5th July, 2022

After Burnout: Planning a Working Life You Want

With Dr Katya Miles

Photo of Dr Katya Miles

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On this episode

While taking time away from work, you may realize that your career path is not what you wanted it to be. You might find that many things need to change in order for you to pursue your ideal life. Fortunately, returning to work can be your opportunity to make changes in your life. Have the intention to take the steps to avoid burnout and live out your ideal life.

In this episode, Dr. Katya Miles and Rachel continue their talk about what you can do after returning from a break at work. You might find that with proper planning and intention, your return is just what you need to start making some changes. From self-care to checking in, you can take this opportunity to live your ideal life and career.

If you want to find out more about planning a working life you want, listen to this episode of You Are Not a Frog.

Show links

About the guests

Dr Katya Miles photo

Reasons to listen

  • Discover how planning and being intentional can keep you on track to your ideal life and career.
  • Learn how self-care doesn’t benefit only you, but the people around you as well.
  • Discover the opportunities that your time away, and your return, can create for you.

Episode highlights


Planning Ahead


What You “Should” Do


Self-Care for Others


Opportunities In Returning to Work


Little Changes


Career and Life Check-Ins


Incomparable Lives

Episode transcript

Most of us find a job and then fit our lives around it. Actually, it should be the other way around. We should design our life and then fit our careers around it. And it doesn’t mean not having a good career. Not at all. But what it does mean is about being intentional about what you do. And doing this at any point is good, but I would say it’s really good to do this before you burn out.

But if you’re feeling stressed and burnt out, then do it now. Do it now before it’s too late. Because we just take on so much and it’s subconscious. It’s like the frog in boiling water, isn’t it? The whole point, literally. You take on more and more, and soon you realise the workload is built up. And suddenly, every single minute of your week is accounted for. And that’s a very stressful place to be in. Be proactive about it. Unless something changes, unless you do something about it, it’s just gonna get worse, right?

Dr Rachel Morris: So this week, we got Part Two of the conversation with Dr Katya Miles all about what to do after burnout, how to go back to work, and how to plan your working week. Now, have you ever taken the time to work out exactly what you want your week to look like? How you want to spend your life? And how will you design your life so that you can thrive, not just survive, another week of overwhelm and stress?

Most of us with the very best intentions end up with diaries that are chockablock and days that are too full of back-to-back surgeries, meetings, and social engagements. Now, if you’ve ever been off sick with burnout or stress, or even if you’ve been very close to it, you’ll know how important it is to be intentional about the way you spend your time, both in and out of work, to look after yourself so that you can best serve your patients, colleagues, friends, and family and be in it for the long haul.

I’m really pleased to share Part Two of the conversation I recorded with Dr Katya Miles, who’s a GP and a career coach. In this half of our conversation, we get a little bit philosophical about life and we explore how to plan a life in which you’ll thrive and talk about how to make it happen.

This episode is for you, whether you’re going back to work after a time off with burnout or any protracted leave. It’s also for you even if you’ve not yet had time off sick. Prevention is always better than cure. If you use some of the tools and principles we chat about, then you may just find that you’re able to avoid becoming that frog in the boiling water. Listen to this episode to help you get really clear about how you’re going to live and work and ultimately make the most of your one wild and precious life.

Welcome to You Are Not A Frog, a podcast for doctors and busy professionals in healthcare and other high stress jobs who want to beat burnout and work happier. I’m Dr Rachel Morris, a former GP now working as a coach, speaker, and specialist in resilience at work. Like frogs in a pan of slowly boiling water, many of us have found that exhaustion and stress are slowly becoming the norm. But you are not a frog. You don’t have to choose between burning out or getting out.In this podcast, I’ll be talking to friends, colleagues, and experts, all who have an interesting take on this, and inviting you to make a deliberate choice about how you will live and work.

Are you a leader in health and social care with a busy day job who’s worried about the level of stress and burnout in your team and wants to get a resilient, thriving and happy team but without burning out yourself? I know what it’s like to work in an overwhelmed team and be one crisis away from not coping.

