Ep. 109 – Where Are You Due for an Upgrade?

This last week, I had the opportunity to practice patience as I was switching my cell phone provider. I had been putting this off because, in my previous experience, it usually takes a lot of time sitting in a retail store to get things switched and activated and working correctly. And this time was no different. It involved two trips of two-plus hours each and then still more done remotely the next day. 

In fact, I ended up having no working cell phone for about 16 hours, it was actually kind of nice. I had plenty of workarounds except for the maps GPS in my car when I was driving to an event one evening. I managed to figure it out old-school style, but it was a good reminder of how much we depend on a little device to navigate our days and our ways. 

The Bottom Line on Top of this episode is that sometimes the thought of change can hold us back from making that switch, upgrade, or even downgrade. 

This reflection on change has been front-and-center for me lately as I’m juggling a lot of big upcoming changes between selling my house and cars, getting my college son set up in his new space, and creating a new product in my business. 

So I didn’t expect the switch of a cell phone to take up so much mental energy, but as I sat in the store (again) with my new bestie Noah-the-sales-rep, I started reflecting on the weight we attach to the decisions we make. 

Part of the cell switch was picking out a new phone.

Noah asked me “How long have you had this one?”

“About five years,” I realized. 

“Ah, then, you’re overdue for an upgrade.”

I really thought about that statement–overdue and upgrade.

First, there is nothing wrong with my current phone. It works just fine and, sure it could have longer battery life, features, etc., but I’m always conscious of our quick-gratification culture that has taught us that newest = best. 

However, second, this nothing-wrong-with-what-I-have mentality can also tip us backwards into a Sunk Cost fallacy. As a financial principle, any previous time, money, or effort that has already been expended is known as a Sunk Cost. It’s an investment that has already occurred and cannot be recouped. 

Episode 41 talked a lot more about this in terms of how we overvalue what we already have (aka our sunk costs) especially during our cognitive process, and when we’re dealing with decision fatigue. Sometimes (we tell ourselves) it’s easier to stay with our job, our address, our roommate, our partner, etc. because we don’t have the energy for a switch (let alone an upgrade!).  

Oftentimes when we make decisions, even ones like a cellular plan, we simmer in a state of mental homeostasis. 

Homeostasis is most commonly a term used in biology and physiology fields to indicate stable conditions in an environment. The term itself comes from the Greek words for “same” and “steady.”

Given our overextended brains, homeostasis can also become a bit of a default setting when we want to avoid decision overload or we want to find a quick answer when we are experiencing decision fatigue. 

To close out my cell phone story, it all worked out (of course) and I now have an updated plan (and a new phone) that are cheaper and better than what I had before. I just had to be open to the change, invest a little time, and work through it instead of fight against it. 

Now I am focusing on the other places in my life that could use a little light dusting off. In fact, I just went through my other son’s closet and filled two bags of things that he has physically outgrown. 

Which leads me to wonder where are the areas in our life that we have outgrown? Or areas where we may need an updated option. And sometimes the check will reinforce that what we have is what we need (and want, no change necessary) – but it’s also good to check in occasionally and make sure that our needs match our current options. 

And check to see if we’re getting the same returns we once did and if we’re putting in the same effort– or maybe we’re in that homeostasis of sunk costs. 

Are we really giving the same effort we once did? Are we open to seeing the options that simply weren’t there before? Are you ever really going to use that thing in your closet? 

You could take it to other aspects of your life too. Have you checked the expiration date on the things in your fridge – how about the people in your mind? Don’t let expired people take up mental shelf space long after they are gone and no longer an option. 

This isn’t a nudge to change everything everywhere all at once. Instead, pay attention to what’s in your overstuffed cognitive closet. 

What aren’t you deciding on? 
What decisions are you avoiding? 
What people are you avoiding?

In the spirit of this podcast, where might you want fewer, better things?

I’ll be on this journey as well as I go through actual closets and then some. So here’s to finding the right options that are right for us, right here and for right now.  

Your brain is hungry. Give it some intellectual snacks in the
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I'm Kristin

I left my corporate work and dove further into how to navigate this noisy, digital, exhausted world. The result is a methodology centered on communications, productivity, and culture that blends theory with practice and helps people better enjoy the life they worked so hard to get.