Dust Off Your Dreams

Monday isn’t a day we tend to celebrate. The weekend is over and, for most of us, it’s back to work. The boss thinks you should be completely rested and ready to hit the ground running. But those of us who have actually met the reality fairy know better. We know that Monday morning is when we suffer the hangover from trying to cram a week’s worth of activity into two days.

On the other hand, the kids are back in school, so there’s that. Sometimes, you have to find the good in any situation. As a parent who raised two teenage girls, I know the feeling well. The only problem is, the teacher gets tired of them before the boss gets tired of us. Why haven’t schools ever learned the concept of overtime?

Monday is also the first day of a whole new week of opportunities. It’s a chance to either pick up where you left off last week in your pursuit of a personal goal, or to begin working on something entirely new. And, regardless of how much rest you actually got over the weekend, your brain is rejuvenated and ready. If only you could get your body to catch up.

Last week, I suggested Monday resolutions. Did you give it a try? How did it go? If you’re like most of us, you did well some days, and spent the rest of the week nursing the bruises from falling off the wagon. That’s okay. Once you get to be my age, the problem isn’t sticking with a resolution. It’s remembering what you decided to do in the first place.

Luckily, God saw that coming and invented something to help us through those times. It’s called paper. Things that are clear in your mind today tend to become a little cloudy over time, especially when they’re not front and center every day. But words on paper never change. The same goes for words on a computer. How many politicians found that out the hard way?

Besides refreshing our memory about exactly what we decided to do, written goals serve as a constant reminder that we’re probably not taking the right steps to achieve that goal. Okay, for some people it’s another box to check off right before they reach around and pat themselves on the back. If you’re one of those, more power to you. The rest of us need a little help.

And, here’s the thing … when you put those goals in writing, don’t hide them in the bottom of a desk drawer where you’ll never see them again. Leave them out, in plain sight, where you’re sure to see them every day. Who cares if somebody else sees it? They may end up giving you the moral support you need to see it through. You know, right after they get up off the floor from laughing.

But, here’s an important thing to remember. If your goals wouldn’t make anybody else at least smile in that “you really are delusional” kind of way, you’re not trying hard enough. It needs to be something a little bigger than tying your shoes each morning. Stretch your imagination. Think big. At least tie them in a double knot.

When we keep our goals front and center, it’s that much harder for life to push them off to the side. Roadblocks become speed bumps or, at the very worst, the beginning of a detour that will eventually put us right back on track. And, along the way, we just might make a few new friends or find something worth coming back to check out.

It’s hard to focus on personal goals when demands of the job kick in, or when you’re in the middle of trying to handle any of life’s other priorities. But, the more you can keep that goal in front of you, the more cemented it becomes in your mind. It’s not there to remind everyone else – it’s there to remind you.

Get some pictures of what you want most and put them up where you can see them several times a day. Put one on the refrigerator. If you’re like me, you’ll see that one at least a couple of times. Put extras anywhere else you spend a fair amount of time.

And, if somebody else sees them, that’s even better. Well, within the constraints of Human Resources policy. Early retirement is a worthy goal, but let’s not force the issue. Still, when people ask about your picture, that’s a chance to reaffirm your goal. “That’s a picture of our next vacation.” Unless they have access to your bank book, they’ll never know the difference.

Goals are like any other priority in life. Unless we keep them dusted off, they can lose their luster really fast. And, much like that prized centerpiece on the living room table, the more prominently you keep it on display, the more likely you are to keep it shined up. So, keep your dreams visible. And be sure to spend a little time admiring them. They are, after all, some of your most prized possessions.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Change is Not a Four-Letter Word

We’re all creatures of habit. Some a little more than others, but we all get into a comfort zone and tend to stay there until something comes along to change that. Those habits could be anything from which side of the bed we sleep on to which shoe we put on first, the route we follow driving to work, and how we spend our first five minutes on the job each day.

Most of our habits are completely inconsequential. Does it matter where you sit in church, or which shoe goes on first? Not a bit. In fact, some experts suggest we should change those habits from time to time, just to break up the monotony.