During my coach training, I came across a set of resilience and productivity principles and tools based on coaching and neuroscience, which I wish I’d known about 20 years ago when I first qualified as a doctor. I put them together to form the Shapes Toolkit, a programme for leaders and their teams who want to feel calmer, beat stress, and work happier. We’ve been teaching the Shapes Toolkit Course face-to-face and online to doctors and other healthcare teams around the country. And it’s made a huge difference to the way people approach their lives and their work.

We wanted to make this training and the Shapes resources available to busy leaders who may not have time to attend a day-long course but still want to learn how to use the Shapes Tools with their teams. So we created the Resilient Team Academy, an online membership which gives busy leaders and healthcare all the training and tools they need to beat burnout themselves and get a happy and thriving team. You’ll get webinars, training, mini videos, and loads of other resources at your fingertips. You can sign up for the Resilient Team Academy individually or as an organisation. We only open our doors twice a year. Do join while you can. Find out more by clicking on the link in the show notes.

I think we’re very bad at planning stuff. And I think health care professionals, people in high stress jobs would really benefit from planning, whether they’ve been through burnout or not. One of the tools I encourage people to use all the time is the Thrive Week Planner, which is very simply a plan of your week where you say, ‘Okay, what am I doing in a usual working week?’ And you brainstorm, put everything you’re doing, including life outside of work, including life inside work, all the paperwork you’ve got to do, all the extra stuff that comes at you.

In fact, I developed this tool because I was coaching a chap who said to me, a GP, ‘I just want to get a half day week. I just want half a day off a week. I never seem to get my half day.’ I said, ‘Okay, well, let’s plan out your week.’ And by this time, we put in all the sessions that he was working as a partner, the day that he did with the CCG, the extra committees, he ran all that sort of thing. He looks at it, and I said, ‘So what do you notice?’ And he said, ‘Well, I appear to be working regularly 13 sessions a week.’ And it was true when you actually mapped it out that most of us do so much more than we think we do.

When you add in responsibilities, like childcare, like caring for elderly parents, like meeting up with your friends for a coffee, which I think is crucial and should be put in the diary every week, you find that your time is very much accounted for. And so doing that, what does my life look like now? What does my job look like? Or maybe if you are off sick with stress and burnout, if I went back into exactly the same role, what would that look like? And then actually doing your ideal week, so get another sheet of paper and go, ‘What would I like this week to look like?’

I heard a quote the other day. It was on a podcast I was listening to about the enneagram, actually. And this guy said most of us find a job and then fit our lives around it. Actually, it should be the other way around. We should design our life and then fit our careers around it. And I went, ‘Yes! That’s absolutely true.’ We should design the life we want and then fit your job and your career around that. And it doesn’t mean not having a good career. Not at all. But what it does mean is about being intentional about what you do.

Doing this at any point is good, but I would say it’s really good to do this before you burn out. But if you’re feeling stressed and burnt out, then do it now. Do it now before it’s too late. Because we just take on so much and it’s subconscious. It’s like the frog in boiling water, isn’t it? The whole point, literally. You take on more and more, and soon you realise the workload is built up. And suddenly, every single minute of your week is accounted for. And that’s a very stressful place to be in. Be proactive about it. Unless something changes, unless you do something about it, it’s just gonna get worse, right?

Dr Katya Miles: Yes, I think that is definitely true. And I think that is true in the NHS because of the way it’s set up. It definitely relies on people to speak and say, ‘This is what my needs are.’ Because otherwise there will just be work that arises and needs to be done. In some ways, you could argue that coming back to work is a great opportunity. Because you could say, ‘Okay, I’ve been away.’ This is a natural place to have a little bit of a think about what would fit going back to work, in going back to work.

I may have other commitments. It might be children, it might be a chronic health condition that you’ve had, and you’re coming back to work with your chronic health condition. You might have other commitments for academic or military purposes, or whatever your reason. And then that’s actually a bit of a good opener if you want to start designing your work. You can think about what we’ve said. And then there’s that thing where you talk to your manager, and then to see what’s actually possible. But have those conversations, it might not all be possible. But there’s often things that can be done at least that might partly address what you need. You don’t know if you don’t ask. Planning ahead is really helpful. I think it’s very difficult for any team to adjust things like the day you arrived.

