Boost Productivity

Burnout lessons from a Navy SEAL

Why is it that the average person thinks of energy like a videogame character?

GL Negative 2

The implication is: Energy is good, work is bad, and when you work a lot, your energy goes down. It’s a belief we hold so tightly, it’s become an invisible script.

I was reminded of this recently when I was hanging out with 2 friends talking about how we were raised. One of them said something fascinating:

“I mean, I want my kids to work hard, but if they don’t want to study, I’m not going to scream at them.”


3 things I noticed:

  1. Why is it that the opposite of working hard is yelling at kids? Isn’t there a middle ground?
  2. OF COURSE KIDS DON’T WANT TO STUDY! THEY’RE KIDS! They want to play and eat candy. That doesn’t mean that’s good for them.
  3. The idea that work is good, but “we shouldn’t work them too hard.” There’s this idea going around that “my kid has too much homework.” LOL. Try saying that to my parents (or any Indian parents) and see what their reaction is.

At the core of this belief — the idea that kids shouldn’t work too hard, or that “too much work” is bad — is the invisible script that work = less energy.

That we need a burst of “motivation” or a vacation to get that energy back.

Or maybe a positive Instagram post:

Screen Shot 2017 05 08 at 9.59.53 AM
Kill me.

But what if there was a way to rethink that? What if the more you worked on something, the more energetic and motivated you got?

In short, what if your life was more like this?

GL Positive 1

This is a different way of thinking about energy and hard work. And it involves reframing the way you look at hard work.

Look, I’m not saying all burnout can be willed away. Burnout can be a serious medical issue. I’m talking about the stress we impose on OURSELVES.

It’s what best-selling author Carol Dweck calls a “Growth Mindset” in this TED talk: the idea that hard work isn’t a roadblock, it’s a stepping stone to getting better. And I’ve seen the same pattern with top performers (and all of my Indian friends). For them, work isn’t something to finish as quickly as possible. No. Work FUELS them.

Here’s what Navy SEAL Jack Walston said about building this kind of mental toughness in a recent interview:

“Once you can convince yourself that the harder or more miserable or crazier something becomes, the stronger I get, that no matter what happens, I’m getting stronger. Not weaker. There’s just a handful of people that can do that.”


There’s a reason top performers are rare. They take responsibility for the success of a project — including things they can control and things they can’t control. It’s all on them.

“You can’t buy it. It doesn’t come in a can. It’s all on your shoulders.”

What kind of freak wants that responsibility?

It turns out that top performers are usually a little… weird. Every top performer I know has their own idiosyncrasies that they’ve embraced. Maybe they have a morning routine that seems weird to others, but they don’t care. Whatever it takes to succeed.

They don’t fight against the way their brain is wired — they build their lives around it. They play offense, not defense.

For example, look at all the different approaches here:

  • Cal Newport shuts off all social media and commits himself to long stretches of “deep work.”
  • Tim Ferriss does all of his writing at night with a TV quietly playing in the background.
  • AJ Jacobs writes while walking on a treadmill, so he doesn’t get too sedentary.
  • I know I need ~90 minutes of time in the morning to wake up and get going, so I set my schedule accordingly.

They just shrug and say, “I know, it’s weird, but I absolutely hate packing my own suitcase, so I hire someone to do it for me.” Or “I need to have 90 minutes of quiet time before I start my day, so I wake up early.” Whatever it takes, they rearrange their life to give themselves every advantage for top performance.

Burned out and bedridden for a week

I know what burnout feels like.

After our first Earn1K launch, I was so burned out that I couldn’t get out of bed for an entire week. It took me 6 months to get back to being 100%. I’d worked every day from 6am to 2am, writing a 5-week launch funnel, getting hooked on coffee, and feeling every emotional swing you can imagine.

At the time, I thought this was NORMAL. I was the person in the first image at the top, right? The one that felt more drained every time I had to do my job. I bought into the story that more work required me to be more tired and that burnout was normal, or even expected.

So how’d I change? I followed the same script top performers do. First, I reframed hard work.

