Sally Clarke: Burnout Prevention, Self Compassion, and the Beauty of Post-Burnout Growth
Updated: Mar 8
“I had attached my entire self-worth basically to being successful in this job that I hated,” shares Sally Clarke, Burnout Coach and Author of Protect Your Spark: How to Prevent Burnout and Live Authentically. Sally worked for many years as a finance lawyer until burnout changed the trajectory of her career. She now works as a coach helping clients through their own burnouts.
Sally’s burnout came when she was working 60 to 70 hour weeks as a finance lawyer for a prestigious global law firm. She knew she was unhappy with her career, but chose to ignore her body’s signals for another 2 years before the burnout finally became too much. She left her job, started showing herself compassion and putting her needs first, and became a coach. Sally’s burnout led her on a journey of self-awareness and growth that she is now grateful for today.
Tune into today’s episode of FRIED. The Burnout Podcast for a conversation with Sally Clarke about the importance of self-compassion and listening to your body. Tune in for tips on how to protect yourself against burnout and live a more authentic life.
“I really had a moment of realization of like, ‘I’m so unhappy, this is really making me unhappy. I’m not enjoying this work.’ But at that moment and for the 2 years after that, I suppressed those feelings. I really shoved that aside and kept on keeping on. I was averaging around 65 to 70 hours per week. Eventually my relationship really deteriorated. Some friendships started to kind of wane, because I was working every weeknight and through weekends. At the start of 2010, I was again at the office, I was scheduled to get a late flight to France to visit my brother who was doing a post-doc there, and I was trying to get all my work done, get everything off my desk. I ran, got a taxi, dove into it, went to the airport. I was running to the gate, I tripped and fell, and I cut my knee. I only realized I was bleeding when the attendant on the flight pointed it out to me. I sat down in a seat and honestly I don’t remember anything about the flight. I don’t remember arriving. I just remember walking out and laying eyes on my brother and collapsing to the floor. I think what happened was it took me seeing my closest relative and having this real realization, it was like my body was caving in underneath me and giving me the message that if I continued to do what I was doing it was tantamount to killing myself. My body had been trying to send me desperate signals for years in increasing intensity, but it took that real intensity for me to really accept that something was very, very wrong and things really needed to change. Those were things I was desperate not to have to confront. My whole identity felt sort of ripped out from me. If I’m not this, who am I? If I fail at this, what’s left of my worth? I had really attached my entire self-worth basically to being successful in this job that I hated.” (5:15-8:00)
“If we’re gonna prevent burnout as individuals, what we can do is empower ourselves right now, today. Part of that and sort of the first aspect is what I call self compassion and that’s really driven by really tapping into a sense of intrinsic worth in ourselves. Not all of us have grown up with that. Not all of us have had that reinforced from an early stage. So for a lot of us, including myself, that was something that I have had to actively work on and that’s happened since I burnt out.” (14:19-14:59)
“We, by the very fact of our existence and our breathing and being here, have value. I think that’s a really important thing particularly for women. This can be a really tough one in the corporate environment and as entrepreneurs.” (15:18-15:37)
“Burnout is not your fault. Burnout is caused by chronic workplace stress according to the World Health Organization. Burnout is not your fault. The most important thing I think that people who are in burnout or close to it need to know is to take that layer of shame and guilt off of themselves by expecting that they could have somehow outsmarted burnout.” (38:23-38:28)
“I think wherever you are in the spectrum of burnout right now, if you are feeling question marks around ‘maybe I am in burnout, maybe I’m on my way towards one.’ I implore you to reach out and talk to someone, whether that is a trusted friend, a professional, your doctor. Someone that you trust. I implore you to just talk to someone and investigate what’s going on. Because we can only change our circumstances and our situations once we acknowledge the reality of what’s happening. That can be really scary, which is why talking to someone can be helpful because that person can act as a guide and a support and we all need that. Honestly, burnt out or not, we need that.” (48:17-49:03)
If you know that it’s time to actually DO something about the burnout cycle you’ve been in for too long - book your free consult today: bit.ly/callcait