MONEY Obamacare

How Obamacare Is Making Exiting Your Job Trickier

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Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

You now have more health insurance options to sort through if you quit or face a layoff, and making the wrong choice could prove costly.

Q. When I leave my job, should I sign up for COBRA or buy my own health insurance?

A. With Obamacare in full force, you have a crucial choice to make when you quit or get the ax: pay to stay on your group health plan for up to 18 months (what’s called COBRA), or buy your own policy on a government-run online insurance exchange or directly from an insurer. In May the Obama administration informed all employers with 20 or more workers that they must tell you about both options when you exit.

Your first step should be to price out an individual plan on a government exchange via healthcare.gov and through private sites like gohealth.com and ehealthinsurance.com. Thanks to the health reform law, you’re guaranteed coverage regardless of your health. And you may qualify for a subsidized premium if you earn less than 400% of the federal poverty level, or $46,680 for a single, $62,920 for a couple, and $95,400 for a family of four. If so, you must shop at healthcare.gov. Open enrollment for 2014 coverage via the exchanges closed in March—but after a job loss you have up to 60 days to shop there.

The High Price of Staying Put

Stick with your employer plan through COBRA, and you’ll likely face sticker shock. You’ll owe both your and your employer’s share of the premium, plus a 2% administrative fee. On average, you pay only 18% of the annual premium while you’re working if you’re single, 29% for a family plan, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The average annual tab under COBRA: about $6,000 for singles and $16,500 for families. “COBRA can be a double whammy, because you have to pay the full premium at the same time you may have lost your job and your income,” says Bryce Williams, a managing director at benefits consultant Towers Watson.

The Pros and Cons of Buying Your Own Plan

Chances are you’ll pay a lower premium on the individual market, especially if you qualify for a subsidy. The trade off is that you’ll likely face a higher deductible, steeper out-of-pocket costs, and a shorter list of in-network doctors and hospitals than you would have with your old company group plan. Make sure your preferred hospitals and doctors are in a plan’s network. Provider directories from insurers were notoriously out-of-date even before this year’s slew of changes, so check with the insurer as well as your doctors.

Also factor in how much you’ll pay for drugs, particularly expensive speciality drugs to treat conditions like cancer. An analysis by the consulting firm Avalere Health found that more than half of mid-priced individual plans sold on the exchanges saddle consumers with a percentage of the cost, sometimes 50% or more. What’s more, consumers on the exchanges are twice as likely as group enrollees to need to take extra steps before a drug is covered, such as getting prior authorization from the insurer or trying another drug first.

Whatever you do, don’t mindlessly choose COBRA, figuring you’ll research your options when you have more time, says Michael Mahoney, senior vice president of marketing at GoHealth.com. “You can’t change it later,” he says. You’ll be locked into that plan until your next chance to enroll in an individual plan. For plans starting in January 2015, open enrollment begins on Nov. 15.

 

TIME Careers & Workplace

These Are the Jobs Employers Are Desperate to Fill

Are you a skilled tradesperson? A teacher? Even a waiter or waitress? If so, you’re in luck: These all came up on ManpowerGroup’s newest annual Talent Shortage Survey as occupations employers around the country are scrambling to fill.

Overall, 40% of U.S. companies responding to ManpowerGroup’s survey saying they’re having trouble filling positions, just one percentage point more than last year.

There are some notable differences, though: The biggest reason companies cite is a lack of technical skills, but the percentage of companies who say that’s a culprit has dropped a little bit since last year. Meanwhile, employers are more likely to say this year that they can’t fill positions because workers want more money than they’re willing to pay, they can’t find people with the right experience or there’s a lack of applicants entirely.

“Talent shortage is clearly having a negative impact on employers’ abilities to drive value for their customers,” says Rebekah Kowalski, principal consultant with Right Management, a ManpowerGroup company.

This is pushing some companies to reevaluate how much they’re willing to pay for good workers, she says. “Employers are looking at salaries and making adjustments. I regularly talk with employers that are looking at their pay and workforce models and making strategic modifications,” she says.

Comparatively, American businesses are having a tougher time filling jobs than their overseas counterparts; globally, only 36% of companies say they’re struggling to fill open positions.

