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What to do when you think you’ve totally wasted your time on a project

aka The Cake Batter Blog Post

There is a moment, partway through any project, when I will stop what I’m doing, and notice what I’ve currently achieved in exchange for the time, money, and energy I’ve invested so far and think ‘Oh shit. What have I done? What was I thinking?‘.

This most commonly occurs during my annual cake-baking project. My Mum bakes around 20 birthday cakes each year, because we are a huge family. But once a year, for her birthday, the baking responsibilities fall to me.

And every year, there is a moment, when surrounded by the mess in my kitchen, weary with exhaustion, and feeling slightly nauseous after too much taste-testing, I slump over the countertop and wonder ‘what was I thinking?’

I have spent money on ingredients, expended energy mixing them together, created an astonishing amount of washing-up, and all I have to show for it is a bowl of inedible (yet deliciously aromatic) gloop.

It is The Cake Batter Moment.

I’m staring into the oven at a cake that doesn’t yet look the way I wanted it to.

I am crying over cake batter.

But every year the mess gets cleared up, the kitchen is restored to order, and while I’m busy distracted with those tasks, the oven bakes my cake.

The Cake Batter Moment happens in every project I tackle.

I’m so far in, I’ve invested so much, the vision of what I want to achieve is so clear…and yet all I’ve got to show for it so far is mess, tiredness and some gloopy unrealized potential.

It creeps up as soon as the initial flurry of busyness is over and it’s time for some patience.

There’s waiting to be done, and more work to do too, but I’m already judging the success of the mission by the current state of things.

Cake Batter Moment Mitigation Plan

You can do Future You a huge favour by creating a Cake Batter Moment Mitigation plan before you start your project.

Include:

1. Include a list of the reasons why you’re doing this thing

2. Make a list of what you’ll need to do to get where you want to go

3. Set yourself progress check-points - little moments you can celebrate along the way

✔️ All the ingredients successfully acquired, measured, laid out and ready to go
✔️ A smooth batter mixed and ready to go in the oven
✔️ The batter fits in the tin…..and so on, and so on.

Give yourself plenty of excuses to fist-pump the air with a glowing sense of achievement

4. Consider red flags that signal you DO need to take alternative actions, and consider IN ADVANCE what your options might be

5. Some ideas for how you can soothe or distract yourself as you navigate this anxiety-riddled challenge

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