So plan ahead, be realistic, like we’re just saying, about how long things take. If you do have people who you’re caring for, children is an obvious example, get those contingencies in place. Get the childcare and then maybe get the contingency because allowing for that is important, I think, because when you plan your work, I think it’s plan your ideal week, and then plan for your non-ideal week. What happens if something fails? If I’m poorly? If the kids are poorly? If something happens at work and colleagues poorly? What happens if the IT crashes? How am I going to manage? How is the work and workplace going to carry on?

The more you can do with that contingency planning, the better, I think, because, again, keep it simple. It’s actually very complicated. It might just be. I’ve got a friend who can pick the kids up in extremis. Or it might be that I get someone’s phone number if I’m having a Zoom meeting with them, and then if the Zoom crashes, I can pick up the telephone. It doesn’t have to be complex, just like you’re saying. That simplicity. But I do think thinking those things through, being practical, planning, and then speaking,

Sometimes, I actually invite people who feel a bit unsettled about this, especially coming back to work, I invite them to write a script. Would you like to write it down and practise in front of a mirror? You could even, if you’re on a phone call or a Zoom call, you can even have the notes in front of you. Or you can even have them in front of you in real life. You could just say ‘I’ve got some notes’ and then have them in front of you while you’re talking to your team about these things so that you’ve got a prompt, and it helps you kind of stay focused on what you had been planning.

Rachel: The planning is so important. We’ll put the Thrive Week Planner Tool there so that people can download in the show notes. I think one of the things that stops people from asking for what they really want and what they really need is the story in their head that, ‘Well, everyone else has to work like that. So why should I be an exception? Why should I have special circumstances? Why should I get to change things when, look at my colleagues?’ How would you answer people that are saying that, Katya?

Katya: I guess I would invite them to reflect on the word ‘should’ and how kind is that to say, to yourself or to others. It’s not a super kind word, actually, for yourself or for others. I think if we try, where possible, think about what we ‘could’ do rather than ‘should’, that people often say that it can be a bit of a throwaway comment. But I actually think it can be really helpful. And it’s more proactive as well as being kinder to think about ‘could’ as well. That kind of opens up a bit more creative thinking about, ‘Okay, well, what are the options here?’ Maybe it will help others, maybe this will be something that would be helpful for others. It’s not just about the individual sometimes. I think it can be about the group.

Rachel: I think just because other people are stuck in a certain way of working or doing things doesn’t mean that you should be as well, doesn’t mean that it’s helpful for us. I love that thought about changing ‘shoulds’ because I also love to get people to use instead of ‘I should’, it’s ‘I choose to’. So ‘I’m choosing to go back and work this amount because…’ or ‘I’m choosing to cut down my hours so that I can not burn out again, so that I can maintain this career at this pace, and I can look after my family, or so that I can serve my patients better because I know that I will always be referred to them’.

If you swap ‘should’ for either ‘could’ or ‘I’m choosing to… so that…’ I think the word ‘so that’ is so powerful because, for some reason, even if you tell them about the Hippocratic Oath being about ‘I need to look after myself’, you need that little bit on the end, ‘… so that I can provide patient care’, ‘… so that it’s not feeling selfish’, ‘… so that it is for other people’. Because self care, you talk about this all the time, don’t you, Katya? Self care is not selfish.

Katya: Yes, definitely. Sometimes I put up a picture of a plane in my workshops and say, ‘This is an oblique reference. Don’t be too obvious what’s it about.’ And sometimes when we’re talking about this, people will come up with the oxygen mask. Other times, we kind of mention it, but it really is true, the oxygen mask analogy that you really do need to put your oxygen mask on first so you can help others. Definitely when you’re caring for others at work and outside work. That’s a hugely important reason. I think you’re right. I think it allows you to think about the ‘so that’ Why am I putting on my oxygen mask? So that I can help others.

