Last Sunday, for the first time in 117 weeks, I skipped an issue of this newsletter. Here’s how it happened.
I’d been chatting to my friend Khe Hy over a YouTube Deep Dive live stream
. He runs the popular productivity blog Rad Reads
. As we were closing up our chat, Khe asked me ‘what are your plans for the rest of the evening?’
I replied with ‘ah mate, it’s 9pm now, I need to drive back to Cambridge, sort my life out, and then write this week’s issue of the email newsletter’.
Khe then asked, ‘Why do you have to write it? What would happen if you… took a break?’
Immediately my mind began to churn with the implications. I can’t take a break because it would break the 117-week strong streak, therefore I’d be breaking a promise I made to myself and my audience, therefore I’d be less likely to stick with it in the future, therefore I’d lose the habit of writing regularly, therefore I’d become a total wasteman, and so on.
Khe suggested an alternative way of looking at things.
If you take a break, you won’t resent the fact that you write this newsletter each week. You’ll be ‘rested’ in time for next week’s issue. You’d be doing your audience a favour because you’ve removed something from their plate. You’d be doing them a further favour because by taking occasional (or regular) breaks, your creativity would probably get a boost, thus increasing the signal-to-noise of future videos and emails. And at the very least, you’ll be able to write next week’s email about the fact that you intentionally took a break.
Suffice it to say that my mind was blown.
I’ve never consciously thought to take a break from this. As a firm believer that consistency is a superpower, it would be weird for me to suddenly decide ‘you know what, I’m going to write emails and make videos only when I feel like it’.
But there’s a spectrum here that I wasn’t paying attention to. ‘Publish every week at all costs’ or ‘be a total wasteman’ is a false dichotomy. It’s perfectly reasonable for us to have a schedule to encourage consistency and systematic creativity, while at the same time taking occasional breaks to recharge our proverbial batteries.
And so to experiment with Khe’s radical idea of it’s okay to take a break, I decided to actively skip last week’s email. And you know what? Nothing bad happened. The world still continued to turn. My YouTube career didn’t suddenly die overnight.
Ultimately, no one cared. And that’s a very liberating thought.
Have a great week!