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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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In The Other Side of Organized, Linda Samuels, CPO-CD® will encourage you to get organized enough to reduce the stress of life’s details and make time to embrace your passions. Already, thousands of clients and readers have found help and inspiration in her advice, personal reflections on change and connection, and vision of what can be accomplished when you find that sweet spot between chaos and perfection.

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« How to See More Clearly and Make Way for Better Possibilities | What Are Today's Interesting Finds? - v20 »

How to Weigh Possibilities Between Good Enough and Broken

We’ve all heard the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don't fix it.”  That goes along the same line of thinking as something being good enough. If it is good enough, is it worth disrupting to make it better?

However, what if something is broken? Is it worth fixing? Broken can include things that no longer work like that DVD player, missing pieces to a game, or favorite a sweater that is well (really well) worn. It can even include negative relationships that only bring angst.

There is also the proactive approach like Gerald Nadler’s. His philosophy describing breakthrough thinkers is,

“Fix it before it breaks.”

Of course, that isn’t always possible.

Our decisions and their effectiveness are based on the quality of the questions we ask. This is true while we’re going through the organizing process, when we’re making big life decisions, or when we’re navigating relationships. So what are the possibilities between good enough and broken? How do we weigh them? How do we know which path to take?

Just to be clear, I’m not advocating that we live our lives without striving. It’s a matter of selecting where our effort gets invested. There are times when good enough is enough and when broken things don’t need to be fixed. Being able to identify those situations can be freeing because it gives us the space to focus on what we feel is most important and meaningful.

I’ve put together a list of questions to get you started. There are no value judgments here. This is simply a guide to help you with decision-making. It can be applied to many different situations. I’m sure that you will think of other questions to add to the list. I welcome your ideas and additions. Please include them in the comment section at the end of the post.

How do we weigh the possibilities between good enough and broken? 


Questions to Ask When Things Are Good Enough . . .

  • What will I gain from changing what’s good enough?
  • Do I want to make those changes because I’m not satisfied with good enough?
  • Do I have the time to invest in making things better than they already are?
  • Do I have the motivation to make improvements?
  • Instead of fixing what’s good enough, are there other things/situations/people that could benefit more from my attention?
  • Where does my desire to improve things originate?
  • Is perfectionism involved?
  • What are my thoughts about good enough?
  • Does the phrase continual improvement resonate with me?
  • How does continual improvement relate to good enough?


Questions to Ask When Things Are Broken . . .

  • Is it worth fixing?
  • If so, why?
  • How long has it been broken?
  • What would happen if I let it go?
  • Is there a value in repairing it?
  • Is it worth the time, energy, and resources (financial and/or emotional) to fix it?
  • What if I don’t know how to fix it or where to start?
  • Would it be more cost effective, time efficient, or less stressful to start with something new, rather then to repair what’s broken?
  • What old habits and behaviors might be preventing me from letting go?
  • Do I want to invest my time in fixing what’s broken?
  • Do I want invest my energy elsewhere?


As we enter this new season, revisit the things in your life that are just right, need fixing, require letting go, or beg for more attention and focus. You’ll find the answers in the questions you ask. Possibilities are waiting. What are you noticing? I’d love to hear your thoughts along with any questions you’d like to add to the lists. Come join the conversation!





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Reader Comments (14)

I love the lists of questions at the end of your post, Linda. I find myself frequently asking clients, "Do I want to invest my time in fixing what's broken?" More often than not, the answer is no. Usually, the item has been in disrepair for some time and that simple question makes them realize the value of how they want to spend their time.

October 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Soboleski

Terrific thought provoking questions, Linda. I love the idea of continual improvement. I believe in keeping what works and working on what doesn't with small incremental changes - continual improvement!

October 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Quintana

These thoughts about whether it is worth fixing are really great, Linda. More and more I'm finding that the investment of time and energy to fix things is less and less warranted. The quick pace at which technological items become obsolete is one example that comes to mind. I've been thinking about this a lot as I've seen TV commercials for new technologies built into large appliances. One I saw recently was for a refrigerator with a computer built into the door. This doesn't make sense to me because the life of a computer is short, while the life of a refrigerator should be long. If the computer broke, would that be worth fixing? replacing? You have to run through the questions you've listed to make a good decision.

October 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

@Sarah- I'm so glad that you found the questions useful. I love the clarity of the question you've added. And with the response you typically get, it sounds like it's an especially effective one. It's fascinating what pulls our time and energy. Often we don't investigate and are drawn to various things. But that questioning process can bring along clarity and in some cases letting go.

October 1, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Diane- I appreciate your enthusiasm. Thank you. I love the distinction you make between letting what works stay as is, but using the continual improvement concept to work on what doesn't. Beautiful!

October 1, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Seana- Your point is valid. And as you said, especially with the amount of technology that fills our lives, products that don't last as they used to. I love the example you gave of the refrigerator. A while ago, we had a combination microwave and toaster. It was a great space saver until the microwave broke. It wasn't worth fixing but we ended up getting a new microwave and separate toaster. Other things are worth fixing, like the lamp that needed a new part. And some of it is a convenience too. I didn't know how to fix it, but my husband did. So in about 10 minutes, he repaired it. But if he wouldn't have been able to, I probably would have bought a new lamp.

October 1, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Another excellent post, Linda! It makes me think about tasks in my business that are taking up too much time. Is the task important enough to invest time into find a time-saving app, money to buy it, then more time to learn how to use it and get it implemented? If not, is the task even important?

My head spins just thinking of all the possibilites...

October 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

@Janet- I appreciate that. Thank you. You bring up such a significant and relevant scenario. Recently I was speaking with someone about a business-related task that I'm still doing old school. They started suggesting various methods to make it more 21st century by way of an app. And while the ideas were interesting, I felt the "old" system was working well enough not to mess with it. In your case, though, your line of questioning has gone further where you're wondering if the task is important enough to devote energy too. I get the head spinning. Good luck sorting out the possibilities.

October 1, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Thanks, Linda! Being out of commission earlier this year due to family emergencies really helped me to put this sort of thing in perspective. If I was able to not do it for several weeks with no noticeable income, how important is it to start doing it again?

October 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

Love this list of questions. It may be more than just questions that help us decide. It's our inner core, where we know that we want to be good stewards of the Earth. It's a start to ask questions and a start to assess what's important to ourselves.

October 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

@Janet- Isn't it fascinating how life's emergencies can give us a new perspective on what we had been doing. I'm sorry you had family stuff going on earlier in the year. It's never easy. But it sure does help to sort out what's important and what isn't.

October 2, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Ellen- Thank you for adding the other element to this conversation. Questions are a good starting point, but you're right that they aren't enough. Knowing what we value has to be part of the process too.

October 2, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Here's a related question I find myself asking my clients a lot: Is this project worth finishing?

October 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterHazel Thornton

@Hazel- That is an excellent question! So often we have those unfinished projects that we think we "should" get done, but we've lost interest. We keep it on our list, when in fact, it's probably time to let it go. How do your clients view it?

October 4, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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