Never Underestimate What You’re Capable Of

never underestimate what you're capable of

It wasn’t until I started my own business that I fully realized how much work it takes to wear so many hats as an entrepreneur. But the flip side is that’s what makes it so incredibly rewarding! If you asked me five years ago if I could explain estimated taxes and stock basis, tell the difference between the EDD and the FTB, write over 3000 words a week in my free time, design graphics, or describe the difference between a plugin and a widget, I would have said uh no way. It took a lot of reading, research, some headaches, and time, but now I can do all of those things! It’s taught me never to underestimate what you’re capable of.

Stay Challenged And Never Stop Learning

We’re never too old or too busy to stop learning and trying new things. As long as you’re committed and patient enough, you can learn anything you set your mind to no matter how complex or foreign it may be. Life is so much more fulfilling when you give your brain some regular exercise and challenge yourself to get uncomfortable.

Even though I’m happy not to be in school anymore with the pressure of exams and grades, I really love to learn new things. Sometimes I want to bang my head on the wall when I don’t understand something, but it just takes some patience and asking more questions until things click.

You have to go through a lot of growing pains in life, especially as a business owner or a freelancer. Of course there will be some things that you may be better off outsourcing from an efficiency stand point versus doing yourself. But that’s not always possible from a cost perspective when you’re first starting out.

Avoid Automatically Outsourcing Everything

You can also lose control and be out of touch with the inner workings of your business if you farm out too many parts of your business. Just think about that show Undercover Boss. Although that show is an extreme example due to the size of the corporations that are featured, it goes to show how isolated and unaware CEOs can get from the people and problems of their business. If you’re going to outsource, make sure you don’t loose sight of your company’s vision and core values.

And the next time you need to tackle a new project at work or at home, don’t panic or immediately start looking for someone else to do it for you. At least give yourself a chance to consider if it’s something you could do yourself. Never underestimate what you’re capable of. You’d be surprised with what you can accomplish if you put your mind to it. I firmly believe the more things you learn how to do, the happier and more successful you’ll be too.

Dive In And Get Your Hands Dirty

Some of you already know I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty and try new things. To give you a range of examples, I’ve taught myself bookkeeping, learned how to use a DSLR camera, trained myself how to design graphics, learned how to do a fair number of things on the backend of website, refurbished computers, built furniture, hooked up entertainment systems, repaired toilets, painted rooms, trimmed trees, etc. How was I able to do so many different things? Reading, watching videos, and simply giving it a shot!

Getting over the fear of trying something new is the first step to seeing what you’re really capable of. Next comes research and preparation, and then real practice. If you give it your best effort and get completely stuck, take a break to do more research and try again. And if you simply can’t get out of a jam, then go ahead and call in a pro for help. When you do, watch them closely and ask questions so you can learn and get farther on your own the next time. It’s such a great feeling when that lightbulb goes off in your head and you can say Oooooh, now I get it!

How I Turned An Unfortunate Situation Into The Highlight Of My Week

My latest adventure in DIY and learning something new was in plumbing! The pop up strainer in the drain of one of my sinks fell apart and dropped down into the pipe. Doh. My first thought way, okay let me get a flashlight and try to fish out the part from above. The reflection from the water sitting at the bottom of the pipe made it really hard to see, but after fishing around from above I could tell the plastic piece that fell off was shoved down in there snug. I also noticed that something else wasn’t right – the piece of the pop up rod that is supposed to sit inside the drain had completely broken off. Arr.

Having had several really bad experiences with plumbers in the past, the last thing I wanted to do was to spend over $200 and have to wait a week for a service window that didn’t conflict with my work schedule. No thanks. So, I immediately went to the Internet! After a few quick searches and videos later, I learned that I needed to 1) remove the P trap where the piece was stuck and 2) get a replacement pop up rod. Hmm, that didn’t sound so bad.

I’d seen a guy remove a P trap (the P shaped piece of pipe at the bottom of a sink drain) before at a hotel when my mom dropped her ring down the drain, and he took it off and replaced it in under 10 minutes. Although I’m not a genius, I’m fairly smart and handy with tools, so surely I could figure out how to do what he did and repair the pop up myself too.

Hey If He Can Do It, So Can I!

Now set out on a mission, I took some measurements and went to the hardware store to pick up a large wrench and parts. I had someone help me find the right sizes I needed, and then headed back home to give it a go. I grabbed a bucket, some rags, a flashlight, my new wrench, the parts, and rolled up my sleeves.

First of all I was thrilled at how easily adjustable my new wrench was, sweet! I’ll definitely get more use out of that later. Then following the steps I’d watched in a video, I successfully removed and cleared out the P trap! Next I reassembled the pop up strainer and replaced the pop up rod. I was happy I connected the two pieces together on the first try (using one hand above the drain and the other from the back of the sink).

removing p trap replacing pop up rodPhew, so far so good. But now the hard part – reassembling the P trap without creating leaks.

Determined To Succeed

Unfortunately, reassembling the P trap properly didn’t work on the first try! I tried several more times to get it fully sealed, but small drips of water kept leaking out of the components. No good, I couldn’t leave it like that. Crap. But I wasn’t about to give up. I headed back one more time to the hardware store with new pictures, and got the missing piece of the puzzle – pipe thread compound! I had a different plumbing specialist explain what I need to do, and then headed home to give it one last go.

I quickly found out that pipe thread compound sure is some sticky paste! I didn’t hold back and put glops of that stuff all around the nuts. I wiped up the extra goo that oozed out as I started to tighten the components, and then got my handy wrench for a small tighten at the end.

tfe pasteI said a quick prayer, held my breath, and then turned on the hot water. I gave it a minute or so and no drips. Exhale. Then I blasted both the hot and cold for several more minutes and still no more drips. Now I call that success. YES, I DID IT!! Ha, whatdya think about that Mr. Plumber?!

Never Underestimate What You’re Capable Of

The grand total of my DIY sink repair cost only $26.52. And $17 of that was for my sweet adjustable wrench, which I’ll be able to use for many years to come. Not only did I save over $170 by doing the repairs myself, I didn’t have to bother finding a (supposedly) reliable plumber and wait days for him to come (and hope he wouldn’t forget to show up). So to say the least, I was very elated and super proud of myself!

I was able to turn an unfortunate situation into the highlight of my week. :) And now I never have to worry if I drop something into a sink drain because I know how to get it out! Never underestimate what you’re capable of, and don’t be afraid to try something new. No matter how big or small it is, find ways to stay challenged and enrich your life through knowledge and experiences. Life is too short to stop learning!

Untemplaters, are you a do it yourself’er? What are some things you can do now that you never thought you could do in the past? Is there a challenge that you’re working on learning right now? If you were in my situation would you have called a plumber or tried to fix the sink yourself?


Unconventional Guides

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Financial Samurai March 10, 2014 at 11:43 am

Wow, GREAT job Sydney! It’s so easy for folks to just call a plumber for $250, but you decided to figure it out on your own. The internet has really leveled the playing field, which highlights wage deflation. So on the flip side, one has to figure out a business or skill that is hard for others to figure out!

Love the determination to get the sink fixed. How did you create the nice picture collage at the bottom?


Sydney March 11, 2014 at 10:58 pm

Thanks Sam! I just couldn’t sit well having to pay that much for a plumber if I could do it myself. Sure it took me longer to figure out, but if I were to add up the time it would have taken to find a decent plumber, schedule an appointment, wait for him to show up etc, there wasn’t much time savings but there was a huge cost savings!


Anneli @thefrugalweds March 11, 2014 at 9:34 pm

Hi Sydney – awesome work!! I’m gonna archive this article in my “just in case sh–” folder LoL! Like you, I love challenging myself – I think it comes from being the oldest kid in my family: I always had to get creative to get either myself or my sisters out of trouble!
Being the most “un-techie” person I know can be a challenge, but give me a few minutes (or hours) and I can find my way around most computer-related issues. It might take me a tad slower to get it done, but it will get done.
Great article – and yay for ladies who DIY! :-)


Sydney March 11, 2014 at 11:00 pm

Thanks Anneli. :) There are many times I wish I studied computer science in school, but at least I’ve been able to learn some basics here and there on my own.


Mr. Utopia @ Personal Finance Utopia March 12, 2014 at 8:55 am

You’re quite the “jack of all trades” Sydney! I think a good strategy when facing new, unknown challenges is to break it down into more simple steps, if possible. If you just view the task in it entirety, it can be so overwhelming you run from it. However, if you tackle certain tasks and then progress step-by-step, it makes it less mentally daunting to undertake. That’s my 2 cents.


Sydney March 28, 2014 at 8:10 pm

Thanks! Yes baby steps are the way to go. :)


Daisy @ Prairie Eco Thrifter March 13, 2014 at 5:59 am

Congrats on the success with your sink – it’s so exciting to be able to do something yourself and live to tell the tale of success! We are definitely DIYers; we do everything from home maintenance to car repairs ourselves if we can. It’s really rewarding and saves a lot of money.


Sydney March 28, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Thanks Daisy. It’s not always fun, but it does feel rewarding to DIY, especially when it saves a lot of money!


Bryce @ Save and Conquer March 13, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Good for you for buckling down and fixing your own sink drain. I recently wrote about fixing several appliances that experienced problems over the past 4 months. The Internet and YouTube are great resources for DIY fixes.


Sydney March 28, 2014 at 8:13 pm

Nice job on your DIY projects too. It’s hard to remember what life was like without the web and online video tutorials!


Poor Student March 14, 2014 at 5:16 am

I agree that we should try and get our hands dirty before we outsource any work. I love challenges and it bugs me if I have to let someone else do something that shouldn’t be too hard if I actually take time and learn how to do it!


Sydney March 28, 2014 at 8:18 pm

Yeah I like doing things myself. Although I would love to have a personal chef. I am happy to pay someone else to cook which is why I eat out a lot lol.


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