What Are You Waiting For?

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

Have you ever stopped to think about where you thought you’d be at this point in your life, and then compared it to where you are? Hopefully for most of us, the gap isn’t all that large. I’d like to think most of us have accomplished at least some of the things we wanted to do by now. But for many of us, myself included, the gap is pretty large. There’s still so much to be done.

Maybe that’s just my impatience kicking in. Because, in all honesty, I’ve been able to accomplish a lot. And some things are meant to come later, or at least that’s what we’re taught. We work for 45 years and then take a really long vacation. And if we’re lucky, we actually get to go a little further than the front porch in the process. I’ve seen mine before. It’s not all that special.

For some people, the concept of putting in all those years up-front for a few years of enjoyment at the very end is as appealing as a root canal. Especially when they realize their physical abilities and stamina are at an all-time high during those years they’re supposed to be working and, by the time they retire, all that stamina will have been long since used up.

For them, the answer is simple. Put in a little extra in the early years when everyone else is out partying and get started on that long vacation early. Like, thirty years early. By the time everyone else is halfway through their work life and still has little to show for it, they’re off enjoying a lifestyle most of us could never imagine. They didn’t want to wait. And they didn’t have to.

Well, here’s the deal – I’ve worked my 45 years and retirement is still a distant goal. Oh, I’m getting closer. And days like I’ve had this week, using a cane to get around because my back needs all the help it can get, I know it may come sooner than the bank thinks it should. We don’t always get the option to choose our retirement date. Sometimes, fate chooses it for us.

And I’m coming to realize that retirement may not be quite what I’d imagined. I see commercials and pictures of old folks jumping out of airplanes and racing around on jet skis, and that’s the image I’ve had all these years. Oh, I’m sure I’ll try some of those things. But I’ll probably spend a week in traction afterward.

The sad fact is, all these years we’re working and saving for a brighter day, we’re missing some of the brightest days along the way. They’re here, right now, and we’re trudging through them hoping to find something better down the road. And I think, at least for most of us, there will be brighter days down the road. I just hope we’re able to enjoy them when the time comes.

My wife and I decided several years ago our retirement will involve a motorhome and a new mailing address several times a year. We’ve talked to people who have enjoyed the nomad lifestyle, and I’m starting to notice a trend. Many of them are a few years older than we are, and they all say the same thing – “Back when we had ours, we absolutely loved it.”

Now, that could mean they had one and got tired of it after a few years. It could mean they blew all their money on the first one and couldn’t afford to replace it when things started to wear out. Or it could mean they’ve reached an age where physical limitations have brought their days of galivanting across the country to an end. I hope that’s not the case, because I’m almost as old as they are.

And therein lies the problem. We find something we want, a burning desire, and go through life promising ourselves that one day we’ll find a way to enjoy it. “Someday.” Famous last words. Well, not necessarily last words, because there comes a point in life where “someday” turns into “I should have.” That’s usually when we’re sitting in a wheelchair in the day room of a nursing home. Lovely.

I’m not suggesting you quit your job and start that long vacation today. But unless your life’s goal is to die with a bunch of money in the bank for everybody else to fight over, get out and enjoy it! If you wait for the perfect time or opportunity, it’ll never happen. Find a way. Make it happen. We’re all headed for the same destination. Reach yours with memories to share and stories to tell.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Adversity is the Teacher – Creativity is the Result

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

Yesterday was an especially productive day. I tackled something new at work, or I should say, new to this particular role. It’s work I’ve done before, just not exactly in this context. So, I had a little past experience to tap on, and a little leeway to adapt that experience for this particular application. That’s when you really feel like you’re earning your keep. It felt good.

In almost every job description I’ve ever read, the word “creativity” is in there in some form. They want you to be creative. And that begins with the resume. “Wow, this is impressive!” Yeah. And if you think that’s good, give me an hour or two and I can make it even better! Okay, I’m giving away secrets I should probably be keeping to myself. But you get the idea.

There are times in life when creativity is exactly what’s needed, and other times when it can be your worst enemy. As I write my morning posts, it’s imperative that I can apply a little creative thought. But if your job involves assembling nuclear weapons, it’s best to stick to the script. There’s no room for creativity in a job like that. Just do what you’re told and nothing more.

When we’re starting something new, we generally prefer detailed instructions. I’ve done my job, in various forms, for the past 21 years. I’ve learned a thing or two along the way, and I can pretty much figure out anything I’m asked to do. But, starting a new job, I want a little more instruction. I know what works – I just don’t know what my employer wants to see. The two aren’t always the same.

