How to upgrade anything, part 1 of 6: Taking stock

Chances are, there’s something you’re settling for right now. Something that annoys you periodically but you haven’t gotten around to dealing with it yet. We’ll tackle that problem in bite-sized steps in this 6-part series on upgrading:

So when I say “upgrading,” you can think of software, hardware, services, or pretty much anything. I’ll be using my experience updgrading this very blog as an example, but you can substitute your specific technological annoyance.

OK. Here goes Part 1:

Taking Stock (meeting your fears where they are)

If you’re annoyed by having a less-than-current software version or an old computer, and you’re pretty sure your life would be improved by the upgrade, then why haven’t you actually gotten around to the upgrade process yet?

That’s a serious question, deserving of compassionate consideration. It’s not a tough-love just-do-it exhortation or a way to lay a guilt trip on yourself. Because you do have a reason, and it would be nice to know a little more about it.

Your initial reaction is likely to be a tape that you’ve played in your head so often that it feels completely normal to you. Reasons like these contain a seed of truth, but they often mask the real (multiple) reasons we have for not getting started:

  • I’m too busy
  • I can’t afford it
  • I’m just too lazy
  • I haven’t found the right (research, service provider, color, you name it)

Do these sound familiar? They sure do to me. I used all of them (well, except for #2 because the software is free) when I was justifying to myself why I hadn’t upgraded this site to the latest version of WordPress.

(This post was written before the one-click update feature was built into WordPress.)

It’s interesting to find out what lies underneath these surface reactions. If you can ask yourself about the deeper reasons without getting into negative self-talk or self-blaming, you may be surprised by the fears that lie underneath these seemingly mundane reasons, and by the solutions that arise spontaneously when those fears come to light.

A quick word about the “I can’t afford it” reason. This may be completely true and valid. I’m certainly not going to tell you how to spend your money! But very often, I’ve found this reason masking a feeling of “I’m not worth it” lurking underneath. These feelings of not-deserving come in all shapes and sizes. And entire books and blogs have been written on this topic, so I’ll just skim the surface here and say that acknowledging this feeling, and showing yourself some gentleness and compassion, is both powerful and empowering.

Here’s how I teased out one of the ways I found myself using my fears to keep my own site trapped in WordPress 2.6:

Surface reason #1: I’m too busy.

Response/question: Well, somehow I’ve found time to write blog posts, market and teach classes, and do lots of other assorted tasks. So am I really too busy?

Surface reason #3: I guess I’m not too busy after all, which means I must just be lazy because I haven’t made the time.

Response/question: Hmm. I get that I’m feeling the need to call myself “lazy,” which doesn’t feel very good. I want to let go of things that don’t feel good. If I let go of “lazy” just for a second, even though it might be true, what else might be true? If it looks like I have time, but haven’t used it to upgrade the website, what other reasons might I have?

Surface reason #4: I haven’t found the perfect time to do the upgrade. I have to do it on a weekend, which is when I have the least time available.

Response/question: Oh, this is interesting. Why do I have to do it on a weekend?

Undercover reason #1: It has to be at a time when web traffic is low so no one will notice the changeover or find that the blog is down.

Response/question: Why would the blog be down?

Undercover reason #2: Because when I upgrade the software, I might break it. There might be plugin incompatibilities or I might not know how to upgrade the theme. I might screw it up. And if that happens anytime except Sunday at 1am, the entire world will know that I, a self-styled technology expert, can’t even upgrade a WordPress blog.

Response: Oh, no wonder I’ve been afraid! I’ve been secretly worried this whole time that doing this “simple” upgrade might expose me as incompetent. And I know that’s a huge trigger for me. So how can I acknowledge that fear, help myself feel competent, and also be OK with the fact that yes, something might go wrong?

Once that fear came to light, I was able to be more loving with myself. After self-medicating with a small piece of high-quality dark chocolate (yes, it really does help), I was able to commit to a timeframe. And the best part? I got an offer of support from another techie, so I was no longer alone with my fear of incompetence.

That was Friday. I upgraded to WordPress 2.8 on Saturday night, and here I am on Tuesday celebrating the process. Of course there are more steps to cover in parts 2 through 6, but the first step was really asking “what’s true?” about all my reasons.

So if you are contemplating some kind of change, but are holding off, you must have reasons. Good ones! You just might not know exactly what they are. And finding out just might clear the path for you to take one more step.

Next in this series: Part 2: Laying the foundation (or, back up your stuff!)