TIME Careers & Workplace

17 Daily Habits My Dad Insists Will Make You Happier and More Successful

88622323
Image Source—Getty Images/Image Source

Want to improve your life, one daily habit at a time? My dad offers some pretty good advice.


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.

The other day my dad sent me an email with the subject line, “YOUR COLUMN.” (My dad is sometimes big on all-caps.) It began:

Bill:
In the tradition of 12 step programs and your excellent columns, I offer the following for your use, adaptation, or rejection.

My dad (Bill Murphy Sr., if you’re doing the genealogical math) has enjoyed business successas a lawyer who built his own firm, and who has worked for himself since the early 1970s. He and my mom raised five kids together, and they’re still going strong. They’re devoted to their grandchildren, and moreover my dad is a man who enjoys both his work and the rest of his life.

In fact, as I read his email, it occurred to me that he’s achieved many of the things that younger people tell me are among their goals in life. (Of course, I’ve been too close to realize it.)

My dad went on to offer four daily habits, each of which made great sense to me, and which I know he’s backed up with experience. However, I also know my dad well enough to realize that offering onlyfour pieces of advice isn’t exactly his nature, so I racked his brain. Here’s what we came up with.

1. Carpe diem.

You know that this is Latin for “seize the day,” right? This is the first daily habit on my dad’s list. No matter how yesterday went–whether you had great triumphs or whether you wish you’d spent the whole day in bed, remember that every new day is a new opportunity. You can’t rest on yesterday’s accomplishments, and you never have to repeat yesterday’s mistakes.

2. Spend as much time as you can with the people you love.

Your spouse, your kids, your parents, your close friends–whoever they are–make sure that you find lots of time to spend time with the people you truly care about. If you want to feel really guilty about this, check out the calculator at seeyourfolks.com, which will calculate how many more times you’re likely to see your parents based on past experience and life expectancy. (We’ll wait here while you go give them a call afterward.)

3. At the same time, love the ones you’re with.

There are many different kinds of love, and here my dad is talking about showing respect and concern for the people you spend your days with. “That is simply, love everyone,” is how my dad put it, and he added a quote from Thomas Merton: “Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone–we find it with another.

4. Work hard.

You can’t always determine what you get out of something, but you can often control what you put into it. When I was growing up and I’d be anxious over some school assignment or other project, my dad would usually ask me the same question afterward: “Did you give it your best shot? Then forget about it.”

5. At the end of the day, go home.

This one seems simple, until you start to realize how most of us are almost 100% on and accessible all the time now. Now, I’m not going to pretend that either my dad or I truly live up to this advice, but it’s a good goal to have.

6. Later, go to bed.

“Get the rest you need. Your body needs sleep–not just ‘rest and relaxation’–for it to work well,” my dad insists. He’s right of course–and it’s even become fashionable to admit thatpeople need sleep.

7. Get some exercise.

My dad’s sport is swimming, and while he came to it late, my dad has the zeal of a convert. A few years ago he did a half-mile open water swim off the beach in Narragansett, R.I. Regardless of what sport or activity works for you, my dad advises, your day will be improved if you do something athletic. Science backs him up.

8. Have a little faith.

As a lawyer–the kind of lawyer who takes on real clients and tries real cases in court–dad has pretty much seen it all. He also has stronger religious (Catholic) faith than most people I know, perhaps in part because he’s had his faith tested in many ways. It helps immensely if you believe in something bigger than yourself.

9. Learn another language.

My dad studied ancient Greek and Latin in high school. More recently, in his 60s, he decided to try to learn Farsi, I guess to better understand what some of our nation’s enemies were saying about us. Whether you’re literally learning another language or simply learning how to do new things and to challenge your preconceptions, the lesson is clear: Keep learning.

10. Read every day.

In a few weeks, guess what I’ll get my dad for Father’s Day: a book, most likely something on the top of the New York Times nonfiction bestseller lists. It’s what I’ve been doing for decades, so why stop now? I can’t think of many people I’ve known who read more than my dad. Importantly, he usually reads about things that have nothing to do with his work.

11. Keep your wardrobe simple.

My dad gave me this advice years ago when I first started working–so of course I completely ignored it at the time. However, had I gone ahead as he’d suggested and bought a handful of white and blue shirts, for example, and worn them every day, it would have been one fewer decision to have to make in the morning. It looks like that kind of simplification worked for Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, anyway.

12. Shine your shoes.

Shined shoes make you stand out these days, because most people are so casual. You can probably substitute something else for this habit. Just pick things that advertise to the world that you take care of small things. So maybe you also take care of bigger things.

(Here’s a text from my dad a few hours before this column ran: “Just read it again. On point 11, change ‘one less decision’ to ‘one fewer decision.’ Your grammar is wrong. Then, point out this message as an example of point 12.”)

