The burnout syndrome is one of the most dreaded things by people involved in product creation, like product designers, architects and software developers. The burnout effect is making it’s presence felt ever so often in our workplace and our lives.

I’ve meant to write this for a while, but I didn’t have the courage to. I wanted to express this issue and share it with everybody else, but I was afraid I was going to be judged. With this article, I’m trying to explain what I’ve went through, in order to further redeem myself as a person, to what I used to be, before this happened to me.

While still being a college student at a major technical university in Romania, I believed I could create something better than what school prepared me for. I was seeing the likes of several other people being at the same age like I was, making it to success in the WordPress market. I thought they aren’t that much better than me and I can do that too. At the age of 20, I started my own WordPress theme business, creating products to be sold on the platform of ThemeForest. I had the hunger, I had the motivation and I felt there’s nothing that can stop me from achieving my dreams. And I worked hard for that goal.

I was living the dream: creating products that I love, when I wanted to, how I wanted to.

I was going to classes & labs during the day, while maintaining my WordPress business during the night. I was a workhorse, sitting at evenings in the front of the computer for about 10 hours, trying to bring my latest idea to life. I didn’t neglect college, because I wanted a safety net, in case this WordPress business was going to backfire on me. I was happy that I never had to work with customers directly, since I wouldn’t have time for that. It would’ve been too much time consuming and could have meant not sleeping at all, instead of the 6 hours per night I was having.

I was living the dream: creating products that I love, when I wanted to, how I wanted to. I created successful products which were loved by my customers, because I was helping them reach the solution to their problems faster. I saved them money and lots of time. Well, I gained their money, but I lost my own time. Completely. And little did I know about burnout, but it started settling in my life.

I didn’t have the drive anymore, I was missing the passion.

Being a one-man show company (to this day), I took pride that I can do it all: design, development, marketing, support, accounting. I always thought of myself as a happy & healthy man, so I never feared the burnout. I was feeling proud of my accomplishments and I knew there weren’t that many people in this world who got the degree of success I had, considering my age. Even though I was and I still am doing one of the things that I love, I didn’t give enough importance of being rested each day. And this backfired on me, big time.

After working hard for two years and creating several successful products like Smarald, or Parlament, it seemed that I reached a dead end. The burnout was real. I was feeling completely exhausted, I didn’t have the drive anymore, I was missing the passion. The market started shifting to a more multi-purpose, 100+ demos WordPress product, and I just couldn’t do it all alone. It wasn’t feasible anymore. Hiring someone to help me out, was not an option (I should’ve hired someone way earlier). The money wasn’t coming in, like it used to, in the golden days.

The burnout was affecting my everyday life.

It looked like this was going to be the end of journey with creating web products. The burnout was affecting my everyday life. I began being extremely impatient, I yelled at people who I love, I was frustrated. When I was receiving emails from my customers, those went straight to the “Mark as Read” folder. I took extended vacations just in the hope that this feeling would pass, but it didn’t. I was a mess. I thought I could bring my motivation up, by purchasing expensive equipment for my work. That didn’t work so well. Even though I had saved money from my earnings of ThemeForest, it didn’t bring me happiness in my work life, at that moment. Something needed to change in my life.

I moved to Germany, to study for an electrical engineering Masters program. It was something new, it was meant to bring back my motivation levels. I was living in a basement and I felt miserable for the first year I was here. I didn’t get to enjoy the nice warm touch of the sunlight so much and that was making me sick. I was away from my family and friends and I was deep down depressed. Even though I wasn’t showing it, I was feeling it. The burnout syndrome brought me to my knees. This wasn’t about WordPress anymore, this problem got extremely personal and it was affecting my life in an extreme way.

My solution for burnout: Never settle until you find something new that brings you back on track!

The third semester of my Masters involved making an internship at a company. The stress of finding a place to live, in a foreign country, all by myself, and convincing a company to accept me as an intern, wasn’t helping too much with my condition. But fast forward over the summer of 2015, after one year of miserable existence, moving to Stuttgart to work with some incredible people, was probably the best decision I’ve made in the past two years. The burnout is gone, almost completely, it just left some small little scars on my soul. But the scars are there to remember myself, what I’ve went through.

My passion for development, for great products, started showing up again. I started designing again. I started listening to my nowadays rare customers and helping them. The WordPress market did turn in a whole different direction during this time, due to it’s popularity. But I believe there’s still people that want to put the EASY back into Website making with WordPress. Everybody is already tired of this 1,000 options themes, which make their websites look like crap. People want convenient solutions in an easy way. I believe I’ve got the power and the resources to provide that in a new product, all with the help of God, if He keeps me healthy.

I would like to thank my girlfriend and my family for providing me unconditional love and support during this phase of my life. You’ve been there for me and you can forever count on me that I’m always going to be there for you.


Published by Icy Pixels

My name is Paul and I'm a 23 years old creative artist which loves to make WordPress Themes. You can also follow me via Twitter, Google+


  1. Good one! I was in the exact situation, and my solution was to open a small office and hire someone to help out a little bit.

  2. Thank you for sharing this story, I understand it was difficult for you to write everything and “press the submit” button. I don’t have experience with WordPress market or customers who are using WordPress, we are selling HTML UI Kits/Templates and I believe 100% that people are looking for Simple and Easy to use products.

    Our competition is building 1000 in 1 Admin Dashboards with 100+ pages with an infinite number of plugins and dependencies between those plugins. For example, we created a very simple Admin Dashboard, with a beautiful design that contains few plugins and only the pages that are necessary for an Admin Dashboard (99% of the backend dashboards have data tables and charts). We are charging more than what our competition is charging but our customers want to pay the extra amount for our Dashboard because it’s easier for them to “Buy it and create the actual dashboard” than “Buy it, remove 100 Pages and 100 plugins and their dependencies than create the actual dashboard”.

    I hope this behaviour of 1000 in 1 products will disappear soon, that would be a win – win for everybody.

    Good luck mate!

  3. Hey Paul, what an inspiring articles man… Please could we get in touch.. Drop me an email, let’s hang out or skype… I’ll pay for consultation if u have to… You are just the help I need right now… Thanks

  4. Hi Paul,

    thanks for sharing your very personal experience. Great statement. Good to know, that you are fine again.
    We had a short conversation some time ago before you went to Germany. Please drop me an email if you need some german support. I live in Dortmund.
    stay tuned, work, laugh, relax

  5. Hi Paul,

    Firstly, thank you for finding the courage to write this and hit the submit button. Your story and what you have shared has resonated with me. Life throws its struggles and stresses at us in different ways despite the different paths we travel, and while I don’t know you or your own personal journey (other than what you have shared), I can relate to the experience you have been through. I am sorry you went through what you did but I’m glad you have been able to renew your passion and continue your purpose. It sounds like you have come out a better, stronger and wiser person. Keep doing what you’re doing buddy and know that your story will make a difference by either encouraging those going through the same difficulties or reminding those who have come out the other side of what they have gained.

    I wish you nothing but the best.


  6. Keep your head up mate, many people love the 1000’s of options for colors headers etc, but i also know alot of customers who would prefer to just to be able to add their logo and information about their company and be done with it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Error: Please enter a valid email address

Error: Invalid email

Error: Please enter your first name

Error: Please enter your last name

Error: Please enter a username

Error: Please enter a password

Error: Please confirm your password

Error: Password and password confirmation do not match