Here is ManpowerGroup’s complete rundown of the most hard-to-fill jobs in the United States, in order:

-skilled trade workers
-restaurant and hotel workers
-sales reps
-teachers
-drivers
-accounting and finance professionals
-laborers
-IT Staff
-engineers
-nurses

Tellingly, this year’s top 10 is not dominated by highly technical jobs; although fields like accounting and IT are still struggling with a shortage of good workers, companies in a much broader array of industries are looking for workers today.

“Restaurant and hotel positions are in demand and this is the first time these positions have been on our top 10 hardest jobs to fill list since 2010,” Kowalski says. “We view this demand as a good sign — consumers are spending more on entertainment, travel and dining.”

And Kowalski says that talent gap companies find when they try to fill those math and tech jobs is fueling demand for teachers, a job that jumped up six spots on this year’s top 10 list from last year. “It’s not a surprise there is an increase in demand for teachers; it reflects the need to develop bigger pipelines of qualified talent,” she says.

MONEY Careers

What to Do When You Find Out You Earn Less Than Your Predecessor

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Some sources say that the recent firing of New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson—shown here with her predecessor, Bill Keller, in 2011—was owed in part to her complaints about earning less than Keller. FRED R CONRAD—The New York Times/Redux

How to tell whether you should march into your boss's office -- or just suck it up.

Q: I just found out my predecessor made more than me. My boss doesn’t know I know. What should I do?

A: Before you work yourself up into a fury, keep in mind that “it’s unusual for someone to come into a role and make the same exact salary as the previous person in the job,” says Lydia Frank, editorial director at compensation data provider PayScale.com. Also, there may be a good reason that you make less.

Many factors affect compensation. Employers typically stick within a general range for each position, and where you fall within that range depends a lot on what you bring to the table–your years of experience, your unique skill set and your education. Unless those attributes are identical to those of your predecessor, you shouldn’t necessarily expect to command the same salary. Additionally, as unfair as this may seem, the economy may play a role: The person you replaced may simply have been hired during more flush times at your company.

If after having weighed these factors you still see an imbalance, however, you should talk to your boss. But you’ll want to be careful about how you do it, as it can be a delicate dance to get your boss to see your side. (It’s been widely reported that one of the factors in the recent high-profile ouster of New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson was her complaints about earning less than the person she replaced.)

First, get some data behind you, since you want to avoid bringing up what you know about your predecessor’s pay. By mentioning that, “You’d be putting your boss on the defensive,” says Frank. “That’s not a conversation that’s likely to go well.”

There are several ways to find out what’s an appropriate income for your position. You can check salary sites, such as PayScale.com which crowd sources data on compensation, and Glassdoor.com, which posts company salary reports. You can also turn to your network and ask current or former colleagues for insight. (While it’s still taboo to talk about pay, it may be easier if you ask about a range.)

Then tell your manager that you’ve done some research on salaries in your position, and the data you’ve found indicates that you’re are at the low-end of the scale. From there, build your case about why you are a top performer and should earn more, using quantifiable examples of your successes and highlighting wins that align with your boss’s and the company’s goals. If your supervisor pushes back, ask what you can do to get to that next level: Get more training, add a particular skill or hit a sales target?

The bottom line: When it comes to your salary, what’s most relevant is whether you are making what you should based on the current market price for your position and your qualifications, not what the person before you earned.

TIME Careers & Workplace

15 Things Successful People Do on Monday Mornings

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Jeffrey Coolidge—Getty Images

Those first few hours after the weekend are critical. Start your week off right


This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources, and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

Monday mornings are the most critical time of the workweek, as they set the stage for the day and week ahead.

“Because you’ve stepped away for a couple days, these back-to-work mornings are the most memorable for the rest of the week,” says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job. “They influence your mindset in a positive or negative way, depending on what actions you decide to take.”

Most successful people are keenly aware of the typical Monday morning workplace dynamic of unanticipated events, overflow of communications, and general chaos. “But after weathering hundreds of them, they realize they must gain control and stay upbeat,” Taylor explains. “They take extra steps to compensate for this busy time of the week, and apply their best management skills to ensure that the day unfolds as smoothly as possible.”

Here are 15 things successful people do on Monday mornings:

They wake up early and exercise.

This gets your circulation going and helps you stay alert, putting you at an advantage for a productive week ahead. “You’ll get your endorphin rush, which will help your mood, too,” Taylor explains.

They eat a healthy breakfast.

On Monday morning, you want to handle everything you have control over. Eating breakfast is one of those things. “You don’t want to be staring at the clock, awaiting lunchtime as your stomach growls at morning meetings,” she says.

They arrive early.

Do not succumb to the snooze button. “Commutes are bad on Monday, so beat the odds,” Taylor says. Plus, getting in earlier than others will help make Monday morning seem more like the afternoon, because you’ll have had a chance to breathe before responding to the barrage of people and issues. “Being an early bird will give you some wiggle room for the unexpected at work, not to mention any important personal matters that may arise,” she says.

They clear their desk and desktop.

“Hopefully you already did this before you left on Friday,” Taylor says. “But if you didn’t, get this out of the way, or you might add to Monday stresses in a sea of disorganization.” Organize and prioritize your files. Put aside unimportant paperwork, and keep critical files easily accessible. You want to be prepared when you, your boss, or colleagues need something at the last minute.

They carve out time for unexpected projects and tasks.

Successful individuals expect the unexpected on Monday, she says. “Your boss, team members, or staff may have remembered some loose ends over the weekend,” she says, “so you’re wise to build in some extra downtime on Monday morning.”

They greet their team and boss.

This is important to do first thing every morning to keep morale high, but on Monday it’s particularly valuable, as your team needs a special boost. “Ideally, you’ll spend an few extra minutes with your colleagues on Monday mornings,” Taylor explains. “It reinforces a sense of purpose and community for everyone, including you.”

They update their to-do list and goals.

“Get yourself current on priorities and tasks,” Taylor suggests. Then set five to eight goals for the week.

“Accomplished professionals have several goals in mind for the day and week,” she says. “They know that if all goals aren’t achieved, they can take pride in accomplishing most of them, and there’s next week to achieve additional objectives.”

They visualize the week’s successes.

By envisioning the positive outcomes of various projects at hand, you can work backwards and determine the necessary steps to get your desired results.

They screen emails for urgent requests.

You can sink into email oblivion if you don’t scan your inbox for urgency, Taylor says. “Star emails that are priorities, and think quality, not quantity,” she says.

They tackle the tough challenges first.

The least desirable but critical projects are easy to put off, but your energy is stronger in the morning, so that’s the ideal time to confront the most difficult assignments.

They make an extra effort to smile.

“It might be the last thing on your mind, but overcompensating for the pressure-cooker morning will help you get through it,” she says. You may well stand out in the crowd, but your smile will likely be contagious, helping both you and team members relax.

They add a “blanket of humanity” to their emails.

It’s tempting to power through all your emails in the most efficient way on Monday mornings. But before you hit Send, read them over to ensure that they’re friendly and clear. “Put yourself in the recipient’s shoes,” Taylor says. “It’s relatively easy to appear curt when you’re in a hurry, along with the impersonal nature of emails and texts. You want to mitigate false starts and misinterpretations.” One way to do this: Start the email by saying “Hi” and “I hope you had a great weekend.”

They’re able to say no.

“On Monday mornings, there will be many distractions–from people to emails to calls, meetings, offers for meeting in the break room, and so forth,” Taylor explains. “Successful people can diplomatically and politely say no to colleagues by offering to engage at a later time.”

If your boss needs you, that is clearly an exception. However, if you have crucial calls to make or meetings to attend, give your boss the heads-up. “It’s stressful to be a people pleaser, particularly on Monday mornings,” she says. “Generally, no one ends up being pleased, as you can’t do your best work with conflicting priorities.”

They stay focused.

Successful people don’t dwell on any challenging events that occurred over the weekend or other frivolous thoughts. “Compartmentalize by putting them in a separate box as you start your week,” she says.

They remember that there is Tuesday.

“In all the chaos, it’s easy to believe that the world will cave if you don’t solve all Monday’s problems on Monday,” she says. “But when the dust settles at the end of the day, you may realize that certain tasks could have waited.” Sometimes, you obtain more information over time that enhances your decision-making process. Or you may find that certain problems you’re pondering will resolve themselves.

Monday morning can challenge even the most industrious, successful business leaders. “But if you compensate for all the anticipated distraction and intensity by remembering to focus, plan, and stay calm, you won’t relive Monday all over again on Tuesday,” Taylor concludes.