Beyond that, I think it can help us learn to adapt to change, so the thought of changing a habit isn’t quite so daunting. Because, let’s face it, we tend to make a big production of changing our habits. We make resolutions, set dates, create checklists, and put stars on our daily calendar like a kindergarten teacher to show the days we were “good.”

It’s no wonder we’re so reluctant to change. And if it’s that hard to change something relatively minor, how on earth can we tackle the changes that really matter, things like giving up smoking, losing weight, following an exercise program, or devoting a little time each day to building a business? All of these things can have a profound impact on our lives. And the stronger the impact, the more we resist making the change.

I think two things hold us back. The first is comfort. It’s human nature to seek a place of comfort. And when things are going well, and nothing is forcing us to change, it’s easy to sit back and say, “This isn’t so bad. I’ve done it this way all these years, and I’m still alive. In fact, I kind of enjoy how things are going right now. Why rock the boat?”

That’s great if you want to stay right where you are until the reaper pays a visit. But if you want to step things up a notch, something has to change. To have something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done. That’s one of my favorite quotes, and it resonates perfectly in this context.

The first step in making that change is to get a little uncomfortable. If we’re cruising along with little or no discomfort, there’s little incentive to change. We know what we really should do, but the urgency just isn’t there. Until the mortgage company calls and says pay up or pack up. I hope none of you ever have to experience that, but I think we can all agree, it would light a fire.

Beyond that, we need to break these major changes down into smaller bite-size pieces. One of my goals for the year is to finalize my financial situation in preparation for retirement. If you could see my bank and 401k statements today, you’d know that’s a huge undertaking. And, I’ll be honest – looking at the end goal, it’s really hard to visualize.

But, if I break it down into smaller goals – paying down the credit cards, shedding some unnecessary expenses, and building some sources of ongoing income, it becomes a little more realistic. And if I take any one of those goals and break it down even further, I can come up with a list of actionable items that can be accomplished in a relatively short amount of time.

It’s all about habits. Form the right habits, and you’ll work toward your goal without really thinking about it. It becomes second-nature. And once that habit is firmly in place, you can start working on the next one. Instead of trying to leap-frog right to your ultimate goal, you do it 21 days at a time.

If there’s something you’d like to change, a habit you’d like to develop (or break), it only takes three weeks. You may or may not reach your big goal by the end of the year, but think of how much closer you’ll be. All it takes it to get a little uncomfortable with the status quo, make a decision to do something about it, then commit to doing that for the next three weeks.

It’s been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing, day after day, and expecting different results. To have something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done. Embrace change, one little step at a time, and there’s nothing you can’t accomplish. That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

What is Your “Why”?

Well, the holidays are over and it’s back to the grind. This is the time when we reflect on good times shared with family and friends, and face (for most of us) the longest stretch of the year before our next paid holiday. And if you live in the northern hemisphere, you get to contend with winter at the same time. And the hits just keep on coming!

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the post-holiday blues. The celebrations are over, the decorations are put away, and we’re expected to pick up right where left off, full speed ahead. Meanwhile, the credit card bills are coming in and we’re trying to figure out how to stretch what little is left in our checking account to cover expenses for the next month.

That said, it’s also a time of renewal. It’s a time to get back on our feet, shake off any lingering baggage from the previous year, and move forward with a sense of purpose. Whether you made a resolution for the whole year, or just for one week as I suggested in Monday’s post, this is where the rubber meets the pavement.

Like many of you, I need to lose weight. Okay, I need to lose a pretty fair amount of weight. I’m a member at a local gym and, over the past few years, I’ve exercised pretty regularly. That is to say, I’ve gone through periods of a few months where I exercised almost daily, and then several more months where I didn’t go at all. It happens.

But in my time at the gym, there’s something I’ve noticed. Every year, starting in the first week of January, the gym is full of fresh faces, people I’ve never seen there before. The morning workout crowd is about three times its normal size for a month or two, and then all those new faces are gone.

And there’s a simple reason for this. It’s not a lack of willpower, or failed resolutions, or anything of the sort. It’s simply the natural result of working toward a goal without a firm understanding of why you’re doing it in the first place.

