What Scares You About DIY?: Great Expectations & Inner Critics

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We are our own worst critics sometimes.

And sometimes, we criticize ourselves even before we try something out because we have such great expectations of ourselves. I think that’s natural enough in our success-at-all-costs culture. And when it comes to DIY and home improvement,  that kind of thing can not only translate to self-criticism, but also to real fear, too.

During our exchange with readers and customers during our What Scares You? series on YouTube and as a part of our recent contest, we found that one of the big fears people have is that their expectations of a project will not translate into real life if they do it themselves. Here’s a sample of some of the stories from real people, and our responses to them on video. Take a look.


Sometimes the worst critic with great expectations isn’t ourselves! It’s our partner! Actually, not always. That’s often still us thinking that our partners will be disappointed, because we criticize of ourselves first. This may or may not be the case for Steve. But, we figure it’s the trying that counts. And support of the attempts is usually the response as a result, we’ve always found.


For some, it’s not the work that is the problem, it’s the resolve to keep going. How common a fear is that? Well, pretty common. Gloria decided to share this fear with us. And this is what we told her.


One thing that emerged from great expectations and fears around them is that a lot of our readers were afraid of all the right things; getting measurements right, staying within budget, and using their time to their best ability. Again we see that sometimes fear is a good thing. For Larry, we’re hoping that by expressing his fear, he realizes that he’s being really smart about approaching a DIY project, and will gain the confidence to push through his fear. This is what we told him on his personalized video.

Mary Jo

We don’t want to be just OK with a home improvement project. We want to LOVE it. The fear of not loving our own work and having it be there in our home as a reminder is real for everyone. Mary Jo voiced this fear and we’re glad she did. This is what we said to her to address her inner critic and her great expectations of a home improvement project.


Karen picked up where Mary Jo left off . Her fear centered around the flaws that appear in many home improvement projects. These are ones that only we can see, but that take away from the victory of doing it ourselves. So, how do we mitigate the risk of these distracting flaws? Well, this response was for  Karen in particular, which may be applicable for you too.


TV shows on home improvement – the cause of our inspiration and great expectations, but also a cause for disappointment. These are real concerns, of course. After all, we don’t have scores of professionals and an editing team to get the results in our own homes as we see them on TV. But, sometimes it’s our inner critic that keeps us from action on home improvement with these things in mind. Here’s what we suggested to Dan about finding a balance between realistic expectations, and empowerment to forge ahead.


Cagney feared waste of a good product due to errors. When you’re spending money on a big job, this totally makes sense and is an important aspect to consider when planning any project. But in this case, it’s not just a waste of product; it’s a waste of potential that lies at the heart of Cagney’s fear.  It’s about not feeling confident in one’s own abilities too.  In this case, our advice centered around a pretty practical approach, which we hoped would help to silence Cagney’s inner critic.



Sometimes, the great expectations we have don’t have a resolution! Sometimes, we feel like we’re never really done when it comes to improving our homes. We fear that the home of our dreams is always one project away. This was Meredith’s thought, which she decided to share with us. Here’s what we shared with her, which we hope helped.


Antwon’s fear is pretty universal. He feared that his work wouldn’t last, structurally speaking. To have a project last is not really a great expectation, it’s an essential one. But, our inner critics sometimes stop us from believing that because we know that good work that will last is important, that we’re bound to do a good job.


So, what does it look like when someone has come to terms with great expectations not always being met, and someone who’s silenced their pesky inner critic? Well, we figured London has a pretty good handle on things in this department when it comes to DIY. Just listen to this.

Being realistic, and overcoming our inner critics

Great expectations and self-examination when it comes to achieving them are all good things. They help us to conceive of plans and visions along with a practical path to making them real in our lives. Like in many things in life, sometimes our confidence around DIY projects can be shaken. Because, sometimes we have expectations of ourselves that aren’t realistic – or we think they aren’t!

But again like many things in life, the big scary things our mind comes up with to tell us we can’t do something often aren’t that scary when we push through, ask for help, seek advice, and intelligently plan.

So, what about you? Can you relate to the fears above? When kinds of projects have you always wanted to take on, but feel like your reach exceeds your grasp? What kind of work-arounds have you managed to overcome your challenges?

Tell us all about it in the comments section of this post!



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Rob Jones

Rob served as Editor-In-Chief of BuildDirect Blog: Life At Home from 2007-2016. He is a writer, Dad, content strategist, and music fan.