I knew 3 things:

  1. I loved doing launches. I loved the work, the camaraderie, the fact that we put it all on the line. I loved the work.
  2. I was going to keep doing launches and I couldn’t keep getting burned out like this. There had to be another way.
  3. I was willing to compromise on other small areas of life to have a successful launch.

Just acknowledging these 3 things changed everything. I didn’t try to avoid launches. I loved the work. But I knew it was possible to do the hard work and avoid burnout.

To do this, I built an automation system around my idiosyncrasies around my personal health:

  • I paid a personal trainer that would hold me accountable and make sure I progressed in the gym…
  • …who sends my workout results to a nutritionist…
  • …who sends nutrition recommendations for my chef

I know this system is expensive (and you can also get 85% of the results with about 10% of the cost). But as they say, “Show me someone’s calendar and spending, and I’ll show you his priorities.”

I embraced rest during launch, knowing this was a marathon. And I made sure to organize my life before launch (seeing friends, pre-signing checks, etc) so I could focus on my work when I needed to. Again, because I knew work itself wasn’t draining me and that I ENJOYED doing it.

And over time, that burnout went way, way down.

The second time we did a major launch, it took me 3 months to recover (down from 6!).

And today — many launches later — I’m usually out in NYC the night a launch closes. That’s how far we’ve come.

If I’d hated launches, or if I believed “more work = burnout,” I would have burned out. No amount of fancy trainers or systems will overcome your deeply held psychological beliefs.

But when I reframed hard work from causing burnout to giving me more energy, it started a snowball effect on how I prioritized, and everything changed.

This is really hard. We have a deep-seated belief that the more we work, the more recovery we need — in America, that comes in the form of vacation, massage, and TV.

Nothing wrong with those — I love all of them.

But I want to challenge you to be mindful of the way you think about hard work. Do you sigh when you wake up? Do you roll your eyes when you sit down at work? When someone says, “How’s work?” how do you respond?

Most importantly, I’ll ask you the question I asked myself: How can you manage your energy like a top performer? How can you reframe the way you think about hard work? And how can you embrace your idiosyncrasies?

Tell me in the comments below.

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There Are 46 Comments


Reframing, what a simple but powerful concept. Hidden scripts/conditioning. Sometimes just fine sometimes needing changed but being aware of them the key.
Grit by Angela Duckworth is another book worth a read.
Thanks for the work Ramit.

This was a great post, thanks Ramit. I’ve experienced both ends of this:

In NYC, running a $50k charity event with some friends. Whenever things started to fall apart, I felt stronger, more capable. I knew my friends, who are wildly successful compared to me, were really trusting me to pull through. In the end, the event was a massive success.

In CT, on my own, working on a solo music album – music is my passion, I love it, and things are going great. More fans than ever, more listens than ever. But, working all by myself, I felt like every hour of work would drain my soul out of my eyeballs sometimes.

So for me – I learned I need accountability/community to help me get things done. And I never really put it into words before this comment, so, rad! thanks again


So interesting. I notice many of the fellow women I speak with use the same language to describe their work style: “I just need to push through it.” I used to “push through” things even in martial arts and as a result got injured a lot. After my first product launch, I was bedridden for a week too. I needed a softer approach that managed my energy instead of throwing it at things … i.e. an automated digital calendar, hiring outside help, and better boundaries. I also say no a LOT now, but I view this as buying back my time rather than losing an opportunity that probably isn’t a good fit for me anyway. Now I’m busier than ever but far better rested.

Oh, and I’ve stopped shaming myself for not being who I thought I should be. I need 2 hours to get going in the morning, do my best in the gym at noon, and do my best writing at night. I own that now instead of feeling bad that I’m not an early morning gym rat.

What interesting timing. As a freelancer, I have the ability to set my own schedule. After years of feeling guilty for not getting up earlier in the morning, or having a set morning ritual, over the last few weeks I’ve embraced not having an alarm and just doing whatever my mind and body needs to do on any given day before tackling work. Absolutely NOTHING has changed except how I think about it–focusing on gratitude, not guilt. Now I’m twice as productive, stress levels regarding work have improved, and I’m 100% happier.