That’s why we ask a lot of questions. The answers may not always make sense, and sometimes we’re thinking, “Seriously? That’s about the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen. There’s a LOT better way to get that done.” But we do what we’re told to do and save those creative suggestions for later.

And sometimes, in following those instructions, we learn a different way of getting the job done. It may not necessarily be a better way, but in certain situations it could be the only way. What would happen if you couldn’t find the right tool, or if your preferred program on the computer suddenly crashed? That’s when a combination of the boss’ way and your old way can come in handy.

We gain experience through adversity – having to figure out a situation that’s not ideal and working our way through it. And that’s where creativity is born. It’s easy to screw in lightbulbs all day. But when a bulb breaks off at the base as you’re installing it, there are no written instructions to help you get the broken base back out. You figure out a solution and move on.

Funny, one of the oldest tricks in the book on that one is to cut a raw potato in half and use it to remove the broken light bulb base. Now, how many electricians carry a raw potato in their toolbox? It was just a crime of opportunity. After several unsuccessful attempts to correct the situation, somebody saw a bag of potatoes and thought, “Hmmm …”

That’s how creativity works. Sometimes we’re able to look at something and a light goes off in our brain. Other times, we have to stumble through several failed attempts before we accidentally find something that works. But it’s not really accidental – it’s a process of elimination. It’s a methodical approach to problem-solving that we learned early in life, long before we took our first steps.

Creativity is simply the ability to put those skills to work. It’s not a section of the brain that, for one person, is bigger than it is for others. And it’s not like any one of us is more gifted than others in that regard. It’s a natural ability in each of us that some just choose to use more than others.

Instructions get us started in the right direction. They give us the basics and help form the foundation for success. But it’s creativity that lets us achieve a higher level of success. If every one of us did the same thing the same way every day, we’d all end up at the same destination. Think it might be a little crowded?

To reach a different destination, we have to do something everyone else isn’t doing. We have to go the extra mile. And more often than not, that extra mile isn’t even on the map. It’s something we find through a combination of experience, opportunity, and just putting ourselves in a position to find it. Success presents the way when we put ourselves in a position to succeed.

Creativity isn’t something that’s limited to the fortunate few. You’ve got it. Let the foundational instructions put you in a position to succeed, and then use your creativity to cross the finish line.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Don’t Just Wait For a Miracle – Make it Happen!

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

The week is half gone and the month is almost over. If you set goals for the week, today is the day you should be half done. If you set goals for the month and you’re only half done (raising my own hand on that one), you’re way behind. It’s crunch time. All those days of saying, “I need to get busy” have come home to roost. This is where we either start making excuses or making things happen.

We all know success happens a step at a time and, as long as you’re taking steps in the right direction, it’ll happen. The question is when. I can normally move across the building at work pretty quickly. If I have three minutes before a meeting, that’s enough time to visit the restroom. But when my back starts acting up and I’m moving like a snail, three minutes isn’t nearly enough.

It’s the same with the things I wanted to do this month. On the first day of the month, I had plenty of time to get everything done. A couple of weeks later I had half as much time. And here, with four days left in the month, I’m forced to acknowledge a cold, hard fact of life … if I keep moving at the pace I’ve been moving, there’s no way I’ll reach my goals. I guess it’s time to get busy, huh?

I think we all do that from time to time. We have an assignment, self-inflicted or not, and a set amount of time to get it done. Common sense tells us to just dig in and get it done. But other things are competing for our time, and we have to get them done first. Or maybe it’s just other things we’d rather do. The net effect is pretty much the same.

And by the time we finally get started on what we needed to do, time has just about run out. It’s possible to get it done, but at this point it would take a miracle. And believe me, that’s weighing on your mind the entire time. It’s hard to even get started when it feels like failure is the only possible outcome. Why can’t we have that same sense of optimism we had when we first set the goal?

Well, we can. We may not have that sense of having plenty of breathing room along the way, but that doesn’t mean we can’t reach our goal. Miracles do happen. Even more importantly, we don’t have to sit around and wait for the gods of success to drop a miracle in our path. We have the ability to influence these things. It’s just a matter of how badly we want it.

We’ve all heard stories of people performing amazing feats of superhuman strength in times of dire need. We’ve seen teams come back from a seemingly insurmountable deficit to win the game in the final seconds. And how quickly could you clean up the living room if the pastor unexpectedly pulled into your driveway?

When the need is greater than the odds, there’s not much we can’t accomplish. The trick is taking care of that need while the odds are still even a little bit in our favor. The later we wait to get started, the stronger the odds become. The need is still there – but if we let time keep slipping by, that need has to be even stronger to overcome the odds we’ve stacked against ourselves.

