5tipstohelpovercomeyourfearofDIY thumb1

DIYing can be intimidating.  Bloggers, like myself, make everything look so easy. Then you purchase all the supplies and you sit down to do it and panic sets in.  What if I do it wrong?  What if it doesn’t turn out?  What if it costs more than I anticipated?  What if it takes longer than I want it to?  Some of you have become paralyzed by the Silhouette machine that the bloggers engaging project talked you into buying…a year ago.  Others have gotten tools for Christmas and yet they sit in boxes in the garage.  Some of you, like me, have had a serger machine sitting in a box WAY too long. I understand, even someone who does DIY projects for a living is intimidated.

5 tips to help overcome your fear of DIY



I was scared as all get out using the Kreg Jig for the first time and actually building something.  I was also scared of threading a serger, because I heard how awful it was, so the new serger I purchased sat in a box for three months.  I also was frightened of building doors for my studio in my old house so I hired someone to do it.  Well guess what?  This week I overcame my fear and I built a door – all by myself.  So what changed?  Well here are a few tips of how I overcome the fear of DIY.

1.  Change your mentality.  This was a huge shift for me.  Whenever I was scared of a project my husband would always say “Babe just hire someone to do it.” I didn’t want to hire someone to do it. The point was I wanted to do it.  I wouldn’t be talking to him about it if I wanted to hire it out.  But that simple sentence he said over and over to me as I was talking about the projects I wanted to do changed my mind.  Now knowing that I can “hire it out if I get stuck” allows me to try and take risks.  When I was building my mudroom lockers I had no idea what I was doing.  But each step of the way I said “If you get stuck you can always hire someone.”  The fear of failing was removed and I kept moving forward.  And guess what? I never called anyone for help.  I did it by myself and I couldn’t be more proud of my mudroom. {Sqqquealll!  It’s awesome, right!!} But having a plan B our “an out” helps me take risks.

how to build mudroom lockers

2.  Budget It.  I am a huge Dave Ramsey fan.  If you are too you have heard of an emergency fund.  Well I have a DIY emergency fund too.  This means that I have a chunk of change set aside that can only be used to hire someone out if I get stuck on a project.  Now I can afford to complete the project, even if that means spending money for someone else to do it.  Again having this safety net in place that ONLY can be used for DIY projects frees me to keep moving forward.  I have used that fund too!  I was scared of securing Isaac’s hanging beds so, my friend Rex, helped me.  It was well worth using some of my DIY emergency fund simply to get the project done.  And guess what?  Isaac talked me into making those beds again in his new room.  So, I might need to call someone like Rex again.  But I am hoping to tackle my fear on that one!

hanging beds from the ceiling

3.  Set a Goal. I know that sounds silly, we are just talking about DIY after all.  But seriously, it works.  It could be as simple as…

    • I am going to download the Silhouette software to my computer by the end of the week.”
    • I am going to take the sewing machine out of the box and read 10 pages of the manual.
    • I am going to charge the battery for the cordless drill my husband bought me for Christmas.

You know the simple goal you need to make but having a goal helps.

4.  Phone a Friend.  Use your contacts or email a blogger (most of us like to help!) and ask questions.  Sometimes you just need to talk through a project with someone to gain the confidence to get it done.  When I was working on my fireplace makeover I called Sandra from Sawdust Girl to help me think through how to build out the fireplace a little.  After I got off the phone I felt confident to tackle it.

building a fireplace surround

When I was in Dallas for an event with Thompson’s Water Seal I needed help thinking through how to build the lantern wall.  So I asked Brittany from Pretty Handy Girl to talk with me about it.  She offered another perspective and a few tips that helped me carry out my vision.

Deck #1 Staged Deck

And just a few weeks ago I texted my friend Rex I talked about above and admitted my fright of building a door for my inset jewelry cabinet.  The funny part is he gave me numerous ways of jazzing up a plain door and I went in a completely different direction and went for the shaker style door with tenons and grooves.  HA!  Sometimes I just need to get it out there that I am scared and that helps me overcome it.

scared text

5.  Reward Yourself.  We do this all the time with weight loss, promotions, accomplishments, etc.  So do something for yourself that will be motivating to start that DIY project.

  • When I finish building those shelves for my closet I will buy myself some new wicker baskets to go inside
  • When I finish painting the family room I will get myself a pedicure, or treat myself to a new piece of art.
  • When I finally get the courage to do my gallery wall I will treat myself to 5 new cans of spray paint

HA!  I don’t know what your motivation is but those would be mine.  I hope those tips help.  Do you have any other tips that helps you overcome the DIY freak outs?  I would love for you to share in the comments below.

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12 Comments

  1. This is great — because it’s so true! I had to laugh at your examples. I sew and am totally unafraid of all of my sewing tools (sewing machines, serger, attachments, threads…). But I *just* bought a Kreg jig on Friday and I already feel anxious about it. Ha!
    I think that as adults, trying something new is hard for all of the reasons you brought up (cost! time! energy! failure! Eeek!) and also because we are often used to being so competent at things. Little kids usually have no fear at trying new things (for better or worse). They are beginners at everything they try! As an adult, it can be hard to be comfortable with that.

    One of the things I love to do with my sewing machines is to just sit down and play and make samples: samples of stitch patterns and all of the variations (what happens when I make the stitch length longer? play with the tension?), samples of techniques (I have binders filled samples with ways to make seams, corners,…), and looks (thread color, interfacing stiffness, etc.) When people ask me about what kind of things I sew, I joke that I don’t make clothes or anything, I just make samples. 🙂

    That’s a way that I use to get over some of the fear of using a new tool: explicitly saying “I’m not trying to make anything. I’m just going to play and explore how this works and what I can do with it.” That removes a lot of the pressure to make something that looks good or works well. I think of it as doing finger-painting just like a Kindergartener does: Messy is good, having some fun is good, producing works of formal beauty is not the point.
    You can’t fill a binder with samples made with a table saw. (Or if you did, you’d first have to *build* the giant binder! And imagine the size of the bookshelf it’d sit on! Haha!) So I suppose the equivalent is shooting some pics and making notes — using Pinterest or Evernote or printing them out and writing on them. (“Here’s what happened when I went too fast and didn’t pay attention to alignment.” “This is the wrong blade to use with wood X. Here’s how much better it looks with the right blade: blade Y.” etc.)

    Telling myself that “I’ll spend 30 minutes just making holes with my Kreg jig” means I don’t have to feel like I have to suddenly be good with it. Setting a short time frame means it’s not a giant chunk of time out of my day, and if I’m not enjoying doing it, it’s not that long to stick it out. Of course, 99% of the time, once I get into it, I don’t want to walk away! (The common name for this approach is “timeboxing”. ) [I also use this to make myself do housecleaning in 15 minute chunks.]
    And, of course, playing and experimenting builds up some competency. Every time we use a tool or technique, we get a little better, whether it’s immediately apparent or not.

    OK. I think I’ve just set myself up to go play with my Kreg jig for 30 minutes today and taking some picture of what I do. 🙂

    I loved this post. It comes at exactly the right time for me. It’d be great if you could weave this in to post about your projects some. Because you’re right: we see the beautiful pictures and happy, effusive write-ups with the fear and mistakes edited out. Which makes things seem even less realistic when we’re trying to do something new. Thanks for posting about this and making things seem more doable.

    1. Hi Ashley! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and share how you’ve gotten comfortable with your sewing tools. I think that is an AWESOME approach and sounds like the perfect way to get comfortable with your new Kreg Jig. I am telling you the thing is the bomb and very simple to use!!! You certainly are going to love it and not want to walk away. If you follow me on Instagram, I have shared before about projects that have gone awry, like my mint dresser. I will definitely try to keep things real in my posts too! Thank you for the suggestion. 🙂

  2. Beckie, this is awesome! Just knowing that someone like you can struggle with DIY fears helps a lot!

    I’m learning to adopt a “What do I have to lose?” attitude. If my DIY attempt might destroy something of real value that can’t be repaired, I back off. But if trying something and ultimately failing will not cost too much other than my time, I’ll give it a go. True, I’ve had to throw some things away. I’ve made some messes that I had to clean up. But I’ve probably learned more from my failures than from my successes! 🙂

  3. I love this! I am always in love with so many projects, but then get to scared and nervous to attempt them. I have a project right now that’s been lingering for the DIY roman shades. Seems simple enough, but I always worry I’ll mess it up and waste all the material I bought haha! I guess I just need to take it slow and jump in! Thank you for the encouragement!

  4. 1. Plan a party. Nothing like impending guests to get your butt in gear and finish caulking and painting that unfinished crown molding.

    2. Clear a room. Moving objects sets things in motion, and before you know it, you’re knee-deep in a paint bucket and making spontaneous trips to Home Depot for more roller covers.

    3. Tell someone about your plans. That gets it out in the universe, and if they are a good friend, they will bug you for updates.

    Great post! Love your work.

  5. What a fabulous post Beckie! I completely understand those hand ups that are in my head. I love your honesty and willingness to share your own thoughts and hesitations. It makes all of us feel human and recognize when we are holding ourselves back. P.s. You are too kind to mention me, but I know you already knew what you were doing ;-).

  6. This is an awesome post!!! I agree with Richella above, knowing that someone as awesome at DIY creativity and completing HUGE awesome projects as you can have doubts and insecurities is somehow freeing and inspiring. Thanks for sharing ways you have overcome this, and your “phone a friend” options are pretty amazing as well!!! (some of my favorite DIY bloggy crushes, for sure) I wish I had you and all of them on speed dial, LOL!!! After reading this, I am totally going to go out into the garage today and get busy with more of the tools I received as CHRISTMAS presents!!! In my defense, I live in Indy with a non-heated garage, so it has only been warm enough for a month or 2…. and I have already used some of them – my new air compressor ROCKS!!!
    My actual huge fear that I am trying to overcome is BLOGGING, I signed up for hosting and put together a site MONTHS ago, I am just holding myself back and I have NO IDEA WHY??!!?!
    p.s. the comments also reminded me that I really WANT a Kreg jig, but my birthday is in a couple weeks, so……….

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