I’ve spent the past few years really getting in tune with my body. Having two kids pushed me to take a deeper look at how I slept, ate, and managed energy. Working at volatile startups and needing to find a new job after a big layoff got me thinking about how I handle challenges.

The biggest thing I realized was to stop looking at everyone else’s tactics and start paying attention to the ideas behind it.

I wake up around 6am every day. My body wishes I were sleeping until 7am. Every tactic is about getting up early, working out early, doing all these things early… when I can barely function. It’s no accident that I’m awake 2+ hours before I get to work, that my entire morning is a routine that I can do whether I slept 8 hours or had a restless night.

I’m at my best mentally from about 9/10am until early afternoon. That’s when I dig into big things. That means my mind isn’t really running optimally for the first 3-4 hours of the day.

I try to time vacations with when I’m going to be feeling burned out by work. Even long weekends have an incredible amount of restorative power, it doesn’t need to be a full week off.

The other big impact is that I remind myself I’m a “survivor.” So many people give up after something bad happens. I dig in, work through it, reminding myself that every time I come out on the other side there are fewer people who’ve been through what I’ve been through. It’s only challenging in the moment – it will pass. It doesn’t make going through tough experiences much better. What it gives me is the mental edge I need to not only make it through, it helps me put in a strong effort to make it through and end up even better off on the other side.

I am in the dream-up phase of my podcast with seven episodes launched, and I am doing this while working my “regular” job of a program planning analyst. I have every other Friday off and on those days I work exclusively on my podcast. I realized that working on a project that I have a vested interest in all outside distractions are invisible. I miss lunch and do not notice that I may be hungry, I lose all sense of time until my wife walks in from work around 5pm. I’m not tired, I’m not stressed and I have the same amount of energy at 5pm as I did at 7am when I started. I only slow down to give my wife the time and attention she deserves after working at her job and talk about our day.

Interesting you mention advice from Navy Seal. I am currently reading and listening to “Extreme Ownership” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. They talk about owning everything in your domain from the small detail to seeing the big picture. When you take into account what you want to have control over, this can mean an almost overwhelming amount of work. But you have to ask yourself, do you want to do the work and win or fail by missing critical information?

Mimi Ghosh

I used to have the framework that work=jet fuel. Now, I’m having to get back that framework since my recovery from depression throughout my 20s. I wish that I had spent my 20s creating a business, finding my dream job, etc., but I wasn’t able to because of my health and personal problems. What’s even more challenging now that I’m not a fancy-free college kid anymore, is having to create work that I do love enough to dedicate my life to. The job that I do to pay the bills is not the work that I believe I’m meant for, and closing that gap is where I struggle to reframe my core assumptions.

As a college girl I lived off of tons of scholarship money and had all the time in the world to create work I loved, but as a grown woman with a (wonderful) boyfriend’s hopes, dreams, and daily-life to consider, I don’t have the ability to only do work that I love. But, I’m constantly working to reframe that deep struggle and frustration. I’m working to convince myself that what I do to make ends meet is not who I am, and even if I’m not making money yet doing what I love, it doesn’t mean that I never will! I’ve learned that I need support, community, collaborators, and to constantly feed my dreams and see tangible progress (even baby steps) in order for me to feel alright about my circumstance!

