Yep, I’m doing it. I know some of you won’t approve. I was shocked to hear how many of you don’t do it.

I’m taking time off.

Not that long ago, I was presenting to an Executive Forum on High Achiever’s Syndrome and Burnout when a conversation emerged. “Do you take time off?” Not one executive in the room had taken more than a long weekend in years. Even though I know this is one of the calling cards of High Achiever’s Syndrome, I was still shocked. How can you live like that?

One of the things that I reminded them, since several of them were not only CEOs but the founders of their companies, was that when you decide to sell your company, the buyer is going to look at how dependent is the success of this company on the owner. If you can’t step away for a proper vacation, your business is too dependent on you and you will not get that dream sell out when you retire. This is how I have to package proper rest and relaxation to those with High Achiever’s Syndrome. They have to be sold on the ROI in order to step away. Even then, many of them still can’t and what happens? They end up in burnout, fear, and losing their mojo for the work they once loved.

You can’t let this happen. The world needs your brilliant mind to thrive. You deserve to thrive.

You know how you get those ah-ha moments in the shower? Why do you think that is? It’s because you stepped away. You stood back from the challenge you were obsessing on and you let the answer come to you.

We all need to step away. We all need to rest, relax, and rejuvenate. When we don’t, when we rely on grinding out, we become less productive, less efficient and less innovative. It takes us longer to do tasks that we could do in half the time if we were functioning at our best. Time off is a necessity, not a luxury. It allows our brains and our entire nervous system to reset. It allows our mind to wander and become more creative again. It nurtures our body, mind and soul so that when we do return to work, we are energized again. It even helps us get our mojo back.

So for those of you who are my High Achievers and may even be experiencing High Achievers Syndrome, I challenge you to take time off this holiday season. I challenge you to rest and relax, to spend time with loved ones, and to do something creative. I don’t expect you to change overnight. Start with baby steps, but stretch yourself in the opposite way than you are used to and do less instead of doing more. I think you’ll be surprised by the results.

Now, if you see something come across your bough this week, don’t worry I’m taking the time off, I just planned ahead. You can too!

Happy Holidays my dear friends and High Achievers. I am grateful for you.


Dr. Donna


  • Dr. Donna Marino (PsyD)

    Psychologist & Executive Coach

    Donna Marino, PsyD, Ltd

    Dr. Donna Marino is a Psychologist and Executive Coach. She is an expert in helping high-achieving leaders move from burnout to SUSTAINABLE peak performance, so that they can fulfill their mission while also experiencing greater health, happiness, and relationships. Dr. Marino has over 20 years of experience in human potential and transformational change.

    As a high-achiever, who works with high-achievers, she discovered a collection of characteristics that when left unchecked lead to burn out, high-functioning anxiety and high-functioning depression. She coined the term for this condition, High-Achievers Syndrome (TM) and developed a protocol for dealing with it, recovering and creating SUSTAINABLE peak performance.

      Dr. Donna is also a sought after speaker and author on leadership, peak performance, and burnout recovery.