There’s something to be said for disconnecting at the end of a long and arduous day – to relax, and unwind – to forget the stresses of the day – to leave work, at work. But I guess that “something to be said” depends on what kind of person you are… because I would say that’s amateur.

I, and most successful creative people I know, work around the clock. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, and 366 on the leap type. There’s no such thing as disconnection. But, surprisingly enough, there’s also no such thing as burnout. Now, I’m not tooting my own horn, nor am I playing the martyr here… I just want to share two things I’ve learned that have helped me along my creative journey so far.

WORKING 24/7 DOES NOT REQUIRE THAT YOU BE SEATED IN FRONT OF A COMPUTER INTO THE WEE HOURS OF THE MORNING NIGHT AFTER NIGHT. 

It just requires that you become consciously aware that you are connected
I realized many years ago that the key to being good at what you do wasn’t just some innate talent, but hard, nose-to-the-grindstone work. And for the first few years, I tried this… like a sprinter, I pushed myself, harder, to be faster, pulling longer hours, taking on more projects, reading more about strategy, learning new programs and technologies in off hours… and yes, I got exponentially better in a relatively short amount of time. But then came the crash—Burnout exists, it’s not a myth. You can push yourself too far. And I was WAAAAY over the line… so I had to rethink my strategy… once I could form sentences correctly again.

What I did was let go of the myth that work life and personal life have to be autonomous. I learned to let them co-exist.
And what I’ve found is that if balanced correctly, you can not only achieve just as much, but more. If balanced correctly, your work life and personal life can come to complement each other very well. Life lessons can turn into business knowledge, and business learning can enhance your personal life and discussions. You might even be surprised to find out that over time they begin to so seamlessly intertwine that you’ll find your personal interests, hobbies, or passions will be the same as, or similar to your work necessities.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that people shouldn’t have extra-curricular activities, hobbies, friends, etc… I’m just saying that when you become consciously aware, by keeping some part of your mind open to work even in off hours, you will find usable information, new approaches to strategies, simple answers to complex questions, sparks of new thought processes, even deeper understandings of the inner workings of things. Then, oftentimes, answers will pop up rather serendipitously in the most unlikely of places.

And in some cases, you may find that If you learn to balance your work life with your personal life well enough, you’ll discover that your work BECOMES your passion. Which leads me to my next point…

LOVE WHAT YOU DO. If you don’t love what you do, you’ll never get ahead, nor be able to continue for long.

I can unequivocally say, if you don’t love this career path, this field, this industry… you’re in for a long, unhappy, and unfulfilling career.
My advice would be to get out while you still can. It’s OK to bow out and find something that suits you better—it’s not for everyone. It is, however, definitely for me.

Anyone who knows me knows this is true. I eat, sleep, breathe, drink, and crave my work. I pay attention to people, and yet it’s very likely that over the course of a conversation I will send myself an email or two to remember something later… or that I will spend my time in line at the supermarket browsing (and  Pocket-ing) articles on technology, social media, politics or design. That’s just how I spend my personal time. And it makes me happy.

Work is an essential part of who I am. It’s not that I have more energy, nor some genetic mutation that gives me more motivation than others—it’s simply because I love what I do. My work life and personal life have become so seamlessly intertwined that my personal interests ARE my work interests.

What’s notable about all this, from my estimation, is this:
I was not born this way. I wanted to be a paleontologist when I was a kid. I wanted to be a pro-wrestler when I got older, and a rock-star after that. (I mean, who doesn’t, right? Paleontology is so en vogue right now… ) So, this isn’t my first love—it’s just the one that stuck. And I genuinely believe it is this ability to connect “me” with my “work” that’s allowed that love to flourish into a healthy and genuinely fulfilling career and life path.

I hope all of you can be lucky enough to be successful at what you do and to find half as much happiness in your careers as I have, and plan on continuing to do so.