How to work up the courage to try something new

How to work up the courage to try something new for the first time - inspirational writeup via
With anything new I approach, I generally take a little bit of time to think about it first. 

I seem to need a period in which to mull new over. New needs extra energy. And guts.

So this bathroom reno? I eyed the window I’ve been looking at for only 4 years wishing it looked different. But this time, I studied it. It’s just 4 pieces of board. Nothing too insightful.

But then I examined how it was attached. How it was cut. And then I knew. I had to remake this window in to the one I’ve been envisioning for years. Yes. YEARS. 

Why did I wait so long? I don’t know. I guess you sort of talk yourself into believing you can’t do something you never have. Honestly, I just didn’t DECIDE to try. I’m rather tired of that indecisive, hesitant lifestyle. You too?

A little revelation hit me a couple days ago. I’ve been holding out on loving my house. It was easier to resent it and just overlook the things I didn’t like, resolving that one day I’d just move instead.

But deep down? I think a part of me was still put out I landed here. Isn’t it time to move on from that? So rather than wish for something I don’t have, I’m going to move forward with the mind set that I can MAKE this house into one I love. Every square inch of it. And this round, it’s about one window. Totally do-able.

But not all goes as planned when trying something new first round. So here are six tips on how to work up the courage to try something new.

Tip 1 : nothing is impossible.

I want some vintage window moulding. But I’ve never done it before. Does that make it wrong for me to try?

Here’s my take… if something doesn’t take great physical strength or a ton of money, there’s no reason I can’t do this. I may not be as quick or slick as a pro, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be eventually if I desire that. I just want to do one. And then I’ll see about the rest.

Tip 2 : tidy up your work area first.

I was ready to roll. So I opened my garage door and stared in shock. Ever get so busy you don’t pay attention to the wrath you’ve left behind? You just nailed me.

Tidy up your work area, no matter what the weather is like. You used up that excuse last week.

Gathering tools / How to work up the courage to try something new for the first time - inspirational writeup via

Tip 2 :  collect all the tools you need prior.

Where in blazes are my tools?! I’ll tell you where. Imagine throwing your tools as far away as you can, as fast as you can while blind folded. Then having to find them quickly again. They were scattered across my entire house and buried in the garage.

Collect EVERYTHING you need first, including your camera with the right lens on it. You’re welcome.

Tip 3 : investigate what you want to build

I didn’t have a clue how this beefed up moulding should look, I googled it until I found something resembling my idea. Bingo! Easy? Well….

Working with standards / How to work up the courage to try something new for the first time - inspirational writeup via

Tip 4 : work with standards

The thing with another’s plan is, they may require you to do more work than you really want to. I didn’t like the tirade of fancy schmancy wood pieces you’d have to collect or the miter joins to mess with. 

So I visited the local hardware store and studied what materials are easily available to anyone, anytime. And came home with a little of everything so I could play.

Tip 5 : allot time for new

This should only take an hour, right? (insert hysterical laughter here)

This 1 hour window is now creeping into 3 days. Turns out I had more ‘new’ to discover before taking on the new window frame. I had to locate the nail gun (always a challenge here) AND relearn how to use it. Once set up, the gun wouldn’t shoot nails. Fabulous.

That is why you won’t see a window reveal in this post. That is why this post was born. Reveal coming soon! Or, as soon as the gun works again.

Tight deadlines are never a good idea when trying new stuff. Be kind to yourself and keep the timeframe loose for new.

Working with standards / How to work up the courage to try something new for the first time - inspirational writeup via

Tip 6: don’t give up!

Cutting! I’m finally cutting! And once I finally got the first piece cut, I realized one little plan didn’t work. Ugh.

So I had to invent another way.

So I started over and kept at it until I found a way. Which I did. YES!

This project would have failed if I gave up. Just do it again until it does work. That really is the key to success in anything in life, don’t you think?

– – – – –

Trying new things may be intimidating. But once you push past the fear, you’ll wonder why you didn’t have the courage to try it LONG ago.

What is it you want to do?

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Categories: How To Build, Inspiration, Junk Drawer, Tools & Building
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47 thoughts on “How to work up the courage to try something new

  1. Donna, I had the exact same thing hit me last week. I decided to tear out the ugly fluorescent and paint in our master bathroom (which had the WORSE layout). I have lived with a teeny tiny linen closet that held just about NOTHING. So while prepping the walls to paint, I thought “why not tear out this closet and see what happens”. I always try and give something a try and think I would have to pay someone anyway if I couldn’t do it, I’ll use them as a backup. It took me a whole day but let me tell ya, it REALLY opened up the bathroom. Next I’m gonna be taking down the HUGE mirror and changing an old dresser into a vanity. I’m excited to get it done but I’m also REALLY enjoying the process. I didn’t do too bad. Even a mess and not finished, it looks BETTER than before when it was clean
    : )

  2. I really appreciate your gutsy attitude on trying something new. I think we can be our own worst enemy when that lilttle voice in our head tells us all the reasons we will fail. But if you want something bad enough and you work through the challenges, the rewards can be exhilarating. Congratulations on finally tackling a project that’s been bugging you for a long time. And I love your steps, especially the clean work space and getting your tools together first.

  3. Another tip is don’t be afraid to rip it out and do it again. Particularly if you’re either teaching yourself or it’s not coming out like the picture you really want in your head.

    I’m rebuilding my entire house and have no trim or molding whatsoever. I read these posts avidly, just to avoid the pitfalls when I finally have drywall up and can afford to buy what I want.

    I’m interested in this window you’re doing, for example… 🙂

    A final tip is not to be afraid to put your tools down and walk away if you get frustrated. Being tired is the worst, so cut yourself some slack.

    • Yes yes and MORE yes! Brilliantly said! How many times I’ve felt low when I’ve failed at something and needing to take a break from it is countless! I think we’re due for a good failure kinda post. I have one. 🙂 Coming soon!

  4. Love the term ‘to the wrath left behind’, that describes my studio to perfection. The past month was crammed with painting orders but I also had extra work come in with my cleaning business. I kept up with it all but I the havoc it wreaked on my tidy studio to tend to now before I start a new set of painting orders.
    Yes, I always have to set aside double the time I think a new project should take and even that is not always enough. Now my husband has commandeered my saws and sanders for a project of his own and it is making me crazy not the have them on hand.

  5. I can’t wait to see. I really don’t like cutting molding at all. I’m glad you are going for it.
    I love the tag “wordy inspiration”. You may have just inspired me to go for something I’ve been wanting to try.

    • Katie, neither do I! But wait till you see my clever plan. 🙂 It isn’t done yet but will be soon! I hope…

      If you click that tag, you’ll find all the inspirational posts written. I’ll be putting them in their own page so they’re more easily found. Soon! After the window… hahaa

  6. Sitting here drinking my chocolate chai tea, half thinking of all the projects I need to get to (with dread) and the words “still put out I landed here” jumped out like they were going to whap me on the nose! You read my mind. And yes, it’s high time I got over that! So instead of feeling hopeless, overwhelmed and ready to pack, I believe I’ll make a list and start at the top. I’ve been following you for a very long time and once again, you have inspired me! You rock! 🙂

    • Cindy, your comment alone made me glad I said that! I nearly didn’t. I don’t like to convey negative thinking in my posts, but this one was necessary because it’s really been the root of everything holding me back. From other things in life too I think.

      Life is about to get a little more exciting for both of us. I feel it. Let’s get busy!

  7. I always default things I am not comfortable with doing, building, to the hubby. Recently, he has been working longer hours and I need things done and realize I am going to have to do it myself. I was building a little shelf and thinking I can do this. Inch by inch. It was a great feeling to do it by myself.

  8. Love this post. I am right there with you. We are remodeling our mud room and it has been one thing after another. Our drill wouldn’t hold a charge, I thought we had caulk and we didn’t so had to run to the hardware store. It seems like every time I settle down to work on it, something occurs to hinder my progress. Glad someone else experiences similar setbacks.

  9. Hi! What I love about your blog, is that I always feel like I can do it! Whatever “it” is after I am done reading your story. Thanks so much for sharing your journey. Virtual Hug!

  10. You are amazing! I love that you kept at it till you figured it out! I have to figure out how to get my vision across to my hubby and then figure out how to inspire him to get it done! LOL! But once he gets at it it gets done right and looks fabulous – just have to figure out how to light the fire under him! Like my recent reveal of the vintage shutters that are finally hanging at my living room windows – on the inside! I love them and it only took 6 years to get them there! LOL!

  11. Donna, you have conquered a lot and you are like the little train, “I think I can, I think I can, I know I can, I know I can. I feel inspired when I read your blog. I have done several simple projects, but I’m not familiar with power tools and feel intimidated, so I’m going to take a carpentry class at the local vocational school. I want to build a combination garden shed green house, sun room. I want to do everything myself from the foundation up, and I want to use old windows for the green house/sun room. It’s a big project, but I’m up for it, I just need to learn how to use the power tools, especially the saws. Thanks for the inspiration and I can’t wait to see your finished window.

  12. I want to lay wood flooring in my front living room!
    I am looking forward to your window reveal. And thank you for this post – very encouraging.

    • Here’s another bit of encouragement. And I mean this with loving kindness. If those numbnuts on HGTV & DIYnetwork can do it in a weekend? I can do it in a month. I swear!

  13. Thanks so much for this. I have bouts of telling myself I shouldn’t even try because I’ll just end up screwing it up…even though others love what I create and think I can do anything I’d want to. I might need to make myself a sign with your tips on it so I can remind myself I CAN DO IT!

    Have a great 2014!

  14. I want to build something with drawers. Drawers totally freak me out. All the moving in and out, maybe?

    Seriously, there is not a whole lot of room for error with drawers, is there? You do it wrong, and you are reminded of your error every time you pull out the drawer or push it back in. Every. Single. Time.

    But still. I want to build something with drawers. it’s time.

  15. Donna – this is exactly how I had to go about upholstering my couch. I’d Never
    Done anything like that before. I had to do a lot of research. And I tried my skills out on small projects too before diving into the couch. When it came time to gather tools- there were some I did not own -I did not let that deter me! I made my own webbing stretcher! And it worked!!
    Some tasks only look daunting but breaking them down into smaller pieces helps.
    I agree with one comment – don’t forget to put the tools down and walk away for a bit. When I got to that point – I would go make a pie! {smile} I can’t wait to see your window when the nail gun is operational and you have it all together. Pat

  16. When I took on removing the carpet in our upstairs bath I was soooo scared because I didn’t know what kind of can of worms I was getting in to. Actually I was right to be afraid rotted wood and black mold under that carpet. In the end it was very empowering I learned a lot and I was so glad that gross carpet and mold were gone. Also a few months back I started the practice of putting things away ASAP . This small thing has helped me so much. Donna I personally don’t think there is nothing you can not do so you go girl.

  17. Ok, after reading your post, I will try to add the decorative moulding to the “run of the mill” cheap bookcase that I’m going to give a makeover. I’ve been looking at the bookcase taken apart (I got that far) but I wanted to add mouldings on the top and along the front, but my husband is too busy working to measure and cut it for me. His nice electric saw that does miter cuts is just sitting on the work bench in the basement right by the book shelf…..maybe if I put my mind to it, I too can try and cut the mouldings for myself. Perhaps this weekend….

    • Sharon, why not ask him to show you ONCE? Or start watching YouTube videos! It’s better to be safe. This is the saw I’m most comfortable with, myself, but someone showed me. The other saws, table, circular, jig, radial arm, compound mitre, etc., I had to teach myself and it took me FOREVER to work up the courage to try. huh. Something like this thread!

  18. Donna what type/brand/size nail gun for you use? I’m in the market for one, but I come home from the hardware store with more questions & no nail gun. Thanks for the inspiration!

  19. Hi Donna,
    You must have been reading my mind, I often have doubts about my skills and frankly I shouldn’t ‘cos I am pretty good at woodwork. But there they are again and I find that even walking away for a wee while helps. I am making butcher block counter tops, and my first attempt following a tut on the net was not so successful, but I will keep going until I get it right.
    Thank you for the post it was just what I needed to read, perfect timing.

  20. I know this is an old post, but I’m new to Funky Junk and this is TOTALLY ME! I’m also new to woodworking and I’m just too scared to try because I don’t want it to NOT work out. So thank you for the encouragement and I will continue to try to make this cabinet with an old window frame for a door this week.


    • Donna – I had to comment here, even if it is an old post – I just found this site 4 days ago and read through the archives in every coffee break, while waiting in lines or for stuff to dry. Then I found this post. And I’ve read every comment on this page.

      We bought this house knowing that we would move again one day, into the house my husband grew up in. So – I made plans for that instead of focusing on the place I live in now. My hubs isn’t the diy type at all, I have to nag if I need help with maintenance. I resent that, and transferred the resentment to this poor house.

      “still put out I landed here” – that’s me, and I’ve found out just now.
      Thank you. I couldn’t see it before.
      I liked fix-it-up-Me better – I always had to, and never realized I lost it. Time to change back and maybe even morph further along.

      So I’ll make a list for this house, and hubs can help decide the details and the order of projects – but not whether the list gets done.
      No help is no excuse.
      One step further: like Patricia Routt commented above, I’m afraid of power saws… and I just subscribed to a woodworking course. Now I hope I don’t chicken out again.
      Many steps in the future – I want this exact window casing/moulding in the future house. How to sell him on it, I’ll see.

      Inspiration I needed, thank you. If you ever come to northwestern Germany, you are invited to junk shop my house and with me 🙂
      Thanks again, kats.

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