desk set up for healing unhealthy relationship with work

Healing My Unhealthy Relationship with Work

Over the past two years I have been unlearning the habits that contributed to my unhealthy relationship with work. For the first leg of my career I was in a very unhealthy relationship with work. Like the kind of relationship where I was obsessed, not sleeping and may have contributed to my early gray hairs. Now that I am on the other side of this relationship drama I’m able to help others work through this – because our jobs should not control us. We are so much more than what we do for a living. 

I promised my TikTok commenters that I would make this subject into a longer series so this blog is going to be part 1 of I don’t know how many on this subject. This post is going to be an introduction to the subject and I’m including the Youtube video I created on this for those of you who prefer video/audio chats below. 

What is an Unhealthy Relationship with Work?  

My unhealthy relationship with work became painfully obvious to me when I realized that I spent more time worrying about work than I did working. My work stress impacted my personal life almost consistently and my work performance impacted my self worth. In short, work took over my entire life. Leading up to this realization the signs of burnout were there and my attempts at boundaries were failing but it took a birthday spent in tears over a work mistake that I realized I needed to do something about this. 

I was letting my career treat me in an absolutely unacceptable way. I would have never let a person treat me the way I was letting this relationship treat me. My self worth had plummeted and I no longer recognized myself in what I did and frankly I didn’t want to care about work anymore. In short I went from over-engaged to apathetic. 

Self Worth and Work 

Once I caught on that work was dictating my emotional happiness it was impossible to unsee. A good day at work always meant a good day at home and a bad day at work meant a bad evening. If a Friday went poorly the whole weekend could be ruined. This relationship was obviously toxic so once this revelation sunk in I started making a plan to remedy this. 

An obvious option here was to quit my job. With my new observation fresh on my mind I realized that it wasn’t just my current role that I had this issue with – it was work in general. I no longer valued my personal successes and I needed to remedy that. 

Morality, Boundaries and Personal Success 

As cliche as this is, I started with a major mindset shift (mostly through journaling – more on that in a second). I set boundaries, practiced saying no and I made my work performance morally neutral. This change did not happen overnight but once I came to terms with these concepts things got a lot easier. For everyone this will look different but for me the knowledge that I could empower myself through boundaries and not worry about being perfect at my job was liberating. 

Ok, But How? 

I spent a lot of time working through my emotions around work, finding places where things felt wrong and looking for opportunities to build walls to keep work out of my personal time. It was a struggle at first but lucky for you I already did it. If you want to make those mindset shifts and reconfigure your relationship with work, start by answering the following questions. 

  1. What is my relationship with work?
  2. Can I make my work performance (or employment status) morally neutral, i.e. doesn’t reflect as good or bad on me? 
  3. Why am I taking work so seriously? 
  4. Why does my job get to define me? (don’t blame yourself on this one blame society)
  5. Who am I if I’m not my job? 

And from these questions things kind of snowballed. It brought me out of my career funk, helped me find a career path that I actually enjoy but that I don’t let consume me (you can check it out here since I now help people like you through this situation and more). 

You Are More Than What You Do 

Through this mindset shift it finally clicked for me that I was so much more than what I did. My job was one of the least interesting things about me and that I was worthy of work life balance and respected boundaries. I was not saving lives everyday, I did not need to bring work stress home with me and I sure as hell was not landing a rocket on the moon – I did not need to take work so seriously (though actively doing my job to stay employed was crucial). 

If you want help working through this please reach out – I’m happy to help. If you’re happy to work through it alone I’ll keep posting about this on here, tiktok and Youtube

perfectionist

Lessons from a Recovering Perfectionist

As a human being and a recovering perfectionist I put a lot of pressure on myself. Over the past few years I’ve worked really hard to recognize the signs of burnout but occasionally it just rears its head without notice. On our journey to balance we often end up in unbalanced places.  To reduce the number of surprise visits I get from my buddy burnout I’ve started allowing myself to cut corners and as your life and career coach and friend I want to encourage you to do the same  *insert perfectionist fainting on her fainting couch or clutching pearls here*  

You Do Not Have to Give 100% 

It is ok to not give 100% to everything you do. In fact, it’s impossible to give 100% to everything you do. It’s one of life’s few guarantees – do too much and you will end up on a one way train to burnout town. So let’s make this simple – stop giving 100% to everything – especially things that have low impact, won’t matter in 5 years or things that do not affect anyone negatively if you cut corners. Which brings me to my next point…

Cut Corners 

Ready for the best motivational sentence you will ever receive? Cut corners when and where you can. Use the aforementioned rules of making sure no one will get hurt by your negligence then give yourself permission to make things easier for yourself. Examples of cutting corners can include: buying pre-made pie crust while making a homemade pie (or buying a store bought pie – you do you!), grow things from plants instead of seeds (a personal revelation of mine that I shared on Instagram) or do the workout you want to do instead of the one you have scheduled. 

You Don’t Have to Grow the Seeds

You cannot be perfect and you cannot give 100% to everything you do. But you can give yourself grace. So please give yourself grace. Cut corners, be messy, be human and be kind to yourself. Give yourself all the tools you can to be the person you want to be. 

Where do you struggle balancing things in your life? Is there a place to cut corners?

go with the flow river scene

How I Embody Go with the Flow

Lately, my energy has been all over the place so my new motto has been to “go with the flow”. This phrase isn’t new or revolutionary but it’s been exceedingly helpful for me. And before you scroll away wondering if I have lost my marbles (which I have) let me explain! 

By going with the flow I have been learning to accept that I have high energy days and low energy days and a lot of days where I slide between the two. This revelation means two things for me. One is that I can simply let myself be where I am for the day and move from that place to get things done. And the second is that my energy will always come back eventually. 

Working Through the Lows (Sometimes)

But Emily, you may ask, how can you be productive on low energy days? To be honest some days I do and some days I don’t. If I can, I let myself rest. If I cannot, I tap into a few of my favorite productivity hacks (like batching, setting a timer, playing soundscape playlists, trying to find a low energy state of flow) and make it happen. 

More often than not the task can wait. So I rest. I allow myself to do something that fills me up a little like water coloring, journaling, laying on the couch and talking to my dog or screaming into the void. There are no rights and wrongs in this – being tired is morally neutral. And from this place of rest I can remind myself that the energy will always come back. 

Energy Always Flows Back In 

Whether I have a low energy day, afternoon, week or month I like to remind myself to go with the flow – the energy will always flow back in. Sometimes it takes longer than I would like and sometimes I wish it would stay longer but it always comes back. 

I also apply go with the flow when the energy comes rushing back in. I try to ride the new energetic waves instead of rushing through everything on my to do list. Everything doesn’t have to be accomplished on this single wave of energy. 

Do You Go with the Flow?

So if you are tired, please find rest if you can. And if you can’t find rest, maybe try accepting that tiredness is morally neutral. You will do the best with the energy you have and energy will always come back eventually. 

**This blog is not intended to replace mental or physical health care. Please work with a licensed professional when it comes to your health.

confidence

TikTok Changed My Life

Life has been..interesting lately.

It’s been a while since I have done a regular, old school, tell you about my life and my innermost thoughts blog. I think the last post I did like that was probably this one about throwing away my routine in the chaos of 2020. This lack of self-indulgent writing is partially because I cannot imagine many people wanting to read my rambling updates. But, if I’m being candid, the major inhibitor was that I really couldn’t tell you what was going on in my life. No, not in that influencer “I have a big announcement/secret” kind of way but in the way where I really couldn’t find anything wildly interesting about my day to day.

I love that I have gotten to grow my business over the last year and I love the clients I worked with and I’m exceptionally grateful for all that. Yet inside, I still felt a little meh and uninteresting. I suppose you could say it was languishing mixed with starting a business mixed with living through the weird weird world that was 2020. But lately I’ve felt like my life is inordinately interesting again and a lot of that is thanks to TikTok. 

TikTok Helped Me Find My Voice & Shared it with 16k+ People 

I’m going to take a couple paragraphs here to get you up to speed on my “social media journey” but if you already know or could not give a care, scroll down past the next two paragraphs! My relationship with TikTok began pre-pandemic. I was solely a viewer for my first few months on the app – I wanted to get a feel for the creators, the audience and I really had no intention of posting on it. Did I spend hours scrolling through my For You Page when I should have been sleeping? Yes. 

But my nighttime scrolls did not inspire me to post. It wasn’t until early 2020 after starting the podcasts with Brenton that I decided to start posting whatever I felt like and that was significantly more liberating than I thought it would be. With growing confidence from TikToks and Instagram stories, I started my Youtube channel and from there my career coaching business began to slowly snowball. I viewed TikTok as my playground. It was the one place on social media where no one I knew in real life followed me. I was a little worried people from my day job at the time would find it but even with that cloud of anxiety over it TikTok was my safe space. 

Enter COVID

As the pandemic started and I was put on what seemed to be an evergreen furlough, I decided it was time to give my career coaching business that I had been daydreaming of a try. So I shared that on my TikTok and at first the reactions were lukewarm because nobody knew who I was…which is totally valid. And for some reason, even with videos that only got a couple views, I just kept posting on there as part of my social media strategy for my coaching business.

I spent a lot of time and money on business coaching, learning how to use Pinterest and Instagram for my business, setting up business pages on Facebook, editing Youtube videos, and trying to figure out all the algorithms. With TikTok I didn’t try to play the game; TikTok was just for fun. And yet it became the most successful tool and really made my business take off with one sassy TikTok about not staying loyal to companies that are not loyal to you. And that video took off a full week after it had been uploaded and right around my birthday this year. 

@emilybrucesky

You owe your work nothing. So set boundaries. leave shitty jobs (for new ones). Here to help! #corporate #worklifebalance

♬ original sound – Emily
This is the video

Success

I posted frequently on the app for a year, slowly building my consistency to a video or two a day, and it finally got to the right people (and to some of the wrong ones but more on that later).The social media courses I took may have helped me frame my strategy on other platforms but I can say with the utmost certainty that on TikTok it was just a matter of hitting the right pain point on the right day and luck. And from there my content snowballed.

It ebbed and flowed but by June I was able to join the creator fund (Tiktok’s version of royalty payments) and by July I had my first influencer #ad sponsored post. But most importantly TikTok brought me more career coaching clients than I could have ever imagined finding on Instagram or LinkedIn. And they almost always are perfect fits for my business because they find me through my sometimes polarizing videos.

The Comments on TikTok

But with great power comes great responsibility and for me that responsibility is moderating my comments. I love when a video goes “viral” for me because that means I will get to meet with and talk to more lovely aligned coaching clients. It also means that some people who may not be able to afford 1:1 coaching can still get some of my career tips.

But with that larger audience comes some really angry people and I do not tolerate bullying in my comments. Every viral video comes with at least one white man claiming that I am “stupid”, “naive” or my personal favorite “I don’t like your bangs”. And while they bully me in the comments I make money off of them. I find it fascinating that picking on me is one of America’s favorite pastimes for men. But that won’t stop me from posting – not when so many wonderful people send me sweet messages about how my content has helped them. 

In Other News 

In addition to my newfound low level of fame with Gen X’s finest, I’ve had a lot of fun with my new ghostwriting addition to the business and I’ve already had the privilege to help a handful of people build books and programs that change the lives of their clients. I’ve had opportunities to refresh my HR skills, making me a better coach, and I have been working with some amazing clients. And yes, I met them all through TikTok. 

TikTok helped me find my voice, my niche, my talents and it continually challenges me. So if you follow me on TikTok thank you – you’ve played a key role in this journey and if you do not follow me…what are you waiting for? Here’s your invitation to join the party! @ emilybrucesky 

The past two months have been quite literally life changing for me and But Really Tho (which technically is also me because I’m a sole-proprietor) and weirdly a lot of it is thanks to consistency, tenacity and TikTok. It’s a weird world we live in – thanks for being along for the ride. 

interview prep

Interview Red Flags Pt 2

As a career coach I spend a lot of time talking about interviews. As someone who worked in HR I’ve had the privilege and burden of being on both sides of the table when it comes to these horrendously imbalanced conversations. Interviews are awkward, terrifying, annoying and can feel like a wedge driven between you and the job you know you can do. It’s a chance to sell yourself but it’s also not a sales pitch which makes this already annoying conversation style even more nerve wracking. Understanding and helping people navigate this nuance is a big part of what I do as a career coach and it’s why I take every interview offered to me to practice my skills (which makes me an even better coach). 

Throughout the interview process I’ve run across some major interview red flags that I warn my clients about. I’ve already posted a blog post on a few of these. This post is a continuation on my post from last week about interview red flags that have stood out during my countless conversations. Remember this is all from my personal and professional experience so it may or may not resonate with you. Take the tips that apply to you and ignore the ones that don’t.

So without further ado let’s chat through some additional interview red flags! 

24/7 Availability 

One of the most egregious abuses of employer power is asking employees to be available 24/7. This includes expectations to respond to emails immediately regardless of time, time zone or job duties. While this issue isn’t unique to any specific industry I tend to notice it more with start-up tech companies. If a role needs you to always be available it probably isn’t worth it. And if it is an hourly role – run! 

Bait & Switch 

A bait and switch is when you apply for a specific job but when you show up for the interview the job described no longer matches the posting. This can range from minor changes like a schedule shift to unexplained changes in expected pay or benefits. An example of this would be if a role is listed with an exaggerated commission rate. With the rise in remote work I often see job postings that look legitimate but upon further examination are actually recruitment posts for MLMs (and if you need a reason to avoid them check out this blog post). 

Not Selling You on the Job 

My final red flag for you today is when an interviewer doesn’t try to sell you on the job. This is when a job is pitched as busy, stressful, overwhelming or any other adjective that doesn’t make you want to take the job (or continue the interview). This is a red flag because it can mean: 

  1. The hiring manager or interviewer is not engaged or does not care 
  2. The team is so overworked they didn’t prep for the conversation (and you want healthy work life balance) 
  3. They’ve already decided who they want to fill the role with and are waiting on a response from them/completing scheduled interviews with no intent to hire
  4. They really don’t like or understand the role or company 
  5. Or they are just a bad interviewer…

Regardless it is probably best to avoid that role unless it is your dream role. 

In conclusion I want to remind you that you have the power to reject bad job offers, you can end an interview if you feel uncomfortable and you do not have to accept a job just because it is offered to you. It’s cliche but you are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you. And if you need a mini pre-interview confidence boost, remember that you are selling them your skills, experience and time and they would be lucky to have you. Want to chat about your next interview 1:1? Check out my career coaching options

**I am a life and career coach. The tips I share are based on my experience, my clients experience and my time working in HR. I am not responsible for your life choices. 

interviews

Red Flags in Interviews

As someone who helps people prepare for interviews, I participate in a lot of interviews. This sounds a little crazy but I take every opportunity offered to me to practice and hone my skills. I quite literally take one for the team on this but I know it makes me a better and more effective coach for my career coaching clients. 

Due to my exposure to interviews from my time in HR and my self-inflicted torture, I have wound up with a lengthy list of interview red flags or warning signs. Today I want to share with you some of the job posting/interview red flags I’ve come across as well as some of my favorite questions to ask in an interview. 

Before you begin, remember these are MY red flags – use your own discernment to see if these apply to you and your life or career goals. 

Work Hard Play Hard or Hustle & Grind

If I see either of those phrases in a job posting it sets off immediate alarm bells. The former is a warning that you will have no work life balance and get invited to too many happy hours after working too long of days. The latter is a warning that you will be held to unrealistic standards of productivity. I personally do not support either of those. 

Working hard is ok but working without boundaries, balance or breaks is a one way ticket to burnout. 

Acting Weird about Pay and Benefits Questions 

Pay is a SUPER important topic and it should not be taboo. Unfortunately money can be a really uncomfortable subject and as the candidate you are often put in the vulnerable position of having to state a number first. While companies are getting better about (or being required to) posting salary information it’s not always immediately available when you apply. When I bring up salary and the company gets cagey or lowballs me I take that as a major red flag that I would not be getting fair or competitive pay in the role. 

Another big red flag is if they don’t have a handle on explaining their benefits package (US specific due to our lack of universal healthcare). 

Politician Answers – Not Answering Your Questions or Refusing to Acknowledge Negatives 

One of my favorite questions to ask in an interview is “What is a really good day like in this role and what is a really bad day like in this role?” Occasionally I receive responses to these questions that twist the negatives of the role into a positive. When that happens I assume the team has a toxic positivity problem that they are not acknowledging. I personally take that as a major red flag. Working on a team that can acknowledge struggles and support each other on bad days is important to me. 

And as a bonus here are a couple questions I like to ask in interviews

  1. What is a good day like in this role? What is a bad day like in this role? 
  2. Is this role staying remote? If not, is it possible to make it remote or flex? 
  3. How do you handle mistakes as a team and as a manager? 

One Final Interview Reminder

As a reminder you are allowed to set boundaries around interviews- they can take a lot of energy to power through. Interviews are awkward, they can be uncomfortable and you absolutely have the power to end the conversation the moment you feel uneasy. If you want help preparing for an interview, building your career confidence, setting work life balance boundaries or setting goals please reach out! I’m happy to help you through a coaching session.

Leave me a comment if you want to see more of my interview red flags! 

**I am a life and career coach. The tips I share are based on my experience, my clients experience and my time working in HR. I am not responsible for your life choices.