Make Excuses or Achieve Results – You Can’t Do Both

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

Have you ever set a goal and, halfway through you begin to have that sinking feeling you’ll never make it? It’s even worse when the time is half gone and you haven’t really even started. You get that panicky feeling, and then start to formulate a plan. A plan to get back on track, a plan to get as much done as possible, or a plan to bow out with a handy excuse. At this point, anything will do.

Hopefully that’s not how it works, but all too often we take door number 3. It’s the easy way out. Besides, it was your goal anyway. It’s not like anybody is holding you to the fire, and your job certainly isn’t on the line as a result. You can always just set another goal next month. Right?

We can be very forgiving of ourselves when we miss goals, but we’re not so gracious when somebody else misses theirs. When the cable company says their technician will arrive before noon, and nobody shows up until late in the afternoon, we’re not too happy about that. And odds are we’ve already made several phone calls to complain. At that point, we don’t want excuses – we want results.

But what happens when we miss a goal we’ve set for ourselves? Excuses are not only applicable, they’re a welcome reprieve. That project at work took longer than expected. The car needed new tires. The weather didn’t cooperate. People we were supposed to meet didn’t show. And my personal favorite – “I just ran out of time.”

Okay, if you’re getting the idea I’ve dropped a few excuses over the years, you’re right. I’m no different than anybody else. None of us wants to accept, much less admit, that we came up short because we didn’t try hard enough. There has to be a reason, some other person or force of nature that’s to blame. Otherwise, it’s all on us.

That probably works when we’re explaining it to somebody else, but how well does it work when we say it to the person in the mirror? Sure, the excuse is real. We’re not making it up. And it really did complicate matters a bit. But is that the real reason we didn’t reach our goal? More often than not, it was just a speed bump that we decided to use as a parking bumper.

I talked yesterday about putting forth the effort – just doing what needs to be done, regardless of the results. Jeff Foxworthy, one of my favorite comedians, once shared some thoughts on looking for something we’ve lost. We look high and low, under beds and in the closet. All that time, it’s nowhere to be found. Then finally, there it is … in the last place we looked. Well, duh!

His point was pretty simple – we always find everything in the last place we looked. You wouldn’t keep looking for something after you’ve found it. “I have it right here in my hand, but I want to keep looking just to be sure.” It’s an amusing observation, but it also illustrates another point. You keep looking until you find what you’re looking for. If you stop halfway through, you’ll never find it.

That seems to happen a lot with keys. They even make key fobs that beep when you ping them from your cell phone. If you can find your cell phone. They tend to walk away from the last place we saw them as well. But hey, if there’s another phone in the house, you can always use that one to call your own. Unless you’re like me and the ringer is on silent.

Okay, that was fun, but you get the point. When you’re looking for something you desperately need, you don’t stop until you find it. And the closer you get to crunch time, the harder you look. You enlist help, you pick things up and move them, you flip things over, you do whatever it takes to get the job done. Failure is not an option.

When we approach our personal goals with the same sense of relentless commitment, two things happen. First, we get a lot closer to our goal than we would have with a bag full of excuses. We may not reach our goal, but we’ll get close enough to finish it up with just a little extra effort. And just as importantly, we become the kind of person who doesn’t quit. We become that person who sees everything through no matter what.

Excuses are handy, and they may make you feel a little better at the time. They may even provide a certain amount of cover in explaining failure to others. But at the end of the day, they’re just excuses. Double up your efforts and you won’t have time to worry about excuses. You’ll be too busy racing toward that goal.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Focus on the Effort – The Results Will Come

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

It’s Monday again, and you know what that means. Play time is over and it’s time to get back to the old grind. I say that as if we spend a lot of our weekend playing, and as if going to work on Monday means we’ll work that much more than we did during our “rest” time. But we all know better. The work continues, no matter what day it is. All that changes is the location.

I guess for some folks, things like shopping and cooking burgers on the grill are relaxing. I’d like to meet those people and learn a little about their secret. Because for me, anything that doesn’t involve a sunny beach is work. Any more, even sleeping feels like work. All night long, I’m waking up to adjust my CPAP mask to get it to stop hissing. I think my face changes shape as I sleep.

And I’m pretty sure if I could spend my days on a sunny beach, that’s exactly what I’d do for the first week or two. If I felt really industrious, maybe I could do it for a month. But after a while, I’d find myself looking for other things to occupy my time. Because there’s always that part of us that needs to feel productive. I guess that’s what happens when you work for 45 years.

But more and more, I’m seeing younger people who have decided that working for 45 years isn’t all that glamorous. At least, in the traditional sense. A lot of these folks have a college degree, so it’s not like they can’t find a job. But they’ve decided that life is short (it is) and that waiting until your body is old and frail to get out and enjoy life just doesn’t make sense (it doesn’t).

Some of them work a fulltime job from home, and home is wherever they want it to be. Some travel around and find a different job wherever they happen to be. They may be freelance writers, web designers, software developers, or anything in between. The ways in which they earn an income are as varied as the people doing it. When there’s a will, there’s a way.

The one thing all these people share in common is a burning desire to live life on their own terms, to the extent possible, and a commitment to making that happen. Employers are learning that, when people work from home, they tend to be more productive and take less time off. And the reason is simple. They don’t want anything to jeopardize that working arrangement.

And the truth is, it can be a lot harder to find a job like that than it is to actually do the work. I’ve done a lot of freelance writing over the years, and it’s not for the faint of heart. For every hour I spent working on an assignment, I spent several hours looking for work and dealing with the inevitable rejections and shady employers looking to get something for nothing. It’s a lot of work.

But we tend to be short-sighted when it comes to these things. It’s easy to focus on the short term, with immediate results. You get a job or an assignment, and then get paid. Mission accomplished. But keeping that job requires a little more forward thinking. You have to look at the big picture and put in some extra effort now and then to build a reputation and keep what you’ve worked so hard to find.

But we’re not always so energetic when it comes to things where the payoff isn’t so immediate. We get an idea, visualize the potential rewards, figure out a plan, and take the plunge. Then reality hits. All that work you did last month, and you didn’t make a dime. If you’re lucky, you at least broke even. But how long would you work like that without some kind of tangible reward?

In most cases, the answer is not long. But sometimes, that’s exactly the kind of commitment it takes. It’s called paying dues. And the greater the potential reward, the more dues you’ll have to pay to get there. And that’s not easy to do when the results just aren’t there, or worse yet, when you seem to be sliding backward. It happens. And that’s when it’s time to dig in and work even harder.

The path to success doesn’t change based on results. All we have to do is follow it. There may be speed bumps and detours along the way, but if we stay focused on the effort, the results will come. And at some point, it won’t take as much work to achieve the same or even greater results. All you need is a goal and the determination to make it happen. The rest is simply a matter of time.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

What’s On Your Schedule Today?

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is starting off just right.

For some reason, it just seems like this week was dragging. Maybe it’s just me, and maybe it’s just because I’m still not retired. I have a feeling that, after retirement, the days, months, and years will fly by. Isn’t that the way it works?

Yet, in terms of my personal goals – the things I promised I would do for myself – time just seems to evaporate. I’ve talked in the past about Monday morning resolutions. I make them, every single week. And every single week I get to Friday and think, “Man, I blew that one again!”

I think that happens to most of us. We start the week with the best of intentions, but other priorities seem to fill every spare moment. Sometimes they’re things that require our immediate attention, so we really don’t have a choice in the matter. But sometimes, the priority is simply to unwind from an otherwise hectic day.

Regardless, those unexpected twists and turns can fill every spare moment in our day if we let them. Sometimes we even look for things to fill our time, just to keep from feeling guilty about avoiding what we should be doing. Checking email is always good for that. Or surfing the Internet, sorting papers, reading through old notes, or a dozen other things that at least feel productive.

But you know, if anybody were to ask me what I’ll be doing at 6:00 any weekday morning, I could tell them without even thinking. I’ll be right here, hammering out a few words for you folks. From 8-5, I’ll be at work. Monday nights I’ll be attending a business meeting. Sunday morning I’ll be in church. Those things are pretty much set in stone, and I try not to let anything get in the way.

I’m sure you’ve got several things on your schedule, whether it’s in writing or in your head. There are certain things you know you’ll be doing on any given day, and you know those things well ahead of time. When I ask somebody if we can get together on a Thursday in three weeks to talk about business, they can tell me in a flash if that’s bowling night. It’s in the schedule.

We get things done to the extent that we prioritize them and, unless that priority is something that comes up on a spur of the moment, we prioritize them to the extent that we set aside the time to do them. And for those who are like me and think only nerds keep schedules, here’s a little tip – if you set aside time for anything, even sleeping every day, you have a schedule. Get over it.

I know I should work out a monthly budget, but it’s easier to just spend money on the things that require money and keep an eye on the account balance. And when something unexpected comes up, like a fine mist of water spraying from the top of the water softener, I have to finagle a way to take care of that as well. But a realistic budget would have allowed for small household emergencies.

Now, any financial expert would tell me that’s about the dumbest approach to money management, and I’m sure most of you would agree. So, why are we so averse to keeping a schedule? We’ll put birthdays, anniversaries, and medical appointments on the calendar. But have you ever set aside a specific time each week to work on the things you want to do for yourself?

Since I began writing these posts at the beginning of last year, I’ve written the equivalent of six books. And, even though several people have encouraged me to write a book, I never can find the time. Too many other things come in and take up whatever time I have leftover each day. And the reason is simple – I let them. I allow it to happen by not scheduling that time for something I want to do.

In the simple act of adding something to our schedule, we commit to it. We block out that time and make it unavailable for anything else. And it doesn’t matter if that time is blocked out for date night, reading, playing with the kids, or writing a book. It’s a scheduled activity that we’ve set in stone. And once it’s in writing, we’re usually that much more reluctant to erase it. Especially if we use good ink.

Make time for the things that are important to you. Put it in writing and post that schedule where you’ll see it several times each day. After a while, you won’t even have to think about what you’ll be doing each night from 7:00 – 8:00. You’ll be doing the same thing you always do. And every time you do, you’ll be that much closer to achieving your goals.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Opportunity Flows Easiest Into an Open Mind

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

Mine began with a moment of frustration. After weeks of considering what to do with two old gas grills that have been rusting on the back porch since the days of Moses, I finally dragged them out to the street. It’s garbage day, and we always have people cruising the streets looking for scrap metal or anything else they can use. Well, as it turns out, almost always. Guess what’s still sitting on the curb?

Now I have to go out there before I leave for work and drag them back up to the house. Isn’t that the way it works? People will come along and collect any kind of junk on the planet, but my junk doesn’t rise to their standards. Broken down lawnmowers, old furniture, TVs and even fried-out microwave ovens, all get picked up by somebody. But my old grills, full of recyclable steel, get left behind.

You can never predict what will appeal to another person. Corporations spend millions of dollars trying to figure it out, and millions more convincing us that what they sell is exactly what we want, whether we already knew that or not. I guess I could find a way to make those old grills more appealing, but then I’d be tempted to put them back on the patio for another ten years.

Have you ever seen somebody driving a car that you think is the ugliest thing on the planet? And not only are they sitting in the driver’s seat where everybody can see their smiling face as they drive past, they adorn the car with equally ugly after-market accessories that probably cost as much as a week’s groceries. You’d never be seen dead in it, but they think it’s the most awesome car around.

One man’s junk is truly another man’s treasure. It works that way with a lot of things. Every day, we encounter people in professions we’d never consider. Sometimes they’re quick to let you know it beats unemployment, but other times they seem to love their work. You just never can tell. And if they knew what any of us do for a living, they’d probably shake their head and say, “Not on your life.”

I guess it’s why my mom always insisted that we take at least one bite of everything on our plate. Sushi isn’t the most attractive food I’ve seen, and the thought of it was a little revolting. But I tried some one time and liked it. Over the years I’ve developed a taste for all kinds of things. Except broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. I’m convinced God created them as a punishment for eating apples.

The point is, we never know what may appeal to another person, and things we never considered before sometimes become a little more intriguing. Even our values change over time. I often find myself debating topics with people who feel exactly as I once did, and as fervently as they now do. Yet, over the years, my viewpoints have grown. That’s not to say I’m any more right – I’m just more “me.”

It’s easy to look at another person, even a member of our own family, and think, “They’d never be interested in that.” Believe me, I almost fell over when my wife and I took a weekend vacation to the mountains and she suggested hiking. And I’m sure she was equally shocked at how much I enjoyed our day in a restored Shaker village, learning about their tools, furnishings, and unique way of life.

All through your life, people will suggest things you never would have thought of on your own. It may be as simple as a different food or drink, or as complex as a side business or new career. It’s easy to shrug it off and say, “That’s just never been my thing.” Yet, the very fact that you can go into a grocery store and come home with a variety of foods is proof that you haven’t always been so closed-minded.

We find new things by opening our mind to new things. We may or may not come to truly enjoy any of them, but we never know unless we at least give them some consideration. It’s just possible all those people out there running marathons know something I don’t. “But I tried running once and didn’t like it.” Seems I’ve heard those words before.

Just because we didn’t like something before doesn’t mean we won’t like it now. And things we didn’t consider before somehow begin to make sense. But only if we open our mind enough to change the question from “why” to “why not?” It’s a simple change. One extra word. But it’s a change that can lead us to new opportunities, greater accomplishments, and a more fulfilling life. And isn’t that what we wanted all along?

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Give It All You’ve Got – Even if You Come Up Short, You Still Win

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

I was watching my youngest grandkids the other day, simply amazed at how much they’ve learned. To hear them talk, to watch them play, to hear them sing complete songs and spell out words – it’s incredible what they’ve been able to master in such a short time.

I thought about those first days in school, when the teacher taught us the letters of the alphabet, to sound out simple words, and to add with our fingers. It was the basics of what we’d need to know to complete complex mathematical equations and read anything that’s put in front of us. Or even to sit at a computer at 6:00 in the morning and hammer out a mildly coherent motivational message.

We were proud of those accomplishments. I remember feeling pretty grown up at the ripe old age of 6. Because with every success, every little thing we learned, every little mistake we had to overcome, we learned a much more valuable lesson – there was absolutely nothing we couldn’t learn. It gave us the motivation to take on even bigger challenges. And look at us now.

In his book, The Miracle Equation, Hal Elrod makes a point our teachers knew way back in kindergarten … the purpose of a goal isn’t to accomplish that particular goal, but to become the kind of person who can accomplish any goal. Once you know how to add small numbers, you can add any set of numbers. Once you can sound out a few small words, there’s nothing you can’t read.

I’m sure the teacher’s goal wasn’t to make us memorize the multiplication tables as much as learning the mechanics of multiplication. They wanted us to know enough about how the process works that we could tackle any problem, and how to work any problem to the end. It formed the basis for areas of math I never really learned, but long after a building crumbles, the foundation is still there.

My first week in the Navy, we were taken to the gymnasium for a run. The goal was simple – we had to run for ten minutes. It didn’t matter how fast we ran. It didn’t matter how far. All they cared about was that our feet were moving in some kind of generally recognized running pattern for ten minutes.

Later in my training, distances and times became more important. But the whole purpose of that first exercise was to teach us how to run – to begin building the foundation of a person who could run any distance. And make no mistake, several of us couldn’t run the entire ten minutes. But along the way, we learned how to pace ourselves and work through those moments of sheer exhaustion.

Have you ever been given an impossible assignment – something you know you won’t be able to accomplish, but you still have to work like crazy anyway? Maybe you surprise yourself and beat the odds. Maybe you pull it off and accomplish the impossible. And maybe you don’t. But, along the way, you tapped into a couple of important characteristics – focus and determination.