13. Tell the people you love that you love them.

Hey, we’re back to love. Don’t just spend time with the people you love, as advised back in No. 2. Make sure you actually tell them that you love them. For example, when I talk to my dad, he’ll tell me to tell my wife that he loves her. Unnecessarily but amusingly, he’ll add that I should be sure to mention that he means he loves her “appropriately.”

14. Don’t worry.

This is one of those do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do pieces of advice, as my dad is in fact pretty good at worrying about things. That said, worrying rarely improves the odds of good things happening, and can actually diminish those odds.

15. Be kind to animals.

My dad has had dogs since he was little. He treats animals well. His advice? If you want to treat a dog well, treat it like a dog. Don’t try to make it into something it isn’t, and doesn’t want to be (for example, a little human being). Help it become the best possible version of itself.

16. Find good assistants.

For many years, my father had the same, excellent secretary. He taught me long ago that even during the times when you’re working by yourself, you have to be willing to depend on others for help. The most productive people in the world often succeed because they refuse to do some things.

17. Repeat as needed.

This is perhaps the most important bit of advice on my dad’s list, so it’s fitting to have saved it for last. None of these items are actions so much as they are behaviors. The first time you commit to them, you won’t see results. Over a lifetime, however, they can greatly improve your life. Aristotle put it best: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.”

Read more from Inc.com:

The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship

14 Tactics for Reading People’s Body Language

The One Trait That Guarantees a Good Hire

7 Things You Can Do on Friday to Make Monday Awesome

Sheryl Sandberg and the Hypocrisy of Lean In

MONEY Small Business

How This Former Techie Gave Her Career a Jolt

Vicky Lewis in her Dripping Springs, Texas coffee shop
Jay B. Sauceda; Wardrobe Styling by Lauren Smith Ford; Hair and Makeup by Lisa Gleeson

Weary of her job, Vicky Lewis decided to take a shot at a completely different venture: opening a coffeehouse.

Vicky Lewis, 49, didn’t just wake up and smell the café one day. Her desire to open a coffeehouse grew over a few years, following her family’s move from Seattle to the far suburbs of Austin in 2005. Tired of “being wet all the time,” she and husband Bruce had given up their jobs to relocate their two kids to an area with affordable housing and abundant sunshine. The only oversight: “We were coffee addicts living in a place without a coffee shop,” says Lewis.

Within a year of arriving, Lewis found a job similar to the one she’d had, as a program manager at a semiconductor firm. But after surviving several rounds of layoffs, she became unhappy: “The more disgruntled I got, the more I thought about the fact that somebody was going to make a killing opening a coffee shop. I began to think maybe I should do it.” While she didn’t have hospitality experience, Lewis knew she’d be able to draw on skills developed over 20 years in the chip industry to perform functions like tracking inventory and schedules: “My strengths are around organizing systems,” she says, “and successful businesses are system-based.”

By the time she told her boss she was quitting in August 2012, she’d taken a three-day class at Texas Coffee School in Dallas and leased a storefront in down­town Dripping Springs. To write a business plan, she pored over data on population growth and traffic patterns. Plus, she often drove the 50 miles roundtrip to Austin to sit in coffeehouses and analyze custo­mer behavior. Meanwhile, her husband, a real estate broker, helped with the build-out of the space.

Named after a town in the Cascade Mountains where her family used to vacation, Mazama Coffee Company opened its doors in November 2012. With strong ties to the community—the café sells drink local T-shirts and uses a nearby roaster—the shop stirred up sales of $200,000 in its first year. “It’s a little weird being known around town as the ‘coffee lady,’ ” says Lewis. “But I’m thankful; it’s a sign that we are beginning to flourish.”

BY THE NUMBERS

$135,000: Cost to start up the café

The funds came from her 401(k), which contained $150,000. She rolled over the balance into a retirement plan she set up for Mazama, then spent $135,000 of it to buy all the stock of the new C corp., which turned the funds into tax-free startup capital.

5: Number of employees the café has

That doesn’t include Lewis’s three family members, who all pull shifts. Her kids, both in college, put their pay toward tuition. With reduced income and savings, the Lewises are unable to subsidize their children’s education as much as they’d hoped.

66%: Increase in pay Lewis expects this year

While she took home $30,000 last year, she figures she’ll make about $50,000 in 2014, as she now has a license to sell alcohol. With plans to add mobile espresso carts for weddings, Lewis thinks she’ll close in on her previous salary of $121,000 by 2019: “And I know for sure I’ll be happy with what I’m doing.”

MONEY psychology of money

The Money-Happiness Connection

201406_TBQ_WOLFERS
Justin Wolfers photographed in Washington, DC Joe Pugliese

We put the question to economist Justin Wolfers, who recently conducted one of the broadest studies on the relationship between money and happiness to date. His answer -- yes, sort of, but it ain't cheap -- breaks with the conventional wisdom on the subject.

Does money buy happiness?

