Episode 149: When Working Harder Doesn’t Work Anymore

Think back to how you’ve lived your life so far. How much time do you spend working harder and harder or feeling guilty about not doing enough?

Working hard is indeed an important part of achieving success in the healthcare industry. There’s no doubt that the same principle also applies to many high-stress jobs. Hard work is commendable, but you should not let it define your life. Instead, it’s more important to work happier and find fulfilment in everything you do. Work hard at your job, but don’t forget to look after yourself. Embrace your limitations — that is how you create a life worth living.

In this episode, Rachel talks about what to do when working harder isn’t working anymore. The solution? Work happier instead! She explains why working harder can be counterproductive and why it is failing us. Rachel also shares simple but powerful tips to flip your mindset and adopt a healthy work ethic.

If you want to know how to work happier instead of working harder, tune in to this episode!

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Discover why working harder is failing you instead of leading you to success.

  2. Learn why you should write a ‘to be’ list rather than a ‘to do’ list.
  3. Understand the importance of embracing your limits.

Episode Highlights

[02:53] Working Hard in High-Stress Jobs

  • The need to work hard is a work ethic ingrained in high-stress jobs — including healthcare.
  • We often feel that the only way to succeed is to work harder.
  • But there comes a point where you just can’t work harder anymore. There are limits to our energy, resources, and time.

[03:21] ‘Many doctors and many other professionals in healthcare and other high stress jobs feel that they have to work hard. We feel that it is the only way to be successful in life.’ – Click Here to Tweet This

[04:15] Why Working Harder Is Failing Us

  • First, it is illogical. We cannot carry on working harder forever because we only have 24 hours in a day.
  • Second, you cannot have well-being and have overwhelming work at the same time.
  • Third, your performance will suffer from the pressure of having to work harder.
  • It’s counterproductive to think that the harder you work, the more productive and successful you’ll be.

[05:25] ‘Often, when we work really, really hard, [we] give up the things that we need to do to become re-energised, like connecting with friends, or doing some exercise, or eating well, or sleeping. Consequently, our performance goes down.’ – Click Here to Tweet This

[06:55] Guilt from Not Working Harder

  • The idea of working hard is so deeply ingrained in us that we feel guilty when we can’t work any harder.
  • The problem lies in unhealthy perfectionism, feeling like we always have to be better.
  • This leads to shame when we are unable to help people even for perfectly valid reasons.
  • This mindset only gets worse the older you get. If left unchecked, it leads to stress and burnout.
  • The human race was not designed to work 24/7 with no time off.

[08:30] ‘This is the problem, isn’t it? It’s this unhealthy perfectionism of feeling that we always have to be better, that we can never do enough, that we always have to keep going and going.’ – Click Here to Tweet This

[10:44] Focus on Working Happier Instead of Working Harder

  • If we focus on working happier, we can embrace our limits and perform better.
  • If you want to be successful, you have to be happy. The happier you are at work, the more productive you’ll be.
  • Working happier means doing things that create meaning, purpose, and connection with other people.

[10:46] ‘The things that limit us — like our human need for connection, for food, for rest — these are the things that actually make life worth living. These are the things that make us happy.’ – Click Here to Tweet This

[12:16] Flipping the Mindset

  • The mindset of working harder can manifest even in things you find meaningful.
  • Remember that life is not just about working as hard as you can and pleasing other people all the time.
  • You are a human ‘being’, not a human ‘doing.’
  • Flip the mindset to ‘I am enough’ and ‘I can be enough.’

[12:37] ‘Life is not just about working as hard as I can. It’s not about pleasing other people all the time. I am not a human doing; I am a human being.’ – Click Here to Tweet This

[13:11] ‘To-Do’ List vs ‘To-Be’ List

  • Instead of a ‘to-do’ list, write down a ‘to-be’ list.
  • A ‘to-be’ list opens up space for things that would make your life worth living.
  • Prioritise the most important things when you feel overwhelmed with your tasks.
  • Perfectionism will drive you to an early grave. You don’t have to finish everything.

[14:55] ‘Reality will win 100% of the time. When this happens, the only thing you can do is to prioritise and work out what [are] the most important things that you absolutely have to do and be comfortable with not getting stuff done.’ – Click Here to Tweet This

[16:29] Recognise Your Limits

  • Instead of being ashamed of your limits, embrace your need for sleep, connection, love, and care.
  • Try making a ‘not to-do’ list.
  • Sharing what’s on your joy of missing out or JOMO list with other people will make the shame disappear.
  • Try joining our January Anti-Challenge!

Enjoy This Podcast?

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Episode Transcript

Rachel Morris: This is a You Are Not A Frog quick tip. A tiny taster of the kinds of things we talk about on our full podcast episodes. I’ve chosen today’s topic to give you a helpful boost in the time it takes to have a cup of tea, so you can return to whatever else you’re up to feeling energised and inspired. For more tools, tips, and insights to help you thrive at work, don’t forget to subscribe to You Are Not A Frog wherever you get your podcasts.

I’d like to talk to you about what to do when working harder just isn’t working anymore, and why we need to work happier, instead. I don’t know about you guys, but I worked my ass off through school. I had to work really, really hard for my A level. I went straight to medical school and I hadn’t done biology.

I distinctly remember in the first term feeling, “I don’t understand anything that is going on in these lectures,” and teaching myself biochemistry, which was really, really, really, really difficult. but we got through. We all got through. And for the five years that I was at Nottingham, that was punctuated by a lot of going out, a lot of partying.

But at the time, a lot of working when everyone else was managing to sleep in till midday, all the medics were getting up and going to lectures nine till five. So working hard is in my DNA. I come from a family are very, very hard workers, even though they’re retired, they still seem to be working really hard. So Mum and Dad, you can stop working now; you can relax.

I went straight from university into my house jobs, and straight from those jobs into SHA rotations, where I was doing on-calls, weeks of nights. This will sound very familiar to many, many people. And I just remember how dog-tired I was and watching that series by Adam Kay, This is Going To Hurt, on TV, brought all that back to me.

Sidenote, I think that there’s a lot of doctors going through, sort of, collective post-traumatic stress, just remembering what it was like. And then, when I started my GP training, of course, having to see patients, on-calls, as well as studying for my exams– again, working really, really hard, moves straight on from that job into a salary job. So all my life, I’ve worked hard, and the only times I’ve taken a break, I think, were my maternity leaves.

I tell you this, not to tell you about how amazing I am for working like I did. In fact, I don’t think it’s amazing at all. I really regret not taking some more time off. But to tell you that the pattern throughout my life has been to work really, really hard, and I wonder what the pattern has been throughout your life. Have you just worked hard all your life?

Now, just as I thought life couldn’t get any busier or harder. I had kids, which of course, brings with it such a lot of joy but such a lot of hard work. And I remember my mum saying to me, “Well, Rachel, holidays– it’s just hard work in a different place.”

This thing is ingrained into us– this work ethic. And many doctors and many other professionals in healthcare and other high stress jobs feel that they have to work hard. We feel that it is the only way to be successful in life. And by and large, it sort of worked up until now. The problem is this– that I don’t think that working hard is working for us anymore.

All my life, I’ve thought that, to be successful, you just have to work harder. But there’s a problem with this because at some point, you reach a point where you actually can’t work any harder. Either you run out of energy and you run out of resources, or you literally run out of hours in the day.

Even if you don’t sleep, you will be limited by the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day. So working harder is failing us, firstly, because it is illogical. It cannot carry on forever, can it? Because we only have 24 hours in a day. And so, if somebody is asking you to do more work than you can fit into the hours in the day, that is illogical.

As Oliver Burkeman says in his wonderful, Four Thousand Weeks, it can’t be the case that you must fit in more in the hours that you have than hours that you have. This is illogical. So firstly, we hit against the barrier of time. The other problem with working harder is that you cannot have wellbeing at the same time, as you have incredibly hard, overwhelming work.

When I first started teaching wellbeing, it became pretty obvious to me that it wasn’t that people didn’t know what to do to keep themselves well, it was that they didn’t have the time and the headspace to do it. So wellbeing is intricately related to your time, and how hard you’re working. The harder you’re working, the less you can focus on looking after yourself.

The less you focus on looking after yourself, the harder work becomes. So it’s this vicious circle. And often, when we work really, really hard, what we do is we give up the things that we need to do to become re-energised, like connecting with friends, or doing some exercise, or eating well, or sleeping.

So consequently, our performance goes down. And speaking of performance, we know that the higher the pressure is that’s on us, the worse our performance is. We know that once you’ve been focusing and concentrating for about 10 hours a day, you’re completely done. Your retention is gone. You can’t actually focus any more. You might as well go home.

I’m sure loads of you have been in the position where you’ve been struggling with stuff, it just takes you ages. Whereas you’d probably be able to nail it within the first 10 minutes if you did it when you were fresh, when you first get to work. So working harder isn’t working for us, because, A, it’s illogical because at some point, you run out of time and space to do it, and you cannot work any harder even though you think you can.

Secondly, it just shafts your wellbeing. It’s very, very difficult to look after yourself properly when you don’t have any time. And thirdly, your performance will suffer if you work harder. And many of us, over the years, have subscribed to the equation that the harder you work, the more productive you’ll be, and the more successful you will be. But this is bad for us. It’s counterproductive.

It does not lead to a happy, healthy workforce. Now, the problem is that this idea is so deeply, deeply ingrained in us that we start to feel guilty when we can’t work any harder, even if it’s through no fault of our own. I was speaking to somebody recently, and she was telling me that she has been a GP all her life, and she became ill. And she felt so guilty and ashamed when she became ill through no fault of her own.

How often have we felt unwell and had to cancel something and felt absolutely awful? A few years ago, we just moved house and I’d spent two or three weeks staying up really, really late sorting out the house. It was late November, there were all sorts of nasty bugs around and I got a really bad cold. But I didn’t stop. I just carried on, and this cold turns into a chest infection.

Very soon, I ended up in A&E with pretty low SATs, needing some antibiotics, feeling absolutely dreadful. And I remember being discharged, I got home. I was crawling up the stairs because I was too breathless to walk. Since my husband– oh my goodness, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to present that course, on Wednesday– this was a Sunday night.

He looked to me like I was completely mad. He said, “What are you even thinking of? The fact that you think you’re going to be able to go and run a day-long training on resilience?” I did realise this was a bit daft at the time, I emailed the client who was incredibly gracious about it and said to me, “Well, of course, we can cancel it. Of course we can.”

I had to cancel it, but I felt incredibly guilty. I felt I’d let people down. And this is the problem, isn’t it? It’s this unhealthy perfectionism, or feeling that we always have to be better, that we can never do enough, that we always have to keep going and going and when we can’t– when we can’t help people in the way that we’d like to help people, and when we become ill, or when we can’t cope with the workload, we feel ashamed because we feel that we are not enough.

We have breached our own values of always being strong, of always helping people. And if you think about it, this mindset is totally illogical, because we all know that there is unlimited demand in health care. We all know that people will always want more and more and more. And we know this, yet we still feel guilty when we feel that we can’t do enough.

I think, this can very, very quickly tip over into shame that we are not enough, that I am a bad doctor, that I am lazy, and that I’m just being selfish. And then, what happens is that we feel dreadful about taking a day-off. Even if it’s the weekend. We feel we should be getting all those emails, clearing our to-do list, and we feel like we can’t ever switch off, and some of us find that we can’t remember what we used to do to relax.

We don’t really know what we ever enjoy doing in the first place. And I know what this is like; I’ve been there. This is a deeply, deeply ingrained thing in us, and it only gets worse. The older you get, the more responsibilities you get, the more out-of-work stuff you have to do. For example, supporting parents, supporting children, supporting partners.

Ultimately, if this mindset continues, it leads to stress, and it leads to burnout because we weren’t designed to work like this. The human race was not designed to work 24/7, with no time off; we have limits. Now, here’s the thing about our limits. The things that limit us, like our human need for connection, for food for rest, these are the things that actually make life worth living, these are the things that make us happy.

Instead of working harder, if we focus on working happier, we will automatically be focusing on embracing our limits and doing those things that we know we need to do to actually perform better. And this is borne out in the literature, time and time again. The new equation is, if you want to be successful, you want to be happy, because if you are happy at work, you will be productive, and that leads to success. It’s not about hard work.

This is such good news for us, but it takes a massive mindset shift. And I lost count of the amount of times that people have said to me, it’s just self-indulgent to want to enjoy your work, to want to be happy at work, to want to thrive in the workplace, and feel fulfilled and do a job that you find exciting and interesting, and to do a job that is actually doable. So instead of working harder, let’s have a think about what working happier looks like.

Working happier means doing those things that create meaning and purpose for us, that create connection with other people, that give you satisfaction. Now, I must say this comes with a slight health warning, because I know that in my life, when I’m doing something that I find a lot of meaning and a lot of purpose in and I really love– for example, this podcast– that can slightly take over as well.

I have been known to be sitting all weekend editing podcasts because I just enjoy it so much. But I need to remember that actually, life is not just about working as hard as I can. It’s not about pleasing other people all the time. I am not a human doing, I am a human being. And so, flipping this mindset from, “I am not enough. I’m not doing enough. I can never achieve enough and feeling guilty and ashamed about it.”

Flipping it to, “I am enough. I can be enough,” is the secret to working happier. When I look into this new year, I think, this is the message that all of us need to hear. And I remember talking to Dr. Surina Chibber about this in Episode 54. And Surina is a GP, she ran her own business, she was also very busy with two small children. And Surina was telling me that a few years ago, she was working very, very hard. She was very overwhelmed.

She was talking to a coach who was talking to her about her to-do list. And the coach said to her “Surina, why don’t you try writing a to-be list instead of a to-do list?” And if I think about doing a to-be list, rather than a to-do list, immediately, my life feels a little bit more spacious and immediately, it feels like there are some things that I could put in place that would make life feel like it was really worth living and that would give real value to other people, tot just to me.

It will help me feel so much more relaxed. So if you’re wanting to work happier, rather than to work harder, what I suggest is, you start with writing a to-be list, not a to-do list. And then, the question is, “What do you do about that to do-list that is as long as your arm?” I went to talk to a GP practice at lunchtime the other day, and they were overwhelmed with everything they had to do.

They kept saying to me, “But we just have to do this. We have no choice.” But on the other hand, they were saying, “But we can’t do this. We don’t have enough staff and there are not enough hours in the day.” So what was happening is that they were trying to argue with reality but reality was winning and reality will win 100% of the time.

When this happens, the only thing you can do is to prioritise and work out what is the most important things that you absolutely have to do, and be comfortable with not getting stuff done. And this is really, really difficult for those of us who are perfectionist, which I think, is almost certainly every single doctor I know, and I count myself in that as well. Perfectionism is what is quite literally going to drive us to an early grave.

I’m going to be recording some more podcasts about perfectionism. Unfortunately, unhealthy perfectionism often manifests itself in us feeling that we have to complete everything, we have to get to the bottom of our to do list, and we can never be seen to do a sloppy job or to leave anything unfinished.

Now, when you have a to-do list that is never ending or too much to do, you only have two choices, really, you can either do everything on your to-do list and do it really badly and be a bit sloppy about it, or you can pick what you’re going to do on your to-do list, and that is prioritising powerfully. And I’ll put some links in the show notes to other podcast episodes, where we’ve talked about how to prioritise.

In order to prioritise, you’re gonna have to say no to some stuff as well. So we’ll link to the episode all about how to say “no” and prioritise powerfully. And we’ll be talking about this much more in further episodes, so think about how you’re going to prioritise. And finally, think about what your limits are.

Instead of feeling ashamed about your need for sleep, your need for connection, your need for love and care, embrace that as a human being, knowing that this is what makes life worth living. So alongside your to-be list, you could make a not-to-do list. What things are you not going to do this month? What things are you going to miss out on and have the joy of missing out– the JOMO?

Here’s what’s really key, if you share this with other people– what’s on your to-be list, what’s on your JOMO list– then the shame will disappear. Because once you have it out in the open, that you can’t do everything, that you are feeling that you’re not strong enough to get to the bottom of your endless to-do lists, that you might not be superhuman, then actually, the shame will disappear.

Brene Brown says that connection and getting things in the open just cuts off shame at the legs. So talk to people, work out what you’re going to do this month– to work happier, rather than to work harder. And one thing that you could do is join our January Anti-Challenge Challenge, which is exactly what it says on the tin. We don’t want you to have anything more to do. We want you to have less to do. We want you to feel better. We want you to feel happier.

So if you’d like to get some simple things that you can take out of your schedule into your inbox every day, then do sign up at the link in the show notes. And I’d love to know from you, what would be on your to be list? What would be on your JOMO list? Stick it in the Facebook for us or email me and tell me because we need to do this as a team. We need to support each other. We need to have each other’s back in this. We’re not superhuman.

We don’t have a time-turner like Hermione, we are humans. We have human limits, which is a great thing because it forces us to pay attention to the things that make life worth living. So in this new year, let your focus be on working happier, not working harder. and embracing your humanity, your limits as a human being, knowing that that is what life is about.

Podcast Links

This Is Going to Hurt (TV Series 2022)

Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman

Check out more You Are Not a Frog episodes on how to say ‘no’ and prioritising powerfully:

Episode 54: How to work more flexibly, without the stress

Episode 105: The Simplest Way to Beat Stress and Work Happier with Dr Giles P. Croft

Episode 109: Is It Possible To Have Fun At Work? With Dr Kathryn Owler

Episode 122: How to be Happy at Work with Sarah Metcalfe

Episode 125: How to Say No and Deal with Pushback with Annie Hanekom

Episode 134: How to Tell People What They Don’t Want to Hear

Episode 135: How to Escape the Urgency Trap

Episode 141: You Choose

Episode 145: How to Know if You’re Being ‘Resilience Victim Blamed’

Join You are Not a Frog’s January Anti-Challenge!

Join the Permission to Thrive CPD Monthly Membership Programme for Doctors here!

Reach out to Rachel at hello@youarenotafrog.com

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Episode 120: Making Online Meetings Work with John Monks

John Monks joins us in this episode to discuss designing better online meetings and interactions. We clarify the difference between a meeting, a presentation, and a workshop. We also discuss creative ways to design online meetings that energise and infuse rather than drain and demotivate. And John shares some simple exercises on limits and boundaries that can radically improve our problem solving and creativity. If you want to know how to make the most out of online meetings, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 118: How to Manage Upwards (and Sideways) with Dr Claire Edwin and Dr Keerthini Muthuswamy

Dr Claire Edwin and Dr Keerthini Muthuswamy talk about their experiences working within a hierarchical system as junior doctors and share what they have found to be essential if you want to build trust and foster good relationships with your seniors, your juniors and your peers. If you want to know how you can build trust and influence your workplace, and manage upwards and sideways this episode is just for you!

Episode 116: What I Got So Wrong About Mindfulness And How It Might Transform Your Life with Dr Steve Pratt

Dr Steve Pratt joins us to discuss what we really mean by mindfulness, and how it could work for you. He'll debunk some of the myths of mindfulness and how you can make it worth your time and effort. We'll discuss how certain techniques can help us live happier, be less anxious, and harness our resources to make better decisions. Finally, Steve shares his mindfulness practices and takes us on a quick three-minute breathing exercise! If you want to learn about mindfulness, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 114: How to Get an Appraisal that Doesn’t Suck with Dr Susi Caesar

Dr Susi Caesar joins us to talk about how you can elevate and enjoy your professional life with annual appraisals. She shares the purpose of appraisals and how they can help you choose the best way forward in your career and personal life. Dr Susi also gives her top tips on what you can do to make this process more meaningful. If you want to know more about appraisals and how you can benefit from them, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 113: What To Do When A Junior Is Badmouthing Your Colleagues with Dr Ed Pooley

Dr Ed Pooley joins us in this episode to discuss what we should do when we see inappropriate behaviour like badmouthing. He shares how we can manage difficult conversations with the intent of helping others. We also discuss the importance of recognising triggers through the SCARF model. If you want to know how to deal with difficult conversations for a better workplace, listen to this episode.

Episode 112: Why We’re Ditching the Term ‘Imposter Syndrome’ with Dr Sarah Goulding

Dr Sarah Goulding joins us to talk about imposter syndrome and why we need to drop the word from our vocabularies. We also discuss how self doubt can be helpful to us. Finally, she shares tips for overcoming wobbles and incorporating more self-compassion into your life. If you want to get over your imposter syndrome and practice self-compassion, then this episode is for you!

Episode 111: What To Do When You Start To See Red with Graham Lee

Graham Lee joins us to discuss our emotional states and ways to apply simple mindfulness techniques to change them. Most conflicts are rooted in unmet needs. When we admit those needs, we can instantly change relationship dynamics. Graham also shares tips on what to do during stressful situations where your emotions cloud your judgement and thinking. If you want to use mindfulness practice to be more aware of your emotions even during difficult situations, tune in to this episode.

Episode 110: How To Stop People Pleasing And Absorbing Other People’s Angst

Dr Karen Forshaw and Chrissie Mowbray join us to discuss how our core beliefs shape the way we respond to situations. When taken too far, empathy and helping people can be a big cause of stress. In addition, we also talk about we can learn to reframe and reassess their core beliefs. If you want to know how to help people without absorbing their emotions, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 109: Is It Possible To Have Fun At Work? With Dr Kathryn Owler

Dr Kathryn Owler joins us in this episode to share her fascinating research on the characteristics and traits of people who enjoy their current jobs. We dissect the common themes these people have in finding success in their careers. And we also talk about changes we can implement as individuals to make work more fun and enjoyable. If you want to start adopting the mindset people who have fun at work have, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 108: What We Wish We’d Learnt at Med School with Dr Ed Pooley & Dr Hussain Gandhi

Dr Ed Pooley and Dr Hussain Gandhi join us in the latest episode of You are Not a Frog. They discuss the management skills a doctor needs that you won't learn in med school, plus tips to help fresh doctors feel empowered in their workplace. Whether or not you work in medicine, these skills are crucial when it comes to working effectively and managing your own and others’ time. Tune in and listen to the experts talk about the management skills med school doesn't teach you and how to learn and develop them today.

Episode 107: Define Your Own Success In Life With Dr Claire Kaye

Dr Claire Kaye joins us to talk about the importance of honesty and clarity in defining our own success. We may think that achieving certain goals will make us happy, but evidence shows us it’s the other way around. It’s only when we’re happy that we can be successful. We also discuss how to overcome common barriers to our happiness and success such as fear, guilt, and uncertainty. If you want to know how to live a happier and more successful life, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 105: The Simplest Way to Beat Stress and Work Happier with Dr Giles P. Croft

In this episode, Dr Giles P. Croft joins us to discuss how our thoughts and emotions trigger stress signals. He shares his controversial approach to tackling stress, and why most of our efforts to cope better don’t really help at all. We also delve into the importance of pausing to allow yourself to calm down and letting go of the things you can’t control.

Episode 104: How to Cope With Nightmare Relatives and Colleagues Without Losing the Plot

In this special Christmas episode, Corrina Gordon-Barnes shows us how to create the groundwork for a peaceful and successful holiday season, even while navigating difficult relationships with relatives or colleagues. Corrina guides us to relax our expectation of a perfect holiday with our family, so we can face reality in ourselves and others. She explains a simple framework to allow you to resolve conflict, and walks us through what we can do during difficult gatherings and how to shift our responses to create different outcomes. Tune in to improve your strained relationships with relatives and co-workers through empathy and letting go of past assumptions.

Episode 103: How Not to Settle For The Way It’s Always Been Done

Dr Abdullah Albeyatti talks about improving your life and career by making changes and taking risks. He explains why settling for the familiar could be slowly ruining your life and how you can avoid this situation. Finally, he shares his top three tips to become a changemaker in your field. If you want to start doing things differently, creating change, and take more risks, then this episode is for you!

Episode 102: Why FAIL is Not a 4-Letter Word

Drs Claire Edwin, Sally Ross, and Taj Hassan join us to discuss how we can manage and deal with our failures more effectively. We explore the idea that rather than doing something wrong, failure is an opportunity to really grow and learn both as individuals, as leaders and as organisations. In any situation, it’s important to remember that we’re all human. It’s okay to be honest with ourselves and each other about our mistakes - after all, vulnerability is not a sign of weakness. If you want to know how to change your mindset around failure, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 101: Making Helpful Habits Stick with Sheela Hobden

Sheela Hobden joins us to discuss how we can harness the power of checklists to create a routine. She shares how you can approach your goals in a more realistic way and learn to encourage yourself using specific goal setting techniques. Sheela also recommends creating identity-based goals to ensure that you keep building your new identity even after completing certain milestones. Start small, and eventually, you’ll see these good habits stick!

Episode 100: Dealing With the Guilt of Not Being Okay With Dr Nik Kendrew

Dr Nik Kendrew unravels why we experience overwhelming guilt when bad things happen to us. He also shares some tips, techniques, and resources on how to deal with guilt, especially in these difficult times and circumstances. Apart from this, Nik talks about the significance of scheduling our entire day to do important things. Finally, he discusses why setting boundaries is necessary to maintain our sense of self.

Episode 99: How to Deal with Criticism When You’ve Reached Your Limit with Dr Sarah Coope and Dr Rachel Morris

Dr Sarah Coope joins me to talk about the workload of medical professionals and the benefits of setting boundaries while dealing with criticisms amidst the global pandemic. We discuss the three elements of the Drama Triangle and ways to navigate or avoid them reliably. As we dive deeper into the conversation, we explore the art of saying 'No' through acknowledging our limits. Awareness and recognition can go a long way in maintaining our boundaries. If you want to take the first step in recognising your limits, handling criticism better and setting proper boundaries, tune in to this episode.

Episode 96 – How to Deal with Difficult Meetings with Jane Gunn

We hear from the expert in conflict management and mediation, Jane Gunn. She discusses important tips to keep in mind to host great meetings. She shares some practical conflict management tips and how to make decisions that you and your team agree on. Jane also emphasises the importance of putting the fun back in functional meetings and the need to give a voice to participants.

Episode 93 – How to Delegate, Do It, or Drop It with Anna Dearmon Kornick

Anna Dearmon Kornick joins us to share the time management strategies crucial for busy professionals. She lays down tips on how medical practitioners can have more control over their days. Anna talks about how to manage admin time and imparts ways to combat distractions. We also discuss the importance of delegation both inside and outside work. For this, Anna introduces the passion-proficiency lens and knowing your zone of genius.

Episode 92 – How to Avoid Becoming the Second Victim with Dr Caraline Wright & Dr Lizzie Sweeting

Dr Caraline Wright and Dr Lizzie Sweeting join us to discuss the second victim phenomenon. They explain why patient safety incidents are occupational hazards and how they can affect healthcare providers. Caraline then shares her personal experience of being in the “second victim” role. Finally, they share tips on how to avoid second victimhood and how to provide support to someone going through it.

Episode 91 – How to Break Up With Your Toxic Relationship With Your Career with Dr Pauline Morris

Dr Pauline Morris joins us to share her career counselling advice for physicians and other professionals in high stress jobs. We discuss the common pitfalls that lead doctors to unsustainable work habits. Pauline also sheds light on why staying in your comfort zone can be detrimental to your performance. To avert this, she shares tips on how to better recognise and advocate for your own needs. We also learn about the importance of self-care and taking time for yourself.

Episode 90 – What to do About Bitching and Backbiting with Dr Edward Pooley

Dr Edward Pooley joins us again to discuss what to do when colleagues make inappropriate comments about others. We talk about why it’s crucial to consider the question behind the question in workplace backbiting. Ed also teaches us how to challenge in a supportive way. Most importantly, we learn some strategies to prepare ourselves to speak up when the situation requires it.

Episode 89 – Should I stay or should I go? with Corrina Gordon-Barnes

Corrina Gordon-Barnes joins us to share how to better relationships and take control and stay in your zone of power. She shares how to make a good decision by questioning thoughts and assumptions. We also discuss how you can change your perspective to become more compassionate, accepting, and empowered. If you want to know how to better relationships, stay in your zone of power, improve your decision-making skills, and be true to yourself, then tune in to this episode!

Episode 88 – How to Ditch the Saviour Complex and Feel More Alive with Rob Bell

Rob Bell joins us in this episode to discuss the perils of the saviour complex and the desire to keep hustling even when we’re miserable. We learn that taking time for rest and reflection only helps us get stronger. You can’t heal and help rebuild a broken system if you don’t look out for yourself first. Tune in to this episode to find out how to ditch the saviour complex, feel happier and live a more fulfilling life.

Episode 87 – Complaints and How to Survive Them Episode 5: What Should I Do When I Think a Complaint is Unfair? And Other Questions with Drs Sarah Coope, George Wright, Samantha White, and Andrew Tressider

We’re joined by a panel of expert guests to share their thoughts on how to handle complaints. Together, we discuss ways that you can adjust your perspective and respond to unfavourable situations. Most importantly, we tackle issues regarding malicious complaints and how to cope with them. If you’re having trouble managing yourself during complaints, then this episode is for you.

Episode 86 – Gaslighting and Other Ways We’re Abused at Work: What’s Really Going On? with Dr James Costello

Dr James Costello joins us to talk about his new book and the insidious ways that organisations and individuals can undermine us. They compel us to do extra emotional labour for us to cope with the workplace dynamics. We also chat about what happens when authority and power are misused. Finally, James shares some of the disastrous consequences bullying in the workplace can have and what we can do about it. Tune in if you want to know what to do if you suspect that you or a colleague are experiencing relational abuse in the workplace!

Episode 85 – How to have crucial conversations with Dr Edward Pooley

Good communication between colleagues is crucial for the success of any organisation. Dr Edward Pooley joins us again to teach us how to communicate well. He discusses the three strands present in any conversation and helps us understand how we can be more aware of each. We also share some frameworks that can help you navigate difficult conversations. Understanding the importance of emotion is crucial in being an effective communicator and connecting with your team.

Episode 84 – Complaints and How to Survive Them Episode 4: Creating a Workplace Where It’s OK to Fail

Professor Susan Fairley and Dr Jane Sturgess join us to discuss how to create a workplace that doesn’t shy away from failure. We talk about how civility can save lives and also touch on the issues around incident reporting in healthcare. Most importantly, we talk about creating a culture where people can have difficult conversations without defensiveness. If you want to know how to approach failing and speaking up in the workplace, tune in to this episode.

Episode 83 – The Ups and Downs of Being a Man-Frog with Dr Chris Hewitt

Joining us in this episode is Dr Chris Hewitt who also uses the metaphor of a man-frog in coaching professionals to have a better work-life balance. Chris talks about why we find it so hard to recognise burnout. He also shares his top tips and practical strategies to address work dissatisfaction. If you want to stop feeling like a man (or woman) - frog in a pan of slowly boiling water, listen to the full episode.

Episode 82 – Complaints and How to Survive Them Series Episode 3: Surviving the Process

Drs Jessica Harland, Caroline Walker and Heidi Mousney join us in this episode to discuss healthcare professionals’ experiences when dealing with complaints. We talk about the different emotions you may experience and practical tips on getting through. If you want to know how to survive the process after making a mistake at work and receiving a complaint, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 81 – When Soft and Fluffy Met Coronavirus with Steve Andrews

Steve Andrews, Associate Director of Leadership for East and North Herts NHS Trust shares how, through using just five crucial questions, you can check in on people, rather than check up on them. The 5 questions will help you to find out how people really are, help them look out for their colleagues, empower them to solve their own problems AND communicate empathy and support. Want to know how you can apply compassionate leadership in your organisation? Then, this episode is for you.

Episode 80 – Complaints and How to Survive Them Episode 2: What to Do When You Make a Mistake with Drs Clare Devlin and Dr John Powell

Drs Clare Devlin and John Powell join us to discuss the proper way of responding to professional mistakes. We talk about why doctors have a hard time whenever they make a mistake at work. Clare and John also share valuable advice on minimising negative consequences and getting a good outcome for you and your patient. If you want to learn a roadmap for what you should do you make a mistake at work, then tune in to this episode.

Episode 79 – How to Give Yourself Permission to Thrive with Dr Katya Miles

Dr Katya Miles joins us once again to talk about burnout and giving ourselves permission to thrive. Having experienced work burnout, Katya shares her story and discusses the red flags of burnout. We also talk about why we find it difficult to give ourselves permission to thrive and how we can overcome our own internal barriers. If you want to learn about how you can listen to your needs so that you can thrive in work and in life, then this episode is for you.

Episode 78 – Complaints and How to Survive Them Series 1: Preparing to Fail Well with Drs Sarah Coope, Annalene Weston and Sheila Bloomer

Drs Sarah Coope, Annalene Weston and Sheila Bloomer join us in this first episode in a new series on ‘Complaints and How to Survive Them’ to talk about coaching doctors and dentists through complaints made against them. We also talk about the perfectionist mindset and how changing our perspective towards failure can help us and those around us. If you want to know how to deal better with complaints made against doctors and other professionals in high-stress jobs, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 77 – Denial, displacement and other ways we neglect ourselves with Dr Andrew Tresidder

Dr Andrew Tresidder joins us to talk about how many medical practitioners and other professionals in healthcare and high stress jobs neglect their health and well-being. We're so focused on taking care of others that we forget to take care of ourselves but our well-being is vital if we want to keep doing the work we do. Find out why healthcare professionals need to learn more about health, as opposed to only learning about disease and if you want to know how to focus on taking care of your health and well-being, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 76 – Tech Tips for Happy Hybrid Working with Dr Hussain Gandhi

Dr Hussain Gandhi, or Dr Gandalf of eGPlearning, joins us in this episode. He is a GP, PCN director and host of the eGP Learning Podblast that shares deep dives into health tech for primary care. He shares his tech and time hacks for hybrid working to survive and thrive in the new virtual environment. If you want to find out how to improve your hybrid working experience, then tune in to this episode!

Episode 75 – How to Escape the Drama Triangle and Stop Rescuing People with Annie Hanekom

Annie Hanekom joins us to shed light on the different roles which interact in the drama triangle. She shares the pitfalls of taking on each role and how we can actively shift from these roles into something better, fostering healthier relationships at work. If you want to know more about how you can step out of the drama triangle, have better conversations and build healthier relationships with your colleagues, make sure you tune in to this episode.

Episode 74 – Managing your Time in a System Which Sucks with Dr Ed Pooley

Dr Ed Pooley joins us in this episode to share his take on time management techniques for busy individuals. He discusses the three types of competing demands and how to manage them. We also talk about being more comfortable holding difficult conversations about workplace issues - vital to help change the environment we work in. Tune into this episode to discover how time management techniques and communication can help you get a calmer and more time-efficient workplace.

Episode 73 – How to Find Your Tribe: The PMGUK story with Dr Nazia Haider and Dr Katherine Hickman

Dr Nazia Haider and Dr Katherine Hickman join us on this episode to discuss the importance of a work community. We talk about the inspiring stories from the online community they created, the Physicians Mums Group UK (PMGUK). Nazia and Katherine also share their tips on how to increase connections and find your own tribe at work. If you want to know how to create a network of supportive colleagues and feel more connected, then tune into this episode.

Episode 72 – Working well – from anywhere! with Dr Katya Miles

Dr Katya Miles joins us to discuss how to work well from home by creating healthy boundaries. She shares how to be more productive by using the third space hack and taking breaks. Katya also talks about how to be more active and better connect with people in the workplace. If you want to learn about working well from home and achieving a better work-life balance, then tune in to this episode.

Episode 71 – Create a Career You’ll Love with Dr Claire Kaye

Dr Claire Kaye joins us to discuss how to find a career you love. As an executive coach specialising in career development, Claire is an expert in guiding people how to find a career they love. We talk about the value of job networking and diversifying in our career journeys. We also share our tips and experiences on how to find a career you love. We do this by helping you identify the roles that best suit you and how to go about getting these roles.

Episode 70 – How Safe Do You Feel at Work with Scott Chambers

Scott Chambers joins us to talk about why we need to make people feel comfortable and safe enough to speak up in their workplace. When we create psychological safety in our team, we improve overall happiness and boost performance! If you want to learn how to create psychological safety for a better and happier team - whether you’re the boss or not, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 69 – Make Time for What Matters with Liz O’Riordan

Liz O'Riordan joins us to share productivity life hacks. These have helped her transform how she approaches work. Now, Liz can spend quality time with her family and enjoy life. In this episode, she teaches us how we too can achieve this. If you want to learn some new life hacks, beat burnout and work happier, then tune in to this episode!

Episode 68 – The Revolutionary Art of Breathing with Richard Jamieson

Richard Jamieson discusses how we can utilise breathing techniques to feel calmer, make better decisions and be more productive. He explains the different steps we can take to change our breathing patterns. When you’re in a high-stress situation, remember this: just breathe. If you want to know how to use breathing techniques to beat stress in everyday situations, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 67 – Bringing Your Best Self to Work with Dr Sarah Goulding

Dr Sarah Goulding discusses how to bring your whole self to work without leaving bits of you behind. Sarah shares her own story of experiencing burnout at her old job and rediscovering her true passion. We also discuss how applying our core strengths to our jobs can mean the difference between burnout and having a sense of fulfilment. Don’t miss out on this episode if you want to learn more about how to be yourself and how to bring joy back into your work!

Episode 65 – Passing the Naughty Monkey Back with Dr Amit Sharma

Dr Amit Sharma joins us to discuss the effects of taking on too many of other people’s ‘naughty monkeys’. We talk about why professionals in high-stress jobs so often take on the rescuer role and how to shift that mindset. Amit and I also discuss the importance of empowering patients to take control of their own health. If you want to know how to avoid being weighed down by too many naughty monkeys, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 64 – What to Do When You’re Out of Fuel with Dr Jess Harvey

Dr Jess Harvey, a GP partner and GB triathlete, talks about what happened to her after running out of fuel and feeling burnt out. She discusses how we often ignore the symptoms and signs for too long and why resting and refuelling is as important as what we're doing in the first place. If you’re feeling burnt out, tune in to this episode to find out how you can plug the holes in your energy bucket!

Episode 63 – How to Survive Even When Times are Tough with Dr Caroline Walker

This episode is part of the COVID-19 Supporting Doctors series, and joining us again is Dr Caroline Walker. She's here to discuss why rest is crucial, especially for people in high-stress jobs. Caroline also shares key strategies that can keep us going through the crisis. The previous year has been tough, so don’t miss this episode to start 2021 better prepared.

Episode 62 – Self-Coaching for Success with Dr Karen Castille, OBE

Dr Karen Castille joins me in this episode to discuss her book on self-coaching. She shares powerful questions to ask yourself which will jumpstart your self-coaching journey. She also talks about the importance of developing this vital skill and crafting powerful life questions. Before we close the show, Karen gives her top tips for self-coaching. Don’t miss this episode if you want to learn how you can find clarity and achieve success through self-coaching!

Episode 61 – The Self Help Book Group on Happiness with Dr Nik Kendrew

In this episode, You Are Not A Frog regular Dr Nik Kendrew joins me to discuss the concept of happiness. We tackle the everlasting question of ‘What is happiness’? We also talk about perfectionism and fear and how these can hinder us from doing the things we want to do. At the end of the show, Nik and I give our top tips to being happier. If you want to know more about living a happy life, then this episode is for you.

Episode 60 – Creating a Workplace that Works with Dr Sonali Kinra

Dr Sonali Kinra joins us to discuss why people leave their jobs and how to prevent it. We talk about the importance of workplace culture and its role in creating an environment that makes people want to stay. We also discuss why you need to seek opportunities that broaden and develop your career. Don’t miss this episode if you want to find out how to keep yourself in a job you love.

Episode 59 – A Social Dilemma? With Dr James Thambyrajah

In this episode, Dr James Thambyrajah joins us to talk about social media’s subtle yet profound effect on our daily lives. We discuss the perils of being unaware of how our online decisions are influenced. James also shares his insights on how we can improve how we stay informed and inform others. Tune in to this episode if you want to learn more about how to go beyond your digital echo chamber.

Episode 55 – The One About Alcohol

Dr Giles P Croft is back to chat with Rachel about his experiences following a revolutionary read he was recommended. You might remember Giles from episode 46, where he talked about how as humans, we naturally default to happiness.

Episode 52 – A year of the frog

The week’s episode is a special one as the Frog celebrates a year of podcasting! It’s been quite a year - including charting in Apple’s Top 100 Business Podcasts in the UK!

Episode 50 – Freeing yourself from the money trap

Joining Rachel in this week’s episode is Dr Tommy Perkins, as well as being a GP Partner, and father, Tommy is one half of Medics Money. Medics Money is an organisation specifically aimed at helping doctors make better decisions with their finances. It’s run by Tommy and Dr Ed Cantelo who is not only a doctor but a qualified accountant.

Episode 49 – The Self Help Book Group No 2 with Nik Kendrew

This week Rachel is joined by You Are Not A Frog regular, Nik Kendrew. Last time Nik joined us, we discussed a book that has helped him in his professional life as a GP, trainer and partner as well as his personal life. Nik’s back this week to talk about another brilliant book and to share what insights and learnings he’s gained from it.

Episode 47 – How to Have a Courageous Conversation

Rachel talks with Beccie D'Cunha about the conversations that we avoid and the conversations we really need to have with our colleagues, teams and managers. They can be described as difficult conversations, but we can redefine them as courageous conversations - because ultimately it takes courage for both parties to listen and be heard.

Episode 46 – Default to happy

Rachel talks with Dr Giles P Croft about his take on how to beat stress and burnout. Giles  is a psychology graduate and former NHS surgeon who stepped aside from clinical practice for a decade to explore a number of career paths, including health informatics, cycling journalism, public speaking and high street retail with his wife.

Episode 45 – Rest. The final frontier

Rachel is joined by Sheela Hobden, Professional Certified Coach, wellbeing expert and fellow Shapes Toolkit facilitator. We talk about why rest isn’t just important for wellbeing, but important for productivity and creativity too. 

Episode 40 – Leading with tough love with Gary Hughes

In this episode, Rachel is joined by Gary Hughes, author of the book Leadership in Practice, blogger, educator and facilitator who is a Practice Manager by day. We chat about how leadership in the COVID-19 crisis has had to adapt, and the different roles that a leader has had to take.

Episode 37 – How to manage conflict during COVID with Jane Gunn

Rachel is thrilled to welcome back Jane Gunn – lawyer, mediator and expert in conflict resolution who has been known as the Corporate Peacemaker. This episode is for you if the thought of addressing a difficult issue with one of your colleagues send you running for the hills…

Episode 20 – A creative solution to stress with Ruth Cocksedge

In this episode, Rachel is joined by Ruth Cocksedge a Practitioner Psychologist who started her career as a mental health nurse. She practices in Cambridge and has a particular interest in EMDR for PTSD and creative writing as a way to improve mental health and wellbeing.

Episode 11 – The magical art of reading sweary books

In this episode, Rachel is joined once again by Dr Liz O’Riordan, the ‘Breast Surgeon with Breast Cancer’, TEDx speaker, author, blogger, triathlete and all round superstar who has been nominated for ‘Woman of the Year’.

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2023-01-16T11:01:19+01:00