The burnout symptom cycle


Today we welcome two new puppies to our family…..but it nearly didn’t happen.

We’ve been thinking about getting dogs again after we lost our last dog three years ago.

But I’ve been delaying making the decision.

Telling myself it’s not the right time.

That my daughter was too young.

That I’m too busy.

That it’s the wrong time of year.

But I realised I was not doing it for all the wrong reasons. 

Knowing what I know about women’s burnout this is a worrying sign.

It’s a distortion of values.

The fact that I’d rather have a tidy house than a full and happy heart.

According to one of the world’s leading experts on burnout – Dr Herbert Freudenberger – distortion of values is Stage Five in the twelve stages of burnout.

the burnout symptom cycle
The burnout symptom cycle

Distortion of values means it becomes difficult to distinguish between what is really most important. 

You start to experience changes in your value system.  

You experience a distorted concept of time.

“I have no time for fun right now.”

“I just can’t get away for the weekend.”

“I’ll just have to miss meeting up with friends right now, but I’ll make up for it next month.”

In Stage 5, fulfilling choices are eclipsed by necessity.  Survival mode means that there’s a shift in your values.  You lose touch with what is truly important as you try to navigate the demands of everyday life.

When you feel overworked and overburdened things become distorted.

You can get frustrated with your loved ones instead of having difficult conversations with the people you need to.

People who don’t qualify for your attention get it and, those that do, are often left short-changed.

Priorities get confused.

And that’s what happened to me when we were planning to become a dog family again.

In the busyness of life, it felt more important to have a tidy house than a full and happy heart.

But luckily I could see that I wasn’t making the decision from a place of alignment with my values.

I could unhook from the distortion in my values.

So today our hearts are full….and my house is crazy.

But I’m so happy that I could see past my unhelpful thinking and we have become a dog family once again.

Let the puppy chaos begin!


P.S. Want to learn more about the 12 stages of burnout and how to avoid value distortion? Get your free seat on my Success Without Sacrifice: High-Performance Success Strategies For Career-Driven Women Who Want To Thrive In Work *and* Life masterclass taking place in the new year. It’s completely free, and you’ll walk away with practical and evidence-based insights to help you to thrive in your career and personal life without sacrificing your relationships, wellbeing or dreams!


We’re genuine, like-minded women, just like you!

We’re a community, reinventing how we combine work and motherhood without sacrificing our sanity and wellbeing.



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