If You Can Make it to the Finish Line, You Win

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

Not long ago, a friend at work was training for a marathon. I remember thinking I’d like to be able to do that someday. Not because I love running – I’d rather get another vasectomy. And I couldn’t win if everybody else made ten wrong turns and took a nap in the middle. I’d like to be able to do it just to prove to myself that I can.

Now, let’s set some expectations. In my case, “running” a marathon would include 100 yards of light jogging at the start, followed by several miles of walking at various levels of slowness, with a halfhearted jog in the final 50 yards. And maybe a few jogs in the middle if there’s a particularly attractive woman looking my way. You know, like Sandra Bullock. In a bikini.

I don’t know that I’ll ever run a marathon, or even a half-marathon. But I would like to get out and do a 5k walk. My doctor says walking is healthy. He says it’ll make me lose weight. Well, the jury is still out on that, because either the doctor or my bathroom scale has been lying. But I do find that I’m able to get through cold and flu season mostly unscathed. That’s worth a few blocks after lunch.

I also take vitamins – really good vitamins that have proven their value over and over. I knew I was onto something when the doctor looked at my blood test results and smiled. He never smiles. My numbers aren’t perfect, but they’re a lot better than they were before. And at this age, better is good enough. Better can add a few years to your life and ward off infirmity a few years longer as well.

Sometimes, it’s not about the win, but simply staying in the game. I used to watch NASCAR races every week. Invariably, people would spin out and crash into the wall, and cars would be completely demolished. The team would work feverishly to get their car back on the track, no matter how long it took. Meanwhile, the rest of the field kept racking up the laps.

Finally, you’d see the car come back out, looking like a bulldozer held together with duct tape. The front bumper was hanging off, the hood was crumpled, the back end looked like it had been smacked by a freight train, and every side panel was rippled like a crinkle-cut French fry. The engine was smoking, and the car could barely run the speed limit. You know, in a residential area.

And you’d have to wonder why they even bothered. There’s no way they could win the race. Sometimes, they were so far behind they couldn’t even add a single point to their total for a possible run at the season championship. They were on the track for one reason and one reason only – they came there to race. And as long as the car was able to complete a single lap, they were going for it.

We face similar decisions all through life. We start something we know we can’t finish, but we try anyway. The boss gives us a job we’ve never done before with an impossibly short deadline. We know we’ll never get it all done in time, but we give it our best. And somehow, in the 11th hour, things start going our way and we get a lot more done than we’d ever imagined. Maybe not all, but enough.

If you think about it, I’m sure you can come up with several examples of that in your own life. So, let me ask you a question. What personal goals have you set aside year after year, simply because you can’t see yourself ever crossing the finish line? Or maybe you just realized it would take several years to get it done and you’re waiting to find a shortcut that’ll get you there faster. Meanwhile, nothing gets accomplished.

I’ve been trying for several years to lose weight. By that I mean I’ve been thinking and talking about it for several years. And along comes the doctor, telling me that I should set a goal of losing 1-2 pounds per month. “But it’ll take TWO YEARS to do that! I can’t wait that long!” Well, you know what? If I’d started two years ago, I’d be a lot closer to my goal today. Maybe not all, but enough.

Sometimes it’s not about coming in first, but simply making it to the finish line. It’s about setting a goal, and not letting anything keep you from trying. You may fall down. You may spin out. And you may even hit a concrete wall. But as long as you’re willing to get back in there and give it your best, you win. Put together enough of those little wins and nothing can stand in your way.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Define Your Circumstances – Don’t Let Them Define You

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

Yesterday was an emotional day for our family. It was the culmination of several years of despair, often highlighting some of the very worst in human behavior, at the ultimate expense of an innocent 11-year-old. In cases like this, there is no justice – only victims. Sometimes all you can do is pick up the pieces and try to move on. Thankfully, for my daughter and granddaughter, that’s the choice they’ve made.

I don’t want this post to focus on the negative aspects of divorce, or the twisted way in which some court-appointed authoritarians dispense their own unique brand of justice. It brings to mind a line from the movie Something to Talk About, where an attorney reminds his client that “divorces don’t happen in church.” Truer words have never been spoken.

