Lessons from A Failed DIY Project {creativity, life, passion & purpose}

It is time for some reflection on creativity, life, passion, purpose. Shall we? So, let’s get right to the tough questions we all ask ourselves. Are you living the life you want? Have you found your purpose and are you pursuing your goals with focus and passion?

I am pleased and beyond excited to say I am living my dreams, for the most part, but I admit that I still flail around and lose sight of where I’m going and what I should do with my time. It is hard to stay on course with priorities.

Take my faux fireplace project, for example. Now before I begin, I’m updating this to remind everyone that the photo below is NOT decorated to my liking. The fireplace is NOT finished. It is just tacked together because I didn’t have the right tools. Now, let’s see what I learned from this.

Remember this project? I was really excited about this little DIY fireplace mantel project.

For about a day.

I got only so far into it, before I stopped in my tracks and gave up in frustration. If you’ve forgotten about this project, I don’t blame you. It was AGES ago. And I’ve been too flustered to talk about it ever since. I didn’t want to disappoint you, myself, or bring DIY scorn upon myself {hangs head in shame}.

The nutshell situation was I had a real fireplace mantel that I wanted to use as an architectural piece in my entry. The wall I thought it would work best on happened to have one of those poorly placed air return vent things on it, so I didn’t want to restrict airflow, but I of course wanted to disguise the vent if I could.

So I reached out to you to see what ideas you might have that would fill up that huge area including the vent without looking silly or restricting airflow. I had ideas of my own, but I still wanted your ideas because you are pretty smart. And you didn’t disappoint.

Y’all gave me some fabulous ideas and I really appreciated your suggestions. Well, most of them. Heh heh. One of my readers told me you thought my mantel belonged in a showroom and not a home. What? OK. That one made me laugh and kind of made me feel a little sad for sharing my idea. But I got over it. I guess I’m a rule breaker and feel that if I like something enough, I can find a way to use it in my house. I happen to like architecture so I’m going to keep it, if that is OK.

While I was capable of doing something super simple here and could have finished this project long ago, I decided to try something a little beyond my normal DIY skill level, something requiring wood, sawing, nailing into solid wood, measuring and all that DIY kind of stuff. Stuff requiring special tools. Stuff I normally avoid like the plague. Hello.

I know.

What was I thinking?

You see, I wanted my fireplace to look like THIS (above). Awesome! One of my readers found me this perfect inspiration photo and it was settled in my mind, I (as in ME, MYSELF, with my own two hands!) was going to recreate that lovely chunky architectural fireplace. So I did what all the super-DIY bloggers do, I took a little trip to the hardware store and found some wood slat shelves that seemed like the perfect way to recreate the look. SCORE.

I was pretty pleased with the whole idea, in my head, but ladies, once I got started, I remembered why I dislike projects like this. It was pretty much a FAIL and a FRUSTRATION after that. I didn’t have the right tools. Nothing came together as easily as I had hoped.

I had no patience for the process. I asked my husband for help (looking for a rescue for my bad decision) and he reminded me this isn’t his gift either. We both stared blankly at all the wood and our insufficient tools and and we might have even had a little fight about how we were or were not going to get this done. We are no power DIY couple.

So, now I pass by this wall every day thinking I should finish it, but I just loathe the idea of going back to it. I don’t know how to proceed and I don’t care to figure it out. I don’t want to get the right tools. I just want it done, but I don’t want to be the one to do it. There. I admitted it. It was a project FAIL.

Let’s stop right there and back up a bit.

Was it a mistake to try something beyond my skill level?

It is not a mistake to take a risk of failure or to try something you have never done before if it is something you know you need to do or grow in or want to learn. I have to stretch myself ALL THE TIME in order to grow as a person, to grow my business and to achieve goals. I do things I don’t want to do. I try things I’ve never tried before. That is how we learn and that is how we succeed.

We can’t give up too easily or too soon or we’ll miss out on the reward of persistence and hard work! You can’t reach goals without a lot of hard work!

But…

Another way to look at this is we need to learn what our own strengths and weaknesses are and decide for ourselves WHICH ones we want to grow in and spend our time on, and which ones we can accept and be content without doing. We don’t want to run out of steam before we achieve the goals that really matter to us.

No one can be skilled in everything, but all of us can be pretty good at what we need to do or choose to do — and what we put our minds to. You can achieve your goals and enjoy almost every hardworking minute of it, as long as you are going after goals you are passionate about.

I wrote about this very type of thing in my little ebook NOT a DIY Diva, How to Create an Authentically-Inspired Life in a Pinterest World, if you missed it. Perhaps I need to re-read it to re-inspire myself!

We can’t do it all. I KNOW that this type of DIY project is not really my thing. DIY is not OUR thing as a couple. We don’t own fancy tools beyond the basics. I know I would much rather pay someone to do it for us so I can just focus on being a wife, a mom, decorating, nesting and fluffing my house and my husband can do what he is gifted at. He is amazingly supportive and helpful around the house and with the kids and he is good at what he enjoys in life, he just doesn’t like to build stuff with tools.

But, I lost my mind for a little bit and set aside what I know and what my priorities are. I thought I would try to do it myself in spite of what I know about myself, my husband, and this season of my life. I set myself up to be discouraged and frustrated over something I really didn’t HAVE to do.  It wasn’t essential to our survival or happiness in life.

And so, there it sits. Undone. Mocking me. Stealing my joy. Zapping my creative energy.

Projects involving tools or unnecessary frustration are NOT my passion. I need to write that on my mirror. I could save myself some trouble.

Obviously we can’t all hire out everything we don’t like to do. I’m sure some people do that, but most of us can’t. That isn’t reality. Sometimes we just need to get tough and do it ourselves. And we’ve had to do that many times in our home.

But we definitely can to learn to figure out when we should push ourselves to grow, learn and do more to achieve our goals and dreams, and when we should simply accept how we are wired and what our abilities and capabilities are in this season of life and make smarter choices about how to spend our time.

Even super heroes have their limitations.

We need to figure out the life we want to live and go for it with GUSTO and not waste a bunch of time on things that are unnecessary or don’t propel us towards our goals. Things we might even like, but don’t fit with our goals or passion in this season of life. Things we are just not cut out for or that zap us of our creative energy. And certainly we need to let get out of the comparison game. I can gladly let someone else be the superhero of mastering tools and complicated DIY because I know my own goals and purpose.

I just have to remember my priorities and goals every day. By saying no to one thing I don’t really have to do, I’m saying YES to something I love even more.

We only have so much time in a day, how do we want to spend our daily allowance of minutes?

And in that balancing act of what to do and what not to do, we start to figure out how to live an authentic life. We can learn to THRIVE in our PASSION and LOVE what we DO in life. We just have to make DAILY choices about what we are NOT going to do with our time and the kind of life we WANT.

living with creative passion and purpose quote maya angelou

We don’t all have to be DIY (do it all, ourselves) divas merely going through the motions of juggling life like everyone else does it, we can creatively THRIVE with our own unique style and way of living our dreams {with a little humor, a little grace and compassion and a creative purpose and style all our own.}

Do you struggle with the DIY syndrome? Thinking that you have to do it ALL yourself?
Are you sabotaging your own happiness and success because you don’t focus your energy on your own unique passion and gifts, and end up exhausted and worn out every day distracted by things that are not priorities or that you don’t even love doing?

It is so hard to stay on track with priorities and goals. But you’ve got this. You can do it! I believe in you!

So many good life lessons to be found in a failed DIY project! And no, I’m not sure yet how this fireplace saga ends. 

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