Creative Burnout Vs Creative Boreout

Learning the power of controlling the controllables
Creative Burnout Vs Creative Boreout
Jake McNeill
June 24, 2021
5 min read
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I work a lot. Probably too much. But’s it’s what I do and who I am.

I have to be careful and watch the balances otherwise I can easily tip into obsessive workaholism. 

I have set boundaries. I wrote about my workaholism here. 

I still have issues and my daughter still feels a bit left out at times. 

But, honestly, I’m fine with the levels. They are in the healthy zone. We spend a lot of quality time together. I’m always taking her to the park and cycling. 

I’m not one of those Dads that take their kids to the park and get on their phones while their kids run about.

I’m a goofy Dad. I love playing with Chloe and doing silly things to make her laugh. 

It wasn’t always that way though. 

Creative Burnout

When I was still an artist manager I was a completely different guy. 

I never said no to anything. Being an artist manager is the hardest job in the music industry as far as I’m concerned.

The music industry is one of the toughest markets in the world. 

As an artist manager, you have all the responsibility to pull rabbits out of the hat. To make miracles happen.

We also take on the financial risk, knowing we only have a 1% chance of making money on our financial investments.

As a result, I lived almost entirely in my head. I was always consumed with thoughts and strategies on how to break artists in the most competitive and saturated market on the planet.


Looking back now, it wasn’t the workload that propelled me towards burnout. It was the lack of control.

I’m a high achiever. Always have been. That means I needed to create a sense of control. 

The hardest thing about the music industry is the uncertainty. There is no control.

Some of the best music I have worked on flopped badly and some of the worst music became hits.

That’s the way it goes. 

If you are teetering on burnout look into your control issues.

Ask yourself the difficult questions. 

Creative Burnout and building a structure

There’s a couple of different strategies to employ.

One of them is controlling the controllables. I have written about it here 

This is essential reading for anyone that is teetering on creative burnout or wants to perform better.

The other strategy is to create lag and lead metrics to build a framework.

I have written in detail about it here.

Lag and lead metrics are my framework for systemising and simplifying the creative process. 

The problem with creativity and building platforms in the creator economy are it’s full of uncertainty. 

Some say it’s a marathon but that’s not true. There is certainty in a marathon. It’s 26.2 miles long. 

While not easy, there’s a standard framework. Train yourself physically and mentally to run 26.2 miles and you will succeed.

There is a system. 

In creativity, the only guarantee is there are no guarantees. 

But you can build a system.

The Framework

Create your long term goal ( Lag metrics)

And then create a simple daily repeatable system to achieve your goal. 

These are your lead metrics. 

Jerry Seinfeld wanted to be a famous comedian. ( lag metrics)

So he wrote a joke every day. ( lead metrics)

Ed Sheeran wanted to be a famous musician.

So he played 300 gigs in one year. 

"For the first year, the 300 gigs, my aim wasn't so much to build a fan base. I think before you build a fan base you need to master your craft. So, my thing with the gigs was that practice makes perfect and I need to play in front of as many different crowds as possible so by the time I get to the point of festivals and other big gigs I'd be good enough to warrant having those shows. Getting all that experience in before the big break. Rather than breaking, getting 300 shows, and not really being up to scratch. That 300 gigs was just to do that.” — Ed Sheeran

By breaking down your goals into bite-size daily process goals are something you can control.

After all, we can’t control success but we are solely in control of the process and how hard we work at it.

Controlling the lead metrics is the number 1 best indicator to achieve your lag metrics. 

It also helps you prevent Creative burnout. 

Creative Boreout

On the other end of the spectrum is creative boreout. This is when you’re understimulated. 

When the sameness and creating within your comfort zone. 

This can be equally stressful and even more dangerous than burnout.

With a creative boreout, your personal development grinds to a halt. 

People can become depressed. They know they’re not pushing themselves. 

If this is happening to you, then you need to create yourself a creative challenge. 

Push yourself. Take risks and go for it. 

Do 50 articles in 50 working days. Write 10 songs in a month. Produce 2 podcasts a week for a month.

Tweet 3 times a day. 

Do something. Anything.   

Set realistic goals that stretch you creatively.

If you’re not feeling imposter syndrome then you’re not pushing yourself.


  • Surrender to your creativity
  • Content will succeed or fail; it’s not in your control
  • To succeed in creativity you must learn to befriend failure
  • Build a framework of lag and lead metrics and control the process and not the outcomes
  • Practice controlling the controllables
  • Push yourself. Get out of your comfort zone.
  • If you’re not feeling imposter syndrome; then you’re not challenging yourself
Interested in 1-2-1 Creator Coaching/ Consulting?

I help creators and solopreneurs become famous in their niches. I specialise in:

  • Creative business strategy
  • Standing out in saturated markets
  • Overcoming creative blocks that are holding you back
  • Building audiences. 

I do a discovery call. Cost? $0.00 Commitment? Zero. Time? 30 minutes

More info? Go here

A bit about me

I’m an ex- multi-platinum artist manager. I created strategies and built audiences for artists who sold millions. I’ve challenged myself to write 50 articles in 50 working days. 30 down, 20 to go.

You can read more in the archives here. Find out more information on my website or connect on my LinkedIn

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