Too Much Consistency is Bad (& Boring)
Travel & fitness offer great models for how to keep your consistency optimal
Nine years ago, two friends and I huddled together in a crowded pub in NDG—the Montreal neighbourhood where we lived.
The three of us were leaving on separate adventures and it was the first of several “bon voyage” send-offs amid our mutual friends. I was headed to London on a Youth Mobility Visa to advance my career in the city I’d dreamt of living in since I was a kid, while my friends were bound for Australia and Ireland on Working Holiday Visas they could use to fund cross-country travel.
We swore we’d keep in touch and be there for each other anytime we felt homesick. But we never followed through.
We were too enthralled by our own adventures…
Then, five months into my London life, I got a shocking email from my friend in Ireland.
She was going back to Montreal.
She explained her reasoning at length—as though she had to justify her decision to me. I understood why. We’d departed with similar expectations of finding immense joy in the places we’d long dreamed of living in. Coming back to Montreal before our visas expired didn’t fit that narrative.
But I also understood why she was heading home early.
While I’d spent my first month in London on a gruelling mission to get settled, my efforts had paid off. I had a home with three friends who’d become family, a job I loved with colleagues I loved even more, and a routine that in spite of making room for spontaneous trips across Europe, kept me grounded and energized.
Meanwhile, my friend in Ireland had been on the move. She’d been travelling and working in hostels since she arrived. I assured her I would never have lasted five months in her position. My longest stint of constant travel was a five-week backpacking trip around Europe. And that was only because we scored a friend’s beach house in Greece for a couple of weeks to break up our otherwise grungy and chaotic hostel life. It’d been a blast meeting people from all over the world but I was ready to come home by the end of it and reclaim some sense of order.
The takeaway: Most of us need a routine and consistency to feel grounded and happy. That’s not to say spontaneity isn’t important, it is. But it’s more effective when you have a baseline to break free from and return to after the fact.
The Importance of Routine
The lesson from the story above largely shapes how I think about self-employment. A big reason many of us become creators and entrepreneurs is to have more freedom. But in the same vein that nonstop travel can take its toll and make us feel disconnected and unhappy despite knowing “most people would kill to be in my position,” so can being too unstructured with your work.
This is where crafting a dynamic practice comes in.
I shared in a previous newsletter how my fitness ritual keeps me flowing toward my long-term goal of being at my mental and physical best. The essence of this ritual is what trainer Shona Vertue describes as being consistent and dynamic.
Vertue’s program is a melange of strength training and yoga, and workouts alternate day by day and gradually become more difficult every two weeks. The intention is to develop a dynamic practice (practice being the operative word for consistency).
Here’s a glimpse of the schedule showing how you alternate between two workouts (Workout A and Workout B) in two-week blocks:
What I love about this approach is I feel comforted by the consistency of the program and simultaneously challenged by the dynamic shifts. It’s a balance I’m trying to replicate in my approach to work.
Consistency Alone Is Boring
Ever since the book Atomic Habits was published in 2018, there’s been a tidal wave of teachings around the importance of consistency in achieving goals. But taken at face value, most of the advice preached (especially on Twitter) is to do the same things over and over again with “no days off.”
For most of us, that’s not sustainable—let alone desirable.
As someone keen to build an audience in my domain, I spent the past four months buying into this “you have to post every day” mentality. And the whole time, I felt like I was operating from scarcity despite having tons of great content to share. The pressure to post every day on top of my workload meant scrambling daily to “get something out” when what I want to be doing is writing thoughtful posts in advance.
But because I was so convinced I couldn’t “take days off,” I couldn’t catch up—let alone get ahead.
Thankfully though, I had a mindset shift last Thursday. I was preparing to take a few days off—something I hadn’t done in a while—and I was struggling to think of what I could post for the next four days. My hope was I could schedule the posts in advance and disconnect in the meantime. That’s when it hit me that I was creating an unnecessary headache for myself by not breaking my streak to enjoy my trip fully.
So I broke my streak, road-tripped to Quebec City, and spent an incredible long weekend offline, outside, and fully present as we strolled around historical gems and enjoyed local dishes. It was a much-needed reminder to do short trips like this more often (which I did frequently when I lived in Europe).
In the same way short trips punctuate our everyday routines, I’ve realized I want to be more intentional about punctuating my publishing streaks. In the case of my latest trip to Quebec City, I came back to work this week feeling extra calm, focused, and grateful. I’ve also come back with an abundance mindset about creating content.
As I wandered the cobblestone streets of the city, I was reminiscent of my time living in France. One particular turn around Boulevard Champlain in Old Quebec reminded me of my trip to Honfleur—a charming harbour town in Normandy with the best crepes, seafood, cider, and calvados I’ve had to date.
There’s nothing like a scenic view to replenish your creative flair. And while foreign cities have an undeniable allure, you can ignite your senses just as much in your hometown. Whether you live in an eclectic city, a natural haven, or somewhere in between, if you can’t sense inspiration, you’re not immersing yourself enough.
Cultivating a Dynamic Practice
Going forward, I want to be more intentional about cultivating a dynamic practice for my work. I haven’t yet figured out what exactly that will look like. But I’m energized knowing I’m now asking the right question versus forcing myself to do things I don’t feel aligned with just because it’s a loud trend (e.g., subscribing to the “no days off” mentality).
My question to you is, how might a dynamic practice work in your favour?
Thanks for reading and have a wonder-full week,
P.S. Here’s a glimpse of the Hôtel de Glace (the Ice Hotel) I visited just outside of Quebec City. There’s nothing like a chandelier to create an opulent ambience—even in the snow:
⏩ If you want to help me promote my newsletter, share this one with friends.
💻 If you want to build a scalable cohort-based course, join my course & community.
☕ If you want to grab coffee in Montreal, hit reply to let me know when you’re in town.