Long Love Doth So: Living and Working Sustainably to Prevent Burnout – Part I

These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which as they kiss consume: the sweetest honey
Is loathsome in his own deliciousness
And in the taste confounds the appetite:
Therefore love moderately; long love doth so;
Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow.

William Shakespeare
Spoken by Friar Lawrence
Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 6

In our culture today, we seem to celebrate, and perhaps even relish, the pursuit of the #hustle. We hear accomplished people like Elon Musk praise working 80-100 hours a week, as “nobody ever changed the world on 40 hours a week.”

That’s not true. In fact, the opposite is.

Musk himself later admitted it.

“No one should… put this many hours into work. This is not good. A person should not work this hard. This is too painful,” Musk said in an Axios interview, shown above.

“Painful in what sense?” the interviewer asks.

Musk stumbled over the words, the soul-searing weariness evident in his eyes. “It… it… it hurts my brain. And my heart.”

Despite this, when the people we esteem inevitably burnout and shatter in terrible ways, we wonder why, and even blame ourselves for the breaking. But we still vaunt and esteem the #hustle.

We humans, like Romeo and Juliet, for the most part seem to love plunging headlong into toxic relationships. That includes how and when and where we work.

In the past few posts I’ve shared How to Burnout and How to Recover from Burnout. In the next posts we’ll go into detail on how to live life sustainably.

For the source material, I’ll be primarily referencing the wonderful book Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success, by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness.

Cover of Peak Performance

As an overview, the research-backed secrets to sustainable peak performance can be explained in three key concepts:

  1. Stress + Rest = Growth
  2. Use optimal routines to design your days.
  3. Live according to a higher purpose.

I’ll be sharing key practices I gleaned from this book’s conclusion to illustrate each of these concepts.

The next post will focus on the formula Stress + Rest = Growth. This simple formula lays the practical foundation for building a life of sustainable, high-level effectiveness. When we give ourselves balance between stress and rest, moderating between them, we allow ourselves to grow and do what we love in a healthy way that can last a lifetime. “Therefore love moderately; long love doth so.”

Do you have a favorite book about maintaining sustainable, effective performance? Share in the comments below.


You’ll notice this post is much shorter than my previous posts. I’m hoping to make blogging and sharing my thoughts part of my own regular routines. To do that effectively, I’m wanting to keep the posts as bite-sized-yet-nourishing as possible. Here’s to my current goal of posting 3-5 times a week in ~500 words.

Oh, and let me say this for the record. I admire Elon a great deal and wish him success in his endeavors. Our species is arguably better – and certainly behaving differently – thanks to his efforts.