5 Secrets to a Rewarding Career

Karl Pillemer, a gerontologist at Cornell University, collected advice from over a thousand older Americans on a range of subjects from marriage to parenting to aging. Older people, he says, have a unique source of knowledge. They have lived their lives and gone through experiences many of us can barely imagine. Their limits have been tested by failure, betrayal, danger, and illness.

Here, distilled from his new book, 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans, are five secrets for making the most of your career:

1. It's better to take home less money, and enjoy what you're doing, than hate your job and live for the weekend. One 77-year-old woman insisted that a job can pay a million dollars a week, but if you're not happy, it's not worth it. "Remember, you have to get up in the morning and do it every day," she said. "And it's for life." Not one retired person, looking back, said it was a good idea to work as hard as you can just so you can make the money to buy whatever you want. Nobody said it was important to compete with your friends to be more successful or buy more things.

2. Don't be afraid to move around and try different jobs. Find out who you are and what you're good at. One retired entrepreneur suggested: Spend some time in your chosen field working for somebody else. Learn as much as you can and decide if it's really what you want. If it's not, then within a year or two, move on--try something else. Many retired workers were initially saddled with dead-end jobs, but they made the effort to search and train for a more fulfilling career. "It may take years," Pillemer admitted, "but we should never give up." We spend too much time working to remain stuck in a job we hate.

3. Make the best of a bad situation. Everyone has to start somewhere, and it's not always on the career path you envisioned. Most retired people, born during the Depression, had plenty of experience doing boring, tedious work. But, they insisted, if you can't have the job you love, then find something worthwhile about the job you have. Those who succeeded were able to take a mundane job and transform it into a learning experience by developing expertise, making contacts, and learning from the best and brightest. You can even learn from sloppy, disgruntled colleagues. They're the ones who show you what not to do.

4. No matter how brilliant you are, you need interpersonal skills. Many people have torpedoed their career because they were rude to colleagues, ignored their boss, or engaged in petty political disputes. As one 72-year-old former engineer said, "Your technical ability is important, but getting along with other people is important too. In the end, most of us are in the people-pleasing business." One key to success is to develop some humility. Take yourself down a peg, and admit that your colleagues sometimes know more than you do. Cooperate with your fellow workers, don't try to bully them into thinking the way you do.

5. Everyone needs some autonomy and the ability to direct their own work load. If you don't have a say in how things work, you feel terrible. You're the underling who complains, "Oh, now they want me to do this, and it's a stupid idea." Looking back, retired people agree that freedom and flexibility are crucial ingredients for a rewarding career. So, in any job, look for ways to take responsibility for results, rather than getting bogged down in process. As one ex-office manager said, "I liked my job because nobody told me what to do." She knew how to get things done. Her bosses trusted her and let her run the place the way she knew how. And everyone was happy.

In the end, you want a job that offers you a positive experience, not one that fills you with dread. Sure, every job has its ups and downs. But as one former businessman said, "If you can't wake up in the morning and want to go to work, you're in the wrong job."

Tom Sightings is a former publishing executive who was eased into early retirement in his mid-50s. He lives in the New York area and blogs at Sightings at 60, where he covers health, finance, retirement, and other concerns of baby boomers who realize that somehow they have grown up.



More From US News & World Report

--

Get stories like this on the Yahoo app and discover more every day.
Download it now.
Loading...
  • Vietnam says all will lose in any South China Sea war
    Vietnam says all will lose in any South China Sea war AFP News - 9 minutes ago

    Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang warned on Tuesday there would be no winners in any armed conflict sparked by territorial disputes in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese leader did not mention any country but there is growing unease over China's … More »

  • EU to hand Apple hefty Irish tax bill - sources
    EU to hand Apple hefty Irish tax bill - sources Reuters - 11 minutes ago

    DUBLIN/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission will rule against Ireland's tax dealings with Apple (AAPL.O) on Tuesday, sources familiar with the decision told Reuters, one of whom said Dublin would be told to recoup over 1 billion euros in … More »

  • Transatlantic trade talks should be halted - French trade minister
    Transatlantic trade talks should be halted - French trade minister Reuters - 12 minutes ago

    The current round of Transatlantic trade talks should be brought to a halt and a new set started, French Trade Minister Matthias Fekl said on Tuesday, adding he will suggest that to fellow ministers at the end of September. German Economy Minister … More »

  • Oil prices rise as dollar comes off 2-week high
    Oil prices rise as dollar comes off 2-week high Reuters - 18 minutes ago

    Oil futures edged up on Tuesday as the U.S. dollar backed off a two-week high hit the day before, although doubts that crude producers would agree next month to an output freeze continued to drag on prices. The U.S. dollar has retreated from … More »

  • Gold slips on firmer dollar; seen range-bound
    Gold slips on firmer dollar; seen range-bound Reuters - 21 minutes ago

    "Gold remains range-bound within a descending triangle over the past month, with price action likely to remain fairly stable while inside this," Alex Thorndike, senior precious metals dealer with MKS PAMP Group, said in a note. Spot gold slipped … More »

  • U.S. trade spokesman says U.S.-EU TTIP talks making progress Reuters - 29 minutes ago

    Talks on a free trade deal being negotiated by the United States and the European Union are making progress, a spokesman for the U.S. trade chief told Der Spiegel, contradicting the German economy minister, who said the discussions had failed. The … More »

  • Hanjin Shipping Creditors Reject Revamp Plans as Insufficient Bloomberg - 30 minutes ago

    The restructuring plans fall short of requirements by creditors for them to help Hanjin Shipping, its main creditor Korea Development Bank said in a statement Tuesday. The company may still need 1 trillion won ($893 billion) to 1.3 trillion won in … More »

  • Oil prices rise as dollar comes off two-week high
    Oil prices rise as dollar comes off two-week high Reuters - 33 minutes ago

    Oil futures edged up on Tuesday as the U.S. dollar backed off a two-week high hit the day before, although doubts that crude producers would agree next month to an output freeze continued to drag on prices. The U.S. dollar has retreated from … More »

  • Livestream of Kim Dotcom extradition hearing a first for New Zealand Reuters - 50 minutes ago

    A New Zealand judge gave permission on Tuesday for the hearing of German tech entrepreneur Kim Dotcom's appeal against his extradition to be streamed on YouTube, making it the country's first court case to be broadcast on the Internet. The six-week … More »

  • KKR’s Most Senior China Executives Exit as Firm Plans Fund (1) Bloomberg - 54 minutes ago

    David Liu, head of China and co-head of Asia private equity, and Julian Wolhardt, a partner in the firm, are leaving at the end of this year to form a China-focused investment firm, the company said in a release Tuesday. Ming Lu, previously co-head … More »

  • Petrofac names former BG executive as CFO Reuters - 54 minutes ago

    (Reuters) - British oilfield services company Petrofac Ltd (PFC.L) on Tuesday named former BG Group executive Alastair Cochran as its finance head. Alastair Cochran, who oversaw BG's integration with oil ... … More »