Hey Ramit,
I’m usually the first one to jump on your message and agree to it completely. Not this time. At least not completely. Yes it’s true, a lot of the stress comes from our perspective, and yes, many of us tend to learn “work=draining energy” early on. Reframing it so work can be fulfilling and can give you energy is a good approach, but may be misunderstood. I’m talking from experience, as I was this kind of person who was overly excited about work, the possibilities and so on. But I pushed my body way too far and had to pay the price…
So, it’s also not the other way as in Video games where work just flows like “Mana” and re-loads your energy bar. Work – no matter how much you love it, consumes physical energy. You mentioned one really important thing in your mail: “it’s a Marathon” so it’s all about energy management. Focus on the things in your work you enjoy and see it as mental “fuel”, as motivation gainer. But also you have to pay attention to your body. No matter how motivated you may be, no matter how much “thrill” you might get from your work, your body and mind need rest. And vacation might not be necessary to cope with drained resources, but we all also know that muscles don’t grow during the exercise, they grow during the rest. So like mentioned in the beginning, I partially agree (way too often we see work as this mental sink hole) but also “it’s a marathon” and building your stamina and entrepreneurial muscle – so you have to rest. In the end I think it’s a game about energy management. Just my two cents.

I’ve got a day job I hate, I admit it. Printing designs on t-shirts for other small businesses and tradesmen. It’s not easy, and the first three years I was there I was a whiney little millennial, complaining about how tired out I was getting, and making up excuses of why I wasn’t focusing and making so many mistakes.

Somewhere along the way I decided it was time to stop being a whiney little b17ch and toughen up. At the time I was a bit pudgy and wanted to work on getting into shape, but work wore me out so much, it was like doing aerobics with a little bit of weight lifting for several hours a day.

Then it hit me and I felt like a smarter idiot. I’d just use my job to get me into shape! It made perfect sense, all I had to do was fix the way I ate. So I’d eat salads for breakfast and lunch, and throw myself into work like it was a workout. Today, while I’m not the most fit person in the world, I’m a fairly satisfied workhorse who can outwork most of my coworkers, getting more done, better, in the same amount of time.

I manage my schedule very tightly, I have a set schedule where I get certain things done on certain days. Anything that is not on the list is extra and not part of the routine. The list is all that matters and it is enough that I feel accomplished.

This post REALLY speaks to me. I have been battling Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for 15 years and also set up my own business 5 years ago. I would love to say I’ve got all the answers and I don’t burn out any more, but it’s not true. I still face periods of burn out (I’m trying to carry myself out of one at the moment) and my best days are only about 50% of the old ‘healthy me’, but I’ve learned how to adapt. During those 15 years, I’ve had long periods of managing life so I avoid total collapse, but sometimes things go wrong. Every time this happens, I learn something new, tweak something else and pray! I would love to be able to boast an amazing business, but I’m on a learning curve there as well. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved so far, but there’s more to come. For me, one of the biggest challenges is learning how to manage that ‘achiever’ pattern and appreciate that sometimes less is more. Also, much as I curse my ill health at times, I also bless how it has changed my perspective on life: it shifts how I prioritise and where I focus. It’s all about trying to create a healthy balance. I’m very much still a work in progress, but as long as I keep moving forward and learning more, whether it’s on my business or my health, it keeps me going.

shirley N

I’m reminded of the mindset of Italians. Time for them is meant to be enjoyed…even when you are working. Going out and doing things for yourself that gives you a little joy in your day. Creativity consumes huge amounts of time and energy. Too much of it will run you down. However, a burst of inspiration or a looming deadline will push you beyond your limit. When you don’t have inspiration to pull you through sometimes it is best to regroup, take stock, and take care of your bodily needs. That said, I know I have a set amount of energy that I can use in a day. I’ve tried parceling it out to all the different areas of my life (not just business, it can be health, relationship, social) which works sometimes. A set of things I’ve got to do each day is usually first up on my agenda. Everything else that needs be done comes after (appointments, tasks, etc.). I usually have to spend a part of each day thinking (how I’m feeling, why I don’t like to do somethings) or I feel like something’s wrong. Weird? Maybe. That’s how I roll.

So glad you are finding a good path! I’ve been trying to figure this all out for about 15 years now dealing with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and some messed up pelvic floor problems. I wish I had started sooner but I just kept “pushing through” and burned my body out. Slowly building back up. It helps to hear others, like you, are also getting there. 🙂

I second this. I also love jocko’s talk in “psychological warfare.” Being on the offensive has helped me tremendously. Your and jocko’s philosophy, in my view, closely relate. Great post!

I have found that beautiful phenomenon when getting work done, doing it well and feeling great about it. I want, no, NEED, more of that kind of work in my life!

I’ve found that my current job does not satisfy that need. I get the work, I do the work as quickly as possible, and that’s it. I believe that the type of work and how you personally feel about the work is important to achieving the power-up! I’m not intellectually stimulated by the regular work that passes by my desk, but when there’s a problem to be solved (that ultimately makes my workflow better), I’m all over it and loving it!

It’s so silly how easy, boring work just saps energy like no other.. it affects both work time and after the day is done.

I’m in a kind of transitionary period in life right now, and it’s one of my goals be to get myself into work that DOES energize me like this! I know what it feels like, and so now I strive for it.

Matt Connor

Ramit, great article on Burnout. I have developed a presentation on Burnout and in it I discuss many of the same ideas. It mostly comes down to your mindset about what you are doing or have to be doing. How you react to your environment and circumstances goes a long long way in whether it is a positive or negative experience. I went from being so miserable that I was literally about to step into traffic one night, to loving life for all of it’s ups and downs and knowing that everything happens for a good reason! I would love to share my short talk with you and/or your team sometime or just talk about the subject of burnout in general.

All the best!
Matt Connor

I am a weirdo: I enjoy meditating. But I also like doing a lot of other things so I get up early to meditate in the morning. I start my day clear headed and have energy galore throughout the day into night.

I often get asked how it is that I meditate, exercise, eat healthy (I am a great cook), have a full time job that I am happily compensated for (thank you Dream Job free material), my side business and projects, am relearning how to play the violin AND take classes and spend time with my family and friends. It is all about priorities: don’t waste time on frivolous things.

I have been following Ramit since his college days. That being said… Favorite. Post. Ever.

Like a couple other commenters, I deal with Fibromyalgia / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The post-launch crash Ramit and some commenters describe sounds familiar. The self-management techniques Ramit describes are critical for anyone whose energy reaches the point of burnout pathologically quickly, and helpful for anyone who just wants to have a steadier and stronger candle flame.

For me, applying the 80/20 rule to my energy output is extremely helpful. When it comes to effort, what is the “minimum effective dose” that Tim Ferriss talks about? How can I get the best result for the least time and effort?

This is a change of strategy for me, since I have tended to attack projects with maximum effort, knowing that if I put the pedal to the metal, I can find some (or create some) more energy even when I am starting to run low. But in the long term it isn’t efficient. Even from a non-subjective viewpoint (discounting the pain of Fibro/CFS crashes, or the demoralizing feeling of being bedridden just when you have achieved something wonderful) going at 80% of capacity with more uptime has got to be far better than running at 120% with significant unscheduled downtime for recovery.

One more strategy I love is setting in place routines that automate the daily strategies that help the most, and then closing that loop by looking at the results and adjusting the routine for maximum effectiveness FOR YOU, no matter what your individual situation is. Can we throw away assumptions about what SHOULD work and really be honest with ourselves about what actually does work?

Rinse. Repeat. Relax.

Hello Ramit,

My name’s Sarah-Jane and I’m a workaholic. Ok, so I said it. But it feels stupid.

My working hours are way fewer than many people with small businesses. I do have a full time job, a side gig, 2 disabled children, 1 ‘extra’ child, a home, husband to manage as well. BUT, I live to sing, do I joined a choir. We rehearse hard, and it forces me to learn how to read music better. (I used to say I can’t read music, now I say my sight reading is improving.). I also race and sailing dinghy throughout the summer, so I have to get out of the house. Both of these I am held accountable by other members. I might not turn up if I wasn’t going to be letting someone down.

I have learned to spot when I am heading for burnout and make sure to increase my self-care then. (Hot baths, meditation, cooking nutritious food)

If I stop noticing my family let me know! I’m really lucky to have them.



The way I manage my energy:

-I only answer messages between 2-3 PM UNLESS it is a work related commitment or I am about to meet someone and they are trying to find me (ie: “Where are you?”). My only social chatting is between 2-3 PM every day.

-I have closed my Facebook account.

-I have a set of strict personal rules which my friends consider to be “robotic”. I am forbidden to go on irrelevant websites (any news, sports, or entertainment website is out of bounds). I am forbidden to play any type of video game, on the computer or cell phone. I am forbidden to read the newspaper or even open up a magazine. I cannot use the remote control UNLESS it is to turn a TV off. If I happen to enter a room where the TV is on, I am NOT ALLOWED TO SIT OR LIE DOWN (this increases the chances that I will want to leave soon).

-Every time I shower I must do my singing exercises (unless my cell phone is dead… and unless I am currently getting laid… in which case it would be weird to do these exercises then)

-Every week I must upload a YouTube video to any of my channels.

I am forced to follow every one of my rules for 66 days. YouTube holds me accountable, because sometimes I comment on my rules within my videos.

After 66 days, I take a break and WASTE AS MUCH TIME AS I WANT. During my “discipline period” I have periodically written down things I really want to do when I have the freedom to do so. For example, if I really want to watch a TV series online, then I will write it down, and I will do it only after my discipline period is over. This keeps me from getting overwhelmed by the strictness of my own rules.

Usually my “waste time period” only lasts a week, though. This is more than enough time for me to binge on my fun time wasting activities I’ve been wanting to do. After this week, and after I’m fully satisfied… then I will go back to a new discipline cycle.


-I have negotiated a remote working agreement (Hello 4-Hour-Work-Week) with my boss because I demonstrated that I REALLY WANT TO WORK, and if I can save myself the commute hours, I will actually WORK MORE with a flexible working agreement.
-One of my objectives is to be 100% productive even if that is unreachable. This is why I implement all these rules
-I used to date a lot, but right now my dating is very limited. And I practically never hang out with friends. All of my friends are “business partners” and I am currently doing work with them. A couple of years ago I was dating A LOT and I had a lot of fun, so right now I don’t feel like I have a need to do so. I think it is work time.

WORK motivates me, especially because it is aligned with my ideals. I am ambitious, and the process of getting there is just so enjoyable. I feel so happy and fulfilled even though my goals have not yet been accomplished. I love the process.


Greatly enjoyed this post. Over the 2 plus years I’ve been following, this in one of my 3 to 5 favorites. I’m not sure I recognize burn out as well as others. I used to be a workaholic; full-time worker plus full-time college student, then my first post-collegiate job was in retail averaging 60 hours a week from February to November then 80 from December through January.

The job I have extends flex scheduling so I can arrive as early as 6:00 AM or as late as 10:30 and leave as early as 2:30 PM or 8:00. As long as I hit 80 hours in a pay period, no questions asked. I get up and eat a great breakfast arriving at work when I want. However, the job is mundane and I peaked, Perhaps that is burnout?

Over the last 8 years I’ve went from nearly 300 pounds to a more reasonable 220-230 without losing any energy. I find time to work out daily and am navigating through Dream Job and ZTL. I get bored easy and often have to repeat lessons. Perhaps this is burnout?

I enjoy the posts of others as much as I do Ramit’s. They make me think and rethink what I could try to improve in my life.


This article was timely. I had serious burnout last month. I was the only person left in my department and so I had 3x the workload. Not to mention I have grown to dislike my job. I was studying coding after work so I can enter a new industry and get a better job but the burnout made me incapable of doing anything. Part of me really wanted to code. But I would sit at the computer and wouldn’t be able to focus or do anything, no matter how hard I tried.

The burnout forced me to face some uncomfortable truths about myself and made me rethink the way I was doing things. I had started coding intensely but over time I started to be less efficient and focused. I ignored the signs that pointed out I needed to take a break now and then and decompress until it all blew up in my face. I lost the good habits that I had been nurturing and now I’m rebuilding from scratch. But now I also understand better my limits and the way my brain works.


