Far too many brilliant people end up burned out, disillusioned, and leaving roles they love. They simply cannot see a way forward in a system that demands so much, and gives so few opportunities for choosing how we work.
It doesn’t have to be this way. I believe that you don’t need to dramatically change careers to thrive in your 9-5 (or 8-8).
There are deliberate choices you can make so that you can feel calmer, get some time and headspace and enjoy going to work again.
The old analogy has it that if you plop a frog into a pan of hot water, it’ll jump out straight away. If you put a frog in a pot of cold water, it’ll just sit there. But if you turn up the heat very slowly… it’ll slowly boil to death without noticing.
In 2016, a paper in the British Journal of General Practice by Natasha Dornan et al compared GPs and healthcare professionals to frogs in boiling water. The pot has been heated up very, very slowly, so long hours, awful on-calls, and complaining have gradually become the norm. They found that the overwhelming reason for GPs leaving their job was its effect on their wellbeing. After all – you didn’t spend years at medical school only to end up in a role that stopped you from enjoying your life.
Being burnt out – repeatedly – has started to seem normal, but it genuinely wasn’t like this 15-20 years ago. While it was always a hard job, there wasn’t a relentless sense of overwhelm, which so many GPs and healthcare professionals feel right now. And it’s the same in other workplaces too. Our culture of productivity and busy-ness is causing brilliant people to leave their careers and limit their impact. And that’s not OK with me!
I know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed and one crisis away from not coping. I’m a former GP who now helps doctors and other professionals in high stress, high stakes jobs beat burnout and work happier. I’m also the host of the Apple Top 100 UK Business Chart podcast You Are Not a Frog, keynote speaker, coach, and creator of the Shapes Toolkit resilience training programme.
You are not a frog. There are things you can do to avoid burnout. You don’t have to leave your job, although that may be necessary for some people. You can change your job, craft your job, or do different things within your job to make it more tolerable.
Qualifications + experience
- Former GP (worked in NHS from 1998 – 2020)
- MRCGP, DRCOG, DFFP, Masters in Medical Education
- Assistant Director of Studies, Professionalism Lead, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine
- Tutor for Postgraduate Certificate in Medical Education, Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge
- Author and co-presenter, Red Whale’s Lead, Manage, Thrive! course
- Director of Leadership Courses, Red Whale
- Executive and team coach
- Specialist in resilience at work
And when I’m not working, you’ll find me…
- Catching up on podcasts – there are so many fantastic ones out there!
- Reading everything I can about neuroscience, happiness, psychology and philosophy
- Getting active, preferably outside – I love skiing, ice skating, walking and playing tennis
- Listening to live music (that’s me in the front row!)
- Hanging out at home in Cambridgehsire, UK with my husband and 3 children