Yet, through it all, I’ve seen my daughter grow from a hollow shell of a person, downtrodden by an abusive spouse and consumed with a complete lack of hope, into a vibrant young woman, confident and filled with goals that I have no doubt she will accomplish. For her, life has just begun. And I couldn’t be more proud.

We all experience things in life that seem hell-bent on driving us into the dust from which we came. Relationships end, jobs vanish, accidents happen, and bank accounts run dry. And, while there may be things we can do to avoid some of the challenges in life, nobody truly deserves the hardships they can bring. Adversity has no sense of justice, and it can happen to the best of us.

What’s important is that we find a way to rise above adversity and come out stronger. That can be hard to even think about, much less visualize, when you’re at the bottom of the pile fighting for survival. But, as Mom always used to say, when you hit rock bottom, there’s only one way you can go, and that’s back up.

Okay, some people find a home at rock bottom and stay there a long time. And some grab a shovel and dig even deeper. But, short of personal choice and destructive actions, anything we do will elevate us to a higher level. Maybe not all the way to the top, but sometimes the initial goal is simply to get our heads above water. From there we can find a way out.

As I take my lunchtime walks, I see people at all levels. There are wealthy executives, salaried professionals, hourly employees, public servants and the public they serve. Some are self-employed and others are unemployed. Some own lavish homes and some have no home. Some are seemingly on top of the world, and others just want a way out of this world. And everything in between.

It would be easy to form an opinion of these people, to rationalize why some deserve the good fortune that seems to fill their life, and others are at the bottom because of choices they made. And there may be some truth to that, in some cases. But it’s also possible those people did all the right things and still found themselves struggling for their very existence. You just never know.

Every one of us is capable of greatness. We can achieve anything we desire and leave this world a better place simply because we were in it. Likewise, every one of us is one or two strokes of bad luck away from needing some help. Hospitals are full of patients from all walks of life, many suffering the same debilitating or even life-endangering conditions. As I said, adversity has no sense of justice.

Step outside the hospital and people are fighting equally challenging circumstances. Some were thrust upon them, and some they may have brought on themselves. And sometimes, the person fighting the greatest adversity is the person we see in the mirror every morning.

Circumstances, no matter how good or bad, are temporary. They’re just a moment in time. It’s what we do with that moment that defines our true destiny. It’s been said that when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. But in order to do that, you must first grab those lemons and squeeze them beyond recognition. Only then can you find the true potential of what lies inside.

From there, just add a little sugar (self-confidence and focused effort), and those lemons form the foundation of a much more desirable existence. We all face adversity. And we all have the capability to rise above and enjoy the life we deserve. We are defined by our circumstances only to the extent that we embrace them. Choose the life you deserve, then do whatever it takes to make it happen.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Excuses Are Free – And Worth Every Penny

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

Okay, so for those of you who may be wondering, I’m not going to dodge the issue of all the work I was supposed to do this weekend and talk about puppies and butterflies. Both are a lot more enjoyable than the work I had on my list for the weekend and would be my usual go-to when I missed a goal that I’d already told everybody about and had to come up with something quick.

I don’t have to. I did exactly what I said I’d do this weekend. My office now occupies a freshly cleaned space in the basement and the old office is now a bedroom. And, because I know my cousin won’t let me off the hook on this, I got the new toilet seat installed. Now I need to go to work so I can get some rest.

Once I got started, it didn’t take all that long. Don’t get me wrong, we were still working on it past 10:00 last night. But that’s how things seem to go. You put it off until there’s no other option, and once you get started you find energy you didn’t know you had. And all those interruptions that previously kept you from working become just another part of the job.

I guess it’s normal to put off something unpleasant, especially when it cuts into our “me” time. But one look around my basement and it’s obvious what that kind of procrastination creates. (If I made you think the whole basement is cleaned, think again!) The work we need to do never just sits there and waits. It multiplies. Meanwhile, we’re just delaying the inevitable.

