In the first of a new series of blog posts, I’m going to share a dozen or so lessons I learned on the ocean, that still serve me well on dry land. Some may be familiar to those of you who have read my books or have been to my talks, but if you’re anything like me, I need to be reminded at regular intervals that I know the things that I know. I also find that a message will resonate quite differently the second time around than it did the first time, depending on what is going on in my life. So I trust that you will find these useful, as you tackle whatever challenges are going on in your life.

retrospective perspectiveFirst up, one of my favourites – the Retrospective Perspective.

There were many times when I was out on the ocean – particularly on the Atlantic, the first and toughest voyage – when I would have happily (or miserably) quit. There was a huge gap between who I was and the person I needed to be to do what I was attempting to do, and that became a cause of daily struggle.

I got a great piece of advice from sailor Adrian Flanagan, who at the time was completing a vertical circumnavigation of the world via the polar regions:

“When you come to look back on it, the voyage will seem to have been over very quickly. Remember, it doesn’t have to be fun to be fun. And it will have been fun once you are among the elite few who have single-handedly rowed an ocean.”

So often we give in to the emotion of the moment. When we get tired, or stressed, or doubtful, or when it all seems more trouble than it’s worth, we give up.

The problem here is that we are taking an easy short-term decision (to alleviate our negative emotion) that generates a difficult long-term decision (to give up on our dreams).

You may think that, of course, you would never make a decision to give up on your dreams, but when you make a series of short-term decisions that lead inevitably to a long-term outcome, you are making that decision as surely as if you announced to yourself, “I hereby surrender my dreams of a better life”.

When I realise I am getting caught up in my negative self-talk, I take a moment to pause the track, and ask myself:

“What will make the Future Me proud of the Present Me, and the way that I conducted myself right now?”

I call this the Retrospective Perspective. Try it – it really helps.

What can you do today that will make the Future You proud?




  • Your article reminds me of the first time I kayaked Cape Breton in Nova Scotia. I had never sea kayaked before, only flatwater. The first two days, I was pretty scared on the water, but at night, I was happy that I was there doing this. But… I was getting tired of seeing everyone enjoy themselves in real time while I was scared all day. It was like that thought forced the fear out of me, and the final two days of kayaking, I was actually enjoying myself in the moment.

  • Thank you Roz. This article is so timely. I’m building up a small business, and from time to time self doubt creeps in. This is a great reminder of how I want this journey to go.

  • Your words are right perfect and what I need to hear. I am especially focused on your comments about giving in to the emotion of the moment. As an artist, I want the “future me” to be glad the “present me” didn’t give in to procrastination and self doubt, but used self-discipline to forge ahead. I always remember what you said earlier about “just showing up” – it makes all the difference. Thank you, Roz.

  • Our own obituaries in a constant state of revision! Flanagan’s comment on the void left after accomplishment is salient.

  • What can I do now to make my future self proud? Wow I think there is some kind of serendipity in the works here. I was set to paint today and bought all the supplies yesterday. Then I found a million excuses today to not do it, and decided to catch up with emails. This was the first one of a dozen unread ones that I opened. I better go and no more excuses (even though my roof is getting repaced and there is a lot of loud noise).

  • Hi Roz
    I’ve had a very busy time so it’s only now that I’ve come across your post again. I’ve been tidying up my in-box – rather than tackling the next piece in a long series of translations waiting to be done so that a book that’s really close to my heart can be published in time. Hey, who said this was procrastinating? Am taking your advice to heart and getting on with the big job in hand.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts – and thank goodness I came across them today – there’s some serendipity in there and sometimes procrastination is necessary just to get back on track 🙂
    All the best to you, Roz – and to all of you out there who are reading Roz’s posts, too!

    • Isn’t it funny how the time we spend NOT focused on our main project (not that I would ever call it procrastinating!!) can sometimes be so fruitful?! I love it how, when we’re on alert for a particular message, it usually comes.

      Thanks, Margret!

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