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Rowing Backwards

Note from Sarah: This article was originally sent via my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers receive essay style pieces like this before anyone else. Click here to subscribe!

It’s no secret that I’m a big nerd, and of course, with that comes a love of documentaries. Recently, Josh and I rented The Camino Voyage, about a group of Irish guys who row a traditional boat from Ireland to Spain. Which is, of course, quite a deranged thing to attempt to do. I won’t spoil it (seriously, it’s a wonderful documentary, filmed largely as Gaeilge—in Irish—just watch it), but there’s a line that made me pause the film and transcribe what someone said,

It felt like we were rowing backwards not forwards… But when we got there, it felt like such an achievement.

How often have you felt that way? I know I really felt that much of 2019 as we had to retool our entire business model. (Which I have talked about a few times.) Now, after some unexpected life gets in the way bumps ?in January, I can see the results of all that backwards rowing starting to come to fruition.

I often talk to clients who feel frustrated and even a wee bit defeated because they’ve worked so hard and they’re just not seeing the tangible results. But, if you stop and look at the small victories, maybe they’re actually rowing in the right direction?

If your email list small? Well, I bet it’s bigger than it was when you launched! 30 subscribers is a whole lot more than zero (30 times more to be precise!). You’ll never have growth like that again! Only able to write one search-focused blog post a month? Look back after six months and I bet you’ll see the needle has moved.

This isn’t a Pollyanna approach, or a pep talk, but it’s rather intended to be an affirmation that sometimes when you’re “in it,” up late working, grinding away at your thing, it’s hard to see the progress. But it’s important to step back and appreciate all your achievements.

Maybe consider resolving to do a bit more of that in 2020?


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