Take Life at Your Own Pace – You’ll Enjoy the Ride a Lot More

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

In yesterday’s post, we talked about making the most of our time. Normally, that presents an image of somebody who’s up and running, working from morning till night, cramming something into every minute of their day. And for some people, that works. It suits their personality and gives them energy to do even more. But there are times when we need to slow down and just appreciate the world around us.

The movie Dirty Dancing has been on several times lately. I think the program directors in some of these broadcast stations pick three or four movies for the month and just put them on a loop. During the holidays, there are a few that’ll completely dominate the airwaves. “Hey kid – you’re gonna put “your eye out!” (That was strictly for those of you who love “A Christmas Story.”)

At the end of Dirty Dancing, the owner of an exclusive summer retreat comments that kids don’t want to go to camp with their parents and take foxtrot lessons. “Trips to Europe – 14 countries in three days!” I actually remember a time when travel agencies offered such trips. It sounds like fun until you think about what that means. “Get back on the bus!  We’ve got a schedule to keep!”

When I was in the Navy, we made a port visit to Naples, Italy. I really wanted to see Rome, so I bought a tour ticket. It was only $20 and included everything from the train ride to a full day of sightseeing in one of the world’s oldest cities. I was really looking forward to it.

But at the time, I had a real problem with oversleeping. I couldn’t wake up on time if my life depended on it. And, as luck would have it, I overslept that day. By the time I woke up, the tour had already departed. I was heartsick. I had breakfast and reluctantly decided to go ashore for another day of walking, cheap wine, spaghetti, and negotiating with street vendors for cheesy souvenirs.

But I still had that burn – I wanted to see Rome. So, I went to the USO and asked about getting there. They told me which train to take and suggested taking bus 61 to the USO in Rome, where I could get a map of the city and see the sights on my own. And I had a day I’ll never forget. I didn’t get to see everything I wanted, but I saw most of it.

At the end of the day, as the tour group was on the train headed back to Naples, I was sitting in St. Peter’s Square watching the sun go down. It was the most peaceful moment of my entire life. Sitting at the base of the Vatican Obelisk, a tall spire that likely inspired the Lincoln Memorial, I was captivated by a feeling of complete ease. It was the perfect end to the perfect day.

I was on the move most of the day, simply because there were so many things to see. But I got to see them at my own pace, taking time when I wanted and moving on when I was good and ready. Luckily, bus 61 ran past most of them. And as I think of that day, it stands in complete contrast to the stressed bustle of attempting to see 14 countries in three days.

When we talk about making the most of our time, it doesn’t mean we have to be on the move all day. Sure, you make hay while the sun shines, or so it’s been said. But there’s something to be said for quietly enjoying what’s around us as we plan what we want to do next. It’s hard to focus on your dreams when you’re up to your elbows in work. Sometimes, the best thing we can do is slow down.

It’s in those moments of quiet reflection that we’re able to think more clearly and visualize not only what’s right in front of us, but what we want it to be. It’s a lot easier to imagine a life on the ski slopes while you’re relaxing on a beach than in the middle of your best day at work. Find those quiet moments and let your mind take you where you want to be. When you know the destination, you’re already halfway there.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Don’t Wait For Time to Come to You – Reach Out and Grab It

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

Last night, I got together with some close friends for a weekly business meeting. We’re a supportive group, and when one of us has a special need, we set aside some time to rally around them in prayer. Such was the case last night. One is in the hospital battling recurrent cancer, and we were able to give her a call and let her know we’re all thinking about her. Sometimes, it’s the little things that count.

As I drove home, I thought about how in all this talk of dreams and goals, what is the one thing she would want most right now? I doubt it would be anything material, though she did mention she’s keeping her eyes open for single doctors.

But my guess is that if you were to ask her for the one thing she wants most, it would be time. Not necessarily more time to live – for all I know, she may outlive every one of us. But I would bet that she’d like to have more time to enjoy the things she enjoys most – family, friends, travel, adventure, and maybe even a little more quiet time at home. We all need these things more than we may know.

And as I draw closer to the age of retirement, time is a lot more important than it once was. Again, not necessarily time to live, because I don’t plan on checking out any time soon. But I do look forward to having the time to enjoy my family, to play with the kids, to take my wife to some of the countries I’ve seen, and when the mood strikes, to just enjoy quiet time at home.

I remember watching a documentary years ago about a professional stock investor. He earned a seven-figure income by knowing exactly when to buy and sell certain stocks. And, because a stock exchange is always open somewhere in the world, he literally worked around the clock. All through the night, he would be awakened to a phone call advising him of price changes on a particular stock.

I remember thinking, sure, he’s a lot wealthier than I’ll ever be, but who wants to live like that? Hopefully at some point he’ll take a step back and enjoy the income he’s built, but when you work like that every day it becomes more than a job – it’s who you are. It’s what you do, not because you have to or even because you want to, but because it’s the way you’ve conditioned yourself to live.

Of course, any doctor would tell you that working like that is a quick way to put yourself in an early grave. Yet most of us, to a large degree, do the very same thing. We may not have a have people calling at all hours, asking us to make snap decisions in a fog of sleepiness that could affect our portfolio (and that of our investors) by several million dollars. But we do put a heavy emphasis on work.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but what are you working for? Are you working just to pay the bills? Are you working because you want a new car? Are you working because your parents made you? Or are you working to reach a point in life when you can slow down a bit and have time to enjoy the things you’re working for?

Time is one of our most valuable commodities. And yet, we spend very little time doing the things we enjoy. Our days are mostly spent working, whether that’s on a paid job or taking care of things around the house – cleaning, laundry, repairs, lawn care, getting the kids ready for school, and all those other things that consume our day. What little time is left is spent sleeping so we can do it all again tomorrow.

And then comes that day when we don’t have to do all those things anymore. The kids are grown, we downsize into a condo where somebody else takes care of all the maintenance and yard work, and we can finally carve out a little time to do the things we want. Only now, our bodies make some of those decisions for us. We know what we’d like to do – we just can’t actually do it.

Time is not a renewable resource. You get one shot to get it right. If there’s something you want to do, a burning desire that just won’t go away, make it happen. Don’t wait for a better day, or until somebody else tells you it’s time. Because when that day comes, all the money and possessions you’ve accumulated won’t replace the time it took to get there.

We all get 168 hours each week and no amount of money will change that. So, change what you can. Make time work for you. It’s the one thing you have that nobody can take away. Make it count.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

There Will Only Be One “Today”

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

Well, it’s a new month and, for those of us in the US who just got a badly needed holiday, it’s the beginning of a new (and slightly shortened) week. I love three-day weekends. I just don’t necessarily love the four days at work that follow. I’ve always said that when you get to skip a Monday, you get four more to make up for it. Hopefully this week will be the exception.

I don’t know why we dread Mondays so much. Yes, it means the end of the weekend and heading back to work. But, if we did the weekend even slightly right, we’re going back somewhat rested and refreshed. If not, we may want to take a closer look at how we spend our weekends. But the point is, this should be the time of week when we’ve got the most energy for a day at work.

It’s also the time when we’ve got the most leftover energy to tackle some of our own goals. If there’s anything you’ve been planning to do for yourself outside of work, earlier in the week is generally better. Not only do you have more energy, but if things don’t work out one day, you still have a few more to go. The later we get into the week, the fewer chances we’ll have to do those things.

We go to work every day. We don’t really even question it, because that’s just the way it is. We can say we don’t have a choice in the matter, but we do. It just comes down to priorities. And over the course of our lives, few things will take a higher priority than work. If you don’t believe me, quit. Better still, just try to imagine it. Some things are better experienced in the mind.

There have been a few times in my life when I was unemployed. Like the time I found out my job was seasonal, but nobody had explained that little detail in the beginning. As a contract employee, you learn to plan for the inevitable “job’s done – thanks!” And the last time, it was because the company hired a new CEO who decided to cut our division completely. It happens.

And when it does, you immediately kick into high gear looking for something else. You think back to all those positions you’d applied for in the past and quickly check to see if they’re hiring. You put your resume on the job boards and check your email several times a day. Meanwhile, you look for any little thing you can do to cut expenses and bring in just a little bit of income to hold you over.

It’s amazing how creative and energetic we can be when the need is there. And the more urgent the need, the more we try to take advantage of every possible opportunity at our disposal. Then we find a new job and that first paycheck arrives. Whew! That was a close one! Now you can breathe a little easier and get back to normal. If you’ve ever been in that position, you know exactly what I mean.

The only problem is, “normal” isn’t exactly the best place to be. Because normal means you’re back in the same position you were in previously. You may have a better, more secure job with lots of room for growth. But at the end of the day, you’re still entrusting your financial well-being on somebody else’s ability and willingness to keep you employed.

Now, let me ask you a question. If you found yourself suddenly looking for a new job, or just needing an immediate inflow of extra money, would you prefer to wait until the need is there to do something about it? Or do you think maybe you’d want to keep your eyes open to new opportunities while things are going well? You know, think about the solution before the need arises.

If there’s something you want to do for yourself, don’t let opportunities slip by. If a rainy day will get in the way, take advantage of the sunny days. If you know other things will eventually consume your time, work around them. Take care of your own priorities now, before those other things demand your attention.

There are seven days in a week. Nothing we can do will ever change that. And every time we let a day or even a moment of opportunity slip past, it’s gone. Make the most of those opportunities now and when other things get in the way, you’ll be that much further ahead.

Today will be over before you know it. And there may come a point where you’ll look back at today and wish you’d spent that time more wisely. If that’s even a remote possibility, do something about it now. There will always be other priorities and demands on your time. You can’t change that. All you can change is what you do with each moment along the way.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

What Are You Waiting For?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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