have to come looking for us, because there are enough other people already in line. If you want a piece of the action, you have to get in the game.

Will 2021 be “your” year? That’s up to you. But I can assure you, if you try to sneak in and find a seat in the back of the room, you’ll miss a good portion of what could have been in your future. Sure, some of it will be unpleasant. Some may even be catastrophic. But catastrophe seems to know where you are anyway. Doesn’t it make sense to stack the odds in your favor?

You have dreams and goals. You wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t. The question is, what will you do about them? Will you quietly take a seat in the back and hope good fortune comes looking for you, or will you go out and find it yourself?

Every new year is a new opportunity. It’s what we make of those opportunities that counts. Make 2021 the year that you won’t be denied. Reach for your dreams and don’t let anything stand in the way. Then let’s get together a year from today and see how we all made out.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved