Updating Your Life

I’m not a huge fan of updates. Well, maybe that’s not entirely true. I’m a fan of having updated, but I don’t like the actual updating process itself. Take computers, for example. I’m a big fan of having all the new bells and whistles that come with an update. Security fixes are great to have, and I realize how necessary they are. But the actual updating process? It feels like every day my computer is telling me it needs to update. Some of those updates just take a minute or two. Some of them end up taking an hour or more. When I have other things I need to be doing, I don’t feel like I have time to just sit around watching my computer be useless for an hour plus.

So each time that “Updates are ready for your computer” alert shows up, it takes me all of five seconds to click “remind me tomorrow,” as if by tomorrow I’m magically going to see that alert and think, “Oh boy! I get to update my computer today!” Each day, I kick the can one day farther down the road, which probably goes a fair way toward explaining why, when I finally give in and agree to the updates, it takes so long for those updates to run their course.

My question to myself today is: do I do the same thing in my life? Sometimes there are things going on that I know I need to work on. Chores that need doing. Bad habits I’ve slipped into, and good habits I’ve slipped out of. I’ll get a periodic reminder of the need to update my life, but typically I feel so busy, I dismiss the reminder. “I don’t have time for that.” “It’s not that important.” And so I kick the can down the road and try not to think of it.

Until inevitably it all spirals out of control to the point where I feel like I absolutely must work on things, and by then, there’s so much to work on, it can be overwhelming. This applies to everything from personal relationships to weight to clutter around the house to just about anything else.

Let’s face it: keeping things in order takes hard work. There always feels like there’s something vital we need to get done this instant, and so it’s really tempting to shove off the things that don’t feel as immediate. But in the grand scheme of things, those things that don’t feel as immediate often end up helping us get done the things that feel so vital. (That’s a pretty densely packed sentence. Sorry.)

What’s more, for me, each one of those “I’ll do this later” decisions ends up only adding to my stress levels. When I get that “Your computer needs updating” message and ignore it, that reminder doesn’t just disappear into the ether. It’s still loitering around in the back of my mind, reminding me there’s another thing I need to take care of, just like the piles on my dresser remind me I need to clean them each time I glance at my dresser. Putting off little decisions to later isn’t a big deal, but put off enough of them, and they can snowball into a general feeling of being overwhelmed.

So I know (in theory) that I should do the updates to my life as they arise. I should watch what I eat. Spend time with each of the kids. Focus on decluttering something each day. I have a vision of what my life could be like if I just did everything the way I planned to. The reality is a pretty stark contrast to that ideal, though. I’d like to think I’m getting better at it over the years, but sometimes I wonder if that’s really the case.

I don’t have any lifehacks for you today. No grand approaches to getting things actually “updated.” All I’ve got is the concept. The reminder that taking that time when it comes is better than putting it off. Just because something’s not going to light on fire in the next five minutes doesn’t make it less important if you keep in mind that the fire it might light could take you hours, days, or weeks to put out.

Anyway. I’m off to take my Prius into the shop. It has a safety recall on it that I’ve been putting off far too long. Maybe I’ll update my computer while I’m in the waiting room . . .

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