It’s the same focus and determination that taught us the alphabet and how to perform simple addition. It’s the same focus and determination that taught us how to sing a song or play an instrument. Believe me, there is nothing “successful” about a person’s first attempts at playing a violin. It can literally wake the dead. But all that screeching helps them become the kind of person who can master one of the world’s most beautiful instruments.

When you tackle a goal, you flex those invisible muscles that allow you to accomplish any goal. You may not achieve your desired objective every time. But let’s say your goal was to build a house by a certain date, and when that date arrived, you’d completed everything but the roof. Would you stop? Or would you work even harder to finish what you’d started?

Every marathon runner knows the fastest two parts of the race are at the very beginning and the very end. You burst out of the gate, full of energy and conviction. As the race wears on, you’re not thinking about the end – you’re only focused on that next mile. But once the finish line is in sight, you get a burst of energy that pushes you to run a little faster toward that once elusive goal. You’ve made it!

Set goals for yourself – challenging goals. Work toward them as if failure isn’t an option. Give it everything you’ve got. You may come up a little short, and that’s okay. The work you’ve done still stands. And along the way, you’ve become the kind of person who can accomplish any goal. Success at anything you choose to do is no longer just possible – it’s inevitable.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Stay Ahead – It’s the Best Way to Keep From Falling Behind

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off just right.

Yesterday was a productive day. I picked off some routine assignments, the kind of thing I do every day. And then, I tackled something a little more intense – one of those jobs that really needs to be done, but you don’t want to start unless you’re certain you can finish because, by the time you get back to it later, things will have changed. Know the feeling?

Now, that doesn’t mean it’ll still be in the same shape when I get to work this morning. But at least we’re at a solid ground-zero. It’s like cleaning my garage. Last time my daughter did it for me, and it looked awesome. For a week or two. But once you start actually working in there again, things get moved around and before long, it’s just one big mess again.

I guess if I were the kind of person who always puts everything in its place and cleans up every time I do anything, that wouldn’t happen. I’ve got two neighbors who are never embarrassed about leaving their garage door open. They even invite people inside. If I let anybody in my garage, they may never be seen again.

But that’s a story for another day. The point is, you can give something your very best effort and make it really shine, but without regular attention, it’ll soon look like my garage. I mow the lawn, and it looks beautiful. A week later, it needs it again. If I wait another week, it’ll look pretty bad. One more week and the city will be mowing it for me. And I hear they put a pretty high value on their work.

I guess it’s a good thing work doesn’t get done once and never have to be done again, because if it did, we’d all be unemployed. Sure, it’s frustrating to find a mess after all that hard work, but that’s why they pay us to come back. And, thankfully, you’re usually not doing the same work again. It just feels that way.

Try doing something positive for yourself, and you’ll see this in full swing. You save a little money, and an unexpected bill comes in. You save a little more, and the refrigerator breaks. You save again, and the car starts sputtering. No matter what you’re trying to do, life goes on in the background. And sometimes, it seems you’ll never get caught up.

But here’s the question – do you quit your job because the bills keep coming in? Sometimes it’s tempting, but it’s also a quick way to find out what happens when you stop treading water and let gravity take the wheel. Or do you dig down a little deeper and find a way to solve the problem?

Two steps forward, one step back – seems I’ve heard that somewhere before. But even at that pace, you’ll eventually get where you want to go. Getting ahead takes more than just doing what’s necessary to keep up. It means doing a little extra. If you stop every time you make a little progress, you’ll soon find yourself right back where you started. Because life moves whether we do or not.

Staying ahead of the game means getting up a little earlier, going to bed a little later, or putting in a little more effort when you’ve earned a break. And sometimes it means realizing that the progress you just made will soon be erased, so instead of waiting for the inevitable, you get ahead of the game. If I’d done that with my garage, I’d be able to walk through it without tripping.

On the job, we know this. We put in that extra effort because that’s what we’re paid to do. But when it comes to our own personal goals – you know, the ones where nobody is paying us – it’s a little easier to take a breather, especially if you just accomplished something worthwhile. “Wow, I had to work hard for that one! And as soon as I catch my breath, I’ll move on to the next one.”