A sense of urgency can lead to some pretty impressive accomplishments. And even if it doesn’t lead us all the way to the finish line, it can show us a side of ourselves we’ve never seen before. It shows us what can be possible, what we can accomplish when we set our mind to it. Most of all, it shows us that we really do have what it takes. We just need to turn it up a notch.

Success isn’t always a linear climb. It would be nice if we’d always get started early and move steadily toward our goal. But when we find ourselves moving much too slowly (or not at all), we have to pull out the stops and create a miracle. All it takes is a sense of urgency and the determination to keep going, no matter what. And if you come up a little short, you’re still that much closer than you were.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

It Takes a Single Drop to Begin Filling a Bucket

Good morning! I hope you all had a nice weekend and your day is off to a great start.

Today is my youngest grandson’s birthday. He’s four. To the rest of us, he’s a little boy with his whole life ahead of him. He’s got lots of growing to do, and lots of things to learn. But from his perspective, this is the oldest he’s ever been. He feels all grown up, because he really has no other basis for comparison. Especially if he looks at how grown up his grandpa is. We’re not so different.

And I like it that way. I’ve always said that aging is inevitable, but growing old is a matter of choice. I can’t turn back the clock no matter how badly some of my body parts wish I could. But I don’t have to let the years control my personality. People always like to say “act your age.” Well, I don’t wanna! So there!

Age is relevant only from the perspective of how many years we’ve been on this planet, and how many more years we may have left. It’s a measure of experience. My car insurance company likes my age. I’ve been driving long enough to slow down a little and not make so many stupid mistakes. My health insurance company, on the other hand, isn’t quite so thrilled. They wish I was a little younger.

It’s all a matter of perspective. I remember at the age of twenty, calling my supervisor an old man. He had to be pushing 27 at the time. I laugh today when I think about that because, with 62 only a few months away, I realize that even this isn’t really old. Or maybe I’m just kidding myself. That’s okay. I choose not to be old. I just wish my body would just step up and play along.

Perspective is important, because it’s what allows us to form a basis for comparison. I make a decent living, and we don’t really worry about day-to-day expenses. In fact, according to some, we’re doing pretty well. But we went into an upscale grocery store not long ago and, looking at the prices of “dry-aged” steak, I began to feel just a little impoverished. Do people really pay that much for food?

But to a person making a little more than I do, it’s no big deal. They buy what they want because they can. And here’s the thing – that meat is at least three times as expensive as anything in my grocery store, but I doubt many of those people make three times as much as I do. They don’t have to. They just have to make a little extra.

If your employer offered you an extra $200 a month, you’d feel pretty good. Because, if the bills are paid and things are going well, an extra $200 would let you buy that fancy steak once in a while. It would let you order what you want off the menu instead of what your wallet says you should eat. It might even let you take an extra vacation each year.

Now, what if there was a string attached – you get the extra money, but you have to work an extra hour every day. Hmmm.  An extra hour every day, and there are 22 workdays in a month – that’s not even $10 an hour! Now that extra $200 isn’t sounding so great. It’s all about perspective. You look at the hourly rate and suddenly forget all the extra freedom it could bring.

But what if that extra money was just the start? What if you gained the skills necessary to double that extra income in a month or so? Now your perspective may be changing a little. Because if you can take a little extra and double it, what’s to stop you from doubling that as well? All of a sudden, the issue isn’t how much you get paid – it’s how much you can earn.  

To most of us, a year is a pretty short amount of time. To my grandson, it’s a fourth of his life. To most of us, $30,000 a year isn’t much to brag about. But to somebody already making that much, an extra $15,000 would change everything. And to a person making ten times that much, it may not even be worth the extra effort. Perspective.

When you look at where you are, where you want to be may seem a long way off. But even a small step in the right direction puts you closer. Keep taking those steps and the time will come when the distance you’ve covered is more than the distance that’s left. And one day, it’ll only take one more little step to reach your goal. Same effort, same distance each time. But what a difference it’ll make.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Success Just Woke Up To a Brand New Day!

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

I finally got some well-needed sleep last night. I’m not entirely sure what was standing in my way the nights before that, but by the time I got home from work yesterday I was almost dizzy with exhaustion. At times like that, you listen to your body and do what it says.

A doctor told me years ago you can never “get caught up” on missed sleep. I understand what he was trying to say – every time you cheat your body out of the minimum amount of rest it needs, it takes a toll. And sleeping extra hours next week won’t make up for it. But I would imagine the long-term toll is pretty small, and getting back on track is more important than crying over spilled milk.

