Now what’ll I do?

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I’ve been doing some reading on encore careers, the ones you undertake after you have retired from your original type of work. These second careers can be paid or unpaid, part time or full time. If you are at loose ends and looking for something meaningful to do, where do you start?

A psychologist named John Holland devised a system to aid in career choice. He divided people and careers into six groups, realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, and conventional. The idea is to match what you are most interested in with a job in which that strength will be most useful.

Realistic people like nature, athletics, tools, and machinery. If that is you, maybe your encore career could involve gardening, working at a golf course, or refinishing furniture.

Investigative people are curious and like to do research. Could you find a job doing surveys, either in person or via social media? How about a secret shopper position?

Artistic people not only like the visual arts, but also music, theater, and writing. Do you have a book inside you that you now have time to write?

Social people are helpers. You might deliver meals on wheels. You are probably a good teacher.

Enterprising people like to persuade. You are a natural salesperson. You might also start your own business.

Those who are conventional like details and organizing things. You would probably enjoy helping people de-clutter their homes. Or maybe you have bookkeeping skills.

Has this given you some food for thought? I’d love to hear about other potential encore careers based on this idea.

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An apple a day helps your brain

 

 

red-3580560__340My husband and I watch Jeopardy almost every night. Lately, I’m noticing my response time has slowed down. I know the answer, or rather the question, but I can’t come up with it as fast as I used to.

A study from the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences suggests a way I can regain my competitive edge. Fiber. What?

As mammals age, immune cells in the brain known as microglia become chronically inflamed. Then they produce chemicals known to impair cognitive and motor function. That’s one explanation for why memory fades and other brain functions decline during old age.

The remedy appears to be eating more fiber. This causes good bacteria in the gut to grow. And that leads to a byproduct called butyrate. A drug called sodium butyrate has been shown to improve memory in mice, according to Professor Rodney Johnson.

His new study reveals, in old mice, that butyrate inhibits production of damaging chemicals by inflamed microglia. One of those chemicals is interleukin-1?, which has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease in humans.

It seems sodium butyrate has a bad smell, so people are not likely to want to take it. A diet high in soluble fiber is a more pleasant alternative.

Interestingly, a low fiber diet didn’t cause gut inflammation in young mice, only old mice.

The researchers did not examine the effects of the diet on cognition. That comes next courtesy of a new, almost-$2 million grant from the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Johnson feels his findings in mice should apply to humans too. “What you eat matters. We know that older adults consume 40 percent less dietary fiber than is recommended. Not getting enough fiber could have negative consequences for things you don’t even think about, such as connections to brain health and inflammation in general.”

According to WebMD, foods containing high levels of soluble fiber include dried beans, oats, oat bran, rice bran, barley, citrus fruits, apples, strawberries, peas, and potatoes.

That spple a day advice is right on.

 

The myth of upward mobility

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A new study by Michael Hout, a sociology professor at New York University, shows that the occupations of our parents affect our own social status more than we thought.

Hout looked at data from 1994 through 2016 that asked people what their parents did for a living. Their replies were coded to 539 occupational categories, following protocols established by the U.S. Census Bureau, and then given a socioeconomic score ranging from 9 (shoe shiner) to 53 (flight attendant) to 93 (surgeon).

Half the sons and daughters whose parents were in the top tier of occupations now work in occupations that score 76 or higher (on a 100-point scale) while half the sons and daughters of parents from the bottom tier now work in occupations that score 28 or less on that scale. Previous studies used averages instead of medians, so the results were underestimated.

In other words, our upward mobility in life is heavily influenced by our parents’ status. America is not yet the land of equal opportunity. We still have some work to do.

 

Mind the gap

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News flash! The glass ceiling is alive and well. A researcher at University of Chicago Booth School of Business studied why that is still the case.

Professor Marianne Bertrand says although women are now earning more college degrees than men, they tend to choose jobs in lower paying fields.

Higher paying fields offer less flexibility and require more time commitment. Since women disproportionately care for children and the home, those fields are less appealing. And if women do by some chance take a job that pays more than their husband’s, that often leads to marital strife and divorce.

Finally, women are psychologically more risk averse than men. Competing for higher paying jobs and negotiating higher salaries entails taking risks.

Family friendly policies help with the flexibility issue but fail to address the pay gap.

Bertrand sums it up like this: an economy that does not fully tap into the leadership skills offered by women is necessarily inefficient.

As the economy continues to boom, will the glass ceiling finally crack?

Falls not just a problem for the elderly

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It is common knowledge that falls are a problem among the elderly. They often lead to broken hips from which the person may never really recover. A recent study, however, indicates the problem with falls starts much earlier than we think.

Researchers in Trinity College Dublin have identified a sharp increase in falls after the age of 40, particularly in women.  They drew on data from TILDA (the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing) as well as data from similar studies in Australia, Great Britain and the Netherlands and found that for women the prevalence of falls increases from the age of 40 on — 9% in 40-44 year olds, 19% in 45-49 year olds, 21% in 50-54 year olds, 27% in 55-59 year olds and 30% in 60-64 year olds.

What this means is that preventative measures should be undertaken beginning around the age of menopause. Waiting until after a fall has occurred is not nearly effective enough.

Health consequences like fractures, head injuries, reduced social participation, increased risk of nursing home admittance, decline in independence and subsequently increased need for care are serious and costly. In addition, there are emotional costs. The researchers estimate one in four people over the age of 50 is afraid of further falls.

Midlife ladies, here is a slideshow of balance exercises to get you started in preventing a fall.

 

Kiss your way to success

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Have you ever had a coworker who spends a lot of the workday kissing up to the boss? I know I have. If you think this kind of behavior is an American phenomenon, you’re mistaken. It seems Chinese workers do it too.

