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Find your peace (and pride and purpose)

Plus: How to glow in the f*cking dark

Hi and happy Friday! Today I’m trying something new. Welcome to the first-ever WorkDaze Guest Q&A (which, given who you’re about to hear from, is fittingly falling just a couple days after International Women’s Day) ((an occasion that, if you ask me, should be celebrated every day)). Let’s have a little fun doing something a little different.

Friday vibes: Appropriate for this edition, may I present to you the only boss I answer to, Queen Shania.


Work Advice with Tara Schuster

I’d like to introduce my new friend Tara Schuster. She’s a former entertainment exec turned mental health advocate and author of the best-selling book, Buy Yourself The F*cking Lilies. Her latest book, Glow In The F*cking Dark, is out now. And I sometimes complain about writing two emails a week…?

Anyway! Kind of like how I only order takeout from restaurants with 4+ stars, I only trust advice from people who’ve gone through it, and that’s Tara.

After losing her high-level TV job, Tara found herself lacking purpose and feeling super depressed and lonely. So she did what we all should do (instead of cutting bangs at home) and 1) hit pause 2) took a breath and 3) figured out who she really is.

She’s an expert on engineering a fulfilling and purposeful life and career, so the WorkDaze team asked her to divulge all her secrets and she delivered big time. Enjoy!

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity (don’t I sound so official saying that??).

WorkDaze: You wrote Glow in the F*cking Dark” after losing your job. What’s one piece of advice you can give to others who have been impacted by the recent layoffs?

Tara Schuster: Grieve. You don’t need to look for the silver lining immediately. Let yourself feel how you actually feel and then look at the bigger picture of what you do have.

While I was distraught over the loss of my job, I could also see how lucky I was to have savings, to have come so far in healing my mental health, to notice that my friends were there to support me, that I was smart and capable, and that this would not be the last job I ever had.

I really detest toxic positivity, but I am equally not a fan of “looking at the bright side.” I like to look at the whole picture—there is grief and there is gratitude, there is loss and potential gain. The key is not to get so overwhelmed that you only see the bad—because that’s total fiction.

WD: Working a 9 to 5 can be surprisingly emotional. Any advice on setting boundaries in the workplace to protect our emotional health?

TS: This might be controversial but I don’t know how possible it is to set boundaries at work because the truth of the matter is—someone is signing your paycheck and has power over your resources.

So what I do is try to not be totally emotionally invested, have a little distance, and never treat my colleagues like family. They have nothing to do with family unless, in your home, you operated in a hierarchy where labor was traded for money.

I’m not sure you can control boundaries at work but you can certainly control how you think of work—the importance you give it, the way it makes you feel, all of that is up to you!

WD: When you’re anxious about work, what are some things you do to shake the scaries?

TS: I try to dig and see why am I so afraid? What am I dreading? What outcome do I fear? Usually, I’m not actually anxious at all! I’m angry at how my boss treated me; I’m disappointed in my performance; I’m afraid I will be fired.

When you can dig into what's under your anxiety you have more options as to how to handle it. For example, I can try to avoid my boss or have a conversation with them; I can try to work on my own skills; I can start looking for new jobs.

When you can get really clear on what’s happening for you [instead of just feeling anxious], you regain the ability to choose how you will respond.

WD: Let’s talk about work/life balance. You’ve mentioned that your job was your life before you were let go. What’s something to remember for those who don’t want their entire identity to be their career?

TS: Drill into your head: This is just a job. I think so many of us were sold the creed of hustle—that our jobs define us and that we ought to find our meaning, passion, and joy there. But that’s foolishness! Your job is there to make a company money, and to get you resources, the end. That’s the naked truth.

Look for unshakable, un-take-away-able markers of identity. For example, I take pride in being an older sister, I love being creative, I adore going into nature, I find belonging in my community, I often remind myself I am enough just as I am—a soul in a body! I try to see myself as a much bigger person, connected to all others, so that when something like a job is taken away, it’s not my whole personality at stake.

WD: A question we get a lot is how to take care of yourself outside of work to avoid burnout and protect your peace and identity. What’s your take?

TS: I’ve had to structure my days in a way where I ALWAYS have a little peace. This means literally scheduling when I will journal, when I will run, when I will meditate and blocking those times off in my calendar. Schedule your actual life as if it’s as important as your job.

WD: One more Q for you! Is there one piece of career advice someone once gave you that will stick with you forever?

TS: I was at breakfast interviewing for a job with [media exec and producer] Jeffrey Katzenberg and I thought this might be my only chance to pick his brain. I asked him for his advice and he replied without hesitation: “Beat people’s expectations by just a little.” It’s that little extra that sets you apart. I’ve lived by that ever since.

Got an idea for whose brain we should pick next? Submit your suggestion here.

Things to Slack your work besties

…after you only unmute yourself at the end of the call to say “thanks, have a good one.”

Introducing hustle culture’s evil twin: soft living. The idea? Taking better care of yourself, not stressing over a job, and doing things you truly enjoy and make you happy, even if that means spending more and saving less. *Starts looking at flights to Fiji*

The fact that How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days will be known as an “old-timey classic” in 100 years was not what I needed to start my weekend. Not gonna say I got a 100% on this quiz...but, I got a 100% on this quiz.

The hold that the Philadelphia Strawberry Cheesecake SnackBar had on me in 2002 was so real. And now you’re telling me I can make them myself?

Thanks for reading! I’ll see you back here on Monday, where we’ll talk work fails…including some of yours!



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