Lesson From the Toaster Oven

Toaster Oven Image

I love my toaster oven. Almost every morning I use it to toast an English muffin, which I then slather with butter. Melty, crunchy goodness. The other day, I slid my English muffin onto the toasting rack and walked away to take care of a few routine kitchen tasks while the oven did its magic. (In truth, my toaster oven is a bit slow, so I usually have a few minutes to kill.) After a bit of time, it vaguely occurred to me that the toaster oven seemed to be taking forever. I washed a few dishes and read an article, but still there was no pleasing “bing” of readiness.

Finally I realized that more than enough time had passed, and that there must be something wrong with my appliance. While crossing the kitchen, I found myself jumping ahead in my mind to the process of getting a new toaster oven:

  • I wonder how much toaster ovens cost these days. Will I be able to buy one right away?
  • When can I get to the store to see what models are available?
  • Can I buy a toaster oven online? I wonder if there are any on Amazon Prime?
  • What will I eat in the mornings while I’m waiting for the new toaster oven to arrive?
  • I’d better grab my tape measure so I know what my space limitations are.
  • Is my space is a bit small for the average toaster oven?
  • Maybe I could find one that also offers convection cooking… didn’t I see that somewhere?

Believe it or not, all of these thoughts ran through my head in the few seconds it took me to take about 10 steps. Simultaneously, I experienced a sinking recognition that something I hadn’t planned for was now going to be added to my “to do” list. I didn’t love the idea of spending time and money to replace something that I already had. The words “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” came to mind… isn’t there a song about that?

When I got to the toaster oven, I tapped the top and confirmed that it was, indeed, completely cold. I pulled it out and checked the back on the off chance that it had come unplugged. No such luck. Additionally, the oven was properly set to “toast,” and the dial turned to the darkness shade I like. There was no fraying, sparking or noise of any kind. Everything appeared ready to go, and yet, nothing was happening.

As I considered whether I could put my English muffin in the microwave as a back-up plan, my eyes traveled down to the “start” button. Had I forgotten to press it? Could it be that simple? I reached out my index finger and gave it a try, and to my utter delight the red light came on. Nothing was wrong with my toaster oven, I just hadn’t pressed “start.”

As I once again waited for my breakfast to cook, I had a bit of a “light bulb moment.” Wasn’t this little mishap representative of the way we approach so many situations in life?

… we do research

… we gather resources and tools

… we buy needed supplies

… we worry about what might go wrong

… we wonder if we should consider other options

… we set up a space to work

But then… we fail to start.

Preparation is important, but at some point, if we want to see results, we need to actually begin. We have to cross over the line from getting ready to taking action.

Pressing the “start button” can be uncomfortable. It may launch us onto an unknown path, require us to face new difficulties and/or lead us on a course from which we cannot easily turn back. But it may also bring us to a wonderful destination, making us glad that we took the first step. Such is the nature of change.

*     *     *     *     *

Is there an area of your life where you’ve taken every step aside from pressing “start?”

32 thoughts on “Lesson From the Toaster Oven”

  1. Love this and for the record I literally just replaced our toaster oven here right before Christmas time. As our toaster oven did indeed stop working properly. I did my research online and ended up replacing it with one from my local Kohl’s. So far so good and no complaints here 🙂

  2. You had me in suspense with your toaster oven saga. It’s amazing how our minds fill with questions and concerns when something doesn’t work as expected. What a great analogy you made too. We can spend so much time questioning and worrying that it prevents us from moving forward and actually “starting.” Fortunately, with your particular toaster oven situation, you didn’t spend that long before you figured things out. I am very much an action-taker, but there are times when I’m less sure of what I want to do that I’ll spend more time thinking, planning and preparing before actually DOING. However, it’s also true that some of that planning and thinking is actually an important part of “starting.”
    Linda Samuels recently posted…What Are Today’s Interesting Finds? – v18My Profile

    1. I think you and I are planners at heart, and enjoy that part of the process. It is certainly unwise to jump into any significant change without giving it sufficient thought and consideration. The same applies to a project or task… it is smart to have a plan and resources before you actually begin. Every now and then, we get stuck in this phase of the process, so this little story is just a reminder that, at times, we will need to take the leap, event if perhaps we don’t feel everything is perfectly set. Having children comes to mind. I often tell others that for me, it was sort of like jumping off a cliff:)

  3. I know what you mean, Seana. This is a wonderful post and love the story you told. I have a client who just recently decided to start – really start – the weeding process in preparation of a move. He has a deadline, a rather short fuse. It took him a very long time to decide to call me for help. Now that he has started things are moving along nicely but he admits to being very anxious about what would happen, how he would feel, once he started weeding through (sorting, organizing, tossing) his belongings.
    Diane Quintana recently posted…De-cluttering and Marie KondoMy Profile

    1. That anxiety can be a powerful deterrent to pushing “start.” I often get calls from people who need to move or downsize, and they have often put off decluttering longer than is advisable. I wrote a post years back about how having less time to work on something typically makes that process more stressful. Whenever you can, do yourself a favor and start earlier, right?

  4. This is the best toaster story since The Brave Little Toaster was released in 1987. Congrats.

    The “push the start button” thing is important. What also resonated with me was the mental marathon you ran in the 10 seconds it took you to cross the kitchen. I do that all the time. I’m on month three of a daily meditation practice to help me stay focused and present. It’s a process…

    Thanks for a great post.

    1. I remember the Brave Little Toaster:) I do have a tendency to race ahead in my mind, and it isn’t always helpful. I never regret taking a few minutes to breath and thing and record. As you say, it is a process. We all have an inherent nature as a launch point, so it is helpful to know our proclivities and plan adjustments that are helpful.

  5. There is never such a sad day in my house as when a toaster oven dies. We also use ours daily and finding a new one that suits our needs is hard! I’m glad you “just” failed to push start. Sometimes in life that is the hardest step, isn’t it?
    Andi Willis recently posted…The Time to Change Has ComeMy Profile

    1. Since you and I both love our toaster ovens, I will share that another commenter just found her new one at Kohl’s… perhaps a helpful mental note! I was so happy it was a simple fix. I had a full couple of days and microwaved English muffins just are not the same:)

  6. Ha ha – this is so funny and so true. We can really get ourselves in a pickle and totally overthinking something. This is a really good example of our thought processes and how we (well I can speak for myself) can really make things big and complicated. This gave me a big chuckle. Well done Seana!!
    Kim recently posted…Get Motivated to Declutter your ClothingMy Profile

    1. I always love a chuckle, and I was so delighted for the simple “fix” that I was able to laugh at my own silliness. I do tend to jump ahead and start problem-solving quickly. I’m sure this is a combination of my inherent nature and having reared 2 girls. A good reminder to breathe and stay calm, as well as a reminder that there is a point where the planning should end and the acting should begin:)

  7. Simple, yet profound, Seana! I do this all the time–and I’m not talking about the literal “toaster oven” part of the story. I need to remember to press “start!” Thanks for always being on point.

    1. Thanks for the affirmation, Kim. I think we all run into this sometimes… it can be hard to actually take that first step. A little silly, but I seem to find lessons for myself in the weirdest places!

    1. Glad to know I’m not the only one whose mind races ahead to “how to” questions. Miss seeing you at NAPO-CT, Regina. Hope to see you soon!

  8. Thanks for sharing your experience and your reflection on the experience. While reading this, a quote came to mind I saw recently on Twitter, “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”~ Amelia Earhart.

    So glad you don’t need to get a new toaster.

    1. Gotta love Amelia Earhart… that’s a great quote. It takes a special courage to act, especially in the face of the unknown. I’m reading a history book right now about the American Revolution. Signing the Declaration of Indepedence was like hitting a major “start” button. The signers were either going to win indepedence or be killed for treason. Glad it worked out the way it did:)

  9. Seana, I had the almost same experience! It was totally dead the other day, and yes, was plugged in. I told Cassidy about it because we totally depend on it for everything and he added that to his daily “to do” list. Luckily he didn’t get to it because he discovered that the toaster was fine but the outlet had to be reset! Whew!
    It had totally almost changed our day, though.
    Tamara recently posted…The CUTEST Kid and Baby Clothes Ever to Support Children In NeedMy Profile

    1. There must be some “dark toaster oven force” in the air right now. It does almost change your day, especially if you love your toaster oven as much as I do! So glad that both of us dodged the bullet. Another commenter did let me know that when she needed one, she found a good one at Kohl’s… a little mental note for the future!

  10. Ahhh this is both hilarious and completely relatable! I have nearly the same thing happen to me and similar thoughts have gone through my head. You’re so right that sometimes taking the needed (and obvious) action gets lost in the shuffle of life.

    1. It is surprising how often we get so close to getting started, and then stall out. I’ve been there myself, and that kind of experience can be discouraging. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one whose mind shifts into overdrive at times like that!

  11. I can so relate to your experience and love your insight. But being the goof that I am, I immediately picked up on your thought of grabbing the tape measure so you’d know what size new toaster oven you could get. 🙂 That’s exactly how my mind works. Glad that your story ended happily with a still working toaster.

    1. I think I tell every client, “I think better with my tape measure.” It really is true! I grab it all the time, sort of like a security blanket. It also saves me time and effort by helping me realize beforehand that a certain item is not going to fit. Like minded goofs we are:)

  12. It’s that swish of so many questions at the same time that keeps us from getting started. I like to pause, then simplify. That pause helps me regroup and then move forward.

    1. Yes, that sudden surge of needing to “deal with this quickly” can undermine wise decision-making. Pausing is so important. It also helps us keep from saying or doing something we shouldn’t. That old advice of stop and count to ten holds up! That said, I’m really glad that it was a simple fix:)

    1. Big relief! Something so simple as pressing “start.” That is what got me thinking about where else I may have failed to actually get going, and a few things came to mind!

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