Don’t Overwork the Dough: Struggling with Perfectionism

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I have a problem – I always work on something until I hate it.

…OK, I might have some explaining to do.

I hope this all comes together exactly like I planned

Photo by Life Of Pix from Pexels

Initial Context

As and when opportunities arise, I work on projects and create pieces of work. These projects mostly fit into two categories – mandatory and voluntary. For example, projects that involve posting on here are voluntary, whereas projects that involve the completion of coursework for my apprenticeship are mandatory – but they aren’t, because we don’t really have to do anything in this world. If I refused to complete coursework, I wouldn’t be exiled or sentenced to a day in the stocks! At least, I hope not.

Working on projects is a part of life, whether you get to choose them yourself or not. But no matter what the project is, I feel a duty to do right by myself – and the people who might see it – by trying my best. Unfortunately, trying my best means unerringly striving for perfection.

“I’m so efficient, I generate my own stress!”

To make it abundantly clear – it is impossible to achieve perfection. Yet, I still find myself stressing over how imperfect something is. This kind of stuff actually upsets me deeply. I constantly think about the mistakes I’ve made, the things I could have done better and all the imperfections that need ironing out. Of course, obsessing over one of these things is exhausting enough, but all three? It’s no wonder I feel stressed 24/7.

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering how obsessing over and constantly working on something that will never be perfect makes me hate… no, I think it’s pretty clear.

I’m trying to work on not being a perfectionist, but it’s difficult. I want everything to be the best it can be. I even try to correct other people’s mistakes, like a maniac. But my work is a reflection of me and my talents. If I submit or publish something terrible, it makes me think I might be terrible too.

“I’ve reviewed this video about 300 times, and I’m still not satisfied.”

Do you know the issue with overworking something or continuously tweaking and changing something to reach your expectations? You either ruin the piece or ruin it for yourself. Through this process, I stop caring about what I am doing, and that’s a dangerous road to go down. You lose purpose, will and passion – three very important things if you want to do anything with your life.

But I can’t keep beating myself up over something not being good enough, because I have the wrong perspective. I have an almost-completely negative outlook on anything I do. I cannot be the one to judge it. I should try to be the best I can be, but it definitely shouldn’t be at the risk of my happiness, sanity and drive to do what it is I want to do. That just doesn’t make sense.

An Aim and Some Baking Tips

My good friend told me;

Doing something badly is better than not doing it at all. – An absolute queen

This is true on so many levels that I cannot describe. I could spend eons wondering if something is good enough, or tweaking it to hell and back, but it won’t make the actual reception of that product clear to me, and it certainly won’t guarantee a positive response. It just drains the project of fun and excitement until I finally release it. And then, I’ll still probably hate it.

I mean, I’ve spent several hours editing a video recently and it’s only 2 minutes long. I think I might have overdone it just a tad.

Maybe I need to find the point where I think I might be overdoing it by looking for mistakes. When I get there, I need to wrap it up and GTFO, for the sake of my sanity. I should take a leaf out of a baker’s handbook – don’t overwork the dough or else your dish will come out tough, dense and unpleasant. Once I manage that, maybe I’ll release something more than once a month or actually feel good about it when I do.

This aim is good, but I might need some objectives because I don’t really know where to start.

Some “Academic” Research

For some guidance on the matter, I wanted to find out what causes perfectionism and how it can be reduced or eradicated, so I did some academic research…

For someone who is no longer studying to become a specialist in Earth Sciences, “some academic research” equates to a mild Google search. But really it was an Ecosia search because we need to plant them trees! See, I still care about the world, even if I have temporarily left that field of academia behind.

On my short web-based journey, the gods of SEO smiled upon me with this amazing article. Not only did it personally call me out several times, it really put things into perspective, concerning my incessant need to fix things and make them perfect. Even through reading this piece, you might have noticed that some of the language used revolves around me wanting to be the best I can be.

To achieve perfection in this context means I’m the one who needs to be perfect, not my work. Eureka!

Now I need to stop it and get some help. I will give the tools provided in the abovementioned article a try – I just need to tweak a few things in a project first… then I swear I will get to it. And then I’ll finally be able to resist the urge to correct how someone pronounces something!

Yes, I have a very long way to go.

Here’s the video I mentioned I was working on.


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By Ade

An aspiring creator in way too many areas, Ade loves to try something new, as long as it doesn't interfere with the balance of the universe too much. Trying to take each day as it comes, Ade edits videos for YouTube, occasionally records podcasts, and writes with strange mannerisms to entertain the world.