The problem is, we never seem to fully catch our breath unless something is driving us to keep moving. It takes a lot more energy to stop and start than it does to just keep things moving. That’s momentum. And every time we stop, not only do we have to find the energy to get moving again, the rest of the world keeps moving. Forward, backward, it doesn’t matter. Life never stands still.

Build on your successes. Find a strategy that works and just keep repeating it. If what you’re doing isn’t enough, then do a little more. There will always be setbacks. Things will break, deals will fall through, and some of what you’ve done will need to be done over. Keep moving, and those setbacks become speed bumps – they may slow you down, but then can never really stop you.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You Earn What You Deserve, and You Deserve What You’ve Earned

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is starting off just right.

So, the year is half over … how are you doing on your goals for the year? Yeah, I know. I didn’t even set that one up with a light jab. I just went straight for the knockout punch. But it’s a question we all need to answer if we want to accomplish anything worthwhile.

And I’m not even talking about New Year’s resolutions, because we all know how that went. According to Forbes Magazine, only 8% of us have accomplished our resolutions for the year. The rest of us gave up long ago. I made a resolution once to never again make a New Year’s resolution, and I even broke that one. Go figure.

I’ve made a little progress toward my goals for the year. Not nearly as much as I’d envisioned by this point in the year, but it’s a step in the right direction. And sometimes, that’s the hardest part. It’s easy to make a decision, to commit to making a positive change. Doing something about it takes a little more effort. And that’s where most of us fall short.

The problem is largely in our minds – we know what needs to be done, but maybe we don’t think we can actually do it. Or we blow it out of proportion and make it a lot more dramatic than it really is. After all, who wants to celebrate tying their shoes every morning? If I’m going to spend my time and energy on something, it’s got to be something BIG!

Another thing is that sense of entitlement, or the lack of it. We know what we want. We’re even willing to work for it. But do we really deserve it? After all, everybody around us is right about where we are in life. What makes us so special? Why should we have anything more than the people who are doing exactly what we’re doing every day?

Well, if we’re going to put forth exactly the same amount of effort as everyone else, then we haven’t really earned anything better. That kid who studies hard every day, puts forth their best effort, and turns in every assignment on time, deserves an A. And then there’s that kid who goofs off all day and would love to get an A, but knows deep down he doesn’t deserve it.

It’s when we question our entitlement to enjoy a better life that we find it hard to put forth the effort. We dream about it, but deep down there’s that nagging reminder that, for most of the people enjoying that life, they already put forth the effort. They did the work and now they’re reaping the reward. And here we are, still thinking about it.

What sets achievers apart from the rest of us isn’t heredity or education or upbringing or even blind luck. It’s the willingness to work for something better. It’s having a dream, believing in themselves enough to go for it, and following through until they reach their goal. And, just like that student in school working for an A, they’ve earned success. They deserve it.

And make no mistake, there will be some who scoff at their ambitions or try to take away that sense of entitlement for something they’re doing the work to accomplish. “Seriously? You’ve lived on this side of town your whole life! You never even went to college! What makes you think you deserve to live over there?”

And if nobody says that to us directly, we’ll fill in the blanks. Because our brain only knows what it’s been taught. Every bit of knowledge comes from something in our past – something we experienced, something we learned, or even something we saw somebody else try. And it’s hard to get our brain to think beyond what it knows.

But if you’re out there working for something you want, not letting anything stand in the way, you absolutely deserve the success for which you’re working. If that person sitting next to you thinks they deserve the same level of success as you, then maybe they should be out there working for it as well.

Dreaming is easy, and it’s really not so much of a stretch to believe we could someday achieve our dreams. But that element of entitlement, of knowing we’ve earned the success we desire, comes from putting forth the effort. The harder you work, the more deserving you feel, and that makes you want to work even harder.

You deserve whatever level of success you desire and are willing to work to achieve. Life isn’t always fair, but it tends to show a preference for those who earn what they desire. Take that first step. It’s really not as big as it seems. Just do the work and believe in yourself. The reward will be that much sweeter knowing what it took to get there.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved