Preventing Burnout: A Cautionary Tale

My first in-person meeting with Charlie Hoehn. Zion National Park, 2009.

Charlie Hoehn first reached out to me in 2008 through Ramit Sethi.

Shortly thereafter, I hired him as a part-time intern. Eventually, he became a full-time employee.

For three years, we worked together on a number of projects, most notably the The 4-Hour Body and the Opening the Kimono event. Charlie’s responsibilities ranged from “professional” tasks (planning VIP parties, assembling scandalous guest posts, coordinating logistics for 15,000 orders during the Land Rush campaign, etc.) to productive tomfoolery (epic grocery shopping spreesediting vajayjay photos, photographing giraffe make outs, persuading me to swallow 25 pills at once).

It was one hell of a ride.  We had a lot of fun, and we had some huge successes.

From day one, Charlie expressed a constant desire to become a hyper-efficient and effective entrepreneur. His role expanded as he requested more responsibilities (“What else can I do to help?” he’d ask me repeatedly), and we often found ourselves juggling several projects at once.

Most of the time, we handled it well. And as Charlie’s comfort zone stretched, his confidence increased, his communication and abilities improved, and our day-to-day operations were generally strife-free. We worked well together.

Then — in the middle of making The 4-Hour Chef — he suddenly quit.   It hit me like a ton of bricks.

Finding work-life balance (or work-life “separation,” as I prefer) in a connected world is challenging.  Speaking personally, I’m either 100% ON (for book launches, creative deadlines, etc.) or 100% OFF (such as my recent excursion to Bali). This ability to hit the shut-off switch helps me remain sane, separate work from pleasure, and it usually prevents me from burning out.

In this post, Charlie will share his story: what it was like to work with me for three years, and what led up to his burnout.

For all Type-A driven readers — especially those who struggle with the shut-off switch — this one is for you…

Enter Charlie

My brain felt swollen, like it was pushing against my skull. I looked down at my iPhone. Good lord. 60 hours straight. Wide awake, no sleep, for 60 hours straight. Yet I was still lively and sharp, thanks to the magic pill.

For four days, I’d supercharged my energy with a powerful nootropic; a brain drug typically reserved for fighter pilots and narcoleptics. If you’ve seen the movie Limitless, well, that pill actually exists. The drug’s primary function is to silence the body’s pleas for sleep. Lucky for me. Rest was a luxury I couldn’t afford.

I’d secretly taken this brain drug, without my boss knowing, so I could be great at my job. I was in charge of coordinating the Opening the Kimono event — a private conference on next-generation content marketing, hosted by Tim Ferriss.

Most attendees knew Tim for his two mega-bestselling books: The 4-Hour Workweek and The 4-Hour Body. The driving themes of Tim’s work were effectiveness and efficiency — getting better results, in less time, with less effort.

In The 4HWW, Tim gave readers step-by-step blueprints for creating online businesses, generating passive income, outsourcing work, and taking mini-retirements.

In The 4HB, Tim revealed how to lose 20 pounds of fat in one month (without exercise), how to triple fat loss with cold exposure, and how to produce 15-minute female orgasms. Both books sold more than a million copies each, and Tim was a star in the publishing world.

In addition to being a bestselling author, Tim was also a successful angel investor and advisor (his portfolio included Facebook, Twitter, Uber, Evernote, and many others). He was also — and I’m not exaggerating — a Chinese kickboxing champion, a horseback archer, a world record holder in tango, and a polyglot (fluent in five languages).

I’d been working with Tim for nearly three years as his Director of Special Projects. It was a dream job that I’d worked hard to land, and I’d reaped countless benefits. In the time we’d known each other, he’d personally introduced me to a wide array of amazing people: mega-successful CEO’s, brilliant tech entrepreneurs, best-selling authors, world-class athletes, inventors, robotics engineers, pickup artists, jet-setting casino owners, supermodels… The list was endless. My network went from “average” to “insane” simply by being around him.

Dinner party at Tim’s with guests ranging from MDs to tech innnovators. And me! (far left)
Surprise weekend trip to Zion, Utah.
Trip to Kenya with Samasource.
In Napa for Opening the Kimono.
Tim: Want to grab lunch? Me: Sure. Tim: Cool. Oh, and the Mythbusters are going to be there.

He’d also given me a world-class education (I’d guess 3-5 MBAs combined), and helped build my portfolio into a showcase of incredible work.

I was 25 years old at the time, living in Russian Hill in San Francisco. Each morning, I’d walk over to my neighborhood café, sit down with my laptop, and work until nightfall on my weekly tasks. Whenever I finished a given job, I’d ask Tim for more work. Things multiplied quickly, and I soon had a plethora of responsibilities: assistant, researcher, editor, marketer, videographer, photographer, customer service, project manager… And then, I was his conference coordinator. Opening The Kimono was my biggest challenge to date.

More than 130 authors and entrepreneurs, from all over the world, paid $10,000 apiece for admission to Tim’s conference. And while I was confident we would successfully make it through this four-day event, I was also completely overwhelmed by the complexity of the task. There were so many moving parts.

I was terrified of screwing up. If something went wrong, I would need to fix it with superhuman speed. Somehow, I had to stay awake for the entire event…

And so, in my desperation, I visited an overseas pharmaceutical website, where I ordered the most powerful brain drug on the market.

The pills arrived just before the event. I took one every morning. Each day, I expected to pass out randomly from exhaustion. But it never happened; I stayed alert and wide-awake the whole time. The pills really, really worked. During the course of the four-day seminar, I slept a grand total of six hours. And just as I’d hoped, I was great at my job.

Discussing details before dinner, at the Kimono event.
Resting at the Kimono event with my co-conspirator, Susan Dupré.

The event was a whirlwind, but we managed to pull it off. On the final day, everyone gave us a standing ovation. Attendees ran up to hug us and said it was the best conference they’d ever been to. Our inboxes were filled with dozens of glowing reviews and thank you notes.

I was in shock. After months of working around the clock, we’d exceeded all expectations, including our own. Tim gave me a hearty congratulations, and said he was amazed how well we’d done.

I was proud, happy, and very tired when I arrived back home. But later that night, my body started sending out emergency signals, warning me that something horribly wrong was happening.

My heart was racing. My vision was blurred. I had a pounding headache that wouldn’t stop. Sounds drifted sluggishly into my ears, and I could barely stand upright.

For the first time in my life, I felt completely and utterly burned out.

# # #

A few days later, I went back to work. We were just getting started on our next big project: The 4-Hour Chef.

Two years prior, I helped Tim edit and launch his second book, The 4-Hour Body. I was immensely proud to have played a part in the book’s success; it was the pinnacle of my career. On the other hand, The 4-Hour Body had been the most stressful undertaking of my life. Tim and I half-joked that the book nearly killed us. I was hesitant to jump in for round two.

Ace Hotel in NYC, where we worked during the lead up to The 4HB launch.
Taking a break from work on cheat day. Gorging at Hill Country Chicken.
Moments after The 4HB hit #1 on New York Times, with Chris Ashenden and Steve Hanselman.
Celebratory cheat meal: Six-layer chocolate motherlode cake at Claim Jumper.
Hudson’s Booksellers in JFK, during the week of the release.

