Corage: The Doctrine of Making Do

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In the Month of Being Grateful, We Should Look At How We Are Making Do In Areas Where We Should Be Longing For.

By Sally Eames

This column was going to focus on gratitude. November’s a good month to focus on this for those of us who live in the United States. But I then realized there’s something else that I need to bring attention to this week: the Doctrine of Making Do. I’m realizing more and more how deeply ingrained “Making Do” is in me and I can’t imagine I’m the only person with this problem.

One of the things I learned early on in my life is to “Make Do with What You Have.” If you don’t have exactly what you need, you figure out how to create it. You have a garden and preserve food because that’s how you’ll be able to eat well through the winter and stay healthy. You wear hand-me-downs. You find creative ways to make old things new again. It’s a healthy, less expensive, fairly sustainable way of life.

What I’ve discovered recently is that I haven’t been using the Doctrine of Making Do only as a way to save money and live sustainably. This way of life permeates the rest of my life as well.

A good example of this is my balcony. I had a garden this summer. And The Doctrine of Making Do is governing my balcony garden. Let’s take a tour:

I have a Styrofoam cooler that I haven’t thrown away as it’s a perfectly good container. It holds fertilizer and some other gardening products. It’s ugly, dirty and battered. Every time there’s a wind the lid blows off. I see it and shudder a bit every time I step onto the balcony.

None of my vegetable plants did very well this year. Even my flowering vines had issues. Why? I bought cheap potting soil. Cheap because it was lousy. I had aphids this year. I had to pull stinging nettle and crab grass out of the pots. But it was $3 a bag as opposed to $10. “How bad could it be?” I thought. Pretty awful, it turns out.

And look at the pots. There are broken ones I decorated myself, so I haven’t wanted to let them go. Ugly ones I acquired from who knows where that are only acceptable because they’re the right size. I have very few pots that make me smile when I see them.

Once upon a time, I thought all that was eclectic and cool and quirky. But this morning I was looking at the balconies of some of my neighbors and I realized their balconies look like they are there on purpose. Their items have been deliberately chosen. It’s not a mishmash of whatever fits.

My balcony isn’t an expression of my artistic creativity. It isn’t an expression of my love of beauty. My balcony is Making Do. Which is sad, because it’s a beautiful space. It could be vastly more beautiful if I brought in healthy soil and attractive pots. If I got rid of the things that make me cringe, it could be a refuge. But I would need to commit to what I really wanted instead of just Making Do.

My balcony is a brilliant example of what I’ve been doing with my life when it comes to the Doctrine of Making Do. By simply Making Do, I’m not giving my best. Ultimately, Making Do means, “I’m not worth enough to bother trying.” Because if I was worth trying for, I’d have to commit to living full out. And that’s scary.

I’m not alone here. The Doctrine of Making Do is fairly pervasive in America. It is present wherever people are staying in jobs that don’t satisfy them. It’s evident when people stay in relationships where they’re not cherished and loved. Or where they don’t cherish and love their partners. Whenever someone is just marking time or getting by, they’re Making Do. And that’s sad. If you’re living under the Doctrine of Making Do, you’re not shooting for the life that fulfills you. You don’t believe you’re worth it.

Certainly there are times for Making Do. When physical and financial hardships strike, for instance, you must make sure your basic needs are met. But if you’re just putting in the time because you don’t believe you deserve any more than the bare minimum, then you are cheating yourself and everyone else of so much.


It doesn’t have to be that way. You can live full out in every part of your life. Making Do is just another way of giving in to your fears, and I’m going to encourage you this month to not do that. I’m going to encourage you this month to reject the Doctrine of Making Do. Instead, I’m going to challenge you to embrace the Doctrine of What I Long For.


I’m going to encourage you to look around your life and be grateful for the things you HAVE: the comforts, the love, the talents, the support of wonderful people, the things that bring you joy. Find those things and be grateful for them, and this month work on expressing that gratitude. But I also want you to look around your life and pay attention to where you’re just making it work. You owe yourself so much more than that. You deserve so much more than that. And I challenge you to acknowledge that truth and commit to playing full out. As though your life was worth so much more. Because it is.


Where in your life are you tired of Making Do?


What excuses of “Good Enough” are you hiding behind?


What does a life lived Full Out look like?

Sally Eames, CPCC, ACC operates Corage Coaching. She is a Certified Professional Co-Active coach and a graduate of the Coaches Training Institute. She is also an International Coach Federation Associate Certified Coach. For the full text of this column, please visit her blog. For more information on her work as a Co-active coach, please visit her site at

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