Great Resignation: Maybe You’re Not Stagnant, You’re Scared

great resignation

The impact of the Great Resignation is palpable. From TikTok to LinkedIn everyone is talking about what it means, how to be a part of it, what to do to maximize the benefits of it – and I am one of those voices. I love talking about leaving bad jobs after finding better ones but I’ve started to realize that my friends who prefer predictability are feeling extremely freaked out. 

So this is a little note to my friends who fear that they are stagnant, those who worry that they should have job hopped because everyone else is, and anyone comparing their pace and plan to someone else’s. 

A little ramble for you about the Great Resignation and stagnation

You’re ok to go at your own pace. It is ok to change careers. You’re ok to stay where you are right now. It’s ok to make a plan to get out in 6 days, weeks, months or years. 

It’s your career journey – there is no right or wrong way to do it. 

Disclaimer: I am a life and career coach. I am not responsible for your actions, behaviors or for you quitting your job prematurely. 

As a life and career coach I help people figure out what they want to do, find the right place to do it and work with them on advocating for what they need. The short version is that I help people grow. It’s a pretty magical job if you ask me. The harder part of the job is helping someone grow when they feel unsafe, financially unstable or excessively stressed. Growth gets significantly more difficult, but not impossible, when we put an excessive amount of pressure on ourselves by making our lives harder. Sometimes the best move for us is to shake things up, but there is magic in staying (not overstaying) somewhere to maintain the stability you need for the next step. 

A REMINDER

THIS IS NOT AN EXCUSE TO STAY AT A BAD JOB. THIS IS NOT AN EXCUSE TO NOT APPLY FOR JOBS OUT OF FEAR OF REJECTION. Instead it’s just a reminder that some jobs are just stepping stones, placeholders or ways to make more money to go for the things you truly want with confidence and security. If you want to utilize the Great Resignation to find a higher paying job please do it! But don’t risk your own mental or physical safety for career growth.

ABOUT GROWTH 

Growth takes confidence. Confidence requires a little bit of stability or security on the back end. An anchor point that allows you to be rooted in who you really are. Sometimes that involves staying at the job that bores you for a few extra months so you can build your dreams on the side. Building towards your goals doesn’t have to involve burnout, overwork or hustle but to maintain ease sometimes we have to stay stable and grow slow…which I know sounds kind of boring. 

You don’t have to have a perfect plan, you’re allowed to take risks and jump in on the things you want but please don’t forget your parachute – it will help to alleviatejust add to the anxiety of jumping. 

Want help making a plan, identifying direction or just figuring out what your next move is? Schedule a 30 or 60 minute call here. Pay with the Stripe button, schedule through Calendly or just send an email to coaching@butreallytho.com to talk about payment plans. 

TikTok Changed My Life

confidence

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. 

Red Flags in Interviews

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. 

Debunking Mindset Myths in 2021

mindset myths

Let’s debunk some mindset myths.*A note on mindset before we begin; mindset is an amazing and helpful tool but if we don’t take aligned action it’s just thoughts. Make sure you do the mindset work AND take action. 

This week we are going to dig into the new year with new mindset myths that we think will empower us but actually hold us back. Mindset myths are out there trying to convince us to play small, to be a participant in the hamster wheel of toxic positivity and that success is just one more checkbox away. 

As a coach I see these pop up online and with my clients. In my practice it is essential that we work through these myths. Identifying where these are wrong and how we can build a more empowering mindset philosophy will help us on our journey to identifying what we want to do and how to get there. 

Mindset Myth #1: Failure = Bad

Failure is somewhat taboo. No one really likes admitting they were wrong. As a society we have made failure into a negative. Our obsession with not failing can push us over the edge. When we let our ego take over and refuse to admit that things aren’t going to plan we dig in deeper and make our mistake have a much larger impact than necessary. This mindset does not serve us when we are trying something new. 

In my personal life I’m someone who learns best by f*cking up. If I go for something, I get my hands messy, commit to it & then things go sideways. I may feel like a failure temporarily but after I reflect I learn A LOT more than if things went well right off the bat. Smooth waters never made a good sailor rings true in my life.

Failure happens, mistakes get made, and in the moment it can feel like sh*t. What we do with that failure is what matters. If we can recognize failure when it pops up, see it as a sign to pivot and not associate with feeling bad about ourselves we can adapt, adjust and rebuild. That adaptability is what self development is all about. 

Mindset Myth #2: A positive mindset is the only way to achieve success

The idea that we are one mindset shift away from being Bill Gates is absolute BS. You are not Bill Gates, you will never be Bill Gates, you are YOU! So many successful people have negative mindsets (hence why they hoard wealth) and so many positive people are struggling. Your current situation is not JUST a result of your mindset and if anyone tries to package and sell that to you they are full of sh*t. 

The toxic positivity around mindset work infuriates me. It takes an inkling of truth and turns it into a philosophy.  A positive mindset is a wonderful tool, it helps us look for solutions instead of wallowing, it helps us find the magic in the mundane, it can keep us afloat while we search for the right job, relationship or situation. It is not a ferry to your goals – it’s water wingies for when you fall in the water.

Your water wingies of positivity help you stay afloat. But you have to see the negatives, the hard stuff, the failures (see myth 1) if you want to grow. If we view our goals SOLELY through rose colored glasses we are going to miss the red flags. You deserve to achieve your goals in a way that is authentic to your human experience – don’t dim it down under the guise of “good vibes only”. 

Mindset Myth #3: I will be happy when I accomplish my goals...

Our final mindset myth is the illusive “I’ll be happy when…” Delaying our happiness by tying it to our success is a recipe for frustration. With this mindset we give in to hustle culture. We let our output determine our worth. We tell ourselves really pretty lies like “I’ll be happier when I am successful” or “My success is just around the corner”.

Instead of giving in to the hunt we need to learn to be present. I’m a big proponent of practicing mindfulness. Finding ways to find happiness or joy or fulfilment in the moment we are in. Be here now. Find the real moments now. Happiness is not something to chase in the future – it’s something to look for in the now. 

Mindfulness and being present can range from meditation (classic kind or moving meditation like yoga or dance), simply looking around the room for something that makes you smile or checking in with our body or heart to see where things come up and where we can heal. 

Happiness isn’t something to delay – it’s something to seek right now. 

To Wrap Things Up 

There are a LOT of mindset myths out there. These myths convince us to play small, gaslight ourselves and delay joy. In 2021 I’m encouraging you to call out the bs, to recognize the signs of mindset myths and toxic positivity and to ask for help if you want it. 

As a way to help more people in 2021 I’ve added some new coaching sessions to my services page. Discovery calls are always free. Let’s align your mindset with action and make a plan to make 2021 work for you. 

** please do not use this post to replace mental or physical health care from a physician. Always work with a licensed professional when it comes to your health. 

How to Ask for what YOU Want this Year

what do you want

Ready for your first tip of 2021? 

2021 is the year that we are going to ask for what we want! So tell me, what do you want?

Semi easy in concept but when we really start thinking about it, identifying what we want and why we want it can get messy. Do we really want to run a marathon or do we just like the idea of having run a marathon? Do we really want to be a millionaire or do we just want to not worry about money? Are we sure we want to be a doctor or are we just assuming we want to because it’s the only career we have ever considered?

When we start asking ourselves what we ACTUALLY want things get messy. But if we don’t take the time to check in on what we want we may end up with regret about how we spent our short time on this rock. Sure we might run the marathon but if we hate every moment of it what was the point? What were we really looking for from that experience? Can we quit halfway to our goal? 

Sometimes choosing our goals can feel high stakes. Never fear, I’m here to help you make this a little easier on yourself!

It is NOT Ungrateful to Want More 

First, we must be able to let ourselves want! Allowing ourselves to desire can be hard especially since we have spent the majority of our lives being told that we should be grateful for what we have. Gratitude is wonderful, it has a purpose, it is well meaning but we have to be able to be grateful AND desire more at the same time. If not, we may end up stagnant. 

Being demanding, wanting more and having the confidence to ask for it is not ungrateful. Ignore the bs from society telling you to play small. You can be grateful and want more. In fact, I recommend that you be grateful and want more. 

Make a List 

Now that you have let yourself want it’s time to make a list. Just like Santa… but this list is just for you. Literally, no shame, no judgment, no realistic outlooks required. Just a list of whatever you want!

This includes everything from your dream career, home, whatever you want. You can niche this down if you are specifically looking for guidance in your career or you can leave it wide open. Think of anything and everything that you believe would support you or make you happy. Begin asking yourself why you want things as you write them down but don’t overthink it. 

