A couple of years ago, I bought my own apartment. It took us (me and my wife) several long months to tighten it up and get all the things we needed to make it look all nice and cozy. After numerous arguments and trips to Ikea, we finally had a place which we now call home. It was an exciting moment. A champagne-popping kind of moment. And once everything was set, I thought that I will never touch anything inside this condo. But not long after, I realized that nothing can’t last without continuous attention. Not even your favorite coffee machine. Existence, it seems, is chiefly maintenance.
Whether you’re looking to buy a new pair of noise-canceling headphones or a new selfie stick (or a selfie brush), you’ll most probably spend at least a couple of hours online researching for the best available sticks out there so you can later spice up your online appearance. You’ll watch every single YouTube video ever published on the topic before you decide which stick will capture the best selfie. But regardless of your final decision, you’ll most probably end up regretting your choice.
But in this post, I’m not going to discuss the paradox of choice. No, we’re going to talk about something bigger. About something life-shattering. About how your choice doesn’t really matter because only after a couple of months you’ll most probably need something new.
But not only that. If you often find yourself spread too thin between too many responsibilities on your job or when at home. If you don’t have enough time to sort all of your crap inside your apartment and if you’re wondering why you’re still not Instagram famous, this post is for you. It will answer all of these questions and explain how you can take control of your life.
Everything in The World Requires Maintenance
In the book The Inevitable, Kevin Kelly, the author, shares the following: “It’s taken me 60 years, but I had an epiphany recently: Everything, without exception, requires additional energy and order to maintain itself.”
Everything around you, no matter how big or small, no matter how cheap or expensive, won’t last very long without the proper attention.
The cool new coffee maker you just bought to satisfy your caffeine hunger won’t magically clean itself after use. It won’t pour water inside, press the button, and after a couple of months take a walk to the nearest repair shop for regular maintenance. Nope. You, yourself, need to do all of that.
But most guys/girls don’t seem to get that. When Black Friday deals come knocking on our doors we immediately enter into buying mode and we quickly max out our credit cards by getting things we don’t really need. But also, things we don’t realize we’ll have to maintain. And in many cases, the cost of maintaining a particular product is higher than the actual product.
For example, getting a good deal for a used car can feel rewarding but it can often lead to some unexpected costs – expensive maintenance repairs that can cost more than the actual car. Costs we never thought about when we signed the papers.
Or, in another case, you might decide to withdraw a large amount of cash from the bank to get a shiny new sports car but later realize that the costs to maintain such a beast are things we can’t really afford.
The same applies when we purchase gear. We buy a nice camera, a new laptop and we later realize that we need a couple of extra things that no one said we’ll need to actually use the gear – an extra dongle or a flash for your camera, for instance. Plus, you need to regularly take care of the software and hardware updates. The more complex the gear, the more (not less) attention it will require.
But the things I mentioned so far are only scratching the surface. Every area of your life requires maintenance if you want to a happy life.
Besides the obvious things like bathing, eating, trimming your mustache, we also have the following:
Your Stuff Require Maintenance
The more stuff you own the more stuff you’ll need to take care of.
But how often you think about that fact when you go to the store to buy something new? Not too often, right?
Each month I spend around an hour cleaning my bicycle. An extra hour to clean my car and a couple of hours per week to clean my apartment. And every time I’m clearing the dust out of my bookshelf I realize that the fewer items I have on the shelf the faster I’m done with the cleaning. Though I love hard copies, eBooks are much easier to maintain.
Your Clothes Require Maintenance
Girls love shoes. Bags. Earrings. Bracelets. Soft sweaters. High heels. Jeans. Ripped jeans. Skinny jeans. All kinds of jeans. But while you’re looking to get a new pair of shoes for your new jeans, don’t you think it’s time to take care of your wardrobe? I mean, to trim it down and to finally put all of your clothes in order?
You can’t, right? It’s because there are so many. But like everything else in life, clothes, too, require maintenance.
You need to iron them. Fold them. Wash them. Stitch them. And to top it all, you also need to arrange them inside your wardrobe. Because that’s the only way you can find a particular piece when you’re looking for it. And the more you own, the more time you’ll spend doing all the above things.
Your Online Persona Requires Maintenance
In the era of social media, becoming an influencer seems like the most attractive “job.” Apparently, you only have to post stuff on social media about your super awesome life and you’re done for the day.
Well, that’s how things look on the outside. But it’s quite different on the inside.
If posting a picture a day holding a cocktail near the beachside was your ticket to online fame and easy money, we would all be living the good life, don’t you think?
But, there is more to that. Even your social media profile requires maintenance.
If your desire is to become a famous Grammer and live the unfiltered dream while posting filtered photos, you need to do some work. Especially if you’re not a bikini-wearing model. You need to find new angles to capture your excellence and post regularly – stories, posts, videos, hashtags, and other social media stuff. And this kind of work, my friend, requires time and concentration.
Your Business Requires Maintenance
“Keeping a website or a software program afloat is like keeping a yacht afloat. It is a black hole for attention.” Kevin Kelly
Starting a website is quite easy. You get hosting and you install WordPress. If you don’t know how to do it, don’t worry. There are around 1,019,964 posts published online about starting. Hell, I even wrote a piece myself – Start a Blog in 374 Easy Steps.
