Do you have a H.E.A.L.T.H.Y career?

Do you have a H.E.A.L.T.H.Y careerTM? As an employer do you offer a H.E.A.L.T.H.Y careerTM? How do you recognise and avoid the Big 3: Burn-out, Imposter Syndrome and Superwoman Mode? We should stop focussing on treating only the fall-out and turn our attention to changing the behaviours and culture which create the environments in which they flourish. The current 20-something’s should not have to suffer the same fate of so many of the 35-50 something’s in our corporate world today.

Do you have a H.E.A.L.T.H.Y careerTM? Just this one small question really makes people stop and think. Even before we’ve looked at exactly what we mean by a H.E.A.L.T.H.Y careerTM, I venture you have an idea in your head as to whether or not you think yours ticks that box.

As an employer, you already know that your employees can make or break your business. They can provide your differentiation from your competition. They can push that bit harder to get you over the line. They are the life blood of the heart of the business. They create the atmosphere and the culture that make you proud of what you do. They also celebrate with you, commiserate with you and inspire you on the journey. You need them. So it stands to reason that you want the best people for your business. And you want to keep them. Have you ever considered if you offer a H.E.A.L.T.H.Y careerTM? How do you recruit and retain the best talent?

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What does a H.E.AL.T.H.Y career mean to you?

Before we dig into the ‘What’, let’s have a look at the ‘Why’, because for me this is the main reason for asking the question in the first place.

The Big 3: Imposter Syndrome, Burn-out and Superwoman Mode.

These 3 issues fill our social media feeds, they have created a whole industry of people trying to help those who are affected and they are seriously impacting our businesses. (If you’re not sure what they are, I’ll be doing more blog posts on this in the coming weeks – but check the notes at the bottom of this post for some useful links). An article in CEO Today highlights how deeply a business can feel the negative effects of imposter syndrome that takes root in the senior ranks. These Big 3 workplace issues lead people to:

  • Fear failure
  • Avoid risk
  • Make poor decisions
  • Procrastinate
  • Withdraw from colleagues
  • Create a blame culture
  • Agree to impossible workloads
  • Be intolerant of others

This is before we’ve even started to look at the health implications!

Destructive powers of the Big 3 to our Health

Thankfully (and unfortunately) there is now a large body of medical research and proven data which demonstrate the negative impacts that Imposter Syndrome, Burn-out and Superwoman Mode have on our health. This means that they are taken more seriously and there is help to be given (links at the bottom of the page to further reading). They can happen to anyone and unfortunately in my experience they are more prevalent than any statistics show.

Each one of the Big 3 deserves its own airtime. They are different issues which manifest in different ways and for different reasons. There are hundreds of doctors and psychologists who can give you precise, evidence-based, medical information on each one – so I’m not going to re-play this at the moment, (a quick Google search will give you more results than you could ever wish to read!) What I will do is draw broad comparisons, starting from the basis that they are all bad for our mental and physical health.

Imposter Syndrome, Burn-out and Superwoman Mode: On our physical health.

The common traits which can be seen across these three issues in relation to our physical health are:

  • Exhaustion
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Low energy
  • Short temper
  • Lack of motivation
  • Weight fluctuations
  • Sleep disruption

Imposter Syndrome, Burn-out and Superwoman Mode: On our mental health.

In terms of our mental health, these issues also share many symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Self-doubt
  • Feeling incompetent
  • Feeling inadequate
  • Fear of failure
  • Stress
  • Frustration
  • Feeling trapped

At work this can mean that people are increasingly emotional, erratic, suspicious and generally feeling overworked and undeserving of any praise.

Unfortunately I don’t think I’m sharing anything that you haven’t witnessed first hand, or perhaps felt yourself. These issues have long-reaching impacts on both the individual and the business – so why are we not doing more to prevent them?

For an example, we can liken this to the environmental crisis of ocean plastics: our current approach is the same as picking up the plastic washed up on the beaches and untangling those wounded animals who are near death; while on the other side of the beach a lorry continues to empty truck loads of waste plastic rubbish straight into the sea. If you don’t tackle the source, there will never be a sustainable solution. We need preventative measures AND supportive ‘fix-it’ help. The ‘Fix-it’ help is offered by the many coaches, psychologists, doctors and therapists who have trained in the conditions. But where are the preventative measures?

This is the aim of the H.E.AL.T.H.Y careerTM framework. We need to start working now so that the 20-something’s of today don’t have to deal with these debilitating issues in the same way that the 35-50 somethings of today are having to.

H.E.A.L.T.H.Y CareerTM

The H.E.A.L.T.H.Y careerTM stands for:

  • H: Heart
  • E: Enjoy
  • A: Adapt
  • L: Learn
  • T: Team
  • H: Holistic
  • Y: Yes!

There’s an individual and an employer version of the details that sit behind each of these areas. I’ll be doing more posts to go into detail, but here’s the outline:

Individual -H.E.A.L.T.H.Y

  • H: Heart Know yourself, understand what makes you tick and use this as a compass for decisions
  • E: Enjoy We all do better work when we’re having fun – so look for it every day
  • A: Adapt Nothing ever stands still, so learn how to get the best from change and use it to grow
  • L: Learn New information is never a waste, seek is purposefully and take it in wherever you may find it
  • T: Team No-one succeeds in a bubble. Your network is key to achievement and progression
  • H: Holistic Your career should be a balanced and positive part of your wider life
  • Y: Yes! Be confident to take opportunities, you never know where saying ‘yes’ may lead you

Employer -H.E.A.L.T.H.Y

  • H: Heart Values and a strong culture are critical, so is living by them.
  • E: Enjoy Encourage social interaction and create an enjoyable work environment
  • A: Adapt Create robust internal comms channels and review regularly change management processes
  • L: Learn Ensure that formal and informal learning and development channels are in place and are taken seriously
  • T: Team Aim always for diverse, high performance teams which can flex to business need
  • H: Holistic Understand the whole organisation in terms of the customer journey and the part employees play in that. Enable employees to bring their whole, honest selves to work.
  • Y: Yes! Check if your attitude to risk and failure actually support (and encourage) innovation and independent thought.

I’ll dig down into both of sides of the H.E.A.L.T.H.Y careerTM in more detail in future posts, but for now I’d be interested in your views as either an individual or/and an employer:

  • Do you think you/your business would benefit from thinking in this way?
  • To what extent do you think you/or your organisation is set up to enjoy/offer a H.E.A.L.T.H.Y careerTM?
  • What would stop you changing some of your habits/attitudes/processes in one or more of these areas to flip into a H.E.A.L.T.H.Y careerTM mind-set?
  • Do you think you’d need guidance/support in putting in place any changes?

I’m working on a programme for businesses to guide them through these areas and help them become more H.E.A.L.T.H.Y careerTM focused, and I’d be interested to hear from anyone who’d like to trial it with me. Just drop me a line, I’d love to hear from you


Superwoman mode is well covered in this blog post on One of Many and here’s the Wikipedia page on Superwoman Syndrome.

Imposter Syndrome: Wikipedia page is here and here’s an interesting article from Time on the topic. Investor’s In People discuss it here.

Burn-Out: Psychology Today talk here about Burn-Out and the Wikipedia page on burn-out.

McKinsey talks here about the importance of employee well-being to the overall performance of the organisation.

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Published by Kelly Whalley

Co-Founder of Find Your Wings. Mentor, digital marketing expert, H.E.A.L.T.H.Y career creator and consultant, on the side of being a mum of two.

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