And there’s a broader point, actually. I know that your business is called Wild Mondays. I always wondered if that was like reference to that poem about you only got this one wild and precious life, and we’re in a job to help others live their wild and precious life. We have our one wild and precious life as well. So there’s another reason there to do what kind of hopefully will work for ourselves as well as for people around us, including our patients and our families and everybody. Trying to do the ‘as well as’ rather than the ‘one or the other’. It’s not ‘I’m looking after myself or looking after my patients’. It’s like, ‘Can I do both?’ I talk about that when I talk about compassion. How can I be kind to the patient and to myself, to my colleagues and myself? It doesn’t have to be either or.

Rachel: No, it’s definitely both, isn’t it? Because when you’re talking about the picture of the plane, I go, ‘Where’s she going with this?’ Give you all sorts of analogies. My thoughts were before you said oxygen mask is who do you want flying that plane? Do you want someone stressed and burned out and knackered and tired and on the edge of not coping? Or do you want someone who’s rested and well who knows their own limits? Yes, I want that person now. That is nothing about whether the pilot is superhuman or not. It’s about the pilot recognising their limits and stopping and looking after themselves. I don’t want a pilot that thinks they’re superhuman. A bit like Maverick. Have you seen the film?

Katya: I haven’t seen it yet. Oh, my God. I can’t wait.

Rachel: Please. This isn’t a spoiler. There’s a lot of very unrealistic moments in that film. I did really enjoy it. But the really unrealistic bit was when I was going, ‘Why are they on a motorbike and they’re not wearing a helmet?’

Katya: Safety first. You heard it here, listeners. Safety first.

Rachel: Oh, God. Nothing to do with the G’s they’re pulling in the fight but they’re not wearing helmets on their motorbikes. Anyway, what were we talking about? Yes, pilots and planes. Oh, my goodness. I want a well rested pilot, thank you very much. I want a well rested doctor. Who would you prefer to do your operation or make that decision or interpret your results? I want someone who’s well rested, who’s looking after himself, that’s not pushing themselves to the limits. Thank you very much. And so you are doing it, you’re right, you’re doing it not just for yourself. It’s for your patients, for your colleagues, for your families. It’s so, so important to deny those limits. Just stop.

Katya: Yes, talk about medicine. It is actually a safety critical job. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t really think about this when I was a medical student that medicine is safety critical. Not every minute of it, but there are parts of being a doctor that are safety critical. There’s parts of being a pilot, there’s parts of being a bus driver. You’re driving a lot of people around on a bus. There’s lots of jobs, actually, with a safety critical element. If you’re an electrician, you want to make sure you don’t cause an electric shock. So actually, lots of jobs have an element which is safety critical. In any of those jobs, it is important that we, exactly you said, we’re well rested so we can perform and and do things to a competent level. There’s a practical reason as well to look after ourselves.

I think an example would be driving the motorway. They haven’t even got those road signs, haven’t they, that says yet, ‘Tiredness kills. Take a break.’ That’s because driving a car is safety critical, and you do need to take a break to sustain your concentration in order to not crash. I think that analogy holds for lots of other safety critical work, especially over the long-term as we’re talking about.

Rachel: Yes, totally. I guess this whole return to work thing, it’s not just a threat. So you do this SWOT analysis. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. There’s not just the threat of, ‘Will I burn out again? Or will I get ill again?’ But actually, there’s a massive opportunity in this in how do I reset my expectations, other people’s expectations, my whole working life, so that I am going to be the best doctor, mother, partner, whatever, whatever your job, whatever your role in life is, because other people rely on it.

Katya: Yes, I really agree with that, actually. That’s one reason why I’ve written this. Love your return to work course because I really think that’s important. And I think using it as an opportunity, and that requires a bit of space. But one thing you often get when you’re off work is a little bit of space. You want to be feeling well if you’re on sick leave. You might be busy if you have a baby, at least you’re in a different headspace.

Actually that could be an opportunity as well. Use that opportunity to have a little thing. Come on a course if that is the right thing for you. Talk to occupational health, GP, whatever you need. But do a bit of reflection and planning before so that you can make the most of this opportunity. It is a huge, natural transition point. That can bring with it great positive change if you take the opportunity it provides. Sometimes, it takes a bit of courage because it can feel a bit unsettling, but that’s okay, too.

Rachel: And just whatever you do, don’t just blindly stumble back into exactly the way you were doing things before. Whatever your reason for being off, whether it was with stress, or whether it was just because you had a big operation, or you’ve been away, or you’re taking a sabbatical, or whatever.

It’s interesting, a friend of mine went on sabbatical a couple of years ago now, and she got back, and she had a wonderful time, and she’s like, ‘Right, everything will change now. I’m gonna go back. I’ve got renewed understanding of what it’s like to not feel stressed and everything.’ And I’d be interested to hear how she thinks. But she said to me, ‘You flip so quickly back into the way you’ve always done things. You really do.’

Katya: There’s something that you touched on about being intentional. Taking opportunities to reflect like you might do before work or, hopefully, by having a chance to listen to this podcast. And then there’s something about building that into your routine so that you don’t do that thing where you slip back in because you’re so busy and everything’s taken up. I wrote a recent newsletter on this about just having, and it’s always time. So can I do a three-minute or five-minute morning practice? So I’ve started to do that where I just literally take three deep breaths. I do one or two yoga poses or stretches, and I just try and set my intentions for the day. I don’t always manage it. Actually was thinking. I haven’t done that for two weeks. I’ve been poorly all the usual reasons.

But even just trying to be a little bit more intentional just so you’re creating these little spaces throughout your working life to keep checking in. How am I doing with those intentions I had as I came back to work? Six months later, how am I doing? Am I on track? Off track? Coaching is a great way to do that as well if that’s the kind of thing that works for you. Or keeping a journal. There’s lots of ways to do it. But I do think somehow keeping intentional is helpful.

Rachel: I think, as well, I love what you said about just the little things that you can do because I think one of the temptations when we have had a major life event, be it a bereavement or be it a serious health issue or an episode of burnout or maybe a relationship breakdown or something, is to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Everything’s going to be different. Everything’s gonna change. Actually, and I guess that’s exactly again what this podcast is about, there are lots of little things. You don’t need to change absolutely everything. Actually, most of us can’t.

That’s the point you made earlier, Katya, about what’s my business called? Why is it called Wild Mondays? Actually, I’m sure I’ve told this story a lot. I was thinking about doing a bit of a career change, what I wanted to do. I’ve gone on retreat in the Alps, this most beautiful place. There are quite a few people have actually moved to the Alps, moved their businesses out there, and moved their families out there and lived there, and they just have the most amazing time. Skiing in the afternoons and just exploring all the way around. Of course, beautiful, beautiful scenery. Then, I read that that line, that line from the Mary Oliver poem. ‘Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’ And I thought, ‘Wow, amazing. That’s very inspiring line.’

But what does it look like to have a wild and precious life on a Monday morning when I’m stuck in my current role, with my kids all at the schools? We can’t move house because we choose not to move house? The children are in school and the business and all that.

I’m here, I’m choosing to be here now. So how do I have a wild and precious life, even on a Monday morning. So that’s where Wild Monday came from. And often it’s about those little things like those three minutes of the yoga pose and setting your intention for the day and deciding to take that lunch break and get out into nature for a walk around the block and maybe saying no to that thing in the evening because you just need to binge out in front of the telly and go to bed early, perhaps. I don’t know. But there are lots of little things that will make a difference.

Of course, of course, there are some big changes that people do need to make. But for me, it’s more about the mindset of getting out of that ‘I should, I ought to, what do other people think of me right now? What if I upset so and so?’ Actually, as we heard in the podcast a few weeks ago about the Regrets of the Dying. Amazing woman, Georgina Scull, talked to lots of people in the last year of their life.

Most of what you regret is stuff you didn’t do because you were worried about what people thought. And the people, they were worried about what they thought or people that 20 years down the line couldn’t even remember their names. It’s like, ‘What if I can’t ask for this thing to be different at my work because what will that partner think?’ Well, in 20 years time, you are not going to look back and go, ‘Oh, no, that person thought badly of me.’ You really, really, really not. But you might look back and go, ‘I really wish I had made some changes because actually, my children really needed me at that time. And I just wasn’t present for them.’ Got a bit heavy there.