And I won’t lie. At the start of the weekend, I had a mental list of reasons that maybe this wouldn’t be the best time to get that work done. My wife must have sensed my lack of enthusiasm, because she started making excuses for me. On the other hand, that may have just been a built-in defense mechanism. It’s hard to get upset with somebody for being lazy when you gave them permission.

Now, as I face the coming week and the things I need to get done, excuses pretty much go right out the window. Especially when it comes to those seemingly minor tasks I always seem to avoid. You know, the ones that nobody is paying me to do, so nobody can complain if I wait another day. Nobody, that is, except me.

There are things I need to do for my personal goals, aside from my job and cleaning and moving heavy furniture up and down a flight of stairs. Those things will always be there. And, I can always use those things as an excuse when I don’t work on my personal goals. Come on! I’m tired! Is a little rest too much to ask? Besides, it’s not like I can’t do it tomorrow! Sound familiar?

And, the truth is, it really can be done tomorrow. Or the day after, or next week, or next month. But meanwhile, that dream sits in a corner and collects dust. Or worse yet, it waits for somebody else to come along who wants it more. And we’ll find an excuse or two along the way. But not one of those excuses will get us any closer to our goal.

I’ve mentioned before that I have a picture of a motorhome hanging over my desk. I’ve seen it up close. I’ve sat in the driver’s seat, reclined on the sofa, stood in the shower, and checked out the fridge. And, in my mind’s eye, I’ve seen those miles of open road and beautiful scenic views unfold through the windshield as we explore yet another new destination.

I want that motorhome. I want it so bad I can taste it. But what I have to decide is which I want more … the motorhome, or the excuses. Because I can’t have both. Just like I couldn’t have an office and a third bedroom occupying the same small space. In the end, it all comes down to a choice. Which is more important?

You have dreams. If there’s something you need to do in order to accomplish those goals, then do it. This book I’m reading points out that the purpose of working toward a goal isn’t as much to accomplish that specific goal, but to turn you into the kind of person who can accomplish any goal. Likewise, doing what needs to be done turns you into the kind of person who gets everything done.

More often than not, the things we need to do aren’t monumental. They’re simply a series of small tasks that, taken in succession, lead to success. Find those small tasks and start knocking them out. The results may not be immediately visible, but with each step you’re that much closer to your goal.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Procrastinate Tomorrow – Get Busy Today!

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

This will be a busy weekend for me. For the past several weeks, I’ve been staring at a job that needs to be done, and now it’s time to pay the piper. I’m starting to realize if I’d broken it down into a list of smaller tasks, I’d probably be done by now. After 61 years, you’d think I’d have learned.

We’ve talked about this before – how we tend to put off those bigger jobs because we can’t set aside enough time to do the whole thing, so we don’t really do anything. Meanwhile, time marches on until the day comes when it has to be done, all at once. Makes you wonder, if you didn’t have time to work on this a month ago, what makes you think you’ll find the time to do it now?

It’s simple. you’ll find the time because you have to. It’s crunch time, and there’s no other option. I’d like to say we all do this, because it would make me feel a little less lazy. But the fact is, there are some people who don’t put things off until the last minute. If it’s a smaller job, they get it done. No excuses. With bigger jobs, they break them up and do a little each day.

I tend to stand back and look at the whole mountain, thinking of how much time and effort it’ll take to get to the other side. There are things I need to do for my business, and from a distance, they can look pretty daunting. I want to write a book, but that’s going to take some time. I need to clean up and reorganize my basement, but there’s a LOT of stuff down there to move, put away, or pitch.

And what happens? I find myself sitting here on yet another Friday morning thinking about how I can get some of this done, when the answer is really simple. Just do it, the same as I do eating broccoli … break it down into bite-sized pieces, pinch my nose, and have a bite. Do that enough times and the job is done.

My business goals can’t be achieved in a day. It’ll take a long series of small successes to get where I need to be. My book can’t be written all at once, even if I stay up all night. But if I had been putting in an hour a day, the same as I do with my morning posts, how far along would I be? And with the basement, it’s pretty simple. The dumpster can handle one extra bag of trash each week. So, fill it.

