Why I've Been Failing Recently

Newsletter

Table of contents

Hey friends,

Not gonna lie - it’s been a huge struggle maintaining consistency with this weekly newsletter. There’s 3 main reasons for this. Let’s talk about them in turn.

  1. I’ve made it optional
  2. I’ve scrapped my daily writing practice
  3. I’ve scrapped my daily consumption practice

1 - I’ve made it optional

I stated this newsletter in April 2018, intending to publish one issue each week forevermore. I actually managed to do it for over 2 years without missing a single issue. There would be days when I’d get home at midnight after an evening shift at work, and have to wake up at 6am the following day for another one. But if it was a Sunday, I’d remember that I hadn’t sent the newsletter and I’d get out of bed, write something, and hit the send button before sleeping.

This probably wasn’t the healthiest way of approaching things, but it ensured I published the newsletter.

But then I missed one. And then another. And soon, my Sunday night not-optional habit of writing the newsletter became a “if I remember to do it I’ll do it” activity.

When I was forcing myself to write and publish something every week, I felt my ideas were more interesting, and I had more to talk about on my YouTube channel.

It isn’t necessarily a Bad Thing that I treat this newsletter as being optional. As Paul Millerd and Khe Hy have pointed out to me, I don’t actually need to be a slave to consistency. Who cares if I miss an issue every now and then?

But missing an issue isn’t really about the audience. It’s about me. Writing this newsletter is something I’ve actively chosen to do, because it’s fun, and writing is good for the soul.

It’s like missing workouts. It’s easy to say ‘well this one particular workout today won’t really make any difference at all, therefore what does it matter if I miss it?’ But it’s not about the individual workout. It’s about the message that it signals to ourselves that it’s okay to miss a workout, and therefore, it’s okay to undervalue our physical health.

2 - I’ve scrapped my daily writing practise

A few months ago, I had a great daily writing practise. I’d wake up, don my robe, make a cup of coffee, and then sit on the sofa for an hour where I’d plan my day and then write. This was glorious.

But since starting working from a local co-working space in Cambridge, and since scheduling gym, tennis and guitar sessions basically every morning, I haven’t had that hour in the morning to sit down and write. Instead, I wake up, rush to whatever activity I need to rush to, and go straight to WeWork from there to hang out with my friends and the team.

And then when I’m at the ‘office’, I get sucked into dozens of phone calls, various admin tasks, and other project-related stuff that isn’t directly “sit down and write for an hour”.

3 - I don’t consume as much content as I used to

The phrase ‘consume content’ always sounds a bit weird, but you know what I mean. When I was commuting for 2 hours each day to the hospital, I’d be listening to audiobooks and podcasts all the time, and so I always had thoughts about stuff I’d just heard that I could write about.

Since leaving full-time Medicine in August 2020 though, I’ve found my consumption falling through the floor. This isn’t a bad thing - I’ve been working on the business in a lot of my spare time, and it’s been great. But the ideas are flowing a lot less than they used to.

All this has made it harder for me to keep up with writing this weekly newsletter and having something to say each week.

But the weird thing is - this is the first time I’ve actually thought about this. I’ve had a grumble in the back of my mind for the past few months thinking “why am I failing at writing the newsletter each week”. But until today, I hadn’t stopped to think about why I was having this problem.

Now that I’ve identified the 3 main reasons (optionality, lack of a daily writing habit and lack of a daily consumption habit), I can theoretically find ways to build those things back into my life, if I decide that I want to.

The writing habit is a no-brainer - writing is the bedrock of my book, this newsletter, YouTube videos and everything else that I do, so I really should have time blocked for it each and every day.

The consumption thing is less of a no-brainer, but if I wanted to, I could listen to podcasts and audiobooks in the car while driving to my gym and tennis sessions, rather than Olivia Rodrigo’s new album on repeat.

And the optionality thing - whenever I struggle with consistency, I like to find someone else to hold me accountable. Thankfully, my assistant Elizabeth has taken to constantly messaging me on Slack to remind me to write stuff, so that’s quite nice.

So if there’s a message from this very long email, I guess it’s this - if you’re struggling to do something, take 5 minutes to sit down and figure out why you’re struggling to do it. How can you get over the hurdles stopping you from doing it?

Have a great week!

Ali

❤️ My Favourite Things

🎧 Audiobook - As per Taimur's recommendation, I've been listening to Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn. I've been having my ears and mind completely blown away and am rethinking my whole childhood. 10/10 would recommend this read.

🎵 Song - I've been listening to this Ed Sheeran song on repeat. Absolute banger.

🖥 Tech - I ordered the new Apple Pro Display XDR, a complete overkill piece of tech that is absolutely impossible to recommend to anyone. It's cool, but if you're in the market for a screen that does the job just as well for ten or twenty times less of a price, here's a great one.

📕 Book - I'm currently reading the Shortform summary of Designing your Life, a book I read a few months ago. I'd really recommend checking the book or it's summary out - to get some inspiration for summer life design :)

✍️ Quote of the Week

"Anytime a person is speaking to a group of people, in any context, the speaker has a duty and an obligation to be entertaining."

From Storyworthy - Matthew Dicks and Dan Kennedy. Resurfaced using Readwise.

🎬 This Week's Videos


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