Tim offered to double my salary if I helped him complete The 4-Hour Chef.

It was a generous offer, and I was immediately interested in taking it. I’d be making more money than I’d know what to do with, and I’d have another cool achievement under my belt. What did I have to lose? After a moment’s pause, we shook on it.

I felt incredibly fortunate to be in that position, especially since so many people I knew were either unemployed or working in jobs they hated. My family and friends all congratulated me. From a distance, things looked great.

But on the inside, I was flailing. I’d completely lost balance, and I couldn’t see that I was destroying myself.

I was addicted to my work. You see, I liked to think of myself as busy and important, so I tethered myself to the Internet seven days a week. I communicated with everyone through screens. I spent all day long sitting indoors. I drank coffee all week, and drank alcohol all weekend. I only stopped working when I was sleeping. And then I stopped sleeping.

I just couldn’t stop myself from working all the time. I wanted to be indispensable, the best in the world at running operations. It didn’t matter what else was going on in my life or if I started feeling sick; work was everything to me. Practically everyone I met in the tech scene behaved the same way.

So many of my friends and colleagues were workaholics.

Several buddies of mine were pulling 16-hour workdays. My friend in medical school was popping Adderall like candy. All of us were destroying ourselves during the week, and punishing our livers on the weekend. We didn’t take vacations. We didn’t take breaks. Work was life.

Checking email at 3:00 AM in Buenos Aires.

Here’s the thing: I was a workaholic long before I met Tim.

I’d always stayed up late. I’d always spent hours at a time staring at screens. The difference now was that my state of mind had changed. Now, the results mattered more than the process. I took everything very seriously because I thought I was so important — there was money and success on the line! And I wanted to be the best at dominating life.

Predictably, life stopped being fun.

Each week, I felt increasingly sick, exhausted, and apathetic. My eyes sunk back and grew dark circles beneath them. My forehead developed thick stress lines.

My hands started shaking. I felt like I was always on the verge of crying. I didn’t understand what was wrong with me, so I just tried to work my way through it.

Then the deadline for The 4-Hour Chef got pushed back three months.

Then a family member died.

Then a close friend attempted suicide.

When Tim and I met up for dinner the following week, I told him very meekly:

“I can’t do this anymore. I have to quit.”

# # #

Tim didn’t argue with me.

He understood where I was coming from, and offered his support in whatever I was going to do next. It was a massive relief to part on amicable terms, but I felt weaker than ever. I was already feeling the pressure to get back to work, but what would I do? My identity was gone. I decided to take a couple weeks off. Then another week… And another…

I spent the next three months being unemployed and feeling awful. Every day, I’d go through the motions of my old routine without actually doing anything. I compulsively checked email all day long, stayed up until 4:00AM, and slept a few hours each night. I received a handful of job offers and turned them all down, recoiling at the thought of having to go back to work.

The worst part was the guilt. I felt enormously guilty every second I wasn’t doing something that could advance my career or earn money. I would pace around like a neurotic rat, coming up with random chores to distract myself. When the chores were finished, I’d think, “Okay… Now what?” Any activity that didn’t feel productive – sleeping in, watching TV, taking a trip – filled me with regret. There was this gnawing sense that I was wasting time. I was losing money. And yet, I had no desire to work.

I started wondering if I’d screwed up my life very badly. Hadn’t I been living the dream? Did I just throw away everything I’d worked for? I started feeling very anxious. I wanted to do something big, to reinvent my career, to make a name for myself so I could be successful. What that something would be, I didn’t know.

Then one day, two of my friends, Chad Mureta (whom I’d met at the Kimono event) and Jason Adams, suggested that we start a mobile app company together. They were both sharp entrepreneurs and savvy marketers, and Chad was already making millions from the apps he’d developed.

Finally, I thought, here’s a job that makes sense. I could be one of the founders of a cool tech startup, working on fun projects with my smart friends, in one of the most exciting industries on the planet. The Draw Something app had recently been acquired for $250 million, then Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion. I thought, This gig might make me a millionaire by the end of the year! This is it…

I was so relieved to feel productive again. I strolled into the office each day to work on my laptop until late in the evening. I sat down, stared at my computer screen for several hours, and drank coffee. When I got home, I worked on my laptop until 4:00AM, slept for a few hours, then started all over again.

We spent the first month putting together an online course called App Empire, which walked people through the entire process of starting their own app business. It required many sleepless nights to get it finished on time, but we managed to pull it off.

Chad Mureta and Chris Whitmore (cameraman) during filming of App Empire.
Launch day, filming in a San Diego hotel suite.
Support team on App Empire’s launch day.

The launch of the course was a success, raking in $2 million dollars in revenue over the course of 10 days.

If you said “WTF!” after reading that last sentence, I don’t blame you. But our results were somewhat typical in the high-cost information product world. When you combine a $2,000 course with a huge list of potential customers (and three guys who know a lot about online marketing), you get a multi-million dollar product launch.

We spent the next two months doing weekly webinars, walking customers through each lesson and answering their questions. In our spare time, we worked on our app ideas.

At some point in the third month, I realized: I didn’t care about apps. I knew how to make them, and I knew how to succeed in the app market, but I just didn’t care. I didn’t really use apps and I never got excited about them.

I asked myself, Why am I really doing this work? Well, the job gave me an excuse to hang out with my friends during the day, rather than being holed up alone in my apartment. But that was only a small part of it. The honest answer was:

Status. Money. Guilt.

I wanted to impress other people with my “success” of founding a company. I wanted to be rich. And I wanted to avoid feeling bad for not working.

The problem was… I didn’t really care about what I was doing. There was this weird disconnect, like apps should have been the natural progression in my career. But it just never felt right. It felt forced.

I quit my job that week.

Once again, I experienced “success” and walked away from it. Only this time, I was riddled with anxiety.

I started to think I was going to be punished for not being productive, for not making money, for not having my life figured out. I didn’t know how or when, but I was certain it was going to happen. Everything was coming to a head. It was only a matter of time before something terrible happened…

# # #

I was in a bad place for a long time after I quit those jobs.

I was too ashamed and proud to reach out to anyone for help, so I bottled my feelings up and stumbled around for the next year. It was the worst I’ve ever felt in my life.

It’d be very easy for me to manufacture a villain in this story. I could tell you that I was pushed too hard, or that no one cared about how I felt. But that’s not the truth. I was the one who chose to stay up until 4:00AM. I was the one pouring caffeine down my throat four times a day. I was the one who secretly ordered brain pills. I was the one who isolated myself from friends and kept my feelings hidden. Everything I did that fueled my anxiety was my choice.

The truth is that all of my emotional issues would have unfolded for me at some point in my life, regardless of whom I was working with. I was the creator of my own anxiety, and I was the one who broke myself with my workaholic habits. I just didn’t recognize how destructive my behavior was because I thought it was normal.

I wish someone had held up a mirror to show me I was the problem, but that never happened. No one knew the full extent of my situation but me, and I was in denial. It’s worth taking a moment to ask yourself:

—  Do I feel guilty or anxious when I’m not working?

—  Have I stopped playing with my friends?

—  Do all of my daily activities revolve around building a more successful career?

—  Am I always sleeping fewer than eight hours per night?

—  Am I consuming stimulants multiple times per day to hide my exhaustion?

—  Am I sitting still and staring at screens for most of my waking hours?

—  Do I interact with people primarily through screens?

—  Am I indoors all day long, depriving myself of fresh air and sunlight?

—  Do I depend on alcohol or drugs to cope with social situations outside of work?

If you said ‘yes’ to most of those questions, you are not alone. When I was at my worst, I was doing all of these things on a daily basis. I was fueling my own anxiety and I couldn’t even see it.

My perceived lack of productivity, lack of money, and the unknown future kept me in a constant state of panic. Every day was a haze of fear and exhaustion. For more than a year, I tried everything to pull myself out of this state of living death. Nothing seemed to help, and I nearly lost hope.

Then one night, I had my first major breakthrough, which laid the foundation to cure my anxiety. This breakthrough happened in a flash. The emotional burden of non-stop worry was lifted, and I could finally breathe again.

It wasn’t hard. It didn’t cost me anything. It was only a choice.


TIM:  To be continued in Part 2, where Charlie will describe the step-by-step process he used to reverse his descent into darkness (and we’ve all been there, including me).  

I also learned a lot from Charlie’s struggles.  First and foremost: As a boss, you cannot assume that someone is resting and recovering properly. You must ensure it. Employees out of sight does not equal employees out of the inbox.

Don’t want to wait for Part 2?  Take a look at Charlie’s new book, Play It Away: A Workaholic’s Cure for Anxiety, which includes all the techniques he used to get his life back on track.



The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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212 Replies to “Preventing Burnout: A Cautionary Tale”

  1. Wow – gripping and spot on. I felt like you were reading my life; I’m a startup owner and freelancer/family breadwinner. Every day is like this.

    Can’t wait for Part 2!

  2. “I was the creator of my own anxiety.” That line alone hit a nerve. Very powerful blog, and kudos to Charlie for sharing it. Can’t wait for part 2!

  3. So powerful. You see a lot of entrepreneurs going after the “I need to work 20 hours a day and I’ll sleep when I’m dead” mentality (I’ve been there myself) and it’s definitely a factor in depression, anxiety, and illness.

    Playing, being playful and having fun actually inspires the vision to go to the next level and is sustainable long term over the latter.

    Pumped for part 2. great job guys!

  4. Fantastic post! Thanks so much, Charlie.

    FYI, I went to your book’s website ( and the video appears to be “A Guide to American Football,” and not about the book. Hopefully it’s just me, but if not, I figured you’d might want to know.

    1. Hey Tim, thanks for the heads up!

      The football video is a placeholder; the trailer will be posted shortly. Also need to fix all the “lorem ipsums” 🙂

  5. Thank you..I am on the verge of a breakdown.I have been putting way too much pressure to perform well at University and secure a job.I can wait to read the next post.

  6. Great read. Have dealt with similar anxieties throughout my life as an artist. Took me a while to come to the same conclusions (I clicked over to the final link).

    Play as a “method” makes sense. It’s arguably when we’re most ourselves. Just finished working through The Artist’s Way and have been making more room for play since early in that process.

    Thanks for sharing, Charlie. Glad you got it together.

  7. Just spent the past week working each night until 5 am and waking up at 8 am… Great article, and exactly what I needed. I’m very excited for part 2.

  8. BRILLIANT, Charlie. I really appreciate your willingness to put yourself out there… It really helps illustrate the subtle ways I, too, get sucked into fueling my own anxiety. WOW, very powerful stuff. I can’t wait to read your next post! I already ordered the book on PRIME yesterday– so we will see what comes first! Thank you!

  9. Wow, what a refreshingly honest post, Charlie. Big props to you for opening up about burning out. I know countless entrepreneurs will benefit from this post and from your book.

    Wishing you MUCH success in wherever the road takes you next. 🙂


  10. It’s amazing how we sometimes feel like we need to go full speed, 16+ hours a day for many days in a row until we hit burnout.

    Even out in Pai, I managed to do this at times. Luckily, I would sometimes be forced into taking a break and playing when the power would go out.

    I really enjoyed the book!

  11. Great post, Charlie.

    Thanks for sharing. We lived in the same apartment during this time, so it’s interesting to read a reflection on it from your perspective. It’s a well-thought out reflection & leaves you feeling optimistic.

    Congrats on the new book! Cheers to where you came from, to where you are now, and for things to come!

  12. Holy cow this article really struck a chord with me. Just ordered the book and can’t wait to read what’s next. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Thanks for being vulnerable and sharing. Workaholic is a by product of perfectionism, which is a result of a deep shame held inside. Sad things is that so many of us have shame inside and we nurture it and hide it from others, living in our ‘I am enough only if I do xyz’, which is a battle lost before it started. Good news is that this is solvable

    1. Are you familiar with the work of researcher Brene Brown? Her books and Ted Talks on the topic are relevant and helpful.

  14. Charlie:

    I salute you for your courage. You write about anxiety more honestly than a lot of other people with your background would.

    Everyone else:

    Charlie’s book (and I say this as someone with no personal stake/affiliate relationship) is written gold. I read it in one sitting. More importantly, it compelled me to make immediate behavioral change as soon as I put it down. I’ve been playing it away for the last two weeks and feeling indescribably better for it.

    Overcoming anxiety isn’t an overnight process — and Charlie doesn’t claim it to be — but his approach is the winning one. I cannot recommend it strongly enough.

  15. I laughed the entire time I read this article.

    Laughed because I couldn’t agree any further with your emotions that you described.

    Definitely lost it at the part with questions.

    I’m burned out.

    1. Given the number of people deeply empathizing with this post, we should totally start a self help group, and I’m serious about that.

      Right after I sneak some sleep and have had my first triple shot espresso.

  16. Wow, great post Charlie. I’ll never forget when you surprised me with an interview for the amazing “Engineering a Muse” series. You really impressed me. Thanks for your honesty and inspiration. I’m buying your book right now.

  17. Huge fan of Tim and his accomplishments. I think he seems grounded but also admits when he too goes off the deep end. I do have to say however, that I am seeing a trend (thinking back to the last Random Show and Kevin Rose’s “upping his game” comments and now Charlie, as just a couple of examples ) that the young and successful (and very hard-working) SF elite seem to be searching for some nirvana or at least some variant of self-actualization. I can only imagine what being in the Silicon Valley tech-bubble must be like. (Even the link to Charlie’s book at the end of this blog post is evidence that even his personal tragedy has been turned into a branding and money making enterprise. To what end? Helping people?) While I was never at the level of Tim and his peers, I found that when I had kids, everything changed. My priorities instantly shifted and I was able to view the world through another human being’s eyes who depended (and still does) on me for everything. It’s a humbling experience and forces one in a good way (in my opinion) to give of oneself over and over in the name of love. Having kids is not in everyone’s plan, I get it. And some already have them and know of what I speak. It just seems that now, more than ever, young successful people have become their “brand” in their own minds and need something, anything to help them get out of their own way and marvel at life even one step beyond their oversized egos.

    1. Hi Jaqusto,

      Thanks for taking the time to write a thoughtful message. Two quick thoughts:

      – 100% agree on having a greater purpose, appreciating life’s beauty, and quieting the ego. I still struggle with it at times, but all of those things have become much bigger priorities.

      – Totally understand your wariness about my motives (I’ve got a radar for marketing ploys too), but the truth is that I have very little desire to become a brand or build an enterprise. I have all the respect in the world for people who take that route, and I know how much effort it takes to be great at it. It’s just not for me. The reality is that a ton of people asked me to make my “How I Cured My Anxiety” post into a book, so I did. And I think Play It Away is the best work I’ve ever done. Nothing like it exists, and I hope it helps a lot of people who are silently suffering.

      All the best,


      1. I appreciate your reply Charlie.

        Something other than my kids which has helped me deal with my ego, anxiety, etc. is Eckhart Tolle’s book, “The Power of Now.”

        One of my favorite quotes from his book,

        “All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of non-forgiveness are all caused by too much past and not enough presence.”


      2. In the movie Top Gun, Maverick and Goose had “a need for speed”.

        How about the need to achieve? When is enough enough? Through mindfulness-based stress reduction, meditation, and a hobby on my Sabbath day, I was able to get the root of my suffering. I still have to be mindful to remind myself often to “step away” from the Bright Shiny Objects. I look forward to the next post.

        Thank you Charlie for sharing.

  18. Been waiting for his book for a while. I’m pretty good when it comes to this area but I’m sure his methods are good for coaching others as well!

  19. What an incredible read, thank you so much for the slap across the face which I so desperately needed. I wasn’t even planning on reading the whole article, i was planning on adding it to my read it later list, but soon as I read the first line I couldn’t stop, can’t wait for Part2

  20. Our start-up just launched a week ago and I’m already feeling the pressure working these two jobs. Hectic as it comes I need to find a balance, and fast.

  21. Guess I was lucky. I had two kids when I started my business, and while I put in my 60 hour weeks I was home to eat dinner, read stories and play with them. Kids should slap you upside the head when you get out of balance…. because they dont care if you are a success. They just care if you are paying attention to them. That seemed to prevent me from burnout, because I have the same biz 20 years later. Interested to see part 2, because I think the 30s are ripe for navel gazing introspection unless you find something outside of yourself. Like kids, or a cause, or something like that, something you feel is bigger than just you. So bring on part 2…..

  22. Amazing Post. AMAZING.

    Listen, After a few glasses of wine, I’m going to be honest. I’m a six degreed MBA/PhD at 37. I can do 11 mile non stop beach runs, have written three books and am the CEO of a small success company for teens. I live in San Diego, and my day job is technical writer at a turbine company. I am BORED out of my mind. I want to give seminars to teens, I want to help others and I want to fast track people’s lives. I have literally hit a brick wall. I want to hit my Next Level of success, but don’t know a lot of people and just want out of my job. I have NO idea what to do next.

    Dr. Rob.

    1. Thanks for your honesty, Rob. Feel free to contact me (click through to my site), I’ll send you a section of my book that talks about this exact issue.

  23. These issues can be buried for long periods. Like 30 years or more. It’s very nice to see someone come out of them early as you are. Do your dreams. And…have dreams.

  24. This post hits the right spot.

    I think that if you’re smart, entrepreneur, success driven and creative, you’re f*cked. Honestly you are, and I couldn’t wish that to any of my worst enemies. The problem is that I have no interest in working for someone else, i don’t care about most of what the world is doing around me, about the news, about the latest scores, about bars and fun. All I care about is becoming millionaire and becoming successful. Strangely though, I don’t really care about money either: i just want it because it’s more practical and allows me the freedom to do what i want when i want it (i.e. never allowing anything to stop my creativity or thirst for knowledge). But I’m hard wired for success: it’s a freaking obsession.

    I just could not, ever imagine myself living my life without wanting to become the next Tim Ferriss, Richard Branson or Elon Musk. Or anything else, smaller projects are just boring.

    I can’t imagine myself buying a house in the suburbs, owning a car, commuting to work, talking about banalities like insurances, home improvement, who was the drunkest at the bar last night or what X politician said to Y person or what is on the cover of those fake manufactured news (ask Ryan Holiday about that). I can’t care less. I’m sorry but I’m wired like that, i’d love to care and find that interesting and i can secretly tell you that i even PRACTICED trying to find reasons to find those things interesting in order to fit with “normal people”. But after a while, I realized that i WASN’T normal, like all the others. And that was OK.

    I remember reading “The Game” by Neil Strauss and how he said he was sh*t scared or living a normal life in the suburbs and i totally feels the same. I NEED more. I need to be challenged, pushed, innovate, think, build, do something that stays in history books.

    I want Tony Stark’s house and lifestyle and because of that i work 16+ hours per day, never get out, learn anything anytime i have the chance, read, learn, read, learn, when i walk, train, am in the subway. Heck, my morning alarm is a playlist of 16 random amazing speeches that i wake up to EVERY morning: Gary Vaynerchuk Passion speech, Arnold Schwarzenegger, etc. I do that to brainwash myself: if I can’t directly work with them, they’ll still brainwash me every morning dammit! I am so scared of not having success it’s the ONLY thing that matters at this point in my life. I don’t want to be left behind of the arena of success. Tim can’t have all the fun for himself, I think ;).

    So that’s why me, you, i think, tend to work ourselves to exhaustion. But the thing is that i can’t imagine doing anything else, i can’t see myself at a normal job, or just working less and hoping i make it in 10 years. NO! I want to make it NEXT MONTH, not when I’m old! And so i think it’s just how it is: i was born with that crazy brain and drive and i love it. Yes i said it: i love it. I am not complaining a single bit about it, i love being how i am and different even if mastering my own crazy brain is the thing that consume most of my time.

    I genuinely love the climb (like Gary Vee), the hardship, the crazy hours, the times (many) i felt like crawling in the floor to a corner and crying and quitting, but then looked at what i’d get if that happened and felt ill. I’ve got to accept it: i’ll work my ass out, puting aside sanity and social events and relations because that’s how i’m wired. And then one day (hopefully soon) i’ll succeed and live the real life of my dreams, doing anything i want when i want and be uberly happy of the effort and success. And that’s all fine.

    At that point somebody will come to me and tell me “You’re so insanely lucky to be on this beach (or wherever) as long as you want when me, i have to get back on my plane and work 50 weeks before i come back”. I’m not lucky, I created my luck by increments of 16 hours!

    But this world is competitive… and we ALL start at ZERO. So if you don’t put the hours in like crazy from 20 to 30 years old, I think you’ll never acheive success: you MUST learn the foundation of many things and practice and fail and THEN you’ll make it. If you take it easy and work 8 hours per day, not rushing anything, playing Xbox at night and having a social life every night then I’m sorry but the odds you become successful are next to nil. The choice is yours, it’s the red or the blue pill. And be happy about whichever you choose.

    THANKS for this post, shariing how you felt, it feels AMAZING to know that i’m not the only one struggling. It also came at the right time in my life. I also added the book to my next amazon shopping spree.


  25. Holy cow. Crazy. I am intrigued Charlie. I can’t wait for your second post and will go check out your book. Scary stuff, really!

  26. Charlie, you are courageous to share this story. Thank you.

    I had a work-related burnout experience in 2008, I’m sure I would have recovered quicker if I’d had your book (and this post) as a guide then!

    My lesson from burn-out was: Be gentle with yourself. It’s worked well for me ever since.

    Looking forward to Part 2!

  27. Nice, get us all hooked and then plug the book. As crafty as an old 10,000 word affiliate page.

    Anyway, I’m buying the book..

    1. If you like Tim’s books, I guess you’re likely to like Tim’s friends book or content, like Engineering Alpha. I guess there’s 2 ways to see this. I mean, there is a lot of work in such a post and nothing that you NEED to buy to get something out of it. I think it’s more “here’s my story, if you want to learn more, I also wrote a book”.

      I honestly rarely find content as good and as researched as Tim or guest posts on this site.

      And yes, I’m buying the book too 😉

      1. Charlie was nice enough to send me a review copy for free, and I then turned around and pre-ordered three copies for friends of mine.

        And, it will probably be required reading for my staff.

        (and thanks for the Alpha mention, Joel)

      2. A pleasure! Since the article on Tim’s site and then hearing about you 2 months in a row in Neil Strauss program AND hearing the S100 guys talk non stop about your book I guess there was no way around it, I could be missing out no more 😉

  28. Thank you so much for your honesty and vulnerability. Every line strikes a chord and it’s incredibly helpful to read this.

  29. Powerful stuff Charlie.

    I’ve heard about your work a couple of times, when Tim or Ryan Holiday mentioned your name. Definitely an inspiration! I didn’t however know what was going on in the back. Glad you’re feeling better!

  30. It’s important to substitute adrenal-depleting performance enhancers for ones that are more sustainable. Just like Tim moved from ECA to PAGG for fatloss, its important to step off the caffeine rollercoaster and into supplements and nutrients that won’t wipe out your reserves.

    Here are some things that have helped me personally.

    -MCT oil. Dave Asprey at Bulletproof Exec makes the 2 best kinds. Best mixed with decaf coffee beans (his), protein mix, etc.

    -Krill oil. Its EPA/DHA essential omega 3’s are something like 50x more bioavailable than regular fish oil because of the way their bound. Amazon has lots of good brands. Rebranded Neptune Krill Oil (NKO) is best.

    -S-Acetyl L-Glutathione. This is a sleeper one that I don’t think many people know about yet. It helps with inflammation from stress, bad foods, etc that caffeine is often overcompensating for and fighting. Its important to get the s-a formulation because its absorbed much better than plain l-glutathione. The best value version is made by the Maplewood company and sold at an online store called alchemist lab.

    -Magnesium. A common deficiency for stressed out people. A lot of capsules like Magnesium Oxide seem to be junk and I don’t absorb them well. Some of the other formulations are better, but my best results are using “concentrace mineral drops” and putting them into my own empty capsules. ZMA is another alternative and is what Tucker mentions in his testosterone ebook.

    -Stop drinking alcohol or cut way back. Much easier said than done, though.

    That’s a good start. You need to be careful with supplements and make sure that you’re not just searching for a Magic Bullet to fill a void that should be filled by proper diet, training, and rest. But with that being said I’ve found the mentioned items to be transformative.

  31. Charlie and Tim,

    Good stuff!

    I too used to be Type A….until I felt violently ill in India with a stomach bacteria. After losing 25 pounds in 3 weeks and not eating for 9 days and having to be rushed to the emergency room, I learned my lesson. I work, then I go to bed. I stay in bed until I feel recharged. Yesterday I slept until 1 in the noon….who cares. I will always have more work to do, so I release on it, and wouldn’t you know I make 10 times more money now and feel a TON happier using the work/rest approach? 😉

    I enjoy my travels. When I hear the signals of burnout I drop everything. It took me to reach the worst sickness of my life to do this, but I learned thank goodness.

    Thanks guys!

  32. So the 4 hour work week couldn’t be applied at home ??? I see your honesty in this but it doesn’t mask over your hypocrisy…..

    1. Hi Tom, thanks for your comment. I never once said to Tim that I wanted to work 4 hours a week. I just wanted amazing experiences working with amazing people. And after having worked with Tim for years and reading his books multiple times, I know he believes in making the most of his time, as well.

      This post was about ME working myself into destruction. I continually pushed myself to the brink, even when I was unemployed. I don’t see how this post could paint me — or Tim — as a hypocrite, and I disagree with that notion completely.

  33. I totally understand. After returning from living and working in China for a year, then traveling nonstop for a month straight networking in my industry, when I finally hit solid ground in Phoenix I was dead for months. It took a while to recover, and the feeling of shame we put on ourselves for not being productive during a season weighs hard on some of us. I get it Charlie/Tim.

  34. Sounds like we had a lot of the same going on but in different ways.

    I spent a damn near decade working 15-20hrs a day refusing to give up until I figured out how to get my residual income above my monthly expenses. Fortunately for me, it finally worked out in the 11th hour and to the tune of an income that was over 10x my monthly expenses.

    I took a year off then decided I wanted to acquire a business in a field of my background and hire a GM to take over and retire again a few months later. This should have been easy, but I didn’t realize that I was still burned out and this lead to a year of staring at the screen for long hours and just not really accomplishing anything but it took 8 months and several hundred thousand dollars to realize it. I’ve made my adjustments and plan to get myself out of the way but interested to see what you did for yourself to see what I can mix into the plan. This is a good post. I think a lot of people are dealing with this and this will help them too 🙂

  35. Good to hear you’re better Charlie

    I was thinking about what you wrote and all the long-hour days involved in sometimes doing great things, sometimes not. And then I thought have you ever considered working in space technology? Especially the cutting-edge stuff like mini-satellites?

    The reason I say this is that I spent nearly ten years as a propulsion scientist, working on plasma engines. Now it was with a company and I quit because I wanted more control, freedom, money (in other words 4HWW) but it was still an amazing feeling contributing to the space race. I helped develop the thruster on a gravity mission called GOCE, the one that fell back to Earth recently. I essentially wrote the control for the engine that kept the satellite doing its job. Long hours and bending the Laws of Physics but in the end it was brilliant knowing it worked and was flying.

    I’m from a physics background and have had other achievements, but nothing like knowing you’ve made that little mark in space. I’m currently looking to go the private route and see is it possible to launch decent size but cheap satellites that could be test beds or do something cool.

    There are many small companies and institutions who want to get their technology in space. And it means so much when it does. For a man with the drive you have, maybe it’s time to work out on the frontier? You don’t need to be an engineer or a scientist; you can always find them on the way.

    The work certains has meaning and quite frankly the environment ( as in space) is unforgiving. And that’s why it’s great.

    1. NASA, are you trying to recruit me?

      Appreciate the comment Micky. I genuinely love space but I don’t think that’s the field for me 🙂

  36. I find this post a little ironic considering the title of the website. And now feel like I’m not working hard enough after reading this, I’ve been living far too comfortably and need to make a few million over the next 10 days, anyone with me?

    1. I wonder what all these people did with their copy of Tim’s book? Did they read the title of it at least? No, they had no time for that. And what about Charlie? Did he read the book what we was working on for months?

  37. One of the very few pieces of writing I’ve ever read which hits such a chord with me.

    I’ve been in denial about my burnout for months now – but answering Yes to every part of that grey box has forced me to accept it.

    Can’t wait for the next post for your suggestions on what to do about it.

  38. Hey Charlie,

    This sounds a lot like me.

    a) Finished uni started work for my parents (from the bottom lol) and was kicked out after trying to improve the work flow in several deparments

    b) Started work for Red Bull was giving menial tasks from the get go, learned nothing but got constant remainders that I must deliver top notch work

    c) Started working for one of the best salesmen in Europe. Hyper intense workaholic (cocaine addict).

    d) this is only a tiny part that should have led to multiple mental breakdowns, which luckily it didnt. But I experienced various forms of burnout

    Result: I was on Modafinil and all kinds of brain boosters. I lost friends, jobs, opportunities and ended up in a dark place.

    Looking forward to part II.

  39. Thank you so much for this! A really interesting read. I could especially relate to the part where you think you’re ready and get back “in there”, only to realize you’re not. I’m currently in the black hole, trying to find ways to get up again. Really looking forward to part two! 🙂

  40. Hi Charlie,

    Tim once posted about his neurotics and not being superhuman as many think he or other successful people in the business are. I was amazed and relieved at the same time to get that inside view of Tim´s life. Now reading your post (and the book also soon) I feel even more relieved and I have a more realistic view of the goals I set myself and how to reach them.

    So as many said before, thank you for opening yourself this way and helping others with this, including me.

    Great job

  41. when Tim was working on the 4hchef he got super thin and look not that well, ithought the whole point of having money is to not over stress yourself

    1. I don’t agree that “the point of having money is to not over stress yourself”.

      To me, the point is to be able to do what I want – and that could be a whole lot of things, from creative endeavors to growing a company to helping others.

      I’d take running my own small company (which I do) or a fascinating job experience like Charlie’s with Tim over many other ways to live. (And I don’t mean I’d take it over boring jobs, either. I was an executive in high tech, high money, high status…) Unfortunately, doing things you love doesn’t preclude overdoing it.

      Thanks for the post, Charlie. It’s a good and timely reminder for me!

  42. This is extremely insightful. I think most of us reading the article can relate to it. All of us feel guilt when not doing something.

    Since being online results in the lost of time perception, we have to do something to disconnect appropriately.

    Charlie, hopefully your book will shed some light into this!

  43. Good post, appreciate the lack of self-pity or blaming others. As an older Englishman I found some of this completely horrifying! Perhaps you could look at Tim’s views on Stoicism, which would help. [Moderator: Link removed.]

    Good luck.

  44. Charlie – I hope you find what you are looking for! I was intrigued reading your post so I would assume your book is great as well. Best of luck.

  45. Thanks for sharing so openly and honestly. It’s so easy to slip into that state of always being switched on, and sadly lose track of what’s important.

    I hope lots of readers take note and ask themselves where the balance is.

    It seems to be that culturally we associate importance and success with business. In truth, without our health and relationships we lack the fullness of life.

  46. Nice one Charlie! Great post.

    The blame bit in particular resonated with me. I recently took responsibility for the side of the tangos that I felt others were forcing me to dance. Of course, it had always been my choice but I only clocked that recently! Since owning up, I am still dancing but with more strength and freedom, I have solutions.

    Looking forward to Part II.


  47. Hi Charlie,

    This is just to thank you again for writing a very thoughtful response to an email I sent you during the run-up to Opening the Kimono – it’s all the more impressive now that I’ve seen behind-the-scenes!

    Just bought the book.



  48. Wow ! I can’t wait to read the second part.

    I felt this feeling some years ago but my story was quite different : poor french suburbs, starting a business (in France it’s only for mad or rich people !) with only 2000€ (2500$) and a monthly income of 450€, no network…

    Internet was my chance (WordPress is a f@$* chance for people like me – Thank you “Karmic Capitalism” Idealists !)

    I was searching to impress local powerful people (which it did actually), and to make myself loved by people (and maybe to love myself by the way).

    It was 2 years of anxiety, panic crisis, and other funny things…

    I feel better, and if my situation is far better now, I’m still walking on a thin line.

    It’s so hard to understand that income is not linked with working time ! I always have to remind me this simple thing every morning. It’s a never ending war against myself.

    I’m going to read your post about how you cured your axiety, I’m sure it’s gonna be really useful.

    Thank you to share your experience.

  49. What happened to the Four Hour Workweek? I can think of a few possibilities:

    1) You never read your boss’s bestseller.

    2) You read it, but the program didn’t work.

    3) The program works, but you didn’t want to follow it.

    4) It only works for people who aren’t trying to get stuff done.

    5) The book has nothing to do about working only 4 hours.

    6) It’s too embarrassing to mention.

    Seriously, I applaud your courage to be honest about this real and very common struggle with overwork. But to avoid mentioning the very book that probably drew you to Tim in the first place, a book that on the surface directly addresses the very issue you struggle with, seems more than weird. It’s omission is dishonest. I urge you to push your honesty further and speak about what your boss’s bestseller meant in all this. (I’m sure Tim would back you in a brutally honest evaluation.)

    1. Wow, not sure if my reply will notify either Kevin Kelly, Tim or Charlie, but I’m really surprised to see the above comment ignored, but still accepted on the website.

      My mind while reading the article went through “oh ok, the classic story of a ‘hero’ that is challenged and needs to face the ‘monster’ or the challenge ahead, by finding the light and so on …”.

      Some might actually call it a sales pitch, some might find inspiration in it, some might call it a great blog post, and then there’s Kevin Kelly, that actually seems like the only rational person in the room.

      I can see pretty much everyone’s point of view to some extent around here, and although I don’t think anyone besides whoever wrote this might know the main reason behind the blog post, I guess the emotional factor is at least able to start the conversation.

      ~ Felix Dragoi

  50. I suffer from the opposite, lack of drive and willingness to get up and do things. I can related to a few of the above questions, but most don’t apply.

    Still, I’d be interested to see if you have any advice for someone on the opposite end of the scale!

    1. I used to have a lack of drive too. I found out later that it was caused by a few things:

      1- lack of URGENCY.

      There are a few ways you can change that. One is by realizing that one day you’ll DIE, and if you don’t do things you love, you’ll miss out on life. That alone for me is a strong motivator.

      Set your OWN challenges, milestones and CONSEQUENCEs for not doing them. I started experimenting with “positive consequences” and i love it. A positive consequences is a consequence you dont want to do but know you’ll benefit from it. Ex: if you must create a blog post today and don’t do it, then you MUST do RIGHT away 100 pushups. If you want to do an interview with someone within 15 days and cant, then i need to do 5 strangers in my 100 stranger project (google “100 strangers project”). etc It’s GREAT because you’re going forward whether you do your thing or not

      2- no S.M.A.R.T. measurable LIFE GOALS

      If you have no REASONS to get up in the morning, nothing that excites you, no crazy fun ambitious goals to accomplish in the next 6 months, then why wake up? Set 3 months, 6 months, 1 year and 5 year CLEAR life goals. For example, I want to get 100 000 readers for my blog in 12 months. Or get 10 000$ in automated revenues, etc. And in order to do that, i need to: write post, meet people, get known, guest post, etc. And when i see the work to do, i’m EXCITED to get up because i know i’m going somewhere cool AND the climb is awesome

      If you do a job you hate, or, god forbid the MUCH WORST case of having a work that you’re INDIFFERENT about, you’re in deep trouble: you’re slowly dying and your passion is slowly going down. I know that because i let that happen to me for 6 years. When i realized that i totally hated what i was doing, i decided to put aside time and started doing things i REALLY loved, like blogging, thinking, strategy, etc. And it changed EVERYTHING: motivation, sleep quality, i ate better food, i was more social, i couldnt wake to get up in the morning, etc.

      3- thinking someone will appear from nowhere to push you

      The other is that you need to realize that your parents aren’t there anymore to help you or push you in life: your success is up to YOU. If you don’t wake up, then NOBODY will push you to the finish line, no one will give you a magic pill. It’s the crude reality. But it’s also what makes life exciting, doesn’t it?

      Dont forget this: if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got. If you keep working hard hoping one day you’ll catch up and FINALLY be able to do something you like, it will NEVER happen. Set time aside to build the foundation of an epic life.

      Hope this helps. If you have questions, please dont hesitate to contact me directly or comment here. I know how you feel, i’ve been there too and it’s horrible


    2. Dude, if motivation is what’s stopping you, I have three books I would highly recommend to you. The first one changed my life.

      1. The Power of Habit

      2. Willpower

      3. The Willpower Instinct

      These books discuss the neurological aspects of willpower and motivation. Here’s a cool wikipedia article on the subject:

  51. “How strange and foolish is man. He loses his health in gaining wealth. Then, to regain health he wastes his wealth. He ruins his present while worrying about his future, but weeps in the future by recalling his past. He lives as though death shall never come to him, but dies in a way as if he were never born.” Iman Ali

  52. This article has just described my life for the last year, I walked out of work 2 years ago… I was successful as a director at a charity, but i had to get out of there, i hated what i was doing and hated myself for doing it. When i said i was leaving, everyone was in shock! I lived abroad and travelled for some months, but struggled to find a path, i felt guilty as if i was wasting precious time. Then my mum died suddenly with no warning, and i had to come back home to the UK. I had to sort everything out which was tough (I am the only family member). Since then, I’ve done a few courses, moved back to London, and I’ve really struggled for energy and drive, and i am now applying for roles that i would hate to do, as i need the work. Im keeping the same hours as Charlie was, going to sleep at 4 am, getting up in the afternoon and missing the day. All the time, I think I’m being “soft”, lazy and I criticise myself. In retrospect, this thing has happened once before with me too, where i worked my ass off for 3 years and then just left, with no warning. I had my suspicions but after reading this article, I can see so many similarities that i can only assume that i burned myself out bad like charlie. Thanks for this article, it has been fantastic. I’m really looking forward to part 2…

    1. Ian, give yourself a break. The non-stop chatter in your head is what is beating you up. Imagine those negative thoughts and feelings into a shape and look them head on and breathe. Everyone struggles, accept that you are essentially OK, and just take it one step at a time.

      1. Jaqusto

        Thanks for the kind message, yeah i’m working on it daily. I know things can change very quickly too, so i’m staying positive. I’ve just gotta make sure that the next time i get involved in something, i hold back a bit, and don’t attack everything and get burned out again. That will be the challenge.

  53. I feel so utterly and devastatingly let down.

    So I was totally engulfed and lost in reading part 1.

    It was like a fantastic mirror being held in front of me.

    Until the last sentences, i felt like the only thing I wanted to read about was how, with small steps, random moments of insight, luck, and unexpectedness, Charlie Hoehn got better…

    When suddenly, WHAM, it hit me. Instead of being about that, it’s turning out to be a pitch for a book.

    I’m sure the book isn’t bad, and I sure don’t mind that he’d promote it.

    It’s just… Writing a book? Really? And then peddling it?

    Must it be that we can’t just connect through blogs, or some other money-free, product-free exchange, where we just talk our hearts out?

    Must it be that everyone who’s had some good insights must immediately package it, instead of trying to reach out through a different conduit? I get it, he was Tim Ferriss’s previous assistant, Tim writes books and is NYT #1 Best-seller, so he automatically thinks of the same products and services…

    But isn’t that defeating the original meaning of the effort you have to put in so you can face the fact that you’re escaping your own truth?

    1. Hi Ben,

      I’m wondering if perhaps you missed the link in the last line of Charlie’s post which directs readers to his original article “How I Cured My Anxiety” posted in May 2013:

      “It wasn’t hard. It didn’t cost me anything. It was only a choice.” []

      From reading the responses so far it appears that several people missed that link, because if they had followed it, I don’t think they would have been so quick to write disparaging comments about Charlie and Tim promoting a book on the subject.

      If you do read Charlie’s post from 2013 you’ll learn that he freely shared his story online and received tremendous feedback from readers and requests for more information. He didn’t “immediately package it” into a book, but if he had that wouldn’t have been a bad thing. Why? Because by compiling all that information and making it available in a book format makes it more accessible.

      I’m buying Charlie’s book for my Mom. It wouldn’t matter how much information Charlie makes available on his blog, unless there’s an actual hard copy print version that I can put in my Mom’s hands, she just won’t read it. And I think it could be good for her if she did read Charlie’s book.

      And probably for me too – which I why I’ll be buying the PDF version for myself shortly.

      Packaging your story into a free e-book can be a good thing (which Charlie did back in 2009 on another subject), but it’s not always the best format. Free or not – sharing information effectively always involves good packaging. Blogging and chatting online are good ways to generate discussion and encourage change, but it’s not for everyone and often that online discussion can lack the depth you’d find in a well-written book.

      Promoting and selling a book about how you overcame a problem doesn’t make you an opportunistic peddler. It makes you helpful and it makes you smart.

    2. Yes I may be Tim’s biggest fan but I think his brand suffered with this book pitch. Especially since Tim’s major work was all about escaping overwork, and it wasn’t even mentioned.

  54. Charlie, thanks for this article.

    Helps us all remember the most important part of the work hard/play hard equation and the importance of periodic BREAKS.

    There’s no doubt that having that drive to do things better, faster, and get more done is key for any entrepreneur, but you’ve got to know your limits and realize when to come up for air.

  55. Wow! Thanks to both Charlie and Tim for sharing Charlie’s story, on two levels:

    a) I may see a little of myself in that list of “situations”

    b) seeing life from a “younger” perspective and being aware of how my boys are handling themselves, their studies and their futures.

    I’m HOPING part 2 has a happy ending!

  56. Great topic! I was in a similar situation years ago, ironically reading the 4HWW helped me reassess and shift my focus. Forever grateful to Tim and the 4HWW for helping me out of the ‘workaholic death cycle’. As always, great work Tim!

  57. I really needed this today. Thank you. I love what I do but I need a change and find that passion once again. Hope to read the rest of your words of wisdom….

  58. I’ve been there myself, and luckily I’ve been able to recreate my career to be one that allows more balance. Thanks for sharing your story. Good luck.

  59. Great post! I could not help but smile at each ‘yes’ that was answered to the checklist of questions :/ it’s fascinating that what we view as a ‘normal’ way for us to live, really doesn’t seem normal when reading it in a list, objectively. Cannot wait for part 2!

  60. I’m curious here if Tim would let Charlie outsource all that work to a VA. As long as the job gets done, it should be fine right?

  61. Hi Charlie,

    Thanks for the great post, I can empathise with what you did, i have been doing so many hours after reading the 4 hour work week years ago ( lol ironic ) and just ordered this and cant wait to read it. Thank you

  62. Thank you Charlie for your honesty and for sharing your story, it is a very humble choice you have made to be openly vulnerable in your game. Knowing that yours is not a unique case and that so many people are living their lives in this manner, it seems as though our current reality is screaming at us to look deeper into the greater consequences of “progress”.

    With your intellect, consciousness and long list of persuasive contacts (from a distance) it seems almost obvious that a greater mission for your life is emerging.

    (Cheers to Mose Cagen for sharing this link).

    Sincere Gratitude,


  63. I stumbled across your May 2013 post and it brought me to tears. I found this in my inbox today and you did it again. I’m crying in bathroom stalls and any closed door where my wailing won’t disturb others, because your story is my story, without the massive success…yet. 😉

    Just when you think you can sweep it under the rug.

    I look forward to Part II.


  64. Charlie, wow – you are so young and have learnt so much! Thanks for your story – best thing I’ve read in a while – can’t wait to read the next instalment.

  65. wow, this impress me, what if your problem is the opposite? if you never feel strongly motivated? and you’re always dragging yourself to do anything? (maybe I should start to drink coffee/yerba mate)

  66. Charlie, thank you so much for sharing, and kudos to both you and Tim for posting this.

    I checked out the preview of your book on Amazon and look forward to reading it. Unfortunately it’s not yet available at Chapters (Canada’s largest book store chain), and Kindle files aren’t compatible with my Kobo (Canada’s best selling e-reader, which also doesn’t carry the title). I understand there are ways around Kindle/Kobo incompatibility issues, but for now I’ll stay on Amazon’s good side and buy the book the next time I’m in the States.

    In the meantime, I thought you might get a laugh at some of the search results for “Play It Away” on Kobo’s site. A few of my favourites are “How To Cheat Like A Man”, “The Vixen Manual” and “Bang: The Pickup Bible That Helps You Get More Lays Within 60 Days”. Knights of Columbus!

    1. Ooops – my bad. I just reread your original post “How I Cured My Anxiety” and caught the part where your book is also available in PDF… no need to wait until I visit the States. Thank you!

  67. What this poor Charlie did to get through the hell of “i never have enough money & and my worth is counted in millions of dollars” is to write a book. Nice strategy of Tim to promote this book- i personally found it very annoying. I got this blog emailed, i naively read it, and at the end i realized why this Charlie went down the hill: everything is about selling & make profits out of it. Can he genuily share his story without you Tim asking reader for money or get them hooked by a key-excerpt ? No. Thanks anyway. Theres no miracle secret to overcoming the work-madness but finding a purpose that speaks to one s heart. Not to one s wallet. Thats a straight to hell ticket.

    1. Hi Alex, I linked to a free blog post at the end of this article, where I reveal how I actually overcame my anxiety. Yes, I have a book, but most of the information is also free. Just google “cure anxiety” and it’s on my website. Have a nice day!

  68. Good post. Thanks Tim/Charlie. Makes me think of a Mr. Miyagi quote:

    Miyagi: You remember lesson about balance?

    Daniel: Yeah.

    Miyagi: Lesson not just karate only. Lesson for whole life. Whole life have a balance. Everything be better. Understand?

  69. What a courageous piece Charlie! I can totally relate to feeling like I need to do everything perfectly and at superhuman speed. What an amazing journey your career has been. Excited to read Part 2!

  70. Thanks for sharing this article. Insightful, helpful, and well written. I can relate to this exactly. Looking forward to part 2.

  71. Unrelated to your blogpost, but just wanted to say this: First Cheat Day meal – Double Whopper w/ Cheese, Tasty-Kake chocolate pie, and two pieces of homemade chocolate peanut butter candy. Bliss….

  72. Hi,

    An inspirational read, and great advice and comments for anyone!

    My question is simple. What happens when the seemingly impossible becomes possible all the time? When the challenge abates and everything is within your grasp? The unrealistic becomes realistic?

    Does the thrill and and excitement also end?

    I guess I will just need to find out for myself?

  73. Charlie you hit home for me. Your not alone in your experience although it’s certain that every flame burns uniquely. I flamed out several years back after over 16 years doing trial work. Sleeping on the couch in the office (bought a dream leather couch that was long enough for me to stretch out. I told myself that when “I got out” I would take my couch to a cabin I was going to build in the Rockies. That was my fantasy). Instead of a cabin I bought a house near my office but seldom went there. It was more room than I could ever use. Looking back. for the life of me I don’t know what compelled me to buy it. Had a contractor build a shower, suit closet and a private bath off my office for me so I could work more without having to head to the house for a shower. For years when I took downtime it was onto a red-eye to Vegas to party and play cards for the weekend. Back to it on a Monday and over the years my practice became busier and busier and busier and I got fatter, and fatter and fatter. Many of my Vegas pals (all trial lawyers that I met there (fellow dopamine junkies) died over the next ten years and all from cardiac events). Once after finishing a three month trial I took a week off, flew to LA, rented a convertible at LAX, drove to Santa Monica and then spent the next three days just sleeping. I don’t recall waking during that stay although I discovered a tray in the room where I had ordered some room service. Several years more and more cases than I can recall and after trying to to slow down and find some sort of balance I realized that I wasn’t just tired, in fact I was exhausted to my core. Over the years I simply lost touch with balance, my dreams died, my zeal sputtered and then quit like a clunker on the interstate, and I was lost. It was at the worst of it when no longer recognized who I became in the mirror. I would wonder what the hell happened to my life. In the end It takes years to heal but as I bet Charlie will share…its possible. At least I hope you do tell us that Charlie.

  74. Ha! Should have seen the sale happening from the beginning of the post. Nice work Charlie. You hooked me. Just bought the book. Looking forward to hearing your story. Congrats on the book!

  75. Hi Tim, I’m a fitness trainer in Calgary, ab Canada. I’m looking to expand my clientele base. I was wondering if you have any advice for someone who doesn’t have the capital to grow a clientele base? I work for a private self care facility. My boss is too overwhelmed to help me grow my clientele base. Too much on his plate himself. Where can I go to find the right kind of people? Everything is either one on one or semi-private. Meaning no more than 4 at a time because of the size of the facility. I would be really grateful for any advice. Thank you

  76. reading this article at this time in my life is so meaningful. While reading about the many ups and downs, and more downs in Charlie’s personal life, it reminded me of my own struggles to balance severe events happening to those dearest to me, and my own mental focus to maintain business focus. It’s like riding that emotional roller coaster with many low dipping points, and you’re holding on tightly as you look up as high as you can. I can appreciate this post because sometimes it feels like a hurricane of things happening all at once. When you find the resilience to get your mind (and your heart) back on track, your actions will follow with certain purpose. Appreciate your vulnerability and looking forward to more great writing.

  77. You are f****** awesome marketers. First tell a story abd then sell your book. Each time I read tour blog I learn something new and useful. Thanks!