Things I learned from Renovating a Home

Lesson 1 : Don’t!

Recently my wife and I bought a home. It is a nice little house in a nice area and it means that we have some security. The house was built in the 1970’s and is a good solid New Zealand built home that was sadly still stuck firmly in the past. Nothing much had been done to it in the last 4 decades.

We had mustard carpet that had once been shag pile and was now thread bare. We had wood and glass sliding doors to separate rooms from a time before safety glass and well, style. Our kitchen needed upgrading as did the bathroom.

The good news was that because I was strategically ‘between jobs’ it was decided I would the work and use a builder for the technical stuff. So I was set to demolish, break, go to the dump, paint etc etc .


So MBD Mates, what did I learn from my project?


1)    Overwhelm

2)    Preparation

3)    Mental Rollercoaster

4)    Plan changes


I quickly became overwhelmed by the project. I looked at all the things I still needed to do and ran them around and around in my mind. They got bigger every time they went round. I started little side projects to get some ‘action’, and when they were finished, I returned to overwhelm. The enormity of what I wanted to do, of what had to be done, was never ending.

And so, I stopped doing that and only focussed on the one task at hand. I stopped the side projects (As when we have a call to make at work that is worth heaps of money and potential, and so we decide to clean up our desk first because that’s a little job we can do quickly and get out of the way ...........)


Preparation. This was a double edged sword, because the preparation took so long. I wanted instant results to quell my overwhelm not to wait. On my preparation days I would feel down because it was like a day where nothing happened. I would return the next day feeling low, and discover that this was the day for big progress, due to the preparation. I was able to move the project forward considerably.  It reminded me of Mind set by design. I dint want to do all the background work, I just want the instant results please. I don’t want to make the changes I just want the goodies. Yet when the ground work is done the progress is seemless.............


My mental rollercoaster. With the 2 issues we have already discussed in mind, I found myself on a rollercoaster. Some days I was low and down due to preparation and overwhelm. Other days I was elated and engaged because of the great progress. Yet the project (or my circumstances) were really changing, they were progressing, as they should. It was just my reaction and feelings towards them that changed. I could have good days followed by bad, but the work still progressed. All that actually changed was how I felt.


Finally, there are Plan changes. One of my heros is an ex Navy Seal. He talks about no plan ever surviving the first feet on the ground. What he means is that planning is great but be flexible as things change. Have options. Test the plan. Dont be stuck in one option.

My best example of this is the day we moved into the house. It was 7.00 am and we had been up packing since 5.00am. We were tired and excited and anxious. The beds wouldn’t go upstairs. It didn’t matter what angle or how hard i pushed and pulled they just were not going up stairs. So I reverted  to a  TRIED AND TRUE method of solution finding. I shouted and sat down and asked why is this happening to me. I may have shed a very masculine and totally tough tear.


Then a thought struck me right between the eyes. Put more effort into the solution than the problem. I asked my wife if she would join me in this radical thinking and as much as we just wanted to moan we did that. Three hours later we had bought a new bed that I needed to put together myself upstairs and problem solved. The Plan had changed, and we put more effort into the solution than the problem. We knew the problem, we needed options.


And so that is what I learned about myself and about situations I get into. The more I can catch myself in these situations early, or even before I start the patterns and cycles I have developed, the sooner I can change the patterns to something useful, something workable and let’s face it, something that makes me happier.


Don’t we all look for that?