Build Those Invisible Results

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

Today begins a new month and, for anyone who started a New Year’s resolution, it’s a critical milestone. If you’re still sticking to your plan, congratulations! Whatever it is you wanted to change has now become a part of who you are. It’s a habit and, as you know by now, habits can be hard to break. So, give yourself a pat on the back.

If you’re back to square one, you’re not alone. According to a January 2019 article by Inc Magazine, the failure rate for resolutions is about 80%. For most of us, getting started isn’t the hard part. But by mid-February, most of us lose our resolve. Change takes work. And sometimes, it’s easier to just stick with what we know.

Part of the problem with resolutions is that we can be a bit unreasonable. We expect too much and set ourselves up for failure in the process. If you haven’t been to a gym in the past five years, getting there five days a week is asking a lot. Maybe a goal of at least two days a week would have been more realistic. If things are going well, you can always build from there.

Also, as we’ve discussed a few times in the past, when you give yourself a whole year to make a change, there’s no pressure. You’ve got all the time in the world, and if you haven’t even begun by now, there’s still time. But when you make Monday morning resolutions, you’re under a much tighter deadline and are less likely to just blow it off.

But I think the biggest challenge in sticking to change is our need for immediate gratification. You’re eating healthier, you’re walking more every day, you’ve cut back on the snacks, but the morning trip to the bathroom scale doesn’t show any progress at all. After seven days of that, your brain says this just isn’t working. At that point, quitting can even make sense.

What we fail to recognize sometimes is that you have to build a foundation before you can raise a building. What you’re doing today may not be evident for a week or two, maybe even longer depending on what you’re trying to change. Most doctors agree that the weight loss (or gain) you see this week is the result of what you did last week. It doesn’t show up right away.

And that’s with weight loss, where results can be measured every day. What about things where the results are a little harder to see? Like eating more vegetables to improve your health or studying for an exam that’s three months away? Your immune system is getting stronger, and your brain is being filled with knowledge. But how do you measure that?

Oftentimes, we don’t know the good we’ve done for ourselves until it’s crunch time. When everyone in the house is sneezing and coughing, you breeze through unscathed. You get your test score and you passed with flying colors. That’s when all the seemingly invisible work you were doing pays off.

But what if you got sick anyway? What if you failed the test miserably? It happens. When my daughter went through nursing school, she was devastated to find that she’d failed her microbiology class. In fairness, it’s very common for students to fail that class first time around. Some things are a lot more difficult than others.

It’s easy to get discouraged. You begin to wonder if anything you do will make a difference. Maybe this just isn’t your thing. And that, my friends, is where the rubber meets the pavement. Either you get some traction and get moving again or go sliding off into a ditch. Or, you decide not to take a risk at all and just sit there in the middle of the road watching life pass you by.

My daughter took that class again the next semester and passed. She’s a Registered Nurse today and has risen to the top of her career path. Because she had a goal and wasn’t going to let a setback end her dream. And in overcoming that setback, she learned just how strong she really is.

We’ve all got that strength inside us. We’re born with it and it never completely goes away. It’s what gave you the determination to sit, crawl, walk, and talk. All major events in a child’s development, and all things where early failures made the task seem monumental. But you did it anyway, because you refused to quit.

Challenges are a part of life. And sometimes we need to build a foundation to stand on before we can step over them. Just because you don’t see results today, that doesn’t mean they’re not building beneath the surface. Keep your eye on the goal and find that inner strength. The results will come. And all those challenges you faced will make them that much sweeter.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

When the Team Wins, We All Win

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

Okay, so last week I was bragging about dodging the intestinal virus that’s been going around. Well, suffice to say I wasn’t as bulletproof as I’d thought. Normally if I even get these things it’s one bad night followed by a day of getting back to normal. But this was a particularly brutal strain and I was out of commission for four days. It’s good to be back.

It’s at times like this when you realize the importance of teamwork. My wife got this a couple of days before me, so I was able to spend some time taking care of her. And, since she began recovering a day or two ahead of me, I was able to lay on the couch whining in front of her. That’s how it works. We’re a team.

I read something a couple of days ago that I found rather funny. It said that for women, the pain of childbirth is so powerful and overwhelming, they almost begin to know how a man feels when he has a cold. I’m not normally much of a wimp, but in this case, I’d say that was pretty accurate. Stomach pain has always been my kryptonite.

But, with a little teamwork, not to mention a daughter who seeming is impervious to this stuff, we made it through. It’s an important premise we learned years ago – teamwork isn’t about the most valuable player holding up a trophy at the end of the game. It’s about lifting up the player who needs a little extra help so the whole team can do better.

If a baseball team has one home-run hitter and eight other players who strike out every time at bat, the best the team can hope for is three solo home-runs in a game. Improving that batter’s performance won’t help the team much at all.

But if that player can help a couple of others just get on base, the team’s average improves dramatically. Personal statistics look impressive on paper, but at the end of the game the team’s score is all that counts. We win (or lose) together.

Okay, enough with the sports analogies? You’d think I was an impressive athlete, and you’d be wrong. I was the kid who made sure nobody else on the team got splinters in their butt, because I was too busy picking them out of my own. But the one time I got a base hit, I advanced a runner into scoring position and we won the game. So, even the scrawny little right-fielder can get the job done sometimes.

And the only reason I got that base hit was because my coach and one of our strongest batters took some time with me for a little extra batting practice. They built my confidence to the point that I wasn’t afraid to take a swing. I got off the bench, grabbed a bat, and said, “I’m getting hit this time!” One player laughed and said, “If you get a hit, I’ll spit nickels!” What can I say? I needed the money.

The point is, when we help those around us, no matter what their position (or station in life), we raise the team average. And when the team wins, everybody gets free ice cream, whether they got on base or not. Those are the rules.

But here’s an important point to remember. Your “team” isn’t limited to the people in your family, your closest friends, or the ones you work with. It’s the janitor, working to clean up everybody else’s mess. It’s the guy in traffic who really can’t afford to be late one more time. It’s the child selling cookie dough for school. It’s the elderly person, forgotten and left to wither in a nursing home.

You see, it’s easy to get behind those in our immediate circle. But that’s only one small part of the team. A city in which people are either wealthy or homeless isn’t going to attract many investors and property values will plummet. But as a greater percentage of its citizens become independent and able to offer their own contributions, the city begins to flourish.

By helping those around us, we help ourselves. And more often than we’d believe, the help people need is little more than a friendly smile and somebody to make them feel important. People need to feel needed. Because when they do, they have a sense of purpose. And it’s that sense of purpose that drives us to do great things.

Sometimes, it’s not as much about hitting the home run as advancing another runner into scoring position. We do that by giving a little more of ourselves and helping others become the best they can be. We’re all in this together. And just think how much better that ice cream will taste after a win.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The 21-Day Turnaround

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

Well, it never fails. I bragged Friday morning about losing a few pounds and something happened over the weekend to spike my appetite. I know what part of the problem was, but the end result was I shoveled more food in my mouth than I needed and I’m back up a couple of pounds. Still a net loss since a week ago, but not as much as I’d hoped.

That’s the reality of weight loss, especially as we get older. I’ve learned that my body likes consistency. Whatever I weigh now, it’ll try to maintain that weight despite any amount of dieting and exercise. The body, and especially the mind, are intricate systems that are designed for self-preservation. And they resist any change that threatens that consistency.

On the other hand, I’ve learned that when I begin to consistently lose (or gain) weight, my body tries to maintain that momentum. I guess the trick is to get moving in the right direction and maintain that movement long enough that the body can adapt and accept the new direction. A week just isn’t enough. Thankfully, a week of weight gain isn’t enough either. If it was, I’d be in serious trouble.

It’s that way with a lot of things in life. We decide we need a change and start going through the motions to make it happen. If we’re really sold on the idea, that first week is easy. We do the things we need to do, or stop doing the things we shouldn’t do and, by all outward appearances, we’re on the way to success. Then comes the weekend. Or the second week, or the third.

It takes 21 days to form a new habit. For the first three weeks, whatever changes we’re trying to make are completely out of our comfort zone, whether it feels that way or not. We’re taking something we’ve done for probably a long time and trying to force ourselves to do something different. And our mind and body will resist that change until it becomes a habit.

Habits are things we do without thinking about them. They’re second nature. We do them just because that’s what we do. And the longer we maintain a habit, the more automatic it becomes. Which is why it’s just as hard to break an old habit as it is to start a new one. In fact, new habits usually mean we have to give up old habits. I guess it’s just nature’s way of maintaining balance.

I smoked for 23 years. Quitting wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be, once I really decided to do it. But for the first three weeks, I had to continually remind myself not to smoke. At the end of meals, I had to think about it. Waking up in the morning, I had to think about it. At work when we went on break, I had to think about it. Until one day, not smoking became a habit.

The same is true when we’re just trying to form a good habit. Maybe you want to start getting up earlier each day. Or maybe you want to start spending an hour each day reading something inspirational. It could be something you want to do to earn extra income or spending more time with family. Whatever it is, it’ll take about three weeks before that new action becomes a habit.

And once that happens, you’ll find that you no longer have to figure out what to rearrange in your schedule to accommodate your new habit. You’ll move things around without thinking about them. And when something else comes along and tries to take up that time, you’ll say no. “That’s my time for doing (whatever).” It just becomes part of your day.

That’s not to say things won’t happen to throw you off track. They will. And there will be days you just can’t make it happen. You handle the situation and move on. But once that’s over, you get back to normal. So, the trick is getting to a point where “normal” includes the things you need to do. If not, you’ll have to start those habits all over.

If there’s something you want to change, then do it. Let today be the first day. Mark it on the calendar. Then mark another date three weeks out – that’s the day your new life becomes a habit. All you have to do until then is just keep on doing whatever it is you’ve decided to do (or not do). And if you slip up a little along the way (you will), just get back on track. Success is still there, waiting for you to arrive.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Are You Winning?

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

It’s hump day, and that means the week is just about half over. It’s also the midway point for all those things we’d hoped to accomplish this week. How are you doing on your assignments? More importantly (don’t tell the boss), how are you doing on your personal goals? You know, those things you’re doing just for you?

As we near the mid-point of February, those New Year’s resolutions are beginning to nag. And, like most “adoring” husbands, we find a way of shutting down that nagging voice to the point we no longer even hear it. Yes, by this point we should have lost ten pounds, or been to the gym 30 times, or whatever it is we promised ourselves what we’d do. We don’t need to be reminded every day!

Part of the problem is we try to set goals for the entire year. And if the weather is bad, or there are leftover goodies from the holidays, or whatever, we look at our progress so far (or lack of it) and say, “I’ve still got plenty of time. It’s only February!” All the more reason to do those Monday morning resolutions we’ve talked about.

But the even bigger problem is we set lofty goals that will require an immediate and complete change in habits, personality, and lifestyle. And when we don’t find ourselves progressing as we think we should, it’s easy to get discouraged. And then that nagging voice kicks in … “You knew you’d never be able to do that.” And the easiest way to shut that voice down is to simply give up.

Goals should be challenging. If your goal is to get up every morning and tie your shoes, that’s not much of a stretch, and not much to celebrate. But if your goal is to go to the gym for three hours every day of the week, and you haven’t been near a gym in the past year, you’re probably setting yourself up for failure.

Most of life is about setting and achieving goals. Sometimes we don’t even think about it. And sometimes, those goals are set for us with deadlines we think we can never meet. It may be an assignment at work, something for one of the kids, or an emergency repair that’ll take everything in the bank and then some.

When those goals require us to operate at peak efficiency and dig down deep into our creativity, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But when they require everything we’ve got, week after week, there comes a point where you’re just physically drained and something has to go. Sadly enough, when we look over the list of possible cuts, our personal goals are usually at the top of the list.

And it’s possible that we set our sights too high there as well. If you’re working a job that requires 8-9 hours a day, raising a family, maintaining a home, and working a part-time job or building a business on the side, it’s a safe bet your goal of getting to the gym every day is doomed to fail.

As we set goals, we need to be realistic. Sure, stretch yourself a little. That’s what makes the goal worthwhile. But make it something where you have at least a reasonable chance of success. Several smaller goals will get you to the finish line faster and easier than one huge leap. And as you complete those smaller goals, you not only see progress – you see yourself winning, week after week.

It’s all part of the habit of success. If you’ve been with me a while, we’ve talked about that before. It’s like a small child staring at the cookies on top of the refrigerator, completely out of reach. So, they stand on a small stool. That gets them closer, so they try something else. And with each piece of the rickety ladder they construct, they get closer and more excited until finally they reach their goal.

If your personal goals are a bit too much, it’s okay to trim them down a little. Or just stretch out your self-imposed deadline and set some smaller intermediate goals along the way. With each success, you’ll get closer and more energized. And, if there are corrections to be made along the way, you can spot them earlier and get back on track.

Goals should be challenging, but realistic. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Make those Monday morning resolutions and celebrate your success at the end of every week. You’ll move closer to your ultimate goal, building confidence every step of the way. And it’s that confidence that will see you through to the end.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved