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In this episode, one woman shows us the "productive" mindsets and behaviors she thought meant she loved her job, but were actually negatively affecting her life.

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Through weekly video essays, "Making It Work" showcases how *real* people have upgraded their personal or financial lives in some meaningful way. Making your life work for you doesn't mean getting rich just for the sake of it. It means making the most of what you have to build a life you love, both in your present and in your future. And while managing money is a crucial life skill for everyone, there's no one "right way" to go about it — you have to figure out what works best for *you,* full stop.

Based on an article by Bree Rody:

Video by Grace Lee

The Financial Diet site:

Making It Work is sponsored by Bestow.

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Click the link in our description to apply for easy, affordable term life insurance offered by Bestow and help make sure your loved ones are taken care of. If you ask anyone who spoke to me in the last six years, they'd tell you I loved my job. I was an editor for a trade magazine covering the advertising industry.

I started out as a staff writer with one of our small subpublications then became a news editor and, eventually, an editor in chief, all promotions I earned because I was dedicated and passionate. I couldn't walk down the block without getting an idea for a story. My colleagues were all my best friends.

Now that I've been with another job for a few months, still a business journalist, but covering a different industry, I realize a lot of the habits I developed at this job were detrimental to my mental health and sense of identity. Number one, I thought about work 24/7 and even dreamed about it. Like many children, I was told to follow my passion and that, by doing so, it would never feel like work.

So I did follow my passion, but it sort of had the opposite effect. Instead of working, feeling like a natural, easy thing, it permeated every other aspect of my life. If I was going for a run, I was thinking of work.

If I was sitting on the couch after supper, I was thinking about work. It was literally the first thing I thought about when I woke up and the last thing I thought about when I went to sleep. And even then, I'd often dream about missing a deadline or messing up an assignment.

If I had a particularly deadline-heavy week, I would often wake up, usually around 2 or 3 AM, every morning that week, check my work email, and then start doing some late night planning in bed to get ahead of potential deadlines disasters. The more I thought about work, the better my brain got at fashioning chaotic scenarios out of these little 'what if' thoughts. Number two, I wore my stress like a badge of honor.

It's a problem a lot of millennials have. We think everyone cares about how busy we are. I'd worked in tech startups before.

So I was used to hustle culture. If I wasn't stressed out when I left the office at the end of the day, I must have been doing it wrong. When people at work would praise me and say things like, I don't know how you do it, I'd joke in response.

Oh, you know, crying at my desk and working through lunch. I even felt weirdly competitive with other journalists at my company. I remember looking at people with different supervisors who got to leave earlier than me and never seemed to stress, thinking they'll never get good at their jobs this way.

It reached a point beyond parody two years ago when my grandpa died. Even though I properly booked time off to go to his funeral, I was inundated the entire way there with emails, despite there being plenty of people around the office who could've filled in requests continued throughout the week, until I finally had to take a few hours that evening while the rest of my cousins were gathering to get some work done. Most of them, including two who were physicians, had actually managed to properly break away from their work for a few days.

Number, three I never let myself get too comfortable. I achieved a lot in my time at the magazine, but I could only ever let myself be happy about those achievements for a day at most. I had been told my whole life to never work as though my job were guaranteed, that and I should always be ready to be replaced.

Then, about 10 months ago, I was working on a freelance piece, in which I learned that the feeling that work was never finished had a name, the Ziegarnik Effect. It's a psychological phenomenon that causes our brains to focus disproportionately on open or incomplete task. But in my conversation with research scientist Jennifer Diehl, we broached the topic of what can happen when the effect is combined with anxiety over losing one's job.

Besides working in a field where mass layoffs are common, and as part of my job, I was writing about these layoffs constantly, I also watched my dad lose his job with no warning when I was 17. And years later, I was thinking about work constantly, because I was constantly terrified of doing a bad job and eventually losing mine. Number four, I used it to replace therapy and friends.

Besides dealing with mood disorders, I needed help with stress management for work. And around the time my grandpa died, I also lost a friend, very suddenly. It didn't take a rocket scientist to know I needed to go to therapy, but we were short staffed.

And we were in a situation where I couldn't even get sick, because content production couldn't take a day off. Even being able to get a therapy appointment that didn't interfere with work took months. And half the time, I was so drained after work I couldn't fathom leaving my couch.

When I addressed my burnout with my manager, she was sympathetic, but couldn't make any promises about covering my absence or lightening my load. So I put on a happy face and said, it's OK. I love work.

Work can be my therapy. I got adept at channeling my anxieties into working even faster and more furiously than before. During times of excessive overtime, I'd go weeks or even months without seeing my friends.

And eventually, even during COVID, when we began working remotely, I started to say things like, it's OK. My colleagues are my friends. I convinced myself that I didn't need anything outside of my job.

It was still hard to leave my job. And not just because I didn't have much of an identity beyond it, it was an interesting job, with good people, and I was damn good at it. But the most interesting thing about leaving was how surprised everyone was that I left.

I thought everyone could see my burnout and how miserable I was. Maybe they could and they simply thought I'd never have the strength to leave. Or maybe they too thought that these habits of mine were good things.

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