It’s easy to set goals, and probably just as easy to start working toward them. But if we don’t know the real reason why, it won’t last very long. Ask somebody why they’re in the gym, and they can offer a bunch of superficial reasons. “To lose weight.” “To get healthy.” “To get my doctor off my back.” But those are goals – they don’t explain why.

This time of year, another common goal is paying off some bills. That may mean anything from cutting monthly expenses like cable TV or dinners out, to taking on a part-time job or even starting a business. And the goal is simple – we need more money, so we can pay off some bills. But why?

Maybe the goal is to pay down the credit cards, so we can spend more next Christmas. Maybe we want to save a down-payment for a new house or car. Maybe we want extra money for vacations or to send the kids to college. And maybe we just want a safety net, so we can start saving for retirement.

Whatever the reason, it’s important to understand what it means to you. Losing weight isn’t a reason – it’s a goal. Why do you want to lose weight? To get off your blood pressure medicine? To look more attractive? To fit into the seat of your favorite rollercoaster? It could be that simple.

Root cause analysis is a method of identifying a problem by continually asking the question “why?” The plane crashed. Why? Because it fell out of the sky. Why? Because the engine stopped. Why? Because it ran out of fuel. Why? Because it was raining, and the pilot didn’t want to risk getting water in the tanks by doing a visual inspection. Ah, now we’re getting somewhere.

Sometimes, you have to follow the same process to get to the real reason why you want to make a change. And once you’ve got that bottom-line reason firmly planted in your mind, the excuses seem to melt away. You wake up every day with a solid vision of what you’re doing, and why. It’s what drives you to succeed when you’d rather take a break.

We’ll talk more about this later, but for now, take some time to get your “why” firmly planted in your mind. It may take some time, and a few sheets of paper. But it’s worth the effort, because when you combine a goal with belief and a firm understanding of why, nothing can stand in your way.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Dreams for the New Year

Happy New Year! I hope your day is off to a great start.

It’s hard to believe 2019 is here. My daughter shared a post this morning with a warning from a popular computer retailer 19 years ago, advising us to shut off our computers before midnight. As the world watched in anticipation of all the bad things that could possibly go wrong because of the Y2K issue, the new millennium came in without a hitch.

Throughout history, there have been times when we expected the worst. Religious devotees have predicted the end of the world, right down to the date and hour. Outbreaks of deadly viruses have sparked fears of a global pandemic. The entire Cold War was based on the very realistic threat of a massive nuclear war. And the Y2K issue predicted the simultaneous crash of every computer-driven system on the planet.

Yet here we are, alive and kicking, and launching into a brand-new year. Go figure.

Could any of those things have gone wrong? Absolutely. But they didn’t. And that was largely due to preparation and intervention. On any given day, there are things in our world that can bring us to our knees if we’re not careful. And it’s good to be aware of those potential disasters, so we can do our best to avoid them.

That said, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in these things that we miss the beauty of living. In the movie “Blast from the Past”, a family retreated into their private fallout shelter at the height of the Cuban missile crisis and remained there for the next 35 years. Their son, born in the shelter, had no exposure to anything known of the outside world beyond the year 1962.

Okay, so that’s Hollywood, and it made for an entertaining, though improbable, scenario. But how many people do you know who spend their life hiding from a perceived danger, waiting for the hammer to fall? Some are a lot more afflicted by this mindset than others, literally refusing to leave the house for fear of disaster. Others spend their days out in the world, where they can spread the effects of their pessimism among the rest of us.

It’s difficult to accurately estimate the number of optimists and pessimists in the world, mostly because it’s not something that can be scientifically diagnosed. Hundreds of polls and surveys have been conducted, but let’s be real – how many people would actually describe themselves as a pessimist? But, if you talk to people long enough, you’ll figure out who’s who.

And, make no mistake – a little dose of pessimism can be healthy in a world where things can and do go wrong. We need to be aware of the dangers around us and understand the potential impact. But, like fresh cayenne pepper, a little pessimism goes a long way.