Yesterday I got back on track with a few things that had fallen by the wayside. You know that feeling when you’re in the groove, beginning to make strides, and then slip back into your old habits? It’s kind of like losing a few pounds because you’re starting to eat sensibly. But then one day you get a craving for a cheeseburger and fries. Next thing you know, you’re right back where you started.

It doesn’t happen because you gave in to that craving one day. It happens because one day turned into two, and two turned into three, and three turned into a week. And it’s something we’ll fight the whole way until eating right becomes a way of life, because no matter how badly we want to change, our old habits exist within a comfort zone that we have a hard time leaving behind.

The same is true with the things we do to work toward our personal goals. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started writing a book over the years. Several books. I’ll get a burning idea, sit at the computer for a couple of days, and hammer out the first two or three chapters of what I’m certain will be my first masterpiece. Then other priorities slip in – things I can’t ignore. You know, like work.

Before long, the book is on the back burner and that computer doesn’t add a single word to the file I’d saved. By the time I’m ready to get back to it, I can’t quite pick up where I left off. The momentum is gone and, along with it, my original train of thought. So, I start over. I hammer out a couple of chapters and then along comes life. And so it goes, month after month, year after year.

I do the same thing in my business. I’ll get on a roll, doing the things I need to do each day, better and stronger than ever before. I’ll make a little progress and think maybe this is it. I’m on my way! Then, along comes life. I take a night off to catch up on housework, then along comes a really busy day at work, then grocery shopping and yard work, and next thing you know my goals are at a standstill.

The one thing I hear most from other people when we talk about goals is, “I just don’t have time.” I get it. We can’t just drop everything and work on a new project that isn’t paying the bills, and no matter what those other chores will still need to be done. But here’s the question we all need to answer. Could we find time for something fun, even if it isn’t moving us closer to our goals?

The answer to that question determines the probability of our success. No matter what we try to do, life will get in the way and old habits will always be waving from the sidelines. But if we do the right things long enough and consistently enough, they become our way of life. And in the process, success becomes a way of life. We learn to work through those obstacles instead of giving in to them.

It’s never too late to get back on track. That’s been a running theme in this week’s posts, and it wasn’t really an intentional thing. It just worked out that way. The question is whether that theme will find its way into our daily lives. It’s easy to get started toward a goal. It’s just as easy to stop. When we do anything long enough, it becomes a habit. And as we all know, habits are hard to break.

The key is forming the habits that will lead us closer to our goals and then feeding those habits every day until they become a way of life. What happened yesterday is history. It’s what we do today that counts. The moment you begin moving in the right direction, your goal becomes that much closer. Make the time. Find a way. Success isn’t convenient. But it sure is a nice place to end up.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Little Changes Can Make a World of Difference

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

I’m a little tired today. The past two nights, for whatever reason, I’ve awakened from a reasonably sound sleep for no good reason other than my brain decided to get active way before it’s supposed to. You know how you get a song stuck in your head and it won’t go away? Well, when that song comes along at 3 in the morning and it’s Janis Joplin, you might as well just get up.

Yet still, I snuggle up a little longer, hoping to recapture even a few more minutes of sleep before it’s time to get up and face the day. Not that there’s anything I don’t want to face – I just don’t want to do it until it’s time. And at that point in the morning, another five minutes of sleep is worth any amount of tossing and turning to achieve it. Believe me, I tried.

But you know how it goes. No matter how late it gets, it’s never too late to try one more time. And whatever extra we gain as a result seems to make a huge difference in the rest of our day. Okay, in the case of sleep maybe not so much, but you get the idea. Sometimes it’s more about perception. And sometimes, it’s just a basis for comparison. A little more is better than none at all.

Yesterday we made that point in terms of nutrition … the premise that, no matter what choices you’ve made in the past and how poor those choices may have been, it’s never too late to turn things around. Granted, the later we wait, the less impact those changes will have. But at some point in life, an extra 5% is worth whatever it takes to achieve it. Kinda like those last ten minutes of sleep.

One of the worst inventions in the history of man is the snooze button. Instead of setting the alarm clock to let us enjoy a deeper sleep until it’s time to get up, we set it a half-hour earlier so we can hit the snooze button three times and fool ourselves into believing we’re getting a little extra sleep every day. We know better, but it still feels like a small victory.

But there’s another kind of snooze button we need to hit a little earlier – the one that says “you’re getting older, and time is marching on.” I get a dose of that reality every time I look at the balance in my retirement account. It’s like looking at a stack of bills and realizing there’s not enough in the bank to cover them. If I had to retire today, I’d have to die within a year, or I’d be broke.

