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Doctors at Work Podcast.

Episode #93

How to make career decisions. With Giles Croft

Mat Daniel


For many doctors a career in medicine seems like a conveyor belt, but increasingly people are willing to take stock and consider what it is that they want in their lives, and what kind of a career suits them. This may be decisions relating to specialties, locations, allied roles, leadership roles, or wholesale changes. In this episode, Giles Croft tells me about career decisions that he has made. We identify that slowing down matters, happiness is an inside job, and we create a six point plan for career transitions.

Giles is a psychology graduate and former NHS surgeon who stepped aside from clinical practice to seek happiness in a number of alternative career paths, including health informatics, cycling journalism, public speaking and high street retail with his wife. Ultimately he realised what we all know to be true — that happiness is indeed an ‘inside job’ — and since 2018 has been helping individuals and groups to rediscover their own ‘Innate Health’ as a speaker, coach and trainer. He has worked extensively with busy Health & Social Care staff, and his 6 week Reconnect Programme was recently found by the UK’s What Works Centre for Wellbeing, to be the most effective way to improve staff wellbeing and mental health, out of more than 200 different interventions across the UK. Giles writes a monthly wellbeing column in the South Wales-based Focus Magazine, runs a free monthly online meet-up called ‘Wellbeing Wednesdays’ and lives in Abergavenny with his wife and 10 year old daughter.

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Podcast Transcript

Mat: [00:00:00] Welcome to Doctors at Work. My name is Mat Daniel and this podcast is about doctors careers. It’s part of my mission to help doctors create successful and meaningful careers. And today we’re talking about career decision making. As doctors sometimes it feels like our careers are conveyor belt, but increasingly people are willing to take stock and consider what it is that they want in their lives and what kind of a career suits them.

Now that might be decisions relating to specialties or Or locations or systems, or whether you take on allied roles or leadership roles, or sometimes even wholesale changes. In this episode, Giles Crofts tells me about his career decisions. We identify that slowing down matters, that happiness is an inside job, and together we create a six point plan for successful career transitions.

Welcome, Giles. Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Giles: So I’m Giles. Um, I, uh, had a fairly, uh, standard medical [00:01:00] upbringing. Uh, although I did take a year out before uni and then a year out during to do a psychology degree. I’ve always been fascinated in what make people tick. Um, and did all my training up in, uh, the Yorkshire deanery.

Um, Went on to qualify as a surgeon, got my membership, and then not long after that, uh, left the NHS entirely. Um, uh, moved sideways really into the world of health informatics, so I went to work for the Royal College of Physicians in their health informatics unit. Uh, did that for a few years. Um, Went to work for a cycling magazine for a while, um, sort of on the side, started talking about career change.

I’ve been talking about career change since 2007 at conferences, um, and set up my own informatics consultancy and kind of eventually sort of pulled it all together really. Uh, [00:02:00] given all the life and career experiences that I’d have had, uh, to date to, um, to start coaching and training. So these days, for the last six years, I’ve been running my own, uh, coaching practice and working with individuals and, uh, and groups.

Mat: I’m really interested in your personal experiences of career decisions, and of course, the experience that you have in helping other doctors make career decisions. And I think that’s very topical at the moment because a lot of people, a lot of people are struggling, a lot of the jobs that we do are difficult, and lots of people are.

re evaluating some assumptions that they’ve made or decisions they’ve made when they were 16 and thinking, is this still right for me? You know, is the system right for me? Have I changed? Have my expectation changed, et cetera, et cetera. So maybe sort of, if I can start with a really big question, which is how do we make career decisions?

Giles: Yeah, well, um, for me, you know, there’ve been, there’ve been tons of [00:03:00] changes and. The, the whole decision process is, uh, it’s almost been sort of looking backwards at what, uh, at what’s happened. And it’s like, oh yeah. Oh, look, look, I may, I, I reached that fork in the road in a, and I took that particular direction.

I mean, the leaving surgery in the first place, um, almost happened by accident. Really. I wasn’t, I wasn’t, I wasn’t gunning to leave in particular, I was. Pretty dissatisfied. I have to say, I felt it very much resonated what you said there about reassessing my. you know, what was right for me. The first time I did that, I think, was when I was at that crossroads post MRCS eligible to apply for a training number.