As we begin a new year, it’s important that we look ahead with hope, and the knowledge that we can make a difference in our world. It’s important to identify those things that have been holding us back and do whatever is necessary to overcome them. It’s a time to put the past behind and move forward.

It’s also a time to dust off those dreams and pick one or two for the coming year. Not to dream about, but to accomplish. And, here’s something to think about – if all of your dreams can be accomplished in a single year, you’re not dreaming big enough. Try harder. We should all be working toward at least one goal that will carry us into the following year and beyond.

Take a few moments over the coming days to feed those dreams. Drive through a section of town where property values are on another planet. Go to an open house in a neighborhood where you’d like to live. Visit an RV or boat show. Have a family dream night with the kids. Buy a travel magazine or go to the library and check out a book on your dream destination.

If we only focus on that little part of this planet and this life that fills our own reality, we’ll completely miss all the wonderful things that are waiting to be discovered. We can sit in our own self-imposed fallout shelter for the next 35 years or get out and enjoy what’s right outside that imaginary steel door.

There are people for whom the things we think are beyond reach are part of their everyday reality. They’re no smarter than you are, and they’re no more deserving. They just got there first. Dare to dream. Allow yourself to believe. Then get up off the couch and make it happen. Dreams really do come true, but only if we make them. Let 2019 be your year.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Harness the Habit of Success

It’s New Year’s Eve, and we all know what that means. Okay, forty years ago it meant something entirely different, beginning with a trip to the liquor store. From there, it was a party (or a series of parties) until the ball drops at midnight ringing in the new year, along with the obligatory kissing of every young lady in the room. Granted, there was nothing “obligatory” about that.
 
New Year’s Eve is also a time of reflection and resolutions. We reflect on all the things we messed up in the previous year and resolve to make changes in the new year. Just one more night of overeating and debauchery, and tomorrow morning we’re getting serious about this stuff! As soon as the hangover is gone.
 
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. It’s just too easy to lay out grand plans for the coming year, and even easier still to take a week or two off from those goals when you have the whole year to get them done. “I’ll stop smoking this year!” That’s a worthy goal. But it gives you a whole year to get it done, so if you’re still smoking in December, you haven’t really failed because you still have a month to go.
 
I read an article last week that said, according to a 2017 Marist poll, about a third of people who make a New Year’s resolution fail to stick with it. You know what that means. Most of the remaining two-thirds lied about it, or their only resolution was to continue breathing for the next year. Based on my own observations, the overwhelming majority of resolutions go unfulfilled.

The article went on to suggest something more meaningful and more likely to succeed. Instead of making New Year’s resolutions that give you a whole year to get it right, make Monday resolutions. Do it every week. If you succeed for the week, you’ve got something to celebrate. If you fall off the wagon, you get to start over in just a few days. Every year, you get 52 chances to get it right.
 
I think the article was spot-on, with one exception. When you know in the back of your mind that you can always start over next week, there’s no sense of urgency. If you mess up this week, it’s no big deal, right? You might as well have said, “This week I’ll give some thought to making a change, but if it’s too hard or inconvenient, I’ll just push it off to next week. Or the week after. No big deal.” That’s not commitment – it’s not even wishful thinking. It’s just words.
 
Try this instead. The first Monday (today), you commit to making a change. You have seven days to make that change. Then, every Monday after that, you commit to continuing what you’ve started. Instead of giving yourself a stack of “get out of jail free” cards at the beginning of the year, you build on the previous week’s success and keep moving in the right direction until you reach your goal.
 
This all ties in with a concept I’ve talked about a lot in the past – the habit of success. When you succeed at anything, even something small, you prove to yourself that you have the ability to succeed. The more you succeed at small goals, the easier it is to see yourself succeeding at bigger and better things. Do that often enough, and success becomes inevitable. Not likely – inevitable.
 
So, if you want to make a resolution for the year, try this … “I will start the year with a goal for the next seven days. Then, every Monday for the rest of the year, I will repeat that resolution for the coming week. I’ll succeed in small steps instead of one giant leap. And I’ll continue taking those small steps every week until I reach my ultimate goal.”
 
You can build a habit of success just as easily as you built a habit of tying your shoes in the morning. It’s all about setting small, achievable goals, and then accomplishing them. Do that over and over, and before you know it, you’ll become one of “those” people … the kind who, no matter what you try, you just can’t seem to lose. Let this be your year. Let this be your week. And let it all start today.
 
That’s all for now. Have an awesome day and a happy, healthy, and success-filled New Year!

© 2018 Dave Glardon

The Time is Now

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

Before I launch into today’s message, I want to thank my good friend Mary Sanders for her messages of inspiration while I’ve been laid up. I know the commitment it takes to do this each day, and I can never thank her enough. Hopefully she’ll continue to share her thoughts with us, because she’s touched each of us more than she will ever know. Please be sure to send Mary your thanks.

My recovery is going really well. It’s hard to believe you can have brain surgery and then go home two days later. The healing has been fast, and right on schedule. But I’m learning why they call this a recovery period. Healing is only part of the battle. Recovery takes a bit longer.

The night before my surgery, my wife and I went out to dinner and had a pretty serious discussion about things we don’t often talk about. You know, the kind of things people our age should have discussed a long time ago, but something else is always more important. Besides, we’re going to live forever, right?

It amazed me how easily the conversation flowed. She asked about some of my preferences, and I answered. No sighs, no tears, just an honest, open conversation. And, as many of our conversations do, it led us to tropical beaches where the water never gets cold.

Both of my wife’s parents made their wishes known – they wanted to be cremated and have their ashes spread at their favorite beach on Florida’s Gulf coast. So, that’s what we did. The whole family had to travel from other areas to get there, but that was their final wish.

And, it occurred to me that we can always find a way to get to those locations after this life is over, so why is it so hard to get there while we’re still alive? Why do we wait for our loved ones to take us on that one final trip instead of being able to enjoy it with them?

We talk a lot about dreams and different ways we can work to achieve them, but something we never really talk about is the concept of “now.” It’s always “one of these days …” And you know what? That’s not a goal. That’s not even really a dream. It’s just a passing thought. Passing, because it’s gone as quickly as it pops up, only to be replaced by a reality that dictates what we can do, and when.

I have a picture of a motorhome over my desk with the words, “If not today, when?” Okay, I checked my bank account and I won’t be sitting in the driver’s seat any time soon. But if I set aside that dream until my bank says it’s time to go shopping, it’ll never happen. I have to get started now.

It’s easy to dream. But committing to that dream means making a conscious decision, followed by action. It’s even more than setting a goal. It’s making a statement that “this shall be.” Not “I want …” or “one of these days I’d like …” If you describe your goal in those terms, you’re still just dreaming.

“This shall be” is a commitment. And it changes your whole mindset. No longer are you worried about how you’ll make it happen. You’ll find a way, because you’ve already decided what the end result will be. Once you’ve made that commitment, nothing can stand in your way.

When a baby decides it’s time to walk, the end result is inevitable. They’ve made up their mind, and no amount of setbacks or obstacles will keep them from their goal. We’re all born with that determination. We use it all through our lives to master new skills, to overcome challenges, and to get the things we want.

And, just as a child learning to walk, once you commit to your dreams … fully commit … the end result is predestined. It’s no longer a matter of if, but when. Suddenly, the impossible becomes not only possible, but inevitable. Roadblocks become detours. Obstacles become speed bumps. And inaction becomes unacceptable. Because you’ve decided “this shall be.”

This isn’t rainbows and unicorns, and it’s not just Dave spreading positivity. If you look back over your life, every worthwhile accomplishment came as the result of commitment, followed by action. It works, and it works every single time. We never fail until we stop trying. And anything you haven’t accomplished yet is still out there waiting. All you have to do is make it happen.

Life is meant to be enjoyed. Sure, work is part of the equation, but it’s not everything. Get out there and live. Build memories. Don’t relegate your dreams to your last will and testament. Make time for them now. Make the decision and commit to it. And don’t let anything stand in your way.

That’s all for now. Have a fantastic day and an awesome weekend!

© 2018 Dave Glardon