Katya: All part of life’s rich tapestry, isn’t it? It’s all part of the human condition.

Rachel: We got a little bit off-piste there. But I think it’s all relevant, isn’t it? It’s all important. I think it’s important for all of us, even if you’re not someone that is coming back to work, maybe it’s someone who just wanted to reassess how you do work and maybe think to yourself. Here’s a good mind experiment. Just come up with this, Katya. See what you think. Imagine if I had six months off to do whatever, what would I do differently when I got back?

Katya: Yes, I was just thinking that. You can still, exactly, you can still have that process. You could just take a week off for some holiday and, and just think, ‘Okay, well, I’m coming back after a week. I’ve had a little bit of headspace. But what would work for me in my workplace for the next year?’ And then you might not be able to change it the day back. But you might, over the course of the next few months, have meetings, conversations, and do what you can where possible to tweak things.

One thing I know, for example, that has changed is that now, you used to, as a GP trainee ,only be able to work less than full time if you had a reason to care and responsibility. But now, for some, not all, but for some GP trainees, that’s changed now. That’s one example of how you might be able to just say, ‘Oh, I’d like to work less than full time, please, because…’ without feeling there had to be a big reason.

Again, not for everybody, but just keep an eye out, I guess, for the opportunities to make changes and have those conversations with people around you, with your sort of teams and your seniors. And kind of keep open, I think, to opportunities and ideas. I think there’s something about just being open, creative problem solving, thinking a little bit outside the box can be really helpful when you’re designing your career because it’s part of your life. I think in medicine, in particular, there is a tendency even now to think about it’s a standard route, standard rails. You get on the rails at medical school and then you get off. You go through junior doctor training and then you go into special training. It’s very much kind of this sense that you go along these rails, and that’s great for some people. But if that doesn’t work, then these are opportunities either return to work or, as we just said, we could just do it on return from holiday. Just to think is this working? Is these train tracks taking me where I want to go? And if not, what are the opportunities here?

Rachel: Interesting, Katya, because I’m not sure those train tracks do work for anybody. I know very few doctors that are like, ‘Yeah, I’m really comfortable with the fact my career just gone like that and I’m working like this.’ I think everybody will benefit from just reevaluating what you want, even if it’s just to go, ‘How’s my working week looking? Do I want this? Do I not want this? What’s my ideal life look like?’ And if your job totally matches your ideal life, so you plan out what your ideal week would look like and compare your current week. If it completely matches up, then fantastic. That is brilliant. And if that’s you, if I’ve got any listeners who’s actually matching their actual week, then please get in touch because you can come on and me and Katya grill you about how you managed to do that.

Katya: I’d say send us an email. Send us how it feels and how you did it.

Rachel: Literally. Bottle that. Whatever you’ve done, bottle it. Write a book. You’ll be the next bestseller, I tell you. Most people like, ‘Oh, no, it’s just gone off the rails a bit’. Because if you don’t design your life, someone else will and you’ll just end up going and doing exactly what other people want, and other people will always want you to work more than you can work. They just will. So take that, take that in hand and do it yourself. I try and do this exercise, actually, this planning exercise, the ideal week. What’s the thriving week look like? What’s my actual week look like?

I do it quite often, maybe once every six months just to check things. Things slip. And also, things change. Because we’ve taked about people coming from maternity leave. It’s very, very different having tiny children at home to having teenagers at home, for example. Many different things that work. With tiny children, you’re just knackered the whole time, you’re not getting any sleep, blah, blah, blah. Teenagers is completely different kettle of fish. You get a lot more freedom. But they’re not, in some weird way. Life changes. You’ve got to go with that. You’ve got to look at what you need in the different stages of life from work as well.

Katya: Yes, it’s dynamic, right? Human condition. Our lives are changing, things are evolving. It’s just keeping an eye on that exactly. The things that worked for you at one point might not work for you later. But it’s also about the people around us. Not just kids, your partner, your colleagues. Everybody’s going through similar changes. So it’s like you’re going through this change, iteration, and then everybody else around you is going through similar ones or at different stages. It’s the context in which you fit and work and live is shifting as well.

That’s why I think this, we were just saying, these touch points and having a check-in is really helpful. Because otherwise, how can you keep track of what’s going on and what used to fit and what doesn’t fit out now. Obvious example is Zoom. About five years ago, none of us have ever heard of it and now we’re all totally up to speed on it because of changes. It brings strengths and weaknesses. It’s an opportunity in some ways, and it’s a challenge in others. Just checking in is really helpful. But it takes discipline.

Rachel: People are at different stages of their journey. I think this is the danger of comparison. It’s a danger of saying, ‘Well, they’re coping with this. I should be able to do this’ or ‘Look at that person in that leadership role doing that wonderful thing there, and I can barely get out the door without snot down on my shoulder’.

I remember when I first started as a salary GP and then had three children all quite close together. You’d be comparing yourself to someone who had teenage children and a full-time wife at home. ‘Why can’t I achieve as much as they do?’ Why do you think? You don’t have a wife at home, they do. Also their children are different ages. Or you compare some senior partner whose kids all left home and they can go off on lovely holidays where they just literally lie on the deck chair and don’t have to do any childcare. It’s so, so different. So just comparing yourself to anybody. It’s just daft.

Katya: Yes, and I really agree with that. I think I know people from work and elsewhere who’ve really struggled to have families and it’s not so much their challenge with time constraints, but they have other real sort of aches that they carry around in their heart. Real losses and griefs, and those things can be really difficult. So again, comparing yourself to somebody who hasn’t had a bereavement recently or hasn’t just tried, you had a fertility struggle, lots of different things that I think we don’t always know that about. That’s the whole thing, isn’t it? Don’t compare your insides to other people’s outside. You don’t always know that about the other person.

Rachel: I love that. Don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides and I guess this brings me back to the point I made a lot earlier in our conversation, Katya, about how much you tell people, how much you’re open about stuff.

One of the great joys of doing this podcast is the emails I get from people saying how much it’s helped people get through burnout and stuff like that. Almost always, they say to me the podcast makes them feel that they’re not alone because there’s people sharing their stories of how this happened to them, and I would just encourage people to share to tell people what you’ve been going through. Because you might not know it at the time but that very quiet person that never seems to be ruffled by anything might be going through an awful time but they’re not saying anything.

Just hearing you say ‘You know what? I’ve been off with stress, I’ve found things really difficult or I’ve had this happen to me, I’ve had that happen to me’ just normalises it. It makes them, ‘Oh, if that happened to her, then maybe it’s okay that it’s happening to me, maybe I’m not alone.’I think feeling that you’re not alone almost can be well, it’s part of the cure, isn’t it? You’re normal, you’re not alone, it’s okay.

We talked for a very long time. I think my main tip would be don’t compare yourself to other people. You’re running your own race. You’ve got your own journey in life. Other people don’t have the same challenges as you. You don’t have the same challenges to them. You’ve got to be true to what you want, to what you need, so that you can serve your patients, your family, your colleagues, and your friends as best you can.

Katya: I love it. ‘So that…’ Great.

Rachel: ‘I’m choosing to do this so that…’ So that.

Katya: Absolutely important.

Rachel: Brilliant. Katya, thank you so much. That has been helpful, helpful conversation. If people want to get in touch with you, find out more about your work…

Katya: The best way is to go to workingwelldoctor.com where you can get links to everything. You can just go to a website or drop me an email. So it’s workingwelldoctor.com and theworkingwellexperience@gmail.com.

Rachel: Right. Thank you so much. We’ll have you back soon to explore this more, I think. There’s plenty more to talk about.

Katya: Absolutely. Thanks so much for having me. I really enjoyed it.

Rachel: Thanks.

Katya: Bye.

Rachel: Bye.

Thanks for listening. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, then please share it with your friends and colleagues. Please subscribe to my You Are Not A Frog email list and subscribe to the podcast. And if you’ve enjoyed it, then please leave me a rating wherever you listen to your podcasts. Keep well everyone. You’re doing a great job. You got this.