And that was really the first time that I’d slowed down and asked myself the question, is this what I, is this what I really want? But the whole making the decision to leave. Oh, that was that was more a case of, um, [00:04:00] pursuing avenues that interested me and excited me. Um, the health informatics side of things.

I was really interested in that and I could see the potential for. really helping a much larger population by working on improving the way that we managed information in healthcare. And it was only really, um, after having been doing that job for, for, for a while that I realized, Oh yeah, I don’t, I don’t think I’m going to be coming back.

And then other, other decisions as well have very much come, come out of the blue. Um, I feel, I mean, the really big one for me was, was leaving behind my health informatics consultancy, which, you know, it served me very, very well. Again, I’d become quite dissatisfied with it and I, and I knew that change was coming, but I didn’t know.

what form that change was going to take and I didn’t know how to make that change happen. [00:05:00] Um, so I kind of like trundled along half expecting it and half dreading it until one day it was almost like just something And then I thought, Oh, yeah, no, that’s it. I’m not going to do this anymore. I don’t know what I’m going to do, but it’s not going to be this.

Um, so, you know, you and I’ve known each other for a while and in an earlier conversation. You mentioned all the different changes I’ve had, and I mentioned that none of it’s really been by design. And I think that holds true even now, as I see my coaching practice evolve. The things that I’m doing now, they’re not things that I sat down and planned.

It’s just where I find that life has taken me. And it’s, you know, it’s usually somewhere between. pretty exciting and fun. So

Mat: I’m interested in this because I think for a lot of people that, that’s okay. [00:06:00] So I think of people doing towards moving away moves yet. So there might be a, well, this is the career that I have, but what I would really love to do would be health informatics, you know, or, you know, I’m doing dermatology.

What I would really love to do would be general practice. So people know that there’s something they’d really love to do. And they deliberately do a move in that direction. And then there’s the other opposite of that. And of course, there’s all shades of gray in the middle. But the other opposite of that would be when somebody says, well, what I’ve got at the moment, it’s not serving me.

It’s not right for me. You know, there’s dissatisfaction for whatever reason. And then people often struggle to know where they go. So, but you know what, what you’re saying is, you know, you didn’t really know. where you went. So how, how do we, how do we translate that when somebody’s thinking, I’m not very happy, you know, I need to do something.

And I mean, what career advice do we give somebody? Cause it’s easy to look back and say, well, you know, I just had to go and then stuff like that.

Giles: Yeah, no, yeah, it does. Um, well for me, I mean, I [00:07:00] remember quite clearly that I was in that position of not knowing what I wanted to go towards when I, when I left, when I left surgery.

Um, And I became aware that I was spending a lot of time looking at the things that I didn’t want. I mean, I spent a lot of time, you know, there was a lot of moaning. There was a lot of,

Mat: you

Giles: know, the system’s broken. And I mean, I, I was the BMA rep for my, for my, uh, for my trust. And I used to be playing hell with HR all the time, trying to improve working conditions.

Um, and I, I just remember what. Help me to really turn a corner was to stop looking at those things that I didn’t want and to start looking for the things that I did want now at the time I, I, I couldn’t, I couldn’t define what that thing was. All I had to play with was the things that I knew I didn’t want.

So I just very consciously [00:08:00] turned those upside down. It’s like, well, I really hate working weekends all the time. Really hate this. So what is it that I want? Well, I want to work a job that where I don’t have to work weekends. And then another thing that I knew that I really liked to do was I really liked to ride my bike and wanted to do more of that.

And that was really suffering as a, as a, as a result of my. As a result of my career as it was and so I turned that on its head. It’s like, well, okay, if whatever it is I’m looking for is going to be something that doesn’t involve being in a big city where I can’t just put put my leg over the bike and head off out into the countryside.

So I think. Even if you are in a position where all you can see is all of the things that you don’t want, all of those have a flip side to them. And you just start looking, start looking for the flip side. And, and it just kind of switches your radar on to the sorts of opportunities that might come along and [00:09:00] fulfill, fulfill those desires, really.

Mat: The problem though is I think when people say, I don’t want this and the system’s bad, and you know, there’s this colleagues and there’s, there’s that, there’s lots and lots of negativity. And I think people, people just get stuck in that there’s long, long lists of what people don’t want. Yeah. I mean, how, how psychologically, how does one get out of that?

Here’s a long list of things that I don’t want. How does one get out of that into well, what is it that I do want?

Giles: Oh, I mean, for me, it was just, it was just seeing. Just realizing the futility of that. I mean, I just observed myself spinning my wheels. It was like, Oh, hang on a minute. You know, nothing’s changing here.

What is it that needs to change? It’s, it’s, I’ve done everything I possibly can to try and change my environment in order to feel better. Maybe it doesn’t work like that. Maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe there are changes that need to happen in me. And those will [00:10:00] be reflected in the experience that I have.

Um, so. For me, I just, I suppose I just got curious about looking in a different direction, really. I mean, I, I, I took advice, you know, I went to see, I asked friends about career changes and stuff, and somebody put me on to a careers advisor, and I went to see them, and, and, and that really helped. Um, yeah. So, yeah, I mean, yeah, seek help, ask questions, be curious, um, get involved in the things that you do find interesting.

Like I said, I find the health informatics stuff interesting. There was absolutely no career path there whatsoever, but I just used to sort of hang out in the in the information department in the hospital. I used to do audits that were that were related to health informatics, just to sort of demonstrate how.

Changing something in the way that we managed information could actually improve patient experiences and staff experience as well. [00:11:00] So without really, I think we get into difficulty when we’ve got a big old story about right. I know how this situation is going to go. I need to do A, B, and C in order to get into career X, Y, or Z, whereas for me, it’s always been more a case of, well, you know, what interests me even in the slightest?

Well, let’s do a bit more of that. Let’s look a little bit more in that direction. And the, the career path has just sort of created itself around that really.

Mat: So, so that’s this idea that this, these things I’m interested and I’m going to go and see what are they like, what’s that world like, you know, what, what do I enjoy, and then things lead one thing to another.

I think that for a lot of people, I think that’s going to be challenging because lots of people are going to say, If I’m going to have a career change, whatever that might be, if I’m going to have a career change, I need to know exactly where I’m going to be, the exact path to get there. I need to know how [00:12:00] much money I’m going to earn, you know, where I’m going to apply, what skills I need to develop.

So I think people, people like certainty. And I think in what you’ve outlined, it doesn’t strike me like there was much certainty when you were in the middle of it, but people like certainty. So how, how, how do, how would you help sort of somebody who’s really one certainty about what’s next?

Giles: Well, you, you, I mean, I think that’s, that’s a very artificial model that’s been imposed upon us by the medical establishment.

Just because medicine’s a bit like that, you know, I used to think that was really, really important. One of the reasons I went into medicine in the first place is because it because I could see that career path going off into the future. It’s like, Oh, yeah, well, I know what I’m going to be doing in 20 years.

That horrifies me now. So, so those changes, those changes do happen. Um, and I think just over the years of making small changes, bit by bit and [00:13:00] seeing that things have worked out is just amazing. You just develop your own internal certainty, really. You develop your own internal security. You see that you’ve actually got a lot more going for you than you imagine.

And You just really come to come to rely on that and depend upon it. And I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s little steps. It, you know, I, when I, when I first started changing careers, I was very hesitant. I was very sort of indoctrinated in the, in the medical way of thinking. And so it was very small steps I took. But every time you take one of those small steps and things work out, you just get that little bit more experience about how life works.

And. And your confidence grows, really.

Mat: And it’s interesting that, as you say, there’s a very well defined medical career path, also known as the conveyor belt. Yeah. You step on a conveyor belt and you just go along it and then, you know, sort of [00:14:00] then, you know, out to the other end, you know, wherever you want to end it, whether that’s sort of as a GP or retirement, whatever.

But, you know, you’re on a conveyor belt and then you just step off. I mean, probably, I think, The, the non medical world, I don’t think it really is like that, is it? Because, you know, outside of medicine, nobody has a conveyor belt career, and it’s very much expected that people will be mobile and move around.

They’ll be made redundant. They’ll be wanting for promotions that won’t happen automatically. You know, salary increments won’t happen automatically. Um, and so, yeah, it’s kind of, it’s interesting that, that, have very much a closed mindset, you know, we have, um, and actually again, you know, if I kind of think of my career, you know, I don’t, I don’t think anybody else has the career that I have, because, you know, to say unique same as, I don’t think anybody else has the career that you have.