I came to the realization several years ago that my retirement won’t be a simple matter of sitting back and waiting for a monthly check to arrive. It’ll be working at whatever I’m still able to do while I wait for a few smaller checks to come in. A little here, a little there – after a while, it can add up. And the bank really doesn’t care where it comes from, as long as it’s enough.

I think most of us are in the same boat, at least to some extent. And if you think you’re not, you may want to take a closer look. Think back to the money you made thirty years ago. Then think if you had to live on half that amount today. That’s pretty much how retirement works. You cut your income in half, and then as time goes on and prices keep increasing, your pay stays the same. Fun, huh?

Now, how much difference would a little bit extra make? It’s a natural tendency to look at a few hundred dollars and think, “I could never live on that!” Nobody said you have to. But at some point, that little bit extra would make a world of difference. And the truth is, that point is here. It’s today. If you could save just $300 each month, in thirty years you’d have more than $300,000.

Income doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Like that extra ten minutes of sleep or those midlife nutritional changes, a little extra here and there adds to the total. And the total is what matters most. Would you rather have one big retirement check from a single source, or several smaller checks that add up to the same amount? Considering how many businesses go bankrupt each year, I think I’ll go for Door #2.

The choices we make today will have an impact later in life, and it’s never too late to do things a little differently. But thirty years from now, do you think you might wish you’d made some better choices today? I’m pretty sure we’d all have the same answer. The difference is, are we willing to do anything about it?

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Success is a Series of Last-Minute Miracles

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

The month is a little more than half-over. Depending on your perspective, that can be a good thing or a challenge. For those who depend on a monthly check to arrive in the mailbox, it puts you that much closer to payday. For those of us with monthly goals, it means crunch time is fast approaching. Especially if you haven’t even started. And for some folks, it’s just another day.

I guess there’s something to be said for living one day at a time, with no real burning desires or goals to work toward. It’s a peaceful existence, one that doesn’t take a lot of thought and doesn’t run much risk of disappointment. But you have to admit, it is a little passive. Like riding in the backseat and hoping the driver wants to go the same place you do. Otherwise, it could be a long day.

Goals are what make us get up a little earlier and work a little later. And I know, unless you’re already doing those things, it doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. In talking with people, one of the greatest objections I hear when it comes to working toward their goals is, “I’m already busy enough. I don’t have time for anything else.”

I get it. We’re all busy. And the last thing anybody wants to think about at the end of a long day is getting out and working more. But that’s what it takes. One thing all star athletes have in common is the inner drive to keep going when others would say “that’s good enough.” While others head to the locker room for a nice long shower. They stay out there and give a little bit more. Every. Single. Day.

And make no mistake. They all miss goals on a regular basis. At different points in his career, Babe Ruth was known as the king of strikeouts. During five seasons, he struck out more than any other player in the American League, whiffing at the plate 1,330 times in his career. He also hit 714 home runs, a record that would stand for 40 years. Which do you think people remember?

We all miss goals. All that means is we’re setting goals high enough that it’ll take a little extra effort to reach them. If you never miss a goal, you’re setting the bar too low. Try a little harder. Reach for something that’s a little out of reach and don’t stop until you get there. Swing at the fast pitch. Throw the long pass. You may miss more times than you score, but those wins will be well worth celebrating.

In a CD by one of my favorite motivational speakers, he talked about receiving an email from a protégé who had set an impressive goal for the month but was writing to let his mentor know he wouldn’t make it. He tried to cushion the fall by saying, “I’ll still reach this lower goal, but I won’t be able to do what I said I was going to do.” Does that sound familiar?

And I’ll never forget that speaker’s advice. He simply said, “You set a goal and told a lot of people you were going to accomplish that goal. It’s okay if you come up short as long as you go down swinging. But don’t pull the ripcord at 25,000 feet.” That last sentence hit me right between the eyes. Don’t pull the ripcord at 25,000 feet. I think we’ve all done that more times than we’d care to admit.

We all love the story of a team that goes into the last few minutes of a game they were certain to lose, only to fight back and win in the final seconds. All because they refused to lay down and accept defeat. Failure is never certain until we stop trying. If we pull the ripcord too soon, we may soften the fall. But we’ll never know how much closer we could have gotten to an amazing achievement.

Set your goals high. Get up a little earlier. Work a little later. If what you’ve been doing all these years hasn’t put your dreams within reach, go the extra mile. And once you start, don’t let anything stand in your way. Fight through to the very end. You may come up a little short, and that’s okay. It’s still closer than you were, and with every step you take, your dream is that much closer to reality.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved