Photo by Chris Adamus

Do you cringe when you revisit your work?

Early in my career, I’d push a button: publish, send, or deploy, and then cheer that I was done.

I could finally move on from that project I had been working on for weeks or months, and work on something new, more challenging, and cutting-edge.

The only time revisited my work was when someone made me, they’d point out a bug in my code or a typo in my writing.

Even then, I’d begrudgingly fix the issue and move on.

That was how I did things and thought it was normal until I noticed a coworker of mine, Matt didn’t do that.

Matt didn’t rush to finish projects and look for new ones. Instead, he’d work on a project until it was actually time to deliver it, and even after delivering it, he’d go back, review his work and refine it.

I thought good for him! But I just couldn’t get myself to revisit my work. Because every time I’d revisit my work, I would cringe.

I cringed knowing that it wasn’t my best work. It was just work that needed to get done.

I cringed because it was clear that I had either rushed to finish it, or just didn’t know enough to make it more polished.

The act of revisiting was a reminder that I was at the beginning of my career, and I didn’t know a whole lot.

It was easier to focus on getting a lot of projects under my belt. I held on to the belief that completing more projects would someone help me advance, mature, and gain a sense of pride for my work.

But I just felt the same after each project, dissatisfied with myself.

I wanted to love my work the way Matt did. I wanted to feel proud of it, and be OK with revisiting it and not cringing.

So I decided to just buckle down and revisit my work.

When you stop criticizing yourself, you start to think critically

Instead of flogging myself for being immature or lacking the knowledge, I stopped those thoughts, and instead asked myself, “How can I make this better?”

Sometimes the answer lay in applying what I had learned since completing the work.

Other times I was completely lost.

I just had a nagging feeling the work wasn’t good enough, but I didn’t know how to fix it. Afterall, you don’t know, what you don’t know.

That’s when I realized I needed an outsider’s perspective, and to seek help from people who were more experienced than me.

Swallowing my pride and being open to learning

Part of seeking outside help meant being OK with someone else being critical of my work and being open to learning something new from them.

There are always a few folks who can’t be bothered or are caustic in their approach to teaching and providing feedback. That didn’t stop me from finding the those who were receptive to providing me feedback and guidance, and communicating it in a way that educated and encouraged.

Listening to feedback from people who were more experienced than me was immensely valuable. It saved me countless hours of doubting myself or wondering what to do next, and fast tracked my progress.

The act of revisiting my work also showed me how far I had come and matured. It was valuable to acknowledge how much I had accomplished.

And there were times where I surprised myself. As I was reviewing work, I realized it wasn’t half bad.

Finally, I learned while there is always room for improvement, it’s OK to take pride in one’s work, and acknowledge growth. Being ashamed only stunts growth and development.

Have you recently revisited some of your work? What did you learn about yourself? Let me know in the comments below!

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