Yeah. Sort of, because, because it is, you know, it’s very unique and, you know, both of us for ourselves have, have created, found, you know, designed, call it what you will, sort of [00:15:00] stuff, stuff that works. Um, So, you know, one of the things that I do wonder is, um, you know, you, you kind of outlined and you said you spent time, um, with informatics and, you know, and you said you were interested in cycling.

So a lot of people will have significant financial commitments and, you know, whether that’s sort of student loans and for those kinds of people, then, then, you know, earning income is important. And I mean, how, you know, What role did money play in your career decision making?

Giles: Um, it’s, uh, I, when I left, when I left, I was on, I mean, I don’t know how it works these days, but back in the day it was, it was all about bands and I was on the highest possible band possible.

You know, I was working in an acute surgical specialty in a, in a, in a big, uh, uh, teaching hospital at the very top of the grade. And so when I. When I left, um, my salary literally halved [00:16:00] overnight. literally halved. And initially that was a huge shock to the system. Um, because I was accustomed to earning a certain amount of money.

Uh, and I was accustomed to the life that I lived earning that amount of money. Um, but I just adjusted very, very quickly. And I actually got really got into the really got into the life of simplicity. Um, I wouldn’t have ended up working for the cycling magazine if I hadn’t just really spent a lot of time riding my bike, which, you know, didn’t really cost any money.

Whereas before I was going out for meals and, you know, going out on the town in Leeds and York all the time, I just, you know, I just rode my bike a lot. And, and so, yeah, no, uh, again, we have a lot of, we have a lot of stories about what we need. what we think we need, what the mind thinks we need, essentially.

[00:17:00] And I’m not saying that people don’t have financial commitments, but, but, um, a lot of the time, um, it is just a story and it is the thing that keeps us stuck, really. So, um, and I was lucky, I suppose, because like when I made that initial move, I was single. I didn’t, you know, have a family or anything, but then the, the, when I moved into coaching, which was only six years ago, which is probably the biggest career change I’ve had.

Um, yeah, I mean, I had a family in tow and I, I literally, I just, I left behind my lucrative health informatics consultancy to set out on a brand new career at the tender age of 46. So again, it’s not, we, we can, we can keep ourselves stuck in all of the stories very, very easily.

Mat: I hope you’re enjoying the show.

Please click subscribe so you’ll be notified when new episodes become available. This podcast is part of my mission to help doctors create successful and [00:18:00] meaningful careers. You can be part of that mission too, by forwarding this show to one person who you think might benefit from listening. Thank you.

Now on with the show.

Something here for me about decision making, you know, all the time, you know, all of us are making decisions, and I think You know, lots of people might disagree with me, Giles, but I think as doctors, we are quite well paid. Yeah. So maybe we might not be paid as much as we should be paid, but relatively we’re quite well paid.

Um, and I think that that’s, that’s. For people that are looking at roles, they, people don’t appreciate that. And again, if I think for me, so I work less than full time, for example. And you know, and that, that for me was a very conscious decision that, that, that meant that, that yes, I am, I’m giving up some of my income.

But that is because, you know, in my case, because there’s other stuff that I’m interested in doing, yeah, which and the other stuff doesn’t [00:19:00] pay anywhere near as well as, as, as I get paid as a consultant, but it’s stuff that really interests me. And, you know, and I kind of traded off some income for making sure that I create space for stuff that interests me.

And again, I, you know, it is about a decision, isn’t it? So because, you know, all of us can say, yes, money is really important. And, you know, that’s fine, nothing wrong with that. But then if that’s the case, then you have to accept. the downsides. Yeah. So typically for me is, is one of the things I hear a lot in my discussions is, is, you know, people, people struggle with responsibility or people struggle with busyness.

So, you know, people might say, I don’t want responsibility. I don’t want stress, you know, I don’t want uncertainty, you know, I don’t want the busyness. And then there’s part of me that sort of says, yeah, but that’s why you paid a lot of money. You paid a lot of money because you’re busy and because it’s stressful.

Um, and that’s fine. So, you know, if you want sort of something that is much simpler and much easier and much better boundary, you know, with very [00:20:00] clear hours. then chances are that that won’t pay the same amount of money and you know like either’s fine isn’t it yeah

Giles: and and you know there’s no I think when I when I look back now one of the one of the biggest motivators for me leaving was you mentioned this conveyor belt and you know us having this this this idea of how things are going to be and I got to a point where I was surrounded by people who had crossed that imaginary finish line.

They had the money, they had the private practice, they had the family, the car, the cars, the houses, the holidays, they had all the things that I was working towards. And not all of them were happy, and some of them were miserable. And it, you know, even back then it was like, oh, hang on a minute, this might This might not be the answer.

Gosh, they say money doesn’t buy happiness. Maybe they, maybe they were right. And you know, when I look, look [00:21:00] back on some of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve had since I left medicine, you know, working for the cycling magazine and just being able to pick up the phone to the editor and say, Hey, look, you know, you’ve not run an article on the tour of Lombardy for several years.

Would you like me to go over to Italy? And, um, you know, and ride the route of it and, and write an article about it. Yeah, go on off. I go to Italy for a couple of weeks now that didn’t really earn me hardly any money at all, but those are the things I’m going to remember on my deathbed. You know, I’m not going to, I’m not going to remember the meals I had out when, you know, when I was earning a whole load of money in Leeds.

Mat: So,

Giles: so yeah, I’m, I’m totally with you. It’s, and, and like, you know, now I own a fraction of what I used to earn, to be honest, Matt. And, and I’m, but I am multiple times happier than I was. So,

Mat: yeah. And I think it’s, if people enjoy money, you know, nothing wrong with that. Yeah. It just, each one of us sort of makes [00:22:00] different decisions.

But, you know, there, I think for me, if I think for some of my career conversations that I have, you know, often, you know, yes, it’s a choice that needs to be made. And I guess another, another thing would be, it sounds like you did a lot of upskilling, you know, you did sort of the various audits aligned to informatics and presumably sort of, you know, you worked in that world, you made connections, sort of, you know, you upskilled yourself and people often do that, you know, that might be formal upskilling, or it might be informal upskilling, whatever it is, but sort of a people upskill, but, but that also that is.

a time investment and often it’s a financial investment also, um, for, for people to upskill themselves. Um, and, and again, it’s, it’s, if we kind of come back to this idea of, of balancing and decision making, you know, people, people need to make a decision as to, you know, if this is what I want to do, I need to invest time and, and, or money, um, in, in order to do that.

Um, and, um, I mean, how, how do. How do, how do, how do we as human [00:23:00] beings make those calculations in our head about, you know, what do I need to do to develop myself? What do I need to do to improve myself? How, how do I need to position myself for a future that is, that is brighter slash better, whatever that might be?

Because I think as you said that, you know, we, we get stuck. So here’s, this is me, this is my identity. This is what I’ve always been. This is what I’ve always done. And I’ve got to move away from. This is what I’ve always done. And my life is miserable. And we want to move into sort of say, well, okay, I don’t know.

I don’t know what the future is, but this is direction. I need to go in and I need to develop myself. You know, how do people make that mindset shift into investing in developing themselves?

Giles: Good question. I’m not sure I have a good answer for you. I mean, I suppose for me, it’s, it’s, it’s been a sort of a trial and error pruning away of all of the all of the ways [00:24:00] not to be happy, if that, if that makes any sense, you know, I identified quite early on that just earning a whole load of money and having a whole load of stuff wasn’t the route to happiness.

I then changed career and thought that that was where happiness came from. And having changed career, I realized that it wasn’t that either because I got, you know, I got dissatisfied with, with the career that I was doing. So just over the years, I suppose it’s just slowly, but surely dawned on me that happiness really is an inside job.

Um, and the more that we understand what takes us away from that in any given moment, um, is the, the route to, to experiencing more of it. Um, and, you know, for me, the kind of coaching I do, that’s, that’s very much what I do is I, I, I point people back to their, their inbuilt [00:25:00] They’re inbuilt health. They’re inbuilt happiness that’s there.

They’re inbuilt security. They’re inbuilt confidence. That’s what’s there all along. And the way I do that is to point out what it is that takes people away from that. And it’s very simple. It’s very straightforward. It’s almost so simple and straightforward that it seems overly simplistic sometimes, but really it’s the activity of our mind.

Saying that we don’t have these things, saying that tomorrow is always going to be better than what’s right under our noses. Um, that’s the only thing that really ever gets in the way of us experiencing that peace of mind. It’s called peace of mind for a good reason. You know, it’s, it’s like, it’s peace in spite of the activity of the mind telling us that everything needs to change when a lot of the time it doesn’t.

Mat: Can you give me some examples? I love this idea of happiness being an inside job. That’s a great phrase. Yeah. Have you got sort of some specific examples about [00:26:00] what you mean by that and sort of how it shows up?

Giles: We can be, we, we can experience that peace of mind in any moment. For me, it’s, it, it, it’s, it’s being, being present to life itself. It is where We being, I mean, it’s called lots of different things, isn’t it? It’s called flow. You know, you don’t necessarily need to be sitting quietly meditating or something to experience that.

But, um, when any, any time we are free from the, the rabbiting that’s going on in our head saying that things need to be different, we will experience that, that, that deep inner feeling of freedom. Peace and contentment and fulfillment. The problem is is that we’ve been taught as humans to attach that feeling to [00:27:00] something else.

So if we’re, um, uh, on holiday or something, we’re having a really nice holiday and we feel really good. Um, what we do is we attach that feeling to the holiday, but you don’t need to look very far. I mean, I’m sure everybody listening to this conversation has been somewhere really nice and they’ve had a rubbish time.

Or been somewhere really rubbish where they’ve had a really good time. I mean, I remember going on holiday, um, not just a few years ago when I, when I became like really properly, fully mobile, self employed, went to France thinking, Oh, this is brilliant. I’m going to have such an amazing time. And, and, um, because I can do my work from wherever I want now.

And I went on this amazing holiday in France. Basically took all my work and all my worries with me and had an absolutely miserable time. And the experience of the holiday was way better before I went on the holiday than it was when I got there. So really, really seeing where happiness [00:28:00] comes from that, seeing that, you know, happiness is, is, is, is ever present.

It’s like it’s almost like our default state, really. Peace of mind, contentment, fulfillment is, is there all the time as our baseline, other than the activities of this noisy little thing in our head that’s constantly pulling us away to past concerns and future worries. And when, when we can see that we spend a lot more time present to life itself.

And it turns out it’s, you know, it’s pretty good.

Mat: It’s, um, as you were talking, there’s something that’s coming up for me in my context, maybe not, not the word happiness, but if I think of this projects that I’m doing at work, you know, there’s lots, there’s lots of stuff that I’m doing, and it’s issues that I’m really passionate about.

Yeah. Um, and, um, so I get involved in stuff because I think it’s really important. I’m really passionate about it and I enjoy doing it. Um, but, and, and then the stuff that gets in the way is. that then stuff happens and I say, well, [00:29:00] you shouldn’t have done that. I can’t believe she did that. And, you know, and so and so pissed me off, you know, six months ago on a different project.

Yeah. When I don’t like sort of, you know, this person’s career trajectory and then all of that sort of blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. In the head and then and then kind of so okay, so I get involved in something that I’m really passionate about and I want to succeed that succeed, but then all of a sudden it’s full of sort of all of this thing that says well so and so said and you know they didn’t do what they should have done, and that person doesn’t answer the email and you know and and all of that and I’m kind of thinking well.

Hold on a second. Like, like this is something I’m really passionate about. I enjoy doing this stuff and it’s just hard work. Yeah. So, and like, as you were talking about sort of happiness being inside is that, that, that, you know, in my experience, I say, well, gosh, this is hard work, but it’s perhaps what’s my interest in it.

That’s not hard work. I’m passionate about the thing. I love doing it. Yeah. But it’s perhaps sort of my interpretation of when everybody else is a judgment of everybody else, you know, or, [00:30:00] or. Letting anybody else’s sayings, efficiencies, inefficiencies, ways of working, all of that takes away from the enjoyment of something that at the end of the day, I’m really passionate about and committed to.

Giles: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. We can, you know, it’s, I remember once I had a, um, a coaching session of my own and, and I was in a real, I was in a really bad mood by the end of it. And I, and I thought, Oh, I know, I know what works. I’ll go out for a long walk because that always works. I always feel better after a long walk and I went out for a long walk and I was on my own and the weather was beautiful and it was glorious scenery and I got back and I was just as miserable, maybe even more miserable as when I went out and it’s not the outdoors that’s doing it.

You know, we’ve all got like these little, I mean, this is one of my favorite props and it’s, it’s, it’s no good if you’re listening, but you know, we’ve all got these little internal snow globes and we get all shook up with our thinking. And we. We take it really, really seriously, and we take [00:31:00] those judgments seriously.

And we take the opinions of our mind really seriously. Um, and we can very much make that worse by carrying on thinking about it. Carry on making it really, really serious. Um, and That’s basically what I did on this walk. I just, you know, I, I, I was trying to put my wellbeing onto a walk and hey presto, I got back and it hadn’t worked at all.

And, you know, there was a lesson to be learned there.

Mat: And it’s just, it’s interesting that, you know, there’s something that, that, that, you know, you or I really enjoy or it’s happiness for somebody else. You know, going to France, in your case, and then, you know, so there’s all of all of the layers of additional stuff that you kind of think, okay, you know, what, what, what just happened?

Um, so I mean, okay, so we got as far as or you got as far as saying, okay, health informatics, that kind of it seems a bit interesting. It’s a bit novel. You know, I fancy a bit of that. Oh, and I’d love to do a bit of cycling. And, you know, I [00:32:00] really want to work weekends. I mean, how, how on earth does one create a career from I fancy a bit of this?

I don’t want to work weekends and I want to do more cycling.

Giles: You just, you just You just spend more and more time looking in that direction. Honestly, I can’t give any more advice than that because like you say, you know, your career path has been your career path. Mine has been mine. Um, the way that I got into health informatics was literally, um, I responded to, A rapid response in in a in the against a BMJ article I’d read about health informatics.

I didn’t understand and I and I literally just replied to that to the email address and said, you know, I’m interested in this area and ended up having a conversation and then ended up going to work for that person. But that was after a lot of time of Kind of like going to conferences, I didn’t really understand about health informatics, just trying to learn as much as possible, having [00:33:00] conversation after conversation after conversation and being told no, there is no career path.

But, but to me, it just made sense. I was a junior doctor who had like a whole load of experience in it, like on the front line of using medications. using information in health care. I had a real passion for it. I had some ideas about how things should change. And, and so I just, I never really took no for an answer.

I just carried on asking questions and, and eventually it, you know, uh, uh, uh, a job appeared. You know, out of nowhere. And it was the same with the cycling. I just, I was, I was determined to get an article published in my favorite cycling magazine. And, um, I’d done this massive ride in the Alps once. And I’d, and I’d taken a whole load of photos and I wrote about it.

I wrote it in the style that they use. And I, and I, and I, I, I looked at how many words they have in each of their articles. And I, I gave them like 10, 15 percent more, sent it in and just, [00:34:00] Literally just kept phoning up like every week I’d phone up. Have you read it yet? Have you read it yet? Have you read it there?

And eventually they published it. And when they asked me to send in the photos, I took them in instead. I took them, I took them to the headquarters of the magazine. And the next thing I know I’m sat next to the, to the editor of the magazine. And he’s like, what on earth are you doing sitting in my room talking to me?

Aren’t you a junior doctor or something? And I was like, well, yeah, but, um, you know, You know, you deal with medical problems on in the magazine, don’t you? And I said, well, we used to, but we don’t anymore. The guy who just, the guy who used to do it for us has quit recently. And I was like, do you want me to have a go?

And there we are. I’m working next thing. I know I’m working, working with a cycling magazine. So like, I can’t give you instructions on how to do these things because other than. Just like whatever you’re interested in in life, just do more of that and opportunities will present themselves.

Mat: So Giles, I’ve, on the [00:35:00] basis of that, I’ve identified the Giles Croft six stage plan to get in the dream career that you want.

Number one, networking. Okay. Okay. Sort of number two, get yourself a new identity. Going to conferences, immersing yourself in new community, sort of, you know, to go in places, you know, going to the right places, coffees, reading the right magazine, number two. Um, number three, identify the transferable skills that you’ve got and use them.

Number four, up skills yourself for the direction you want to go in. Number five, Have a go and six, be a persistent pest and sort of, and keep, keep at it no matter how much people push you away. There you go. Can we go 50 50 on that? ’cause because I, I, I’ve, I’ve distilled it into stage plan. The cr the craft, Daniels six stage career change.


Giles: Right? Let’s, let’s write a book. . Yeah. We’ll make, uh, I would say we’ll make millions, we’ll make peanuts from having a book. [00:36:00] Yeah, I agree. I agree with all that. That’s brilliant. Um, and I think like, probably the most important one, especially for medics is, is the whole identity piece. You said like, get yourself a new identity for me.

What’s even more important is to see how completely made up identity is. To see the identity is thought created as well, because like, I think it’s Alan, what’s that famous Alan Watts saying, you know, you are under no obligation to be the same person you were five minutes ago. And, you know, maybe that’s been at the heart of all my changes is seeing just how identities can be picked up and dropped as you like.

They really can because they’re all completely made up. People are quite welcome to think about, think about me and put me in a box as much as they like, but I don’t really put myself in a box at all.

Mat: I like Foucault saying, which is, I think it was Foucault who said, Identity is something you shop for.

Yeah, sort of and, and, and, and I like, and I like [00:37:00] sort of that in, in the, in a kind of career sense that, that, you know, okay, you know, you’re a doctor or you know, you’re a GP or a dermatologist, but you know, if you want to change from dermatology to respiratory or you want to change from general practice to health informatics, or you want to change from health informatics into medicine, you know what, whatever it might be.

That there’s a way that we see ourselves, but you know, if that, if, if how we see ourselves, if that doesn’t suit us anymore, then you surround yourself with, with a new way of working, you try on, um, I think, um, Erminia Ibarra sort of writes about this idea and she talks about you try on a new identity, you know, go places and sort of say, okay, you know, today, Giles, you know, I’m going to be a cycling journalist and okay, you know, But what, what do I dress like?

What do I behave? How do I talk? Where do I go? Who do I talk to? And these are just sort of try on and try on new identities. Yeah,

Giles: that’s brilliant. And I, you know, I did, I did literally have to do that. You know, it was, it was so, it was so [00:38:00] hard for me at first to, to, to let go of that. You know, surgeon identity.

It really was. I used to start every conversation with well, well, I used to be a surgeon. And then again, you know, it just like it took me ages to figure out what, why, why am I even saying that? Why am I identifying with something that, you know, what, what, what am I trying to do here? And so then I used to play a game of, you know, taking on this identity of a, of a, of a cycling journalist and not, not telling people at all about anything that I’ve done in the past.

Mat: So it’s, it’s the, it’s the identity of a cycling journalist that has very clearly identified transferable skills from whatever you happened to have done in the past, but the secret then is it’s not all identity. But it’s the old transferable skills that the identity is not relevant. The transferable skills are relevant.

Giles: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, exactly that. Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s. again, you know, people are very [00:39:00] ready to put us into boxes. And I think that the longer we can, the longer we can stop them from doing that, the, the more likely they are to see the person that we really are at heart.

Mat: And the challenge that I see at the moment is, you know, there are lots of dissatisfied doctor.

And the problem is that that means people put that person into a box and say, Oh, it’s a doctor that wants to leave, you know, medicine for, for, for whatever reason. And then that’s. That creates an identity and that creates a narrative and that creates a box, you know, whereas I think, you know, the, the way that you’ve outlined your thing, which is, you know, okay, the stuff that’s make me unhappy, you know, what, what is it, um, and how do I turn that round?

And, you know, the answer may be leaving medicine and, and, and I think often the answer is not leaving medicine because, you know, because it’s just the same stuff sort of elsewhere, but it’s different from everybody, isn’t it? Yeah. But the point is, That I like that idea of sort of say, well, this is the stuff that I don’t want.

Okay. How do I flip that on its, on its head [00:40:00] and identify what I do want. And then, you know, the, the, the Croft Daniels six stage career plan sort of from there onwards, um, by trade trademarked. Um, so, um, yeah, so I think that’s the key. I think I’m going to bring us to a close, Charles, if that’s okay. Maybe if I could just ask you to summarize what we’ve talked about, what would be your top tips for doctors at work?

Giles: Well, I mean, you’ve, you’ve done it with our, with our, our six point program, Matt. And, and I, I think the, the, the, the most important thing for me is to really spend time, um,

learning about yourself, learning, learning about how you and your mind works and really how you’re experiencing things because that, that inner change is, is, is, is what will drive the outer changes. It doesn’t work the other way around. It doesn’t work the other way around. I think if you really have a real commitment [00:41:00] to inner change, then the things that you want to see will start appearing in your outer world.

Mat: Wonderful. Thank you very much, Giles.

Giles: You’re welcome.

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