General Personal Development

Hey, It’s What I’m Used To

I love reading Blog of Helios. To say that this guy is passionate about getting people to use a superior operating system is an understatement. He tends to get quite emotional when he finds that people come to him for help with computer problems that could have been prevented if they would just stop using Windows. Sometimes the stories are humorous.

His recent post, Only The Names Have Been Changed To Protect The, Uhh…Well, You Put A Name To It, is one example. He basically describes the story of “Richard” and his “garage”. His garage will be perfectly fine for months, then fall apart. And he tries to build it again. Using the same faulty parts. Every time. People easily break into it. The garage producer tries to sell security and locks afterwards.

Helios shows him his own garage. It has great uptime. It hasn’t crashed. He admits that someone probably could break into it if they were incredibly determined, but it is so secure that it deters most people from trying too hard. So when Helios offers to help Richard build a secure and stable garage, what does Richard do? He declines, citing:

I know my kind of garage. I mean, I’ve had this kind of garage for years and I don’t mind paying for it even if it means all the maintenance hassles. It’s just what I’m used to.

Obviously, Helios is talking about people who insist on using Windows even though they know what problems come with it. But this story also describes people who won’t try to accomplish their goals.

“I’ve worked this job for years. I can’t just quit. I actually like it here, even if there are some problems.”
“I’d love to get in shape, but I’m not that bad anyways. A little meat on my bones is good, right?”
“It’s so hard to quit smoking. Besides, we’re all going to die anyway. What difference does it make?”

In so many situations, a person will easily complain about his/her lot in life. At the same time, this person will make excuses to avoid making any changes to make life better. How many times have you tried to justify your inaction? Are things too hard to do? Too boring? Are you afraid of losing stability, even while complaining about a lack of stability? Are you afraid of what other people might think of you? Are you afraid of what you think of yourself?

When you find yourself wishing things were better, stop and think about what it is that would actually make it better. Wishing you had more money isn’t very good though. You need to be clear about your intentions. Wanting enough money to pay for the new house you’ve always wanted is much better than just vaguely wanting more money.

Once you know what your problem actually is, you can work to solve it. Clarity is incredibly important. Vague, wishy-washy goals aren’t goals at all. They seem to promote a sense of helplessness. When you say to yourself things like, “Oh, if only I had more time” or “I could do it if I wanted to” or “Why bother doing it since I’m just going to do a bad job anyway”, then you are only hurting yourself. You are convincing yourself that you will never accomplish anything, and then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So many people get upset when they get a virus or when Windows corrupts their file system. But they just reload and try again. And again. And again. “Macs are too expensive.” “Linux is too hard and command-line-ish for me.” “Hey, it’s what I’m used to.”

It’s what I’m used to. Whether it involves migrating from an one operating system to another or migrating from one way of living to another, you are making a choice. When you choose the familiar over the strange but better, what does that say about you? What do your excuses say about you?

When you realize that the excuses you make are just a flimsy defense against the unknown, you can take charge of your own life. You can get that job. You can live a healthier lifestyle. You can have better relationships. You can do anything because you know that it is up to you to do so. Feeble excuses and mediocre expectations are your enemies. Understand why you have them, and then defeat them.