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How I Avoid Burnout: A West Point Performance Psychologist

Don’t fret what you can’t control, squeeze in micro-breaks whenever you can, and learn to relax on cue.

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Illustration: Gwendal Le Bec for Bloomberg Businessweek

Few humans know more about how to stay motivated under less-than-ideal conditions than Nate Zinsser, author of the forthcoming The Confident Mind: A Battle-Tested Guide to Unshakable Performance. He runs the performance psychology program at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he seeks to imbue cadets with the mental and emotional fortitude to stay positive through a grueling four-year program and ensuing military deployments.

“They’re very ambitious and eager to learn, and in that sense they’re wonderful students,” Zinsser says. But they’re also “alpha dogs,” he says, products of “our society’s perfectionistic, go-go-go, more-is-better, I’ll-sleep-when-I’m-dead culture. This presents some challenges.”