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

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

What Are You Waiting For?

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

Now that the weather has warmed up, what’s changed in your life? Okay, I guess if you live on the other side of the equator, we could ask the opposite question. But the same premise applies. What’s different in your life because of the change in the weather? Do you suddenly find yourself with less time to do the things you want to do?

Something I hear from people a lot is, “I’m just so busy! Between work and the kids and sports and gardening and my book club and Game of Thrones … I just don’t have the time to take on anything new.” I get it. We’re all busy.

Today’s message loosely ties with yesterdays in the simple fact that when we consider our goals and the things we need to do to accomplish them, it usually means trying something new. Or, more accurately, it means adding something new. Your schedule is already crammed full, and now that dream is demanding a little of your time as well. What gives?

More often than not, the time is there if we really want something. If you kept a vacation brochure at your desk for some exotic location, people at work might get the idea that’s something you’d like to do. And through the day, whenever you had a few minutes to catch your breath, you’d gaze wistfully at that brochure, dreaming of the day you’d be in that picture. That’s how dream-building works.

So, what if your boss came by and made you an offer. “Give me five extra hours each week for the next year and I’ll send you on that vacation, all expenses paid. Split the time up any way you want, but give me a good five hours each week.” Would you do it? Sure you would. Odds are, you’ve put in those extra five hours most weeks anyway, between skipping breaks and working through lunch.

We can always find time when the reward is guaranteed. But, given the opportunity to put in that same amount of work doing something for ourselves, where maybe we could take that vacation not only next year but twice every year, it’s amazing how hard it is to find the time. “I’m just too busy.”

Something I’ve learned over the years is that we’re only as busy as we allow ourselves to be. Sure, earning an income means putting in a forty-hour week, sometimes longer. And when you factor in everything from getting dressed in the morning through the evening commute, you’re already putting in an extra 8-10 hours a week. If you typically eat lunch at your desk, add another 5 hours.

Beyond that, there are other things that demand our time. Family is at the top of the list, especially kids. But do you actually spend all those remaining hours before bedtime interacting with family, or do you have those moments when everyone else is busy doing their own thing and you’re left to your own thoughts?

The time is there, but sometimes we have to be a little creative. What if you could step away for lunch and use that time for yourself? What if you could take a notebook to the soccer game and draw up some plans? What if you could make a few phone calls while the kids are doing their homework? What if you could meet an associate for coffee after work while the traffic dies down?

We all get 168 hours each week. Some of those hours are already spoken for, but if you’re being completely honest, you probably have at least half of those hours available for whatever you want. Sleep will naturally take up some of that time, and we all need to find time to rest.

But as we discussed a couple of weeks ago, you can accomplish a lot in fifteen minutes. Do that twice a day and you’ve just found three and half hours every week that you didn’t think you had. Add in an extra hour each day on the weekend and maybe a half-hour in the evenings, and now you’re up to eight hours. What could you do with an extra workday at your disposal?

No matter how young or old you are, no matter what’s going on in your life or what’s about to settle down, there will never be a “good” time to take on something new. There’s only today. And the longer you delay that decision, the longer it’ll take you to reach your dreams.

If there’s something you want, make the time. You may be surprised how easy it is once you get started. And with every day, every hour, every fifteen minutes, you’re that much closer to your goal. The time will never be better. You just have to make it work for you.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Memories – The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Good morning! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend.

The weather finally broke here in southern Ohio, and lots of people were out enjoying it. I have to say, it felt nice to go outside in short sleeves without feeling cold. We took my granddaughter to the zoo and, other than the punishment I got from my lower back for all the walking and standing around, it was an awesome day.

This is also the time of year when people start thinking about their summer vacations. Some already have their destination picked out. In fact, a young woman I work with has resolved to take a trip somewhere every month this year, and she can tell you for the next several months exactly where she’ll be. That has to feel pretty good.

We’ve got a couple of trips planned this year and we know where we’ll be going. We just don’t know exactly when. Between work and my surgery last year, we’ve spent the past few months catching up. And, I’ll be honest – I don’t know that we’re really making any headway, because the things we need to do are multiplying faster than we can get them done. Know the feeling?

But there’s a point where you have to just drive a stake in the ground and schedule some “me” time. If you wait for things to settle down, you’ll be waiting a long time. We all need a little down time, but life doesn’t seem to care much about that. If it sees an opening, a time when you don’t have much going on, it’ll fill that gap faster than you can say “Whew!”

I’ve read several articles about work and the toll it takes on us, both mentally and physically. And I’ve read others about our obsession with stuff … amassing as many possessions as possible, as early in life as possible, to the point that all we do is work for our possessions. A bigger house, a fancier car, the best entertainment system, all things we can certainly enjoy, but at what expense?

There comes a point where every day we get out of bed and go to work just so we can either make the monthly payment on what we’ve already bought or set aside money for the next purchase. But when you ask people where they’re going on vacation, the answer is often, “We’re staying home. We’ve got a lot of yard work to catch up on and I just need some time to relax and do nothing.”

The key point in every one of those articles I read was that all the hours we worked and all the stuff we amassed are only a means of keeping score in a game that nobody ever wins. And every one of those possessions will eventually wear out and need to be replaced. But memories last a lifetime and beyond. And memories usually aren’t built on the job or sitting in front of a big-screen TV.

The fact is, every day we move closer to a goal that we didn’t set and our date with destiny is something over which we have very little control. Every day between now and then is a chance to make the most of life, to experience things we’ve only dreamed of, and to build memories that will see us through those frail years after we’re no longer able to get out and see the world.

Make time to do the things you want to do. Make a list and start checking things off instead of crossing them off. There is nothing you can take with you when this life is over, and the possessions you’ve amassed will mostly be sold at auction because they just don’t hold a lot of sentimental value. But the memories can’t be sold, and the sentimental value they hold can’t be measured.

We all have things we need to do, and work is one of them. You can’t really escape that. But a healthy work/life balance needs to be part of it. And any time you start thinking you just can’t take time off because there’s too much to do, consider how quickly the company will replace you if you were to become incapacitated. And think of all the things you’d have missed along the way.

There’s an old saying – work hard and play hard. For too many of us, that second part gets lost in the first. Be good at your job. Be dedicated and reliable. But never forget the responsibility you have to yourself and your family. Life is about more than just a paycheck. Make time for yourself and build those memories. It’s the one possession that truly lasts forever.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved