I bought a new mouse this week. My old one was working perfectly fine, though I was getting frustrated with how often its batteries died. It turns out that in the years since I’d bought that perfectly nice old one, mice have acquired all sorts of new features as standard, and have longer battery lives to boot. My new one is also more comfortable and pleasant to use. And it’s a reminder that while it can be easy to settle into a rut, one that has worked and is working for you, better might still be out there. That’s not to say that you should shed all of the old and replace it with the new shiny on a regular basis, but there are good reasons to regularly stop and think about whether you should.
An honest assessment may show that what you currently have is not, in fact, still perfectly fine. Over time, you may have gotten used to workarounds to make it do the things you want to do, or you may not have noticed its deterioration. Erosion is, after all, by definition a slow degradation that isn’t easily seen, especially by someone who is present every day. The patina of wear and the duct tape and other repairs that a piece of gear has acquired over time might only be cosmetic, but they might not be. You’ve gotten used to how it looks and works, but what if it wasn’t your equipment? Would you still think that works as you would expect it should? As you would expect new equipment to function?
The state of the art may have improved and with it, what is currently commonly available. That piece of gear might operate exactly as it did when it was new, but new today might do much more. If it’s been a long time since you’ve looked, you might find that high-end or luxury features are now in even the most affordable models, or that there are new ones you didn’t even imagine were possible when you were originally shopping. It’s possible that you don’t need or want all of those newfangled features. It’s also possible that the cost of upgrading your original gear with a lower-end, but newer, model, is worth all of the improvements. Without knowing what’s changed in that type of product, it’s impossible to tell for sure.
You may have compromised when you bought the thing you have today. Perhaps you didn’t have quite enough money for what you wanted back then, or you were prioritizing other areas of your life. Today, maybe you have a bit more disposable income or have decided that this gadget is key to a pursuit that has become increasingly important to you and you can save to pay for it. Replacing what you have might be more of a want than a need, and that’s okay. If you can afford it, and if it will make the thing you’re doing more efficient or more enjoyable, it’s worth it to go get that new shiny. Then you’ll have a backup, or one you can pass on to someone who really is in need.
How much more do you know about the thing you use the gear for, today compared to when you got it? Even if you got exactly what you wanted at first, is it still the same thing you’d want if you were shopping fresh today? It might still work as intended as when you got it, but there’s more you could do if only you had a few more features or a bit higher quality. You might not have been able to take advantage of those things back then, but you can now. Think about rewarding yourself for that hard-earned knowledge and skill, by getting yourself a tool that allows you to work to your fullest potential. It’s like making up for a compromise you didn’t know you made.
After all that, you might realize that what you have is, in fact, perfectly fine. But you’ll realize it after having a look at the grass on the other side and seeing that it really isn’t any greener. You might even appreciate your current gear more, knowing that it holds up against the latest and greatest. While you’re at it, you might pat yourself on the back, for being able to predict what your future self would need and want, and for being able to buy it back then. There’s nothing wrong if you couldn’t or didn’t, but it’s a nice bit of satisfaction if you did.
I’ve spoken in terms of gear here, but many of the same principles apply in other areas, like the training you participate in for self-defense skills. Maybe the people you train with aren’t the right fit you thought they were, or there’s a better system or school of thought for your goals. Maybe your goals have changed, or you now have the schedule and budget to change or add to who you learn from. Or maybe it’s a relationship you’re in, or a job you’re working at, or medication for a chronic condition, or just your skin care routine. Maybe it’s….what you’ll be taking a look at this weekend?