Hi, I’m James. Thanks for checking out Building Momentum: a newsletter to help startup founders and marketers accelerate SaaS growth through product marketing.

In my first post of 2023, I wrote that ‘try’ is my word of the year.

My word for 2023 is ‘Try’. The last few years of Covid disruption have really left me feeling a bit… unsatisfied with what I can achieve. Even though we’ve done a lot, I know there’s more I can do.

For the last three months, I can honestly say that I’ve been trying in all areas I wanted to improve: career, work, side hustles, relationships, socialising, hobbies, and self-care.

And it’s been super fun – overcoming challenges at work, pushing myself to be more outspoken, leaning in more strongly to relationships, seeing good results from my workout routine, and – perhaps most importantly? – partying all night on a number of occasions.

It’s been so rewarding – and we’re only a quarter of the way into the year. 75% left.

I don’t want this to be a hustleporn post, but wanted to share some of the things that have resonated with me, and that I’m keeping in mind moving forward.

The goal is momentum

If the game is trying, each goal is momentum.

That feeling where things get faster, easier, bigger. The connections are becoming more obvious. There’s output, results, evidence. It’s like climbing a mountain, but you’ve got stairs instead of a hard rockface.

For me, this means getting feedback – positive or constructive. It means feeling personal growth – even if it’s sore. Celebrating the wins, rolling with the punches.

Mindset matters

Trying is a mindset.

Sometimes it’s harder to ‘try’ than you want it to be. Even if you’re feeling tired or cranky… and especially if you’re feeling awkward. Feeling uncomfortable is a sign that you’re pushing yourself and trying something new.

But sometimes, trying comes really easy.

A feeling of comfort when you understand that failure isn’t a setback, but just a temporary diversion. Beaming with pride in new-found confidence. Getting that warm fuzzy feeling when you realise that actually, you don’t need permission… “I can”.

Focus on the big rocks

We’ve all got tough stuff to do. Big projects to run, hard conversations to have, ambitious targets to hit. Focus on those.

You know what’s not a big rock? Overthinking the implications of small and inconsequential decisions. Over-rotating on things that aren’t on your customers or stakeholders radar. Self-importance, pompousness. Bikeshedding.

Everything, everywhere, all at once

Worrying about priorities and bandwidth is also pointless.

The energy I’ve wasted with trying to get things into Asana, trying to keep up with a todo list, or stressing out about all of the things I’ve had to do is magnitudes more than just doing the things. Keeping the plates spinning just enough, while picking and choosing the ones to do fancy tricks with.

At least, that works for me; I work best in a state of flow. You may find more optimal ways of working that suit you better.

But the point remains: worrying about the system you use to prioritise is minor, compared to just prioritising things.

It’s your choice

All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances;

I’ve always appreciated this Shakespeare quote. At first, I thought it was a great quote for nihilism. We’re just acting according to a script, so why both?

But then I began to view it from a more existentialist perspective. Life isn’t a big, predetermined play… it’s all improvisation. It’s up to you to write your own script.

Are you really doing your best?

Doing your best isn’t about the result. You know you did your best before you know the result. Doing your best is about the position you find yourself in when you show up. Over the long term, the average person who constantly puts themselves in a good position beats the genius who finds themselves in a poor position.


I also think that trying means accountability – both ways.

If you’ve watched The Good Place, you’ll know the core theme – what do we owe to each other? And if you’ve read Five Dysfunctions of a Team, you’ll know the fourth dysfunction is the avoidance of accountability. To try is to feel good that you’ve tried, and pretty much everything we do is a team sport, so encouraging others to try is a requirement too.

Over to you

As I come to write the conclusion to this post, I’ve gotta admit – I’m not too sure what I set out to write, or what I expect you to take away from it. All I know is that this topic has been bubbling away in my consciousness for the last three months, and I had to get my thoughts out on digital paper.

So, here’s to the next nine months of trying. And I sincerely hope that you’ll experience what it means to try soon.

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you thought – find me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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