Anthony Klotz and Lawrence Houston, III, professors of management in the College of Business at Oregon State University,  studied 75 professionals in China about engaging in two “impression management techniques,” ingratiation and self-promotion. They define Ingratiation as flattery, conforming with the supervisor’s opinion and doing favors. Self-promotion includes taking credit for success, boasting about performance and highlighting connections to other important people.

The participants kept diaries for two weeks and also took a test measuring their political skill, the social abilities that help them effectively understand others at work, influence others in ways that enhance their own objectives and navigate social situations with confidence.

The researchers found that while kissing up is effective in the long run, in the short term it depletes self-control. The depleted employees were  then more likely to engage in workplace deviance such as incivility to a co-worker, skipping a meeting or surfing the internet rather than working. My interpretation: people who brown nose are also likely to be rude and do less work.

There was no evidence of a similar link between self-promotion and depletion. My interpretation: bragging doesn’t require self-control. In fact, the opposite is probably true.

The researchers also found that ingratiation was less depleting for employees with high levels of political skill. Those people didn’t engage in as much of the deviant behavior as their peers with less political savvy. My interpretation: people with innate political skills not only ingratiated upwards. They also ingratiatied sideways with peers.

The professors, bless their hearts, suggest that depleted workers might want to take a walk or have a snack to refresh themsleves instead of being rude to coworkers. Personally, I think people busily kissing up to supervisors don’t much care how they behave toward colleagues.

The good professors also suggest that leaders who have been kissed up to be aware of how this depletes those doing the kissing and offer positive reinforcement to un-deplete them. Huh? Maybe I’m missing something here, but this tells me that they regard kissing up as good behavior that should be rewarded.

What do you think?

 

 

Take back control of your life

Is your life spinning out of control? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a single resource to keep all the bits and pieces you must keep track of in one place? Search no more.

The new, improved version of the Living Well Planner is available to pre-order. It’s pretty as you can see, but it also is a workhorse. Inside, you can set and track goals, budgets, meals, and everything else in your life. Watch and listen.

 

 

Full disclosure: I have recently become an affiliate with Ruth Soukup’s company, so I will get a commission if you make a purchase through my link.

 

Which road to choose?

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I just finished this summary of research that made me very, very sad. Psychologist Tom Gilovich and former Cornell graduate student Shai Davidai published their conclusions “The Ideal Road Not Taken” in the journal Emotion. 

What they found is that people regret not living up to what they perceive as their ideal self far more than they regret not living up to obligations.

They base this on the idea of three components of a person’s sense of self: the actual, ideal and the ought selves. The actual self is who a person believes they are. The ideal self is who they would like to be. The ought self is who they feel they should be.

When the men asked hundreds of people in six surveys to list and categorize their regrets, they found people have an easier time defining what they ought to do than in what they would do to be their best self. People wait for inspiration that may never come or they worry about what others will think of them. The researchers conclude that Nike has been right. The best course of action is “Just do it.”

These ideas resonate with me. I’ve always been the conscientious one, the one who follows rules. I let fear of failure and of the unknown stop me from making job choices that may well have led to a happier life. The regrets are real.

As a result of the soul-searching I finally did, I wrote Career Finder Workbook for Teens in the hopes of helping young people make more intelligent decisions than I did. I wrote it for middle school age students, but if you are an adult who is wondering what to be when you grow up you might find it helpful.

 

Are your “shoulds” holding you back?

Economic realities and #MeToo

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Last night, Anderson Cooper did a segment on 60 Minutes about Mario Batali and several women who accused him and his restaurant partner and friend of sexual harassment and abuse. As I continue to think about it this morning, a number of points stand out.

First, the women continued to work at the restaurant. They needed jobs. Some complained at the time of the incidents. Others didn’t. But they stayed.

I don’t know that much about the restaurant business, but it seems to be a male-dominated field. (Of course, what field isn’t?) These women were afraid they couldn’t find another job, afraid they would be black-balled so they would never find another job, or afraid that any job they found would be more of the same culture. These are economic realities.

Women still hold few CEO spots in the Fortune 500. How did they do it? Apparently, differently from the way men do. CNN Money reported on a study done by Oxford University of 151 male and female CEOs. Men rely on neworking and mentors. With few women in the ranks above them, these avenues are not available to women.

Female CEOs said success came when they invested in their own career development. Researchers identified three “self themes” — self-acceptance, self-development and self-management — common to the female leaders.

Forgive me for patting myself on the back, but these are facets of emotional intelligence that I write about in my latest book How to Stop #MeToo from Happening to You.

For the female CEOs, self-acceptance came when they first realized they had leadership potential. Self-development meant asking for more responsibility. Self-management included determining a leadership style that blended assertiveness with nurturing qualities still expected by others.

Will conditions change if more women get into positions of power in businesses? I hope so. I’d love to hear your thoughts, readers.

#MeToo’s Forgotten Victims

How to Prevent #MeToo from Happening to You

Georgina Chapman, wife of Harvy Weinstein, has finally given an interview regarding the #MeToo accusations against him. The two had been married ten years and have two young children.

Chapman says she the man she fell in love with was “charismatic,” “smart,” and “charitable.” Of course, he was also very, very rich and powerful.

Chapman claims she knew nothing of the allegations, yet from all accounts his actions were well-known by Hollywood insiders. Was she as naive as she claims? Maybe. Maybe not. We’ll never know.

What we do know is that two innocent children may be tainted for life by the actions of their father. Many of the other alleged harassers also have children. These are victims that not many people are acknowledging in these sordid scenarios.

I certainly can’t help those victims, but I feel I can help young women entering the workforce avoid being victinized themselves. My book How to Stop #MeToo from Happening to You: Emotional Intelligence for Gen Z Women in the Workplace is now available as an ebook on Amazon as well as on  Kobo.