Throw Anything You “Should” Want Away 

After you have that list ready to go it’s time to look it over for any “shoulds”. If you’ve been here for a while you know how I feel about should-ing ourselves. I hate it.

Removing should’s varies by person but one of the ways I do it is to check in with my guts. Instead of getting in my head about the items on my list I start asking myself how my heart feels about the goal. Am I excited? Are there happy butterflies in my stomach? Am I nauseous because it seems like something that will take a lot of work? Does that end goal excite me enough to work through it? 

Be honest with yourself. It is your life. At the end of the day you are the only one who has to look back on what you’ve done and live with the choices. I promise that the authenticity that may be really hard in the moment will pay off in the end. 

Imagine the End Result

After we remove our should’s it’s time to imagine the end result of what we want. Some key questions to ask ourselves: 

How do you feel and what does it look like? The answer to this is going to help you stay motivated. 

Does the end result include expectations that are not connected to items on your list? 

Remove or add items as needed.

Finalize that List

Write up that final list of what you want. All of it. From the career changes to the healthy habits to anything and everything in between. Once you have your list finalized it’s time to pick a goal or two to start working towards. 

Make a Plan 

Finally, now that you know what you want it’s time to start making a plan. May I recommend this blog post about goal setting to get you started? 

Remember, goal setting is fun, change is exciting and going for what we want can be rewarding and HARD. If you get stuck, need help, get lost or just need someone to chat out your next steps with you please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m here to help! Discovery calls are always free. I have some 1:1 monthly coaching spots available and if you need something to work on with your own time check out my in depth goal setting and planning program called WDYW

Ready to go for those goals? I’m so excited to watch you succeed! 

** please do not use this post to replace mental or physical health care from a physician. Always work with a licensed professional when it comes to your health. 

Meet Your Mindset Monsters

mindset monsters

I’ve been thinking a lot about my mindset monsters. These monsters are thoughts that hold me back, the fears that keep me playing small, all the self beliefs that try to keep me “safe” and for a very long time they kept me from even knowing what I wanted to do. Since I’ve come to terms with my mindset monsters I’ve grown immeasurably and I have no plans to stop. But as I’ve ruminated on how they held me back I realized that my mindset monsters aren’t uniquely mine. 

I created a program about facing them and I shared it with all of you. This week that program is on a major sale and to accompany this sale I’m going to share a different monster everyday on my Instagram & Twitter this week. Our monsters include: 

  • Our “What If” Monster
  • Judgmental Jerry
  • Checking in with our gut 

Ready to jump in? Follow along on any of my social media platforms! 

Want to face your mindset monsters head on? Visit my Etsy & enter code 2020Burnout for 50% off 

Let’s find clarity on what you want, on your own time & at your own pace. 

Need someone to work through the program with you? Sign up for a coaching 1:1 & we can chat it out. Discovery calls are always free! Scroll to the bottom of this page to sign up!

Rest, Revisit and Integrate

rest

This week we are going to rest and revisit previous blog posts. Why? Well, I’m tired. Are you tired? I’m tired. And since one of my favorite messages is that everyone is worthy of rest I think it’s essential to lead by example. So, this week we are resting. 

Rest is crucial to absorbing and retaining information. It is essential to take time to slow down if we want to perform at our best and without rest I become the grumpiest person on the planet (I make Oscar the Grouch look like an optimist).

Rest can be active (walking, moving meditations, yoga, reading) or it can be passive (napping, meditating, etc). Rest can be day dreaming, rest can be coloring. It can be spending time with family or ignoring all your calls. It’s up to you – it’s individual and you cannot do it wrong unless you don’t do it. 

This week on my Youtube channel I will be uploading a video about my struggle with setting a sleep schedule. It’s an ode to rest and I briefly touch on the importance of sleep (but if you want more I highly recommend reading Why We Sleep – it’s amazing). 

Other than the video we are going to keep new content to a minimum. Instead we are going to take some time to revisit the messages that I think need a little extra time to sink in. Ready for the schedule? 

Our Weekly Schedule

Sound fun? Follow along on instagram @btrlytho to keep up or go at your own pace. Integrate what resonates with you and let go of what doesn’t!

It’s your week to integrate and play – use it well! 

My Monkey Mind Has Taken Over

school faceless student tired

My monkey mind has taken over my life! Here’s how to identify it and how to stop it. 

