The 12 Stages of Burnout

Only thing worse than failing is succeeding, everybody knows that. What? You don’t? Well, maybe we’re wrong. Maybe the only thing worse than failing is trying? Hmm, that sounds just a tad negative too. But take it from those who know (yeah, we’re talking about one Acme Mess O’TV Writers we know) working to burnout is absolute…hell:


We often don’t realize that we’re suffering from burnout until it’s too late. Here at 99u, we write a lot about burnout, a serious subject concerning many creative professionals. Recently, we discussed the 3 Kinds of Burnout as well as 11 Ways to Avoid Burnout. We also explored How Overachievers Stay Sane and briefly touched on How to Spot Burnout (and Recover).

The burnout process has been divided into 12 phases by psychologists Herbert Freudenberger and Gail North. In a Scientific American Mind article, the stages are outlined as such:

  1. The Compulsion to Prove Oneself; demonstrating worth obsessively; tends to hit the best employees, those with enthusiasm who accept responsibility readily.
  2. Working Harder; an inability to switch off.
  3. Neglecting Their Needs; erratic sleeping, eating disrupted, lack of social interaction.
  4. Displacement of Conflicts; problems are dismissed, we may feel threatened, panicky and jittery.
  5. Revision of Values; values are skewed, friends and family dismissed, hobbies seen as irrelevant, work is only focus.
  6. Denial of Emerging Problems; intolerance, perceiving collaborators as stupid, lazy, demanding, or undisciplined, social contacts harder; cynicism, aggression; problems are viewed as caused by time pressure and work, not because of life changes.

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