Toolbox

When something breaks, could you fix it?

Is that a strange question? If something in your house breaks, big or small, major or minor, could you fix it? Whether you could actually fix it or not, would you even try? Maybe that’s the question right there: would you try?

Do you try to fix something or do you “call a guy” to fix it?

I think this has to do with mindset just as much as skill, maybe more so. You may not know what you’re doing when the heating element goes out in your clothes dryer, but if you have the mindset of “I’m gonna damn well figure it out,” well, you’re probably gonna damn well figure it out. Especially in a time like today. You don’t even have to go down to the library to look up how to do something. Anything you could ever want to know has found its way onto the internet; from how to install a water heater to how to refinish a dining room table to how to build the table in the first place! The knowledge is out there and it is more accessible than ever before in the history of man. You just need to know where to look (which is not very hard) and you have to actually look for the information. Yes, you have to want to find it. You may laugh or think I’m being facetious, but I’m not. I know people that will use not knowing where to look for information as an excuse not to do something. Really? Type anything into any search engine and you will find something! Even if it’s not exactly what you’re looking for, it’s probably moving you in the right direction.

“I tried and it’s a no-go!”

So you tried it and you can’t figure it out. Well, you tried, you took whatever apart to get into it, but you either got stuck, you don’t have the tools you need, it’s just too complicated or dangerous and you actually need a professional, then yeah, call a professional. But at least you gave it a shot and hopefully you didn’t half-ass your way through so your wife would let you or beg you to “call a guy.”

In that case, here’s my advice for when you do have to call a guy: when the professional is there and elbow deep in whatever you have him there for, don’t go find a nice spot on the couch that needs warmed up, STICK AROUND AND LEARN SOMETHING! Don’t be in the way and make their job harder, but watch what they’re doing. What’s he doing, how’s he doing it? Why is he doing it that way? Ask him about what he’s doing. You can ask questions. You don’t need to be a 6 year old again with a million and one questions, but you can ask the whats and hows. Besides, this is your house, your car, or whatever it happens to be. You get to ask about what he’s doing to your stuff. He shouldn’t get irritated with you for wanting to learn something. And he might like the company. To tell you the truth, I don’t really like having people just hanging around when I’m working on something. They can get in the way and I just kinda like working solo. But if someone is hanging over my shoulder actually trying to learn what I’m doing, actually interested, well they can hang out all day as far as I’m concerned. I’ll walk them through what I’m doing, step by step, answering questions, instead of just whipping through it. So if your professional gets irritated with you, you know who not to call next time!

ToolboxSo what I’m trying to say is this: the next time something needs repaired in your home, try to do it yourself. If you are reading this, you have access to the internet. Which means you have access to more information than you could use in a thousand lifetimes. You may not need the web at all, you can figure it out, right? Go for it! But then, maybe you get stuck on something. It’s nothing a how-to video on YouTube can’t fix. No computer? Because you’re currently in the crawl space of your house trying to fix that leaky pipe? Well you have you smartphone… With YouTube… That has tons of videos just for your situation. Do you see where I’m going with this? You have no excuses! Give it a try! And guess what? Once you’ve done it, you know how to do it (whatever it is). It’s a part of your skill set now. And if you don’t have a smartphone, there are still tons of options! People lived a long time without them, so you can’t use that for an excuse either.

While I’m thinking about it, here are some links to some pretty good online resources for the DIYer:

The Family Handyman – All around great advice and instructionals on everything in the home.

This Old House – This Old House!  I remember watching this show with my dad when I was young. Again, great advice and instructionals.

eHow.com – You can type in just about any question into the search and it’ll return something useful.

Home Book

How about off-line?

Also, you may want to buy a few “home repair and improvements” type books. Actual books. I don’t know why, but I like to have actual books; the feel, the smell, I don’t know. But physical books (non-ebooks) are better for reference and how-to type books because they usually have a lot of illustrations. Images in ebooks can suck, some pretty bad, especially on smaller screens. I actually just bought a book today at Goodwill titled “Home Book – The ultimate guide to repairs, improvements & maintenance” By Creative Homeowner. It’s a hard cover, 600 page book that looks like it was barely even opened, with over 3,300 illustrations (so says the cover). And I picked it up for $1.99. 600 pages for 2 bucks, I’ll take it! Why not? And unlike an e-reader, it doesn’t need charging, it never goes dead! I’ve gotten quite a few really good reference, DIY and how-to books from Goodwill and other thrift stores. They are a great resource! Also, look through the boxes of books you’d find at garage sales. I probably could’ve picked up that book at a garage sale for 50 cents!

So again I’ll ask…

If something breaks, could you fix it? Would you at least try? Just starting with that small step can start to change your mindset from “I’ll call a guy” to “hell yeah I can do this!” And the pride and sense of accomplishment you get when you finish a project is something that can’t be rivaled. This country was once full of do-it-yourselfers and Mr. Fix-Its and for the most part, they didn’t depend on others. They were self-reliant, relying on what they had and themselves and maybe a neighbor from time to time. A good neighbor is invaluable. We can get there again. I do have faith in us that we can get back to where we were in this aspect.

If you want to lessen your dependence on other and be more free in your life, pick up a few new skills, do some things for yourself. At least try. And if you fail, try it a different way, but keep trying. Even when you fail at something, you are still succeeding because you won’t truly fail until you stop trying.

Until next time,

Stay free.

Comments, ideas or thoughts? Let us know!

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