And here’s the real problem. Procrastination becomes a habit. At first, it’s pretty simple. You don’t have time to rebuild the car’s engine this weekend. It’ll have to wait. And that’s one of those jobs that truly has to be done all at once. But habits don’t stop at the big stuff. They just keep growing. Which explains why I’ve had a new toilet seat sitting in a box for the past month.

A toilet seat? Seriously? How long do you think it would take me to replace that? Well, far less time than I’ve spent re-attaching the old one every time it decides to come loose. But that only happens when you’re in the bathroom for another reason – something that truly is more pressing. And by the time you’re done, and your hands are washed, who wants to mess around with toilet seats?

Do you see a trend here? My wife does. In fact, it’s become such a way of life that she doesn’t even say much about it anymore. But it’s an easy trap to fall into. It’s also a pretty easy habit to break. Habits are nothing more than a routine to which we’ve become accustomed. Start a new job and you’ll learn a new routine pretty quickly. We can do the same in every area of our lives.

Most experts say it takes about three weeks to form a new habit. That’s 21 days. Unless you’re in military basic training, in which case new habits come in a matter of hours. But if you decide to make a change and commit to it, within three weeks it’ll be something you do as a matter of habit. Do it long enough, and it’ll take the same committed effort to fall back into your old habit.

Okay, in my case, maybe “effort” isn’t the operative word. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to say “tomorrow.” But the point is, we can either live with the things we’d like to change, or change them. You may not achieve your ultimate goal in three weeks, but you can become the person who is able to attain that goal. And, when you think about it, that has to happen first anyway.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Just Stay in the Game!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Effort and Belief – It Takes Two

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

I’ve been reading a new book, The Miracle Equation by Hal Elrod. If you’re into motivational books, I highly recommend this one. If you’re not, I highly recommend you give it a try. There’s none of the mystery or romance in a typical novel. Just a couple-hundred pages of info on how each and every one of us can make our lives better. You know – boring stuff.

That’s what you would think by the way some people react. “How can you read that stuff?” My response to that is, “How can you not?” We’ll read a recipe book. We’ll read an instruction manual on how to fix a car. For some people, romance novels are a “how-to” for their love life (or what they wish it could be). But we won’t read a few pages about how to achieve success in life.  Seriously?

What I like about this book is that it takes a detour from the beaten path and suggests a concept many of the others tend to leave out. While some authors put all their emphasis on self-confidence and focusing on a dream, this book suggests that believing in yourself (unwavering faith) is only half the equation – you may have to actually work for it.

The two, faith and effort, go hand-in-hand. Have you ever set out on a trip with no confidence you’d reach your destination? Okay, I’ve owned a few cars that made me say an extra prayer, but you get the point. If we had no faith in our ability to safely reach a destination, we’d never leave the house.

But, sitting around the house staring at pictures of the beach won’t make it materialize in your front yard. If you want to smell the salt air and feel the warmth of the sun, you have to put down the travel brochure and do something about it. You may even have to drive. A lot. And with each mile that passes, the closer you get to your destination, the more real it begins to feel. And the more real it begins to feel, the more determined you are to get there.

I talk a lot in my posts about dreams as the basis for action. I talk about how we’re all wired for success and are naturally driven to it. I talk about believing in yourself enough to know that you can accomplish anything. But something I don’t talk about much is the effort that makes it all happen. I guess I don’t like talking about work any more than most other people.

But work is an important part of the equation. In the popular children’s book, a little train engine sat there repeating “I think I can, I think I can!” But until it put forth the effort to start moving, nothing happened. It was the combination of faith and effort that made the little train move. We’re no different. We can sit there and think about it all day. But at some point, we have to take action.

In the past, I’ve quoted Napoleon Hill who once said, “What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” I love those words, because they simply say if we can dream something up and have faith in our ability to achieve it, nothing can stop us from doing it. But it leaves out one very important part – we have to do the necessary work to make it happen.

And that begins with having a plan, knowing what to do and how to get the most from all that effort. A couple of days ago, a pickup truck next to me sat at a traffic light spinning its tires so fast they were smoking. There was a lot of “think I can” going on there, a lot of exuberance on the part of the driver, and a lot of effort (gas) being expended. But the truck wasn’t going anywhere.