Read more from Inc.com:

The Most Important Success and Happiness Rules I’ve Learned From My Mom

The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship

Steve Jobs’s 13 Most Inspiring Quotes

17 Things Happy People Say Every Day

12 Words That Will Change Everything You Think About Entrepreneurship

TIME Careers & Workplace

Working Harder Not Really Worth It, Researchers Find

You might think turning in a project early, putting more effort into it or otherwise going above and beyond what you promise to do at work is a good way to get ahead. Save yourself the trouble: It isn’t.

“Breaking one’s promise is costly, but exceeding it does not appear worth the effort,” writes Ayelet Gneezy, an associate professor of behavioral sciences and marketing in the Rady School of Management at the University of California, San Diego. “Promise receivers consistently failed to recognize the additional effort required to exceed a promise.”

In a series of experiments, Gneezy evaluates how people respond to a promise that is broken, met or exceeded. If you don’t follow through on a promise, the person you let down is likely to see you as more selfish, less generous and less fair — not the kind of reputation you want to cultivate with bosses, coworkers or clients.

Unfortunately, though, exceeding a promise doesn’t earn you any more kudos than if you simply do what you pledged to do. Gneezy finds that this holds true even when the person to whom the promise is made benefits from the extra effort.

Where you do benefit by going above and beyond is exceeding expectations. In one experiment, Gneezy finds that people are happier when expectations are surpassed versus when they are simply met.

What’s the difference? It sounds like splitting hairs, but there’s an important distinction, Gneezy says.

“Promises are not merely expectations,” she says. As it turns out, we view promises as social contracts between people, which makes us unconsciously elevate their importance. “The contractual nature of a promise provides value above and beyond a promise’s tangible outcome,” Gneezy writes. And while contracts can be kept or broken, there’s no mechanism for earning extra credit.

“When companies, friends, or coworkers put forth the effort to keep a promise, their effort is likely to be rewarded,” Gneezy writes. Since just keeping your word is good enough, focus on that, she advises. You can damage your reputation if you break that promise, but you won’t get any advantage from exceeding it, even if the person you made the promise to benefits from your extra effort.

MONEY Health Care

More Workers are in Part-Time Gigs—Is Obamacare Responsible?

A new study suggests the change is due to the economy rather than the employer mandate.

Though more Americans today are clocking in a less-than-40-hour workweek than a decade ago, this trend can’t be blamed on the health reform overhaul—at least not yet, a new study found.

The analysis, done by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, found that the movement toward shorter work weeks was underway before the health law passed in 2010. The percentage of people working less than 40 hours has actually dropped slightly since then, according to the study.

So the study attributes the trend to the recession rather than the health reform law.

The finding is important because there is some concern that firms may cut back on worker hours to get out of the employer penalty that was to be put into place by the law. Firms with 50 or more employees putting in at least 30 hours a week must offer affordable health insurance to workers or pay a fine. “There are anecdotes about employers talking about cutting hours,” says Paul Fronstin, director of health research at EBRI. “Whether or not some went ahead and did it I don’t know. But we haven’t seen it on a net impact.”

The study includes data only through 2012, two years after the law was passed but still two years before the employer mandate was set to kick in. Fronstin says many employers plan in advance, and likely would have started a strategic shift before 2014.

Still, the year the penalty kicks in has been pushed back by President Obama to 2015 or 2016, depending on the size of the employer. So the data for future years may tell a different story. “No question we could see things change in a year or two,” says Fronstin.

Overall, though, the study concludes that future workforce patterns may hinge more on unemployment rates and the strength of the economy than the law.

One downside of a gig with less than 40 hours a week is that you’re less likely to have access to company health insurance. Firms have dropped coverage for their part-time workers over the past decade at a faster rate than for those with full time positions. Only 13% of workers putting in fewer than 30 hours a week have health insurance through their job, according to the study.

part time workers with health insurance.jpg
NOTE: 2012 data. SOURCE: Employee Benefit Research Institute
TIME Careers & Workplace

19 Words That Will Make People Like You More

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Image Source—Getty Images/Image Source

Want to make a better first impression and engender positive feelings that last a long time? Focus on what you say as much as what you do


This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources, and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

First impressions can lead to lasting impressions. So to improve, a lot of people will tell you to dress better, read more (so you’ll have interesting things to talk about), and ensure that your online presence is respectable (because many people will check you out online before meeting in person).

But, how far will that get you? Despite what many people would like to believe, the things you say often make an even greater early impression than the things you do. To take advantage of that and get you started easily, here are 19 words–grouped into a handful of easy phrases–that you should make a habit of saying every day. They’re virtually guaranteed to improve your standing with others if you use them often enough.

Words No. 1 and 2: “Sir” and “ma’am”

American culture is pretty informal compared to many other places in the world, but a little bit of formality can really make you stand out in a positive way. I carry this inclination from the military, and also from having been a lawyer in the federal court system. These are environments in which people use the titles “Sir” and “Ma’am” constantly–not just in talking with high ranking military officers, but also addressing civilians.

I know that this doesn’t work in every situation, but using these titles can be a sign of respect that gets people’s attention. It can be important in professional relationships, especially when dealing with people you don’t know well, and who are older or more experienced than you.

Words No. 3 and 4: “You’re welcome.”

Sometime in fairly recent history it seems people stopped saying, “You’re welcome,” and started substituting, “Yep,” or, “No problem.” At the risk of sounding older than I am, I think this is a step in the wrong direction–at least in a business or professional setting.

Why? Because ditching “you’re welcome” for these other phrases changes the message. “You’re welcome” acknowledges that you’ve done something worth someone else’s thanks, while “no problem” suggests that it wasn’t that big of a deal. Saying the former phrase conveys that you think it was a worthwhile favor. That’s an impressive message to send.

Words No. 5 to 7: “Here’s what’s happening.”

If you’ve ever worked in an environment in which people guarded information like a valuable commodity, you’ll appreciate how much affinity you develop for the few people who try to keep everyone else accurately informed.

Of course you don’t want to be a know-it-all or spread rumors. However, even if you don’t know the full story, being willing to share the information you have that affects others’ lives can make you instantly more likable.

Words No. 8 to 11: “How can I help?”

Nobody accomplishes anything amazing alone. Thus, with the exception of the sociopaths among us, we’re all eventually grateful to those who help us achieve great things. I think we’re especially grateful to those who proactively try to help.

This doesn’t mean you have to go way out of your way to offer assistance, but it’s often the case that you have access to something or the ability to do something that won’t take much on your part, but that can really have a positive impact on someone else’s success.

Words #12 to 15: “I’ll find out.”

This is one of my favorite phrases. It’s related to “how can I help,” but is even more proactive. It says that you’re not only willing to offer assistance, but that you’re willing to go out of your way to do so.

(By the way, this helpful phrase is also the diametric opposite of the most bureaucratic phrase known to humankind, uttered incessantly by some of the least likable people: “That’s not my job.”)

Words No. 16 to 19: “I believe in you.”

Henry Ford recalled that when he was still an unknown, and was working on gasoline engines, a few short words of encouragement from an already famous Thomas Edison were a massive shot in the arm.

It’s amazing how just a little bit of validation from other people can inspire people to work harder and achieve more. Four short words can have a huge, positive impact–both for the people you’re encouraging, and for their feelings toward you .

Read more from Inc.com:

The Most Important Success and Happiness Rules I’ve Learned From My Mom

The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship

Steve Jobs’s 13 Most Inspiring Quotes

17 Things Happy People Say Every Day

12 Words That Will Change Everything You Think About Entrepreneurship

MONEY big business

CEO Pay Breaks $10 Million

The median pay package for chief executives at the nation's largest companies amounts to 257 times the average worker's salary.

TIME technology

Meg Whitman Has the Hardest Job in Silicon Valley

Technology Business Leaders Address Salesforce Conference
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

See correction below.

Meg Whitman has vowed to turn around HP, a task that many thought impossible in her early years at the company. Judging from the company’s stock performance over the past year, she may finally be gaining ground but it could come at a cost. In slashing costs to fix HP, is Whitman slashing too aggressively?

In October 2011, a month after Whitman took over, HP employed 350,000 people. That wasn’t as big as IBM, which employed 431,000 at the time, but it’s vastly larger than most of the startups that are having a big impact on the tech innovation these days. (WhatsApp, to offer an extreme example, had 35 employees when Facebook bought it.)

The following spring HP announced it would lay off 27,000 employees through the end of 2014. By fall, headcount had fallen to 318,000 and HP upped the number of layoffs to 34,000 jobs – equal to about a tenth of its peak employment. To manage that, HP said it would take $4.1 billion in charges related to the layoffs, a figure that exceeds its annual budget for R&D spending by a good margin.

When HP reported its earnings last week, the company said it would cut as many as another 16,000 jobs. Many of those positions are expected to come from declining businesses like personal computers, traditional printers and enterprise services, areas that all declined in 2013.

The idea, in theory at least, is to reduce spending enough to generate more corporate cash that can be invested in new innovations like tablets, cloud computing or 3D printers. But more often these savings go into the stock buybacks and dividends that placate antsy investors. HP’s board allocated $10 billion worth of stock to be repurchased in 2011, and the company still has $7 billion to spend.

The broader issue facing HP and others is that big tech is very often old tech. Companies that have grown successful in the past decade years are less dependent on hardware manufacturing and are able to benefit from technological efficiencies. As a result, Google can boast revenue per employee of $1.3 million while Facebook’s sees $1.2 million per worker. HP’s revenue per employee is $354,000.

So even while the tech industry is growing in revenue, it’s not really growing as a source of jobs. Technology jobs grew through the 1980s and 1990s but have declined in Silicon Valley and the US during the past decade. In 2000, technology accounted for 5% of jobs in California, but that ratio has since settled down to around 4.3%, even as the share of technology companies contribute to California’s economy has remained stable.

The layoffs are helping HP’s performance in the short run. HP’s stock rose as high as $34.09 on Friday on the news that Whitman was axing even more positions. That price marks a 175% increase since November 2012, when HP’s stock hit a decade low. The last time HP’s stock traded above $34 a share was in August 2011, a month before Meg Whitman was named CEO.

Whitman was left with a difficult hand to play. A series of scandals and a longer series of ill-advised and costly acquisitions by her predecessors, coupled with a decline in PC sales left the company in a tough spot. Layoffs were widely expected to be part of the process of stabilizing HP, but they come with a catch: Cut too many employees and you weaken the company’s ability into the kind of growth investors are demanding.

In words that must sound callous to departing HP employees, Whitman declared her willingness to cut more jobs if things don’t turn around soon. “Listen, I’m not at all disappointed. I think it’s the natural course of what makes sense in a turnaround of this size and scale,” Whitman said on a conference call with analysts last week. “HP must be manically focused on continuous improvement in our cost structure.”

Some on Wall Street, mindful that endless rounds of layoffs can both help and harm, doubted whether HP’s newfound mania was a good thing. “Serial restructuring cannot solve HP’s secular challenges, particularly following years of underinvestment,” wrote Goldman Sachs analyst Bill Shope in a research note. Kubinder Garcha of Credit Suisse wondered if the restructuring charges, now estimated at $4.9 billion, would undo any cost-savings benefit. “HP is turning into a perennial restructuring story,” Garcha said.

Neither is HP’s maniacal focus on cutting jobs certain to position it against an ever competitive market for enterprise IT. While HP is defensively cutting costs, companies at the high-end are investing in improving their strengths, while those on the low end, including Asian companies like Lenovo, are growing by aggressive pricing.

HP may be, as Whitman says, “making us a more nimble and decisive company” and putting it back on a track to revive revenue growth. But it’s also true that the slashing jobs, while pleasing to investors in the short term, maybe hobbling the HP’s ability to become, in the longer run, a company that can keep growing in the growth-driven tech industry.

Correction: A previous version of this story mistakenly identified WhatsApp as another company.

TIME Careers & Workplace

11 Surefire Ways to Turn Your Dreams Into Reality

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Maria Teijeiro—Getty Images/OJO Images RF


This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

By Brent Gleeson

The loftiest goal I ever set in the early stages of my professional career was to become a Navy SEAL. Achieving that milestone gave me a new perspective and set the foundation for the rest of my life. Nothing seemed too far from my grasp.

The first six months of training, called Basis Underwater Demolition/SEAL, is designed to identify those not solely committed to the mission of becoming a Navy SEAL, separate them from the herd, and force them to quit. Unless you quickly identify what you personally need to be successful, you will fail. Here are 11 important tactics I learned during that journey that I use every day in the constant pursuit of personal and professional success.

1. Get the simple things right.

During training, Sunday was always depressing, because you knew the inevitable torture that Monday would bring. Monday was inspection day. To be successful as a SEAL, your attention to detail must be unwavering. So you start with the little things, like making your bed and cleaning the floors. I used to keep my bed impeccably made and sleep on top of the covers with a sleeping bag. If everything wasn’t perfect, you paid for it. And sometimes when it was perfect, you paid anyway. The lesson: If you can’t get the simple things right, you can’t expect to successfully tackle more daunting tasks.

2. Set both realistic and unrealistic goals.

Successful people are relentless goal setters. They break down larger milestones into smaller, more achievable tasks. One of the most unrealistic goals a SEAL candidate can set is completing Hell Week. You don’t sleep for a week. You run countless miles with boats, logs, and backpacks. You swim dozens of miles in the frigid ocean. You run the obstacle course daily and do more pushups and pull-ups than you can count. All while battling second-stage hypothermia, sores, and often fractures. Some students quit just minutes into Hell Week. You can’t allow yourself to imagine what the end will look like. So you make–and achieve–one small goal at a time and pray for the sun to come up the next day. A series of near-term realistic goals will help you get closer to your big audacious ones.

3. Work hard.

This one seems obvious, but many people underestimate the level of effort it takes to be successful and achieve aggressive goals. It astonishes me that some of the guys showing up to SEAL training put no real time or effort into preparation. If you don’t work hard preparing for potential success, you won’t change that behavior when things get really tough.

4. Get others to work with you.

A SEAL training class is broken down into boat crews of seven guys each: three on either side of the boat and a coxswain in the rear steering. During the first phase of training, you take the boats out through the surf and paddle miles up and down the beach every day. I was in a winter class, where the swells can be up to 10 feet or more. It takes every man digging in and paddling hard just to get through the surf zone without getting tossed upside down. When setting goals and pursuing success, you must sometimes lead and get others to paddle with you. You can’t do it all alone. The minute you realize that you don’t know everything and need help along the way, the better off you will be.

5. Don’t make excuses.

Successful people don’t make excuses for failure or shortcomings. They acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses and seek feedback from trusted advisers. The longer you sit around making excuses, the further you will drift from the possibility of achieving your goals.

6. Don’t underestimate others.

One of the most fascinating things about SEAL training is that out of the couple hundred guys who start a training class, you could never hand pick the 30 or so who will graduate. Rarely is it the Rambo types who make it. Usually they are the first to go. Underestimating people, whether peers or competitors, is one of the worst things you can do. People who go far in life measure others by qualities such as integrity and strength of heart. Empower those around you, and you will be surprised by the outcome.

7. Be willing to fail.

When entering this phase of my life, I knew that statistically, the odds were not in my favor. I also knew that if I didn’t try, I would never forgive myself. I decided that I would rather try and fail than be the guy who says, “I was thinking about trying that.” You simply can’t look at life through a lens of fear. If you take a calculated risk and fail, at the very least you have a valuable learning experience. Get back up. Dust off. And never, ever, be out of the fight.

8. Embrace the repercussions of your actions.

On your path to success, you will make mistakes. One of my early mistakes was slacking off on my pushups after the obstacle course during the first day of the third phase of training. An instructor was looking through the rearview mirror while sitting in the truck. He was counting to see if I did the required 50. I decided to do 30-ish. That mistake earned me a spot with the “cheaters” the following week while at the shooting range. Each day, before we started, during lunch, and between drills, the cheaters would line up and sprint to the top of a nearby mountain in full gear. If you failed to make the cutoff time, you ran it again. It was torture. But the week after, I miraculously cut my four-mile run time by three minutes. Learn from your mistakes and turn the consequences into something positive.

9. Don’t back down.

My favorite passage from the Navy SEAL creed reads: “I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.” Enough said.

10. Laugh when you want to cry.

Staying positive seems like an obvious trait for successful people, but it’s easier said than done. Your character is defined by what you do when things get tough. During Hell Week, one of the fun tasks is called “steel pier.” After spending some time in the cold water of San Diego Bay, you strip down to your undershorts and lie down on the freezing metal pier while the instructors spray you with hoses. Your body convulses uncontrollably as it reaches stage-two hypothermia. But the guys who found the strength to laugh (partly because of delirium) during this event were the ones standing proud at graduation. When things get rough and are out of your control, don’t forget to laugh.

11. Make sacrifices.

Success comes with sacrifice. Let selfish ways fall by the wayside, and know that you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. The most successful people in the world have made significant sacrifices along the way. To become a SEAL, you give up comfort, and the discomfort only increases the further you go. But you get used to it, because you know what you are doing is worth it.

The path to success is paved with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, but you can’t lose heart. Stay strong, be humble, and lean on others for support when necessary.

Read more from Inc.com:
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