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Man Explains Why Every Single One Of Us Has A ‘Broken Window’ It’s Time To Fix

Photo: Hebert Santos / Pexels
woman looking through broken window

You likely have an inconvenience or obstacle weighing heavy on you lately. Maybe you need to clean your house, or maybe there's a conflict you need to address with a friend.

All of those are what one man has referred to as your 'broken window.'

His 'broken window' theory just might offer you a resolution to that nagging thing in your life you've been avoiding.

On X, formerly Twitter, Nathan Howe, a musician and educator, shared the story of how his neighbor kicked a football into his basement window several years ago. With no immediate funds to fix the shattered pane, Howe decided to board the window up and fix it later. As years passed, Howe received estimates from window companies to upgrade all six of their home's windows, but it would cost him $15,000, which was out of reach for him. So, the window stayed broken and boarded, letting in "bugs but not light."

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A contractor explained to Howe that since the frame was embedded in the foundation of each window, it would need to be chiseled out by hand in order to be fixed. This would be a laborious and expensive process, so Howe left it on the back burner. 

The broken window nagged at Howe for years. 

“I knew I needed to address it, but I had built up the process (and the price) so much in my mind that I was paralyzed,” he wrote. 

After five years, Howe’s wife changed jobs and they needed to move. A potential buyer wouldn’t be able to get a loan with a broken window in the house, so he wrote that he knew it was time to finally face this window head-on. 

After years of letting the window stress him out, he explained that he pulled off the boards and cardboard and got started. He sprayed WD-40 around the rusted frame, gave it a tug, and it moved. He pulled the window out and took it to a shop. It only cost him $12 to fix. 

man explains why we all have a broken window it's time to fixPhoto: Africa images / Canva Pro

Howe was astonished. All this time, he could have fixed the window for $12. “I let it haunt me for years, shutting out light and letting in bugs. And I finally fixed it for somebody else when the house was empty,” Howe admitted. 

He was so consumed by the price of getting each window upgraded that he didn't even consider simply fixing what broke. He caused himself so much stress delaying what would have been such a simple task.

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Howe’s broken window analogy is an example of task paralysis.  

Howe tied his story to others’ experiences, explaining how many of us, especially those with ADHD, anxiety, and depression, tend to live with "broken windows" causing undue stress. 

“Everybody’s broken windows are different,” Howe explained. “They are things that seriously affect our quality of life, and we know they need work, but the actions to address them seem too daunting.”

According to ADDA, individuals with ADHD struggle with analysis paralysis, which makes it harder for them to "keep up with their commitments and complete necessary tasks at work, school or home." As a result, it is difficult to process information and make decisions. Simple things like deciding how or where to start a project become overwhelming, until no action is taken at all.



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One common technique to help overcome task paralysis is the RAN method. RAN stands for rewards, accountability, and novelty, which are three elements that can make a task feel more compelling.

For instance, let's say you decide to allow yourself a special treat to enjoy during this task, such as a muffin or a latte — this is your reward. You ask a friend or relative to ensure you complete the task for accountability, and you play your favorite playlist or change your environment to make the task feel a bit more interesting — this adds a sense of novelty.



According to Life Skills Advocate, another way you can tackle task paralysis is through list writing. The technique allows you to decide what to prioritize and helps make the endeavor more manageable. Other methods include breaking each project into smaller sub-tasks, staying organized with a calendar, and setting alarms to help you stay on track.

Howe suggested several tips for those who recognize what their broken windows in life are.

Howe admitted he has plenty of broken windows he still needs to address, but this experience taught him that it may just be easier and less draining to take care of these tasks sooner rather than later. He offered some words of wisdom to help others:

  • "An imperfect solution now is better than a perfect solution that will never happen."

  • "Doing the thing is often less painful than thinking about doing the thing."

  • "Don't blame yourself for dwelling on your broken windows. Just enjoy the light when you fix one."

  • "You don't have to fix it all now. Just start by starting. "

Remember you are human, and you are not alone. Everyone has inconvenient tasks they need to take care of. Whatever your broken window is, you will get to it, and it might end up being much easier than you expect. 

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Francesca Duarte is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team based in Orlando, FL. She covers lifestyle, human-interest, and spirituality topics.