Heard or experienced any of these lately? COVID brain, self-diagnosed ADHD, auto-pilot, zoning out, scattered thoughts. These responses, spacey moments or knee jerk reactions are stress responses. They are what happens when our survival instinct kicks in and our monkey mind takes control. 

Monkey Mind Defined 

Human brains are composed of three sections. They are our lizard brain, our monkey brain and our human brain.

Our lizard brains control the basic instincts, our monkey brain controls our tissue and complex things like emotions and our human brain which allows us to remove emotions from our thoughts and to think things through or practice mindfulness. This article here goes a bit more in depth if you want to dig in (it’s absolutely fascinating)! 

Our monkey mind is the part of our brain that runs the inner monologue, the part that runs wild during meditation, and it’s tied to your ego and inner critic. Monkey mind tells you that you will never be good enough, you have too much on your plate, that you need to rush rush rush and go go go. It’s important to learn how to control and quiet our monkey mind if we want to be fully present in our lives. 

Before we dig into controlling our monkey mind I want to share that our monkey and lizard brains serve a major purpose! Since our human brain is designed to analyze situations and reactions when we encounter danger or trigger our fight or flight response we rely heavily on our lizard and monkey brains to get us to safety. 

How to Spot Your Monkey Mind 

A major problem with our well working monkey mind is that when we are overwhelmed, stressed or in an extended state of being busy we default to it. Monkey mind becomes prominent when we multitask causing us to go into auto-pilot and make decisions without thinking them through. 

For example, let’s say you are stressed to the max working on a deadline, you aren’t super thrilled with your job to begin with, you’re working from home in a small apartment and your significant other comes in to ask you a question while you’re in the middle of a sentence. You are stressed, overwhelmed, grumpy and a little frustrated with the overwhelming emotions so you may respond with a default answer because you weren’t listening or snap at them for interrupting you. This is your monkey mind and it is a warning sign that you need to stop, take a break and close some of the tabs in your brain to reduce your stress levels. 

I’m anti-multitasking on important things because it is impossible for your brain to truly focus on two things at once but I double down on this stance when it comes to the truly important things like human relationships. Make time to clear your mind. 

How to Control Your Monkey Mind 

So great, you know your monkey mind is running the ship – you are on auto-pilot, not paying attention to where the car is going – now what? Here are a few ideas for you! 

Stop, take a break, take a few deep breaths and get present in your body. If you have a meditation practice try doing a mini meditation – even just a minute of meditation can help calm my monkey mind when it’s in overdrive. 

Move your body! Get up and move, go on a walk, walk around your apartment or yard, dance for a minute or just shake your arms and legs out. Moving your body helps calm down your monkey mind and helps you get present in your body. 

Write! Get the thoughts out of your brain and on paper. I find journaling SO helpful when my brain is in chaos mode. If my brain is so full of thoughts that I can’t decide what to write I’ll throw a gratitude list together and see where that takes me. Sometimes I need to exercise my thoughts, regardless of how true they are, on paper similar to moving my body. 

Do less and reduce how busy you are! I know, this is the hard one! If you have the privilege and capacity to work smarter not harder – do it. Reduce the extra work in your life, limit the emotional labor you do for free, protect your energy and take the extra time to fill your own cup with self-care (the real kind not the marketing face mask kind). 

Remember: Being Busy Is Not Cool! 

Hope this helps! I hope you enjoyed learning a bit about your monkey mind and I hope this encourages you to rest your brain and your body. 

Need help making a plan to work smarter and not harder? Sign up for a FREE coaching consultation so we can look at your schedule together! 

Want to find a job that lets you work less and enjoy your life more? Sign up for a FREE coaching consultation so we can find your dream job. 

No idea where to start? Overwhelmed? Need help calming that monkey mind? Sign up for a FREE coaching consultation or check out my Etsy for my self-paced programs. 

Sending you all lot’s of love and rest! 

**This blog is not meant to replace mental or physical health advice from your physician. Please work with a licensed professional when it comes to your health.

Professionalism is BS

professionalism

Professionalism.. doesn’t that word feel like bs? If you follow me on TikTok, Facebook or Instagram you may have already seen a little sneak peak on this subject. I’m not a huge fan of “professionalism” and how it is used against us.

By definition professionalism is the competence or skill expected of a professional, but what does that look like? 

My Professional Experience 

In my “professional” career I’ve found professionalism to be bs. Technically I’m a professional in Human Resources. I have a PHR certification that I paid a stupid amount of money to prep for & take a test on. Sure, I was REALLY good at what I did but it’s not because I had that certification – it’s because I loved the idea behind what I did. I loved my mission. I wanted to help people and my career was a way that I could do that. I left HR when it no longer resonated with me. I refused to return to HR because I didn’t want to work directly for corporations anymore – I wanted to work for people. And now, that’s what I do. And I LOVE what I do.

Now I get to use my “professional” skills to help people scratch that itch that there might be something more to life. I help people realize their full potential. I help people grow into who THEY want to be – not who they’re expected to be. So sure my professional experience helps me but if we are being honest I’m good at what I do because it aligns with me AND it aligns with me from my home, in my unprofessional oversized sweaters and shorts. 

But I’ve had it easy when it comes to professionalism. Even if I wore “unconventional” clothing to the office I was still a small, white, cis woman which gave me immense privilege in the workplace. Professionalism is a much deeper subject when we look at it from an intersectional feminist perspective. 

Professional Dress: Sexist and Racist

Our current definition of professionalism is layered with sexism and racism. While the definition on paper does not depict a specific attire or aesthetic most of us have experienced the biased societal definition of a professional needing to wear formal western clothing with specific hairstyles. 

For women this dress code is exceptionally oppressive and can often require skirts and tights or heels. It requires women to change how they appear normally for the comfort of their employer. Professional or business wear can require women to wear neutral nail polish, slick back hair, neutral clothing, less makeup for a “natural” look or some makeup to look “fresh faced”. Think Hillary Clinton style pant suits but only in neutral colors (so an absolute bore). Women cannot wear baggy or tight clothing if they want to look “professional” and they must maintain a cheery and positive demeanor for fear of coming off as too much. *cough bs cough* 

For the Black community the definition of “professional” wear becomes even more oppressive. Many organizations do not support Black employees wearing their hair in protective or natural styles – such styles such as locs have even been referred to as unprofessional by employers. This is racist. It’s a problem in the professional world and employers are given immense amounts of freedom to design their dress codes in a way that discriminates. 

Employer dress codes and professional appearances were created because employers want employees to “represent the company” but by doing this they are forcing employees to stop representing themselves and their cultures.

Professionalism in Action 

To drive the point further, even when employers create appropriate and respectful dress codes this does not prevent the discrimination employees face internally. Minorities in the workplace often face discrimination based on how they dress, how they present themselves and how they wear their hair and makeup. For POC this continues into comments on diet choices (cultural food being accused of stinking up the break room), asking BIPOC to code switch or stop using AAVE (African American Vernacular English) or participating in the tokenism of POC to show that they are a culture of inclusivity. 

Conclusion 

I believe that you should get to decide what your professional life looks like. I believe that it is bs that companies get to decide dress codes and determine professionalism based on what makes their white male leadership comfortable. I want people to get to decide how what they do everyday aligns with who they want to be. I help my clients find and work for companies (or themselves) in a way that aligns with their values and honors their authenticity without tokenism or discrimination. Ready to take the first step on reclaiming professionalism? dm me about coaching. Let’s make you happy with what you do!

Toxic Positivity in the Professional World (Honest AF)

Toxic positivity

First off, I think the term “professional” is bullshit but it was the most applicable for this post (want to see more about this? Follow my ig or facebook page). Regardless of my views on professionalism, we live under capitalism so we function and support our living with our professions. Toxic positivity is a great marketing tool, a powerful way to get internal employee buy in and having a good attitude is valued in the professional world. I believe it’s only fair, as your life and career coach, to dig into how corporations, MLMs, coaches (yes, even my own industry) and SO MANY OTHERS use toxic positivity to gaslight people. 

Let’s jump in! 

Corporations (the “professional” world)

Efficiency is the name of the game in capitalism. At some point a study was put out that happiness was essential to employee productivity so in an effort to increase productivity companies began manufacturing happiness. The problem with manufactured happiness or toxic positivity in the workplace is that it represses negative experiences instead of embracing and fixing them. 

Creating an authentically positive culture sounds great but I’ve yet to experience one that could last. The problem usually is that leadership and employees cling SO HARD to the positive outlook that they completely ignore or reject any negativity – creating an inauthentic culture.

From my time in HR and the countless webinars, conferences and conversations I had I think it is obvious that employees do not want manufactured or forced happiness they just want to be heard, have their ideas considered and to be treated like people. Employees want authenticity not positivity. They would rather have a voice in change than be told to be “happy” about what they do. This means that corporations that are “good vibes only” need to start listening to their employees and honoring their ideas.

Other places toxic positivity can come up in the workplace include: 

  • Promotion conversations. Have you ever been told that a promotion is within your reach if you follow a specific blueprint or plan only to follow along and not get the promotion? Were you given the encouragement to “just work harder” and the promotion would be yours?
  • Watercooler chats. Have you been reprimanded for complaining about how things were going or asked to have a “positive outlook” on a situation that does not look or feel positive to you? That’s toxic positivity in action. The purpose of this conversation may have been to intimidate you back into your rose colored glasses. 
  • Have you brought up an issue only to be told to be more optimistic or have it brushed under the rug? This is toxic positivity! It invalidates your experience, thoughts and feelings and tells you that you need to only focus on the good. 

There are so many more examples of where this comes up in the workplace and it sucks! My rule of thumb with this is to try to help my clients find and apply for companies that are honest about their wins and losses, companies that allow their employees to show up as a full human with a full range of emotions and if they end up at a company that gaslights them I empower them to gtfo. 

**Yes, before it comes up positive thinking is a powerful tool but allowing the negatives in is important too. Positivity is like sugar – too much may lead to a stomach ache but don’t overdo it on negativity either. It’s all about being realistic, balanced and finding a middle ground that vibes with you! 

MLMs

Now onto the low hanging fruit! If you’re questioning how I feel about MLMs, network marketing or whatever other inverted funnel system you would like to call it take a look at this blog. In summary, I am not a fan. 

Toxic positivity is used to gaslight people into continuing to invest in their pyramid scheme. How? A few examples below: 

  • Toxic positivity can be used to oversimplify things “Hey girly! You just need to recruit 7 of your bossbabe friends to join us and you’ll make ALL your money back AND more!” 
  • Toxic positivity is used to keep people from quitting when they begin to see losses. Saying things like “If you work hard you’ll make your money back!” or “you’ve already invested this much time, why would you quit now?” to convince them that success is always JUST around the corner. 

Am I saying every person in an MLM is an evil monster and intentionally doing this? Absolutely not. But what I am saying is that toxic positivity is ingrained in the culture of this industry! 

Coaching 

The coaching industry can be similar to MLMs. There are a LOT of coaches out there that don’t really care about your success – there are ALSO a lot of wonderful coaches who truly want to help people. So how can you tell the difference? Try to figure out how they feel about real human emotions. I do this by looking for blatant toxic positivity in their content. 

  • For me, it’s ok if they occasionally post content that plays into toxic positivity (I’ve done and said things that fit in this category under the ignorant guise of motivation) but if they react negatively to you calling that content out they probably aren’t the perfect coach for you. 
  • Another way to look into this is to identify if they repress or accept negative emotions. Do they only post about the positives or do they talk about the hard work it takes to make change? The realistic timeline of how long the process will take? Are they selling something that feels “too good to be true”? If so, really evaluate their content and make sure you aren’t getting conned. 
  • Red Flag warning: If they say things like “only focus on the positives” or “invest in you even if it doesn’t make sense” 
    • These are on the nose toxic positivity and sales tactics. The first one is classic toxic positivity. It’s like the meme of the dog in the burning building. You cannot IGNORE the negatives to make them go away. Think of your triggers and feelings like a mosquito in your bedroom. You cannot ignore it away. You either kill it, lose your mind or open a window and pray it leaves. You have to take action, usually, if you want it to go. 
    • The second one is garbage. Asking someone to invest in themselves – even when it doesn’t make sense makes absolutely 0 sense! (I know this because I have fallen for this line). The whole sentence is nonsense and I see it EVERYWHERE. The honest and less sexy version should be “investing in yourself makes sense if you want to grow quickly and you have the financial stability to invest” but in the end the choice is up to you. YOU CAN STILL GROW WITHOUT SPENDING MONEY – it just depends on who you are, what resources you can access and how you learn. 

My “Professional” Opinion

As a coach OF COURSE I want people to buy what I’m selling but I never want people to feel dependent on me to make change or that my 1×1’s or programs are their only options. Your change comes from within you – it’s all about how you work on yourself and what works for you. You do not NEED me to make change in your life, in fact even if you hire me you still have to do the work, I just help make things easier and more manageable! I’m here to help and I promise not to lie to you – even if the lie would be good for my sales!