But if starting is so easy, why don’t we all have successful online businesses? Why we don’t all own vaults full of gold like Uncle Scrooge?
That’s right, you guessed it. Your business too requires maintenance.
Starting is easy but maintaining a website is hard.
A lot of people start blogging because they are looking for a new income stream or simply because they want to quit their boring job.
Besides, starting an online business is quite exciting, a time filled with a lot of hope and enthusiasm. You get to decide your design, your logo, and other cool stuff that aren’t really important in the beginning but we nevertheless do them. On top of that, you feel like your own boss and you post spectacular posts on your LinkedIn profile where you share how you’re going to change the world and make everybody alongside you famous.
Unfortunately, only after a couple of months, in most of the cases, people lose interest and their motivation collapses. Especially if we don’t see immediate results from our hard work.
But that’s kind of normal if you think about it. If every website succeeded only after a couple of months online, we would all be famous bloggers. But this is impossible in the world of business. Since there are so many new businesses, it’s impossible for all of them to thrive. Only the ones that survive long enough can enjoy the fruits of their labor.
According to the U.S. Small Business Association, if you want to succeed, you need to stay in the game.1 The survival rate of any new business increases with a firm’s age. Or in other words, if you keep updating (maintaining) your blog, your website, your local cafeteria, your chances for survival will increase.
Your Body Requires Maintenance
Probably the most researched topic online is on how to stay fit and eat healthily. Why? Because it’s damn hard to stay fit nowadays.
We’re surrounded. Outnumbered. Seduced by the mass advertisement of junk dishes. And while we realize that eating cheeseburgers with fries 3 times per day is not good for your body, we still do it. Why? Because it’s damn hard to resist the temptation.
But like everything else in life, your body too requires maintenance. Starting with what you eat to what you drink all the way to how much you sleep.
If you want to get fit, if you want to reduce your intake of drugs to be healthy, you need to regularly exercise and be mindful about what you eat. And this is an ongoing process, without an ending. Even if you’re ripped today, if your Instagram post just got a gazillion likes because you’re super strong, this doesn’t mean that it will be the same tomorrow. You can only keep your good-looking body only if you put your reps in. If you keep doing what you are doing. Unfortunately, few people realize this.
Most people subscribe to the local gym at the beginning of the year and perform crazy workouts for just a few weeks, hoping they’ll get quick results. Eventually, they fizzle out because they don’t see results after only a month. But there isn’t a shortcut. If you want a gram-worthy body, you need to exercise every-single-day.
Your Mind Requires Maintenance
I thought that when I graduate I will know everything I need to get along in life and to find a job that will pay me six figures. As you can imagine, only after a couple of months of existence outside of school I realized that what I have learned there had zero use in real life. Apparently, every job came with a manual. The better the job, the more you had to learn.
Your professional progress highly depends on your willingness to upgrade your skills. In 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, Yuval Noah Harari, speculate about our future job market. He urges us to start thinking about the future in advance. About upgrading our skill set now, not when AI and machines start performing better the work we do nowadays.
A lot of jobs will disappear in the future and the only way you can secure a salary is by upgrading your skills regularly. Learning new things and making sure you’re on top of your field. Of course, this too requires time and regular attention.
Your Relationships Requires Maintenance
It’s not only the things we own, nor our bodies, our minds, the relationships with the people around us also require regular maintenance.
Though I’m not on social media, I’m still staring at my screen during most of my time, unfortunately. I hate to admit it but often I spend more time reading and writing than talking to my wife or playing with my son. Something I really hate about myself. Not that it’s comforting, but I know it’s not only me. We all do it.
Our screen time increases because the available tools are multiplying by the minute. Before the standard phone (the flip phone) came with a single game, now, with just a few taps on your screen, you can play engaging games that are highly addictive. But that’s not all, in addition, you have social media, thousands of other sites, YouTube, and Google, which is basically a gateway to everything online.
Some Closing Thoughts
So, what’s the important takeaway here? Is there something we can do knowing that regularly maintaining things is an unchangeable fact about life? And why the hell I’m still not famous on Instagram?
Well, there is, and it’s painfully simple. You simply need to own fewer things. To focus on a few essential things in your life and in your business. To unclutter your cluttered life. Or as Mark Manson said in his book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, “learn only to give a fuck about what’s truly fuck-worthy.”
You need to be more selective about the fucks you’re willing to give. The less you own, the less you’ll need to maintain. Therefore, you will have more time to focus on the really important things in your personal life and in your business. You will have more time to call your mom and more time to chat with your real friends. That’s the only way you can keep your relationships afloat.
You don’t need 1,000 online friends on Facebook. You need a handful of people you can rely on when things get crazy. You don’t need a portfolio of 50 items on your site to run a successful biz, you need a few essential things that are really high quality.
Our lives are basically a series of endless upgrades and endless cycles of improvements. Be really careful what you add to your life. The more you add, the more you need to maintain.
- You can see more stats by the U.S. Small Business Association about small businesses in this PDF.