This is Your Brain on DIY


I’m an apartment dweller. I know, I know… the American Dream is home ownership. Whatever. I don’t find the prospect of thousands to tens of thousands of dollars in repair bills sneaking up when it’s least expected and even less convenient to be “dreamy”. So I rent.

It works for me.

If things break, I call the apartment complex people and they send someone over to fix it. For free.

If the plow truck pushes an unconquerable mound of snow behind the nerdmobile (aka my bigger-than-a-car/smaller-than-an-SUV/not-quite-a-station-wagon/more-like-a-giant-toaster-on-wheels vehicle) in the winter months, I just call the maintenance team and they zip over on their little plow-enabled four-wheeler and dig me out. For free.

If my upstairs neighbors are being assholes and their cat pees through their balcony onto my patio furniture, I complain to the leasing office and they take care of it. For free. (Okay, so they don’t *really* take care of that… but they pretend to try.)

My point is, free maintenance and repairs = BEST INVENTION EVER… at least in my book. I generally take advantage of it whenever possible.

Except today.

Today I took matters into my own hands. No, I did not kill my upstairs neighbors. Although, I can’t say the thought hadn’t occurred to me at least 9 times before noon. No, I fixed my fucking sink.


That’s right. When my sink suddenly stopped draining completely, I plopped my happy ass on the linoleum floor and fixed that beast myself. Bucket #1 in place. Bucket #2 at the ready within arms reach. Wrenches also known as BARE HANDS prepared (thank goodness for PVC pipes – no wrenches needed). I unleashed that p-trap like nobody’s business. Water sprayed everywhere and I’m pretty sure there are still egg shell crumbles affixed to the inner walls of the cabinet below the sink…. but I did it. I found the clog, cleared it out, and got that p-trap right back into it’s original home.

As I sat bailing water out of Bucket #1 and into Bucket #2 so I could remove Bucket #1 from under the sink without dumping disgusting drain water everywhere, I noticed that I was buzzing. My bones felt like they were on fire. My skin was tingly and the hair on my arms standing at attention. I even noticed a sly little smile smeared on my face.

I was DIY high.

Although it’s sometimes easier and more convenient to count on others to help me get shit done, there’s nothing quite so satisfying as doing it my damn self. Conquering the unknown, mastering the unfamiliar, tackling the unthinkable all on your own – it’s like crack. You get this sensation of immortality… as if you’re indestructible, unstoppable, and the world is a mere complex thing that CAN be figured out. It’s rewarding beyond belief and it’s addictive.

But it can be dangerous, too.

(Like crack, you know.)

The DIY high needs it’s own public service announcement, in my opinion. The high you get from surmounting a task or project all on your own is so addictive that us solopreneurs often overlook asking for help because it’s just, flat out, not as fun. It’s less fulfilling. It feels shameful to admit that we could use some help when we know we could do it ourselves if we just put enough time and effort into it. And the DIY high eventually becomes a vice.

  • You don’t ship as quickly or frequently as you could because you need to do it your damn self – and there’s a learning curve kicking your ass.
  • You fail to do it as well as it could be done because you need to do it your damn self – and you end up sacrificing quality to feed your ego.
  • You turn into a cranky asshole because you need to do it your damn self – and you’re stressing out about having it all on your shoulders.
  • You beat yourself up about your weaknesses because you need to do it your damn self – and you forget what it is you’re great at.
  • You lose sight of what’s important because you need to do it your damn self – and you get a shitty case of tunnel vision.

The DIY high has gotten the best of all of us at times, I’m sure. But there’s hope.

DIY smarter, not harder.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not telling you to stop doing it your damn self. I’m a huge proponent of self-taught genius and self-implemented badassery. But if the DIY high has you all up in a tizzy and you’re feeling overwhelmed, step back and evaluate if your DIY tasks can be done smarter and more efficiently.

  • Am I reinventing the wheel?
  • Is there someone out there who’s been-there-done-that I can ask for insight from?
  • Is there a blueprint for doing this kinda crap that will shorten my learning curve?
  • Should I even be trying to do this AT ALL, let alone on my own?
  • And last but not least, is this something I can hire someone with the proper expertise to execute for me?

You CAN do it your damn self while capitlizing on the brilliance and experience of others. You’ll still catch that DIY high but without all the overwhelm, frustration, and burnout that can sometimes accompany it. And remember, it’s okay to say no to DIY, kids. (And to drugs. Especially drugs.) Some things are better left to the professionals.

What areas of your biz can you DIY smarter?










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  1. Great article, Megz. Smell-empathy of p-drains. And totally get the DIY high too. Esp with graphics … something I’m painfully slow at, not very skilled at, but totally enamoured with trying!

    As for the cocaine analogy, there’s the dopamine connection. New stuff produces dopamine hits, like cocaine. Being a neuronerd, you may have already known that but just wanted to spell it out 🙂

    • Ha! Smell-empathy. Love that. 🙂

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