John Calipari’s 3 Steps for Avoiding Burnout

John CalipariWe live in a fast-paced, highly-competitive, constantly-changing world. No matter what industry you’re working in, the rapid pace of change can be exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. If you’re not careful, the ever-changing demands of your daily work life can lead to such high stress levels that you get burned out and lose your enthusiasm and focus for whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish.

We have three choices for how we can deal with changing circumstances and the stress that this can cause.

First, we can dwell on the past and try (unsuccessfully) to avoid the task at hand.  Second, we can worry about the future and all the uncertainties that lie ahead. Or third, we can choose to accept things as they are and discipline our thoughts to seek peace and clarity in the present moment.

The first two choices lead to more stress and eventual burnout. Successful people focus on the third choice.

Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari knows what it’s like to work in an extremely competitive and ever-changing field. He offers three practical steps for keeping your focus on the present and avoiding burnout in your career…


1- When you wake up in the morning you must ask yourself the question, “What’s the most important thing I must do today?” Before you go to bed you must ask, “What were the most important things I did today?”

2- Find a daily place of peace, away from it all, to collect your thoughts and remind yourself of who you are apart from the fast-breaking tensions of your workplace. For me, it is daily Mass, and when I can manage it—even during a break or two during the season—getaways to the beach in Florida with my wife. For you it may be a daily routine of exercise, thirty minutes of reading, or dinner with your family every night—no matter what other pressures are bearing on you.

3- Connect with at least one person each day who has nothing to with your work life. Consider it like a fifteen-minute vacation. It might be a good friend, a mentor, or perhaps one of your kids who is away at college.


– John Calipari, from his book Success Is the Only Option

As Tony Dungy said, “Being disciplined in your approach to each day of your life and accomplishing the things you dream of starts by disciplining your thoughts.” Coach Cal’s three tips are simple to follow, but they do require discipline. They each require that you consciously take a step back and remove yourself from whatever may be consuming your mind. It’s sort of like hitting a mental “reset” button.

When you do this, you’re taking control of your thoughts. You’re ensuring that runaway thoughts about the past or worries about the future will not drag you down. You’re reminding yourself what’s really important this day—in the present moment—while also remembering that life is never one dimensional and that there are many things outside of work that are also important to you.

These simple reminders will give you peace and clarity as you go through each day.