The Secret To Avoiding Burnout

Ryan Holiday
5 min readOct 5, 2022

Two years into writing my latest book, Discipline is Destiny, I hit a wall.

There is no word other than “despair” for what I was feeling. Doubt? One always has that. This was deeper. No, this was a fear that the book would not come together. That I had chosen the wrong topic. That I had used up all my material. That I did not have what I needed, that my momentum had run out. At my lowest moment, before I had really even begun, I was facing the necessity of calling my publisher and asking for a delay.

I was also tired. Just so tired.

Coming up with the idea for a book is a creative pursuit, actually creating the book is effectively a work of manual labor, sitting in a chair, grinding out each consecutive sentence — a process not measured in hours or days, but months and years. It’s a marathon of endurance, cognitive and physical.

For me, in the last decade, I have run not just a couple of these marathons, but 12 of them, back to back to back. That’s roughly 2.5 million words across titles I’ve published, articles I’ve written, and the daily emails that I produced in the same period.

To say I was burned out was an understatement…at a moment I could not afford it.

This tends to be exactly how it goes.

Which is why the best organizations and entrepreneurs and athletes solve for that problem before it happens.

In 2012 the San Antonio Spurs were coming off a six game road trip. It was their fourth game in five nights and this game was just 24 hours after their victory over the Magic and 72 hours after a double-overtime victory against the Raptors. More than that, two of their stars Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker had come off long summers playing internationally, while Tim Duncan was in his 16th season in the league. Collectively, the four players had played upwards of 3,000 professional games between them, consistently going deep into the playoffs, nearly every year.

So their coach Gregg Popovich decided to rest them, to not play his stars in a nationally televised game against their most hated rivals. “We’ve done this before in hopes of making a wiser decision, rather than a popular decision,” he told a reporter. “It’s pretty logical.”

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Ryan Holiday

Bestselling author of ‘Conspiracy,’ ‘Ego is the Enemy’ & ‘The Obstacle Is The Way’ http://amzn.to/24qKRWR