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Don't wait until you have to!

This article was inspired by an incident that most people will laugh or fume about. After over five years of driving, I finally learned how to sort out my tyre pressures today. Sure, I learned the theory of it years ago for my driving test, but thanks to a very helpful husband and kind mechanics, I have never had to fix my tyres. Apologies to all the “‘I don’t need a man’ feminists” and female engineers out there. Most people that know me will know that I do not like to get my hands dirty outdoors (gardening, camping, car engines etc) - except in ways that doctors do, of course - which my husband thinks is worse! 

My car warned me yesterday that my tyre pressures needed to be checked, but I did not mention it to my husband because I had a plan. He is a busy man during the week, and I knew he would not have time to sort it, so I planned to drive over to the mechanic’s and ask for a favour - again. The men at the garage were always so kind and would normally check and sort all my tyres. I knew something was wrong this time when I drove there and saw that the entrance had been blocked. There was a new business next door, and a nice man there explained that my usual garage closed down months ago, because the owner had sadly passed away. I was shocked, but also felt sad for the family of the owner, who had more than tyre problems to sort because of this loss. 

I have been told before by mechanics that my car was ‘too sensitive’ and I did not always have to sort out the pressures immediately the warning came up, but I felt motivated to do it myself this time. I could have driven home and waited for my husband to help me do it when he had time at the weekend since I do not drive much, but I chose to drive to the nearby petrol station and do it myself. For most people, this is no big deal. In fact, my friends in Nigeria would be wondering why we have to do this ourselves in the UK, because many working people there have staff to drive and maintain their cars. Anyway, I live in England, most of us do this ourselves and this was a big deal for me. I think my friend’s talk earlier in the day helped to encourage me. She told me it was easy to fix tyre pressures, and even tried to explain how to do it, but I told her I was going to the mechanic anyway. I wished I had listened!

Thankfully, I met a man there who kindly explained how to use the tyre pressure machine and even gave me a useful tip about putting the tyre caps in my pocket so I did not lose them in the winter evening darkness. I put in my pound coin and tried not to drop the tiny tyre cap in the drain whilst unscrewing it. It was all over within a few minutes, and I was proud of myself for not waiting for a time when I really had no choice but to learn. Even though I had watched my husband and mechanics do this many times, I never really paid attention before. Some things can only really be learned by doing. Hopefully, I can help someone one day too with this new knowledge.

We always have a choice, but life sometimes leaves us with unpleasant choices if we do not make good choices when we can. A smoker can choose to willingly stop smoking after hearing about the risk of cancer and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), or he/she can wait until he/she has to stop because he/she cannot be prescribed oxygen for COPD otherwise. A person that loves shopping can choose to budget to avoid debt, or they can wait until they have to stop because they have run out of money and lenders. It takes self control to forego certain pleasures in order to save, budget or invest when you have money in your account. If people do not learn to do this, they might end up having to forego those same pleasures in later life, because they really cannot afford them then. As a doctor, I see people who refuse to give up sweets, exercise and lose weight willingly, until they get diagnosed with diabetes and have to give sweets up or suffer complications such as kidney failure and blindness. 

Whatever goals we have set ourselves for this year, we have the choice to push through and get it done, or give up next month like most people. Nothing good comes easy. It is always uncomfortable at first. I could easily keep making excuses for not learning or doing things I should, but I choose this year to not wait until I really have to. I am glad to still have a husband to help me when I need him. I am also grateful for kind strangers and good mechanics, but my greatest asset is me, and I choose to keep improving me. Whether it is about being healthy, organised, educated, caring, careful with money, or spending time with family, we should do the right thing now, not until we have no other choice. Don’t wait until someone has two weeks to live before you spend time with them. Don’t wait until you lose your job, before you start working on that business idea. Don’t wait until you need their help before you start being nice to people. There will be many more lessons for me to learn, and even more ways that I still need help, but I hope that sharing this motivates someone to step out of their comfort zone now, rather than later.

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