Wealthier people are happier than poor people. Wealthier countries are happier than poor countries. As countries get ­richer, they get happier. The relationship between income and happiness is extremely strong.

What’s the nature of that connection? Does money actually make you happier?

I should give the usual “correlation isn’t causation” disclaimer here. When I say rich people are happier than poor people, I don’t know if it’s the money that’s making them happy. When I say rich countries are happier than poor countries, I don’t know whether it’s the greater money that makes the average American happy or whether it’s the greater opportunities. Maybe it’s democracy, rule of law, or having functioning markets and political and social institutions.

Saying richer countries are happier than poorer ones seems obvious. Has other research found otherwise?

There’s something called the Eas­terlin paradox [named after University of Southern California professor Richard Easterlin], which claimed that while rich people are happier than poor people, rich countries are not happier than poor countries, and as countries got richer, they did not get happier. Now, what we [Wolfers and fellow University of Michigan professor Betsey Stevenson] did was study more comprehensive data. We looked at ­surveys, including the Gallup World Poll, of 155 countries covering 95% of the world’s population. It turns out that rich countries are indeed happier than poorer ones, and as countries get richer, they get happier.

[Easterlin says that Wolfers has mischaracterized his findings, and that his paradox indeed asserted that rich countries are happier than poor ones. Easterlin also says that while happiness and income are correlated over short-term periods, the relationship disappears over the long run.]

Psychologist Daniel Kahneman and economist Angus Deaton, also drawing on Gallup data, famously concluded that happiness doesn’t really increase above incomes of $75,000 a year. How do you square that with your research?

Whenever people talk about happiness, they are imprecise in their language. I’m mostly analyzing questions that ask you how you think about your life overall, or how happy you are, taking all things together. These are questions that we think of as being “evaluative.”

The $75,000 number comes instead from measures of affect. Rather than being evaluative, they gauge what’s going on with you right now. They say, “How did you feel ­yesterday?” This is not asking you to judge your life as a whole. And Kahneman and Deaton found at very high incomes more money did not increase well-being. The increases above $75,000 were vanishingly small.

Back to your research: Is the relationship between money and happiness linear? Will I feel the same jump in happiness with each $1,000 raise?

No. If you think about how much extra well-being is associated with each dollar, it’s absolutely a situation with diminishing returns. But if you describe it in terms of the percent change in income, a 10% rise yields a roughly similar rise in well-being to everyone in the world. A 10% increase in a very poor country like Burundi is equivalent to a 10% increase in a very rich country like the U.S.  But to get a 10% increase in ­Burundi doesn’t take a lot of dollars, whereas in the U.S. it takes a lot.

Happier3

The U.S. economy has grown a lot since the 1970s, but you’ve found that happiness here hasn’t increased much. How can that be?

I never said that the only thing that changes happiness is income growth. Something else is going on in the U.S.

Average per capita income has grown, but that can be misleading. If you look instead at the median—the income of someone making less than what half the population makes and more than what the other half does—income has barely risen over the past 40 years, once you adjust for inflation. Income has actually fallen for those at the lower end of the scale. If income has barely grown for most people, we shouldn’t be surprised that happiness has barely grown for most people.

So how can we fix that?

We can do it through the minimum wage or the tax system. We can do it through the benefit system as well. Things like the earned income tax credit. Remember, an extra dollar doesn’t buy much extra happiness for a millionaire, but it buys quite a lot for a working-class person.

Raising the federal minimum wage is politically difficult. So is making the tax system more progressive.

Compulsory education up to an age older than 16 could also work. Research shows that education and skills not only increase income later in life but also increase happiness.

What about the personal implications of your research? Are you happier now that you make more money than you used to?

Unquestionably, yes. When I was in graduate school and I went into a store, I was always looking at the prices. I was constantly calculating. You ask yourself, “Can I afford to buy this box of cereal?” You think, “If I buy more of this, maybe I can afford less of that.” You’re making these tradeoffs and you’re constantly aware of these ­tradeoffs. And it’s tiring.

The first thing I did when I had a well-paying job is I stopped looking at those price tags. Now I never really feel stressed about money. Even if I lost my job tomorrow, I have my degree, and I can get another job. I get to live free from stress and worry and the constant calculating of tradeoffs that I had earlier in my career.

So would I be happier if I became a hedge fund manager?

Don’t let an economist bully you into believing money’s all that matters. And don’t let a psychologist bully you into believing that money is completely unimportant. How you manage that tradeoff is going to require a lot of experimenting and thinking and introspection. People choose occupations based not just on money, but also on meaning. There’s nothing in my research that says that’s a bad idea.

MONEY Careers

4 Ways to Find an Unlisted Job

Magnifying glass looking at classifieds
Mikey Burton

With a little digging, you can make sure you’re in the know when a sweet office opens up at your dream employer.

Your next job probably won’t be advertised. When it comes to filling positions at the director level and up, hiring managers prefer to target their ideal candidates rather than sift through applicant résumés. But don’t just count on a call from a recruiter to pluck you from the ranks. “The job seeker who waits to be tapped on the shoulder might be waiting awhile,” says Tonushree Mondal of HR consulting firm Mercer. Take these steps to find the job, since it may not find you.

Talk to the Top Recruiters

Higher-up HR reps tend to be gate- keepers for higher-level positions, so identify recruiters with sway at the businesses you admire. Can’t determine the right person via LinkedIn? Scour the employer’s career page for the most senior posting in your area and reach out to the person listed, says Kurt Kraeger, New York managing director at Robert Walters recruitment firm. Send a note saying, “I submitted my résumé via normal channels but wanted to get in touch directly about my interest.” Stay on the person’s radar with a periodic email. “They may not look at it, but they’ll remember your name,” says Fred Coon, CEO at executive search firm Stewart Cooper & Coon.

Make a Friend on the Inside

Since upper-level jobs are often revealed only internally, it can pay to establish relationships with peers at companies on your wish list, says Edina, Minn., executive career coach George Dow. Use Linked­In to find a second-degree connection, then request an introduction from your mutual pal. Explain that you’d like to learn about what the company looks for in candidates. Once trust is established, ask your confidant for the favor of letting you know of openings. (“Forget about saying, ‘Can you help me get a job?’ or the person will feel used,” warns Coon.) Offer something in return, like an intro to influencers in your network.

Impress the C-suite Crowd

For you to be identified as a candidate, “companies need to see that you’re a known commodity,” says Job Search Magic author Susan Whitcomb. That means going beyond attending industry events. To capture the attention of those with hire power, you must steal the spotlight. Whitcomb suggests getting on the speaking docket at a trade conference or forming a cross-industry group on a trend in your field.

Get the Boss’s Buy-in

Want to climb at your current ­company? Ask the boss for a boost: “Under your direction I’ve learned so much and feel ready to take on a higher role. Can you help me find new opportunities here?” If that’s uncomfortable, schedule a visit with the head of HR. “Say you’re interested in moving up, and why,” says Coon. Also, find a mole in finance, since filling jobs often requires budget sign off. Adds Coon: “It’s detective work, pure and simple.”

MONEY Obamacare

How New College Grads Can Score a Health Insurance Deal

140603_FF_QA_Obamacare_illo_1
Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Obamacare opens up new coverage choices—and another reason not to go without.

Q. I just graduated from college but don’t yet have a full-time job. What are my best health insurance options?

A. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act—a.k.a. Obamacare—you have more good choices than you once did. Since 2010, young adults can stay on a parent’s employer-sponsored plan until age 26. Of the estimated 15 million young adults enrolled in a parent’s plan last year, nearly eight million would not have been eligible before the law took effect, according to a recent report from the Commonwealth Fund.

Even if you have that option, though, you may not want to take advantage of it. If you’re living far from your childhood home, for example, doctors near you likely won’t be included in the plan’s network, and you’ll pay more at out-of-network providers. You might also prefer that your parents not receive any explanation of benefits about your health care. “Your child may decide he or she wants to graduate from the parent plan,” says Bryce Williams, managing director of benefits consultant Towers Watson.

The Financial Aid You Can Find

At this stage of life, breaking free of your parents’ plan doesn’t have to be costly. Even though general enrollment on the new government health insurance exchanges has closed for 2014, you qualify for an exemption if you lost your previous health insurance when you graduated or moved to a new state. You typically must enroll within 60 days of losing coverage. Miss that window, and you’re locked out until 2015. Shop for policies at healthcare.gov.

Since that first year out of school can be a lean one income-wise, you’ll be glad to hear that low earners qualify for subsidies that make plans more affordable. If your income falls between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty leven, or $11,670 and $46,680, you may be eligible. You can’t choose any old plan, though. You’ll need to sign up for a so-called silver level plan to qualify.

You’ll be disqualified for a subsidy if you have a part-time job that offers you an affordable plan, meaning it costs less than 9.5% of your income and is designed to cover 60% of the average enrollee’s costs. You also won’t qualify if your parents claim you as a dependent on their tax return, says Christina Postolowski, a senior policy analyst at Young Invincibles, unless your family’s income is low enough that the whole family qualifies.

Keep in mind that if you land a job and end up making too much money over the course of the year, you’ll have to repay at least part of the subsidy, warns Michael Mahoney, senior vice president of marketing at GoHealth.com, an online insurance marketplace. One workaround is to accept only a portion of the subsidy for now and take the rest at tax filing time, when you’re certain of your total annual income.

Only Insure For the Worse

If subsidized coverage isn’t an option for you, check out so-called catastrophic plans, created specifically for young adults. You’ll find them at healthcare.gov. The premiums are lower than what more comprehensive plans charge. The tradeoff: you’ll owe a higher bill if you need care. “One caution with these plans is they have high deductibles, so if you have a chronic condition you could owe quite a bit out of pocket,” says Postolowski.

What happens if you forgo insurance all together? Nothing, necessarily, if it is only for a month or two, assuming you remain healthy. If you are uninsured for more than three months over the course of a year, though, you may end up paying a penalty come April 15 when you file your 2014 taxes. The penalty is either $95 or 1% of your income, whichever is greater, though it rises next year.

Will mom and dad be okay with you going without? Likely not. “The worse decision of all in today’s world is to let a child remain uninsured,” says Williams. “Either put them on your plan, or nag them to enroll in an exchange plan.”

MONEY Careers

Is a Grad Degree Worth It? This Article Could Save You $100,000

140527_FF_GradWorthIt_1
Nancy Palmieri—AP

In many cases, an advanced degree can do more harm (read: debt and years out of the workforce) than good. Here's how to make sure you'll actually benefit.

You might think graduate degrees are more necessary than ever in today’s hyper-competitive job market. But a recent report suggests that post-grad education often comes with a very big catch: crippling debt.

The New America analysis found that America’s trillion-dollar student debt problem is disproportionately owed to graduate and professional degrees, not undergraduate educations. About 40% of federal loan dollars go to grad students, even though post-baccalaureates make up only 20% of higher-ed students.

“A lot of people go back to school because they don’t know what else to do and want to get out of a tough job market,” says former hiring manager Alison Green, author of askamanager.org. But you should be more conscious about your decision-making, she adds. This is not only because a grad degree can leave you with a six-figure debt, but also because pursuing an advanced degree takes you out of the workforce and doesn’t always lead to better job prospects.

So how do you decide whether a grad degree will be worth it for you? Here are three questions to ask before applying:

1. Will I realistically be able to pay off my debt? If you’re going to law or medical school, and intend to practice, you’re in a decent position to eventually pay off your student loans. “But if you are thinking of getting a masters degree in liberal arts, you should carefully scrutinize the cost,” says Green. In 2004, the median debt for an MA was $38,000, but in 2012, it was $59,000 (inflation-adjusted). Look into average starting salaries for your desired field before you apply. Then plug in your numbers using this LearnVest calculator.

2. Do I have clear goals—and a backup plan? Going to graduate school simply because of a lack of a better idea can be a dangerous move, especially if you’re just putting off the big question of “What am I going to do with my life?” until you are a few years older (and a few hundred grand poorer). You should know why you’re getting your degree and what you’ll do if your Plan A doesn’t pan out. And consider whether your degree will make sense for both your primary and contingency plans. A common problem for law students, for example, is realizing soon after graduation that they don’t want to practice law—and discovering their degree can actually make them seem overqualified for positions in other fields, Green says.

3. Is a grad degree valued in your desired field? If you want become a software programmer, you don’t need to go to MIT to learn coding. Between MOOCs and online resources like codecademy.com, there are many options for learning the same skills more cheaply—while you keep your day job. In fact, in some fields, leaving the workforce for a year or three might actually hurt you when it comes time to job hunt. “Hiring managers increasingly place a higher premium on professional experiences than academic credentials,” says Green. “That’s especially true in technical areas like programming, software development, and IT.” So consider whether your intended field really values post-graduate education—or if an apprenticeship or alternative training program could give you the same pay bump. A recent Georgetown University report shows that a graduate degree does not boost incomes uniformly: If you are a biology or life sciences concentrator, your income could jump more than 100%, but in the arts, you’d get only a 23% boost. Finally, if you are really serious about locking down a diploma, consider pursuing a degree part time while continuing to work. That keeps your resume uninterrupted and your income flowing.

Earnings and Income Boosts From Graduate Degrees
SOURCE: “What’s it worth? The economic value of college majors” from the Georgetown University Center for Education and the Workforce.
TIME Careers & Workplace

7 Things Happy People Choose to Do Every Single Day

170882121
Blend Images - Peathegee Inc—Getty Images/Brand X

Science shows that you can have an impact on only 12 percent of the things that determine whether you're happy. The happiest people among us understand that if you make the right choices, that small sliver is enough.


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.

What separates the world’s happiest people from the rest of us?

About one-third of the U.S. population describes itself as “very happy,” according to the polling agency Harris Interactive–a higher number than I think many of us might expect.

These are the people in your office who are upbeat and eager no matter what unexpected challenges come their way, and the ones who seem to get genuinely excited over the smallest opportunities and kindnesses. They’re the folks in your social circles who endure hardship with smiles on their faces and who seem hard-wired always to look on the bright side.

Studies show that half of happiness is determined by genetics, and a little under 40 percent is governed by the impact of external events. You own the 12 percent of the package that’s left, however, and it turns out that the choices you make within that sliver make all the difference between being happy or not. Happier people realize this, and as a result they make seven key choices every day.

1. They choose to exercise.

There are many happy people who aren’t in great physical shape, so how does this make sense? The explanation is that you need only seven minutes of exercise a day if you’re exercising for the sake of happiness. That’s enough to make your body release endorphins, the neurotransmitters responsible for that famous “runner’s high.” They might not even call it exercise, but happy people find at least a small period of time each day to devote to moving around.

2. They choose to spend time outside.

Just 20 minutes a day outside is enough to elevate your level of happiness. You can even combine this with choice No. 1 and take your short exercise break outside. A simple walk at lunch or even a little time in the backyard, on the patio, or at a nearby park makes the difference. They might not even realize its impact on their happiness, but happy people make it a point to get outdoors.

3. They choose to focus on their families.

Three-quarters of Americans surveyed by the Pew Research Center in 2010 said that their family was “the most important, most satisfying element of their lives,” according to a U.S. News report on the study. So, bury the hatchet with your brother-in-law and focus on your parents, children, or siblings if you want to be happier. Happy people might not always want to, but they find at least a few minutes every day (often much more) to do things to improve their family relationships.

4. They choose to make time for friends.

Friends are the family we choose for ourselves, and at least some small amount of social time with them every day is necessary if you want to improve happiness. Even just checking in with friends for a few minutes on the phone or a 10-minute conversation or activity together can make a difference. If you’re truly among the busiest people among us, merge this with choices No. 1 and 2, and exercise outside together. Happy people might not always have as much time as they’d like, but they find a way to interact with friends.

5. They choose to find meaning in their work.

It’s uniquely American in that work satisfaction can make or break our happiness, but as an entrepreneur, you probably think about this choice all the time: Part of happiness comes from using your gifts and talents every day to make some kind of difference. Happy people might not have found their dream job or their true calling–heck, they might not love their work–but they find a way to put their daily tasks in perspective and to take pride and joy from what they do.

6. They choose to contribute to their communities.

Being part of a community gives you a sense of belonging and helps improve your sense of self-worth, even as you work to define who you truly are. Thus, every day, truly happy people find a way to share something with their broader communities–going beyond their families and groups of close friends. Happy people might be involved with professional associations, church groups, athletic organizations, or something else, but they make sure to find some way to share with them every day.

7. They choose to get enough sleep.

It’s true: Lack of sleep will ruin your life. If you don’t get enough shuteye, you’ll be more likely to be irritable, your judgment gets impaired, and your libido suffers, all of which affect your overall happiness. Happy people might be no less busy than the rest of us, but they squeeze something else out of their lives if necessary. They give up television watching, Internet surfing, or simply worrying about things they can’t affect–and they choose to get at least seven or eight hours of sleep every day.

Read more from Inc.com:

The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship

14 Tactics for Reading People’s Body Language

The One Trait That Guarantees a Good Hire

7 Things You Can Do on Friday to Make Monday Awesome

Sheryl Sandberg and the Hypocrisy of Lean In

TIME Careers & Workplace

9 Guaranteed Ways to Kill Your Credibility

Frustrated businessman sitting at desk with head in hands
Paul Bradbury—Getty Images/OJO Images

These common mistakes make others wonder whether you're worthy of their attention


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.

Your ability to influence others is directly dependent upon how credible you seem. If meeting attendees don’t perceive you as intelligent, competent and trustworthy, they’ll want to do business with somebody else.

With that in mind, here are nine common meeting-room behaviors to avoid:

1. Phrases that imply deception.

Beginning a statement with “In all honesty,” “Honestly,” or “To be honest,” it implies that up until that point, you’ve been lying

2. Words that sound sales-y.

Most people don’t trust salespeople (wrongly, in my view) so using words like “guarantee,” “discount,” and even “solution” makes you seem less trustworthy.

3. Excessive corporate-speak.

The occasional use of words like “leverage,” “impact,” and “reach out” is no big deal but it sounds ridiculous when every sentence is splattered with biz-blab.

4. Overuse of acronyms.

Acronyms are OK as shorthand, but if you use them too much, people get lost in the alphabet soup and start wondering if you actually know what you’re talking about.

5. Non-commitments.

Phrases like “I’ll try” or “I’ll see what I can do” make you appear unsure of your own ability to deliver. Either commit or don’t commit; there is no “try.”

6. Riffing.

When you admit ignorance, your credibility may suffer, but not nearly so much as when your improvised answers are revealed as a huge pile of BS.

7. Inappropriate humor.

A little light humor never hurt anyone, but any “joke” that references race, sex, gender, politics or religion is best left unsaid.

8. Repeatedly interrupting.

It makes you look both insecure AND disrespectful when you keep inserting yourself when someone else is speaking. The absolute worst: finishing other people’s sentences.

9. Failure to take responsibility.

Mistakes don’t help your credibility but trying to fix blame elsewhere is far worse. It’s always smarter to ‘fess up than finger-point.

Read more from Inc.com:

The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship

14 Tactics for Reading People’s Body Language

The One Trait That Guarantees a Good Hire

7 Things You Can Do on Friday to Make Monday Awesome

Sheryl Sandberg and the Hypocrisy of Lean In

MONEY working in retirement

Don’t Buy Into the Retirement Gloom

Senior in the workplace
Thomas Barwick—Getty Images

In the emerging Unretirement movement, you are your best investment.

This story was originally published at Next Avenue.

Gray wave. Age wave. Geezer tsunami. (Pick your favorite — or most hated — euphemism.) Catchphrases like these capture the realization that we’re living longer and that older Americans make up a growing share of the population. As economist Laurence Kotlikoff and columnist Scott Burns say in The Coming Generational Storm: “The aging of America isn’t a temporary event. We are well into a change that is permanent, irreversible, and very long term.”

Living longer should be a trend worth celebrating. But many people believe that America’s boomers can’t afford retirement, let alone a decent retirement. They fear that aging boomers are inevitably hurtling toward a lower standard of living.

And here’s their evidence: We’ve just been through the worst downturn since the 1930s, decimating jobs and pensions. Retirement savings are slim. Surveys show that boomers aren’t spending much time planning for retirement. The prediction that the swelling tab for Social Security and other old-age entitlements will push the U.S. government and economy into a Greece-like collapse seems almost routine.

The Unretirement Movement

Don’t buy into the retirement gloom. I’m not.

Here’s why: The signs of a grassroots push to reinvent the last third of life are unmistakable. Call it the “Unretirement” movement — and it is a movement.

Unretirement starts with the insight that earning a paycheck well into the traditional retirement years will make a huge difference in our future living standards. You — and your skills and talents — are your best retirement investment. What’s more, if society taps into the talents and abilities of sixty-somethings and seventy-somethings, employers will benefit, the economy will be wealthier and funding entitlements will be much easier.

The Unretirement movement is built off a series of broad, mutually reinforcing changes in the economy and society that are transforming an aging workforce into a powerful economic asset. Boomers are the most educated generation in U.S. history and they’re healthier, on average, than previous generations. A century-long trend toward a declining average age of retirement has already reversed itself and — it’s safe to say — you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

“Many people aren’t slowing down in their 60s and 70s,” says Ross Levin, a certified financial planner and president of Accredited Investors in Edina, Minn. Adds Nicole Maestas, economist at the Rand Corp., the Santa Monica, Calif.-based think tank: “Yes, America has an aging population. The upside of that is a whole generation of people who are interested in anything but retirement.”

Your ‘Next Big Thing

Just ask Luanne Mullin, 60. She has done marketing for a dance company, opened a theater company and run a recording studio. These days, Mullin is a project manager at the University of California, San Francisco, overseeing the construction of scientific laboratories (she does mediation at the school on the side).

“I think there’s more and more of us at 60 who are saying, ‘OK, what’s my next career? What do I want to do that’s fulfilling?’” Mullin told me. “I’m all for what’s my next big thing.”Mullin loves her work, but she’s also wrestling with the same questions as many of her peers. “What is this aging thing?” she wonders. “Am I living fully? Is this the second half of life I dreamed of, or if not, how do I pull it together?”

When Unretirement is Tougher

For many in their 50s and 60s, the transition to Unretirement is much tougher — especially for those who are involuntarily unemployed, like Debbie Nowak.

She didn’t see the layoff coming. Nowak worked for more than 30 years in customer relations for the pensions and benefits department at Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., In November 2011, at 58, she lost her job there.

Nowak, who has a high school diploma, let herself grieve until the holidays were over. In the New Year, she got her severance, went on unemployment and began thinking about embracing something completely different from her old job. “I never thought of myself as a risk taker,” she says. “After 30 years, I thought I should take a risk.”

Nowak had a stained glass hobby, making window panes, mosaic trays, and other objects. That led her to the idea of working in the wood finishing and furniture-restoring business. Last year, she got a certificate from The National Institute for Wood Finishing at Dakota Community Technical College in Rosemount, Minn. To pay for it, Nowak took out a loan and the state chipped in from its displaced workers fund.

Today, she has a part-time job at small furniture-restoration company. “It’s a crap shoot, a risk I was willing to take,” says Nowak. “This is also a way to produce additional income in retirement.”

As Mullin and Nowak demonstrate, we’re living though a period of experimentation while redefining retirement. Many people are stumbling about, searching for an encore career, a part-time job or contract work that offers them meaning and an income.

Some find it extremely tough to get hired, cobbling together a job here and a contract there, assuming they’re healthy. Especially vulnerable are less-educated workers who never made much money or never had jobs with employer-sponsored retirement and health benefits.

How Society Will Change

The rise of Unretirement calls for a whole cluster of changes in how society rewards work, creates jobs, shares the wealth and deals with old age. Unretirement will affect where Americans live out their lives, too, as they seek communities and services equipped for them.

Taken altogether, boomers will construct a new vision of their retirement years, which will impact how younger generations will think about their careers.

“People tend to learn from examples or stories handed down from previous generations — but there are few stories to navigate the new context of old age and retirement for the baby boomers,” writes Joseph Coughlin, the infectiously enthusiastic head of MIT’s AgeLab, a multi-disciplinary center. “When there are no set rules you make them up. The future of old age will be improvised.”

Send Your Unretirement Questions

This blog aims to take a first draft at the Unretirement improv act. I’ll particularly focus on the personal finance and entrepreneurial start-up implications of the movement. I’ll talk about successes and failures, the impediments of age discrimination and the lessons people learn as they search for meaning and income in their next chapters.

Most of all, I hope to hear from you and find out about your experiences so I can address your questions in future columns. Send your queries to me at cfarrell@mpr.org. My twitter address is @cfarrellecon.

Peter Drucker, the late philosopher of management, noted that every once in a while, society crosses a major divide. “Within a few short decades, society rearranges itself — its worldview; its basic values; its social and political structure; its arts; its key institutions,” Drucker wrote in Post-Capitalist Society. “Fifty years later there is a new world.”

The transformation of retirement into Unretirement marks such a divide. Welcome to a revolution in the making.

Chris Farrell is economics editor for APM’s Marketplace Money, a syndicated personal finance program, and author of the forthcoming Unretirement: How Baby Boomers Are Changing the Way We Think About Work, Community, and The Good Life. He will be writing on Unretirement twice a month.

Related Links:

‘Partial Retirement’ Is On the Rise

A Manual for Encore Careers

 

MONEY Careers

New Degree, No Job? 4 Steps Grads Should Take to Jumpstart the Search

Now that commencement's over and real life is about to begin, career coach and former HR exec Caroline Ceniza-Levine offers strategies to get your career in gear, stat.

As a former recruiter, I have hired thousands of new graduates into their first full-time jobs, so I’ve seen the hiring process up close, inside and out.

Some industries—like management consulting and investment banking—do the bulk of their hiring well before graduation. If you have classmates entering these fields, you might be anxious if you don’t have your own first career step confirmed. (This goes for parents, too!)

Temper your anxieties by keeping in mind that the vast majority of companies only hire as needs arrive. Some of those companies are looking to fill entry-level slots right now, just a few heartbeats after commencement. So it may not be long before you (or your child) is launched—assuming you’re strategic. Take these four steps to take now to get the search in gear:

Figure out the finances first

You need to have time for your search. Even in the best-case scenario, it may take a month or two for you to go through the interview and vetting processes and land your first gig. In that time, you need to have a stable living environment where your basic needs are met so that you can be confident and relaxed as you meet with employers.

That requires answering this question first: How are you going to cover your expenses as you look?

Talk to your family about how long you are welcome to stay. If you have student loan payments that had a grace period while you were in school, find out when the first payment is starting and how much it is. Sketch out the rest of your budget, so you know what you’ll need to cover yourself.

Pick the low-hanging fruit

If money is tight, you’ll need to land something quickly and start earning. But even if you have the finances to support a longer search, you’ll want to avoid a long gap on your resume.

People who already know, like and trust you will more readily hire you or refer you for positions. So start your search by reaching out to family, friends, former employers from past internships or side jobs, even professors. Let them know you’re available.

Employers get inundated with resumes, but if someone the hiring manager knows personally refers you as a candidate, there’s a better chance your resume will get noticed.

Don’t discount “stopgap” jobs

First jobs do not have to be exactly in your area of interest to be valuable.

One of my coaching clients worked a retail job after she graduated, while searching for something in her target area (media). That job not only gave her the means to support herself, but also introduced her to other recent graduates working the store; and as her fellow store clerks got hired into their corporate jobs, she got introductions to those companies.

One new graduate I hired had been referred to me by a senior executive—she had babysat for his kids, and he was impressed by her work ethic.

In other words, these so-called stopgap jobs can set the stage for bigger career moves.

Keep going after your ideal job

Block out specific days and times for the search for your ideal job, even if you take that retail job or freelance project in the meantime.

Identify the companies you’d want to work for, check their websites regularly and follow them on social media to hear about openings. Also, use LinkedIn to find people in your network who work there and can introduce you or at least give you more information about the company to make you a more informed (read: more competitive) candidate.

Additionally, join a professional association in your target industry or a broader networking group like your university alumni club. The member events allow you to get comfortable in professional settings and meet new people, some of whom might work for your ideal companies. You never know who might help get you your first job—or your next one.

_____________________________________________________

Caroline Ceniza-Levine is co-founder of SixFigureStart® career coaching. She has worked with professionals from American Express, Condé Nast, Gilt, Goldman Sachs, Google, McKinsey, and other leading firms. She’s also a stand-up comic. This column will appear weekly.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser