Reinventing the Wheel

If there is anyone who is guilty of the attitude “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” it’s me. I am a guy and I am a very practical person at that. This means that if it still works by any stretch, if it looks ok, if it functions at all it is worth keeping around. I’m into saving time, effort, and money on using stuff until it wears out.

But there is a problem with this approach. I can get lazy and procrastinate when things actually need to change. It’s usually true that every part of your personality has good things and bad things about it, and I think for me this is one of those cases. You see, we are all creatures of habit. We get into rhythms and before long we become more attached to our methods than we are to why our methods are there. The means become the focus and not the end, and this is a scary place to be (it’s called being “in a rut”). No matter the arena, I have to be willing to constantly reevaluate what I’m doing and how to make it better. Here are a couple examples.

If I become more attached to the idea of “going to the gym” than I am to the goal of going to the gym (being healthy, losing weight, getting strong, etc., whatever your goal may be), than I may end up wasting my time there. I’ll get in a comfortable routine and cease to challenge myself. You’ve seen these people haven’t you? The ones who just go through the motions, are really just there to socialize, and only use weights they could do fifty or more reps with. I’m not trying to be ugly here, I just recognize my own tendency to satisfy my psyche without really challenging my body. I need to be reminded why I am exercising so I am being effective while I do it.

Or consider the way that you connect with God in prayer time. Maybe you’re not a “morning person” but the only time to have to sit quietly with God is in the morning. You may have to reinvent yourself in order to achieve your goal of daily connection with God. Or maybe the opposite is true, you’re a REAL morning person and you can’t find a way to have time in the morning. There are many other times in the day that can work for you, it will just require a little discipline. This happened to me recently. I have had to adjust my routines because my schedule has changed. It is challenging but not impossible. Don’t forget the end goal!

So what is broken down and needs to be fixed? There have been many times that I have experienced a great deal of frustration in my life because I feel stuck, like I am not getting anywhere with the things that are important to me, and often this question has helped me find a solution and get back on track. The biggest problem with “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” thinking is that it might actually be “broke” but you don’t know it. This is because you’re so used to it not being “broke” and not needing to be fixed that you stopped looking at it objectively. It is always important to consider, reconsider, and re-reconsider our methods for getting or doing what matters most. It may feel like reinventing the wheel but you never know, there may be a better shape out there for you.

One Reply to “Reinventing the Wheel”

  1. Hi Jonathan,

    The problem with “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude is that it no longer works for this day and age, especially in the context of software development.. In the good old days (20 or 30 years ago), this used to work because the same programmer was working on the same piece of software for ages and he didn’t care about other programmers working on his code (he didn’t need to).

    Now the environment is much more dynamic, and this attitude can certainly lead to many problems…

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