We sometimes do the same in the excitement of starting on a new goal. The light turns green and we mash the pedal to the floor. As we’re sitting there burning through all our energy, the rest of the world calmly moves ahead. It doesn’t take long for us to realize we’re not going anywhere, so we back off the gas and try a different approach. Hopefully we still have some energy left.

On the other hand, too much planning can be paralyzing. It’s one thing to think about what you need to do. It’s another thing to just sit there and keep thinking about it. At some point, you have to take a leap of faith and get started.  You’ll know in an instant if you’re moving forward or spinning your wheels.

Belief makes things possible, but effort makes things happen. Believe in yourself enough to do the work, and work hard enough to justify your belief. Then do both for as long as it takes. The reward is worth it. And so are you.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

If Time is What You Need, Make Some!

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

I remember telling you folks a while back that my weight loss journey was finally headed in the right direction. I remember telling you how good I felt and that I knew I’d eventually get to my goal. I remember telling you all of that. And, I remember telling you a couple of times over the past two years about how I’d fallen off the wagon and was headed back the wrong way. It happens.

Erma Bombeck once said, “In two decades, I’ve lost a total of 789 pounds. I should be hanging from a charm bracelet.” I think I may have her beat on that one. Lose five, gain five. Lose ten, gain ten. At least I’ve never gone above my starting point. You know, if “starting point” means the most I’ve ever weighed in my life. I guess we could all claim that little victory.

So, here I go, back on that journey. It’s an exercise in futility, probably because that’s the only real exercise I get these days. There are just too many things going on during the day to carve out time for that. Funny, I can always carve out time for meals. Think they’d give me any dirty looks if I ate dinner on the treadmill?

No matter what we need to do, it seems we never can find the time. We’re just too busy. Between work, running a household, soccer games, grocery shopping, oil changes, bowling, and TV, who has time for anything else? I’m getting tired just thinking about it. And I only do a few of those things.

That’s not entirely true. I tend to stay pretty busy. But I’m learning that, while being busy may look great on paper, it doesn’t mean I’m actually getting the right things done. It’s easy to get sidetracked, doing something else that “needs to be done” but doesn’t get me any closer to where I really wanted to be. It’s just filler.

I hear the same thing from a lot of other people. Whether it’s going back to school, learning a new skill on the job, or opening a business of their own, nobody seems to have the time. So, let’s get real. All that means is “I don’t have time for that. I find time for all the other things that occupy my day, but that one just isn’t high enough on my list of priorities. Other things are more important.”

And that’s okay. We all have 168 hours each week and a certain amount of time on this earth. To the degree that you can, you should spend that time any way you want. But ask yourself this important question – at the end of your life, when you’re looking back at all those things you never got around to, will you take comfort in the number of times you watched reruns of your favorite show?

In your annual review at work, has the boss ever mentioned how many emails you’ve read? Have they ever acknowledged the number of times you thumbed through the notes from last week’s meeting, or marveled at the hours you spent planning your next project? Probably not. They tend to focus on the important stuff – you know, results. Bosses are pesky that way.

So, ask yourself another important question. If you were paying somebody else to achieve your personal goals, to do the work for you while you handle all the other “important” things that occupy your time, what excuses would you accept from them? If they continually offered up the same reasons you do for the things that aren’t getting done, would they still have a job?

Having time is as simple as deciding how we use our time. It’s all about priorities. At the end of the day, we can lament all the things we didn’t get done, but the truth is we did the things that were most important to us at the moment. If none of those things brought us any closer to our goals, it’s not because we’re too busy – we’re just too busy doing the wrong things.

If there’s something you really want to do, you’ll find time. You’ll get up a little earlier, go to bed a little later, work through lunch, combine errands, delegate, or simply eliminate some of those things you don’t really need to do. But if it’s important enough, you’ll find a way. It’s not a matter of finding more time each week – it’s simply a matter of deciding what’s more important.

We all have to carve out time to enjoy some of life’s pleasures. And if that’s your number one priority in life, then by all means, do it. But if there are other things equally important, things you’ll look back on one day and wish you’d done, then make the time. Do what’s important today. That other stuff can wait.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved