Don’t look back

Graciously Critical: How to Look Back to Move Ahead

When I was sixteen years old and had recently experienced my first real romantic heartbreak, my stepmother gave me a greeting card from illustrator Mary Englebreit which read, “Don’t look back, you’re not going that way.”

That beloved card found a home everywhere I’ve lived. The message resonated with me deeply, and I quoted it often to my daughters as they grew, updating it later with the kid-friendly, “Just Keep Swimming” from Disney’s Little Nemo. The message was the same. Don’t stop. Don’t look back. Persevere. 

If you’re leaving a situation or experiencing a setback, I find it is best to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep going. “If you’re going through hell, keep on going” as the saying goes.

Lately I’ve spent a lot of time with my project manager’s hat on, looking back at issues with a critical eye to see what’s worked, and what didn’t, so we can make better decisions.

I can do this for others with a little more ease. It's harder to do when it’s your own baby that you’re potentially calling ugly. 

Except this time as I closed out and archived completed projects, it was less self-flagellation, It was a delighted surprise. 

Look how far we’ve come. Look at all we’ve done. Look at who we’ve helped. 

Sometimes when you’re so focused on moving forward you forget to celebrate the journey. Only by looking back can you see how far you’ve come. 

There are lessons to be learned, too. That’s to be expected. But I’m learning to take those for what they are⸺ways to improve. Nothing more. I don’t assign blame or shame. 

As indie authors whose creative souls rests in the words, it’s important that we keep going. Nothing sells the last book like the next book. 

But I’m finding it’s equally important to intentionally stop and look back, too. Celebrate your wins. Take a quick victory lap. And be graciously critical when you see ways you could do better. 

Then keep going. You may not be going back that way, but never forget how far you’ve come. 

To your success, 

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