Forgot to add, the way I manage my energy now is to cut down on the things I am doing and focus only on those that will aid in my #1 goal. The rest are put in a to-do later list (yes I learnt this in Finisher’s Formula!). Having front sight focus on just one goal helps keep me focused and allows me to tackle it with better energy reserves than if I had if my energy was spread out over many things.

I also take the time to do relaxing stuff like playing video games or reading to allow myself time to rest and recover. In fact playing video games was what got me out of burnout hell.

Cheryl Ireland

Hi Ramit and all –

I have experienced burnout at a job several times (yes, I’m older than most of you). and have recently come to a realization that I am a control freak.

I am accustomed to having the authority to make decisions, and have back-tracked, somehow, to being in positions where I was the worker bee.

I still, however, have the passion to make improvements. This does not always sit well with management when I arrive in a new position.

My most recent position is with a growing company accustomed to working from their garage, surrounded by family-member employees. They are not accustomed to rapid growth. But I have already lived it as an employee, more than once.

After attempts to rein in the chaos, I decided to give in. The people who wanted to strip me of any sense of power? I gave it to them. Now, they are floundering, and I am coming to their rescue.

Sometimes, it is better to work hard, but give up power. Most people can’t handle it, and will give it back to you. Easy, big…WIN!


Same mindset as “hormesis” – the theory that mild-to-moderate amounts of stress (exercise, phytonutrients, cold exposure, heat, etc.) increase health. Once I started viewing the sauna and cold showers as making me stronger – it became true (too the science behind it to convince me to stick with it though lol). See Ari Whitten for the scientific explanation. Also see Nietzsche.

I don’t know when this started. But before I get to do anything on my laptop, I always start with a typing exercise on I’ve always struggled with work anxiety and stress, and getting my fingers typing helps. In fact, it became almost my second nature that I can now type as fast as 105wpm. No kidding!

Claudine Gueh

Hey Ramit,

This post is the toppest of top articles I’ve read from you and your team. I adore the idea of work creating more energy, of work invigorating us further. I’ve noticed, ever since last year, whenever my friends ask how my work is going, my response is a gratitude-echoing-from-the-chest-ribs “Good, really good. There’s something interesting in all my projects. I’m so glad to be making a living doing what I love.”

I used to take days to recover from a burnout. Sometimes that burnout was due to mindless overwork. But mostly, it was due to frustration and unspoken agony of not knowing what on earth I was doing with my writing career.

Now I guard my energy. When I feel poorly, my priority is rest. I used to guilt myself into thinking, “C’mon, it’s just a headache/touch of flu, why take that nap? That’s being lazy. You can’t afford to be lazy!” Guess how effective that was?

Wow. I needed this more than anything. I have so much on my plate because I WANT to accomplish that much, but everyone around me keeps telling me to “relax” and “take time off” and “I don’t know how you do it” which in turn makes me feel like my work should be exhausting. Then, I debate if my work is some kind of burden. Thinking of my work as energizing instead of exhausting is exactly the mental framework I needed right now.

Hi Ramit,

This is wonderful. I used to think that way- that work was hard and energy sapping. That I had to fight all the time against myself, fight my work. I inadvertently discovered the opposite when I started meditating- I just felt calmer, more energised and excited by my work. Whatever works I say to get you into a state of creating rather than just surviving is amazing and so impactful. Now that I have built a strong early-rising/meditating routine my next step is to build even more energy into my day by adding an excercise routine. Very exciting! Thanks for all your advice – I’ve been following you & doing ZTL for 2 years now and it’s made an insane difference in my business. Thank you 🙂

Thanks Ramit,

I love this reframing! Not only am I going to use this, but I also have a couple of other people who need it. Although I am not sure they will buy into it.


Your way of working on your ‘side hustle’ sounds ideal. Right now, I’m working full-time, M-F days – so my time to work on ‘side hustle’ stuff is limited to nights and/or weekends, not ideal with 2 kids and a spouse that works a rotating night shift. But like you, when I take time to work on projects that fuel my passion, I can hyperfocus effortlessly and time seems to go so quickly!

So basically, love what you do, and if you don’t, do something about it so that you do.

I have always enjoyed working hard and even love Monday mornings. I feel like I make a difference every day to someone. I see Mondays as a way to get a fresh start to the week and fix or improve from the prior week.

I work in the public schools, and sometimes I wish that American parents and teachers I work with would be more like Indian parents. Kids in our country get coddled so much, and then we wonder why they can’t read or pay attention in school. It’s probably because no one has ever taught them how to sit down and focus on a book! It’s like working out…you have to build up your strength and tolerance. We think it’s ADHD, but it’s really parenting. And I see it from intelligent educated parents who think it’s okay to let their 2-year-old play on an electronic device.

This past summer, my step-daughter invited one of her friends, who happens to be Indian, to her birthday party. My husband asked this friend if she was enjoying summer. You know what she said? “I’m bored. I can’t wait to go back to school because I miss the work.” This was coming from a 7-year-old! There’s a large Indian population in this particular school district, and some of them are coming in to Kindergarten having better handwriting than I do, knowing how to write full sentences. Its not a genetic difference. Its a difference in habits and tolerance for work.

I wish more people would reinforce this kind of work ethic and the idea that in order to get what you want long-term, you sometimes have to sacrifice what you want RIGHT NOW.

Francisco Escobar

Hi Karen,

Totally agree with what you just said. I´m a father from Chile and I see the same situation in other friends of my 3 year daughter. And is not a tdha problem. Is a parent problem. Luckily I realize on time to raise my daughter better.

I manage my energy in the same way that I manage money: The more I do to balance things towards the end I want-the better my results.

To that end, I force sleep schedules that let me be alert in the early mornings (when I’m most energetic), and I keep to a relatively frequent workout schedule to exhaust my body so that falling asleep comes easily instead of lying awake feeling physically energized but mentally drained. As I don’t currently enjoy my job, I keep my work-mindset as that of a line cook “do my part and let someone do theirs”-which lets me focus on growing my own business and working on ZTL modules.

I’m a list-maker, and a problem-solver, so I set lists (and timelines) for each day of the week, with corresponding “urgent”, “desirable”, “nominally needed”, and “it would be nice” categories. (I know, it’s weird. It works for me.) I have a ways to go to be where I want to be-but keeping things at full-bore tilt only works if I’m balanced and organized.

Hi Ramit, I know that Indian/immigrant parenting wasn’t really the overall point of this post, but you’ve mentioned it so many times that I just had to ask. Why do you think children of Indians/immigrants thrive under parental pressure to be successful, while children of parents who were born here seem to crack under the pressure? I have 2 kids and I feel like I’m constantly being told that if I push them too hard they will at the very least lose the internal drive to do anything of their own free will, if not become severely depressed altogether. Thanks for all of the work that you do!

This is super relevant to me right now. I love, love, love my work; we have great clients; and business is booming.

But the things I’m best at and love the most (and bring us outsized rewards) — like being onsite with large clients, or attending and speaking at conferences where I’ll meet our next clients — also take a toll on the areas that make the rest of my life work: regular workouts; easy access to healthy food; making progress on redecorating my home. And things I’m not good at completely fall by the wayside.

Then I struggle with, well, maybe I should pull things back — so I insert a tension between what I love to do and naturally find myself doing and what I think I “should” do.

So I love this idea of saying: No, it’s not that your life needs to get smaller. It’s not that you need to do less. But you DO need a better system supporting you to make it all possible.

Hopey levrey

I had the same experiences as an exchange student in Japan. Although I usually got 6 hours or less sleep, practiced Japanese 3 to 4 hours a day and attended school and caligraphy club every work day, I never felt tired or burned out. Rather, I felt like my experiences were fueling me and giving me motivation to work even harder. That is, because I approached the whole exchange experience with a positive mindset.

An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a colleague who was conducting a little
research on this. And he in fact bought me breakfast due to the fact
that I stumbled upon it for him… lol. So let me reword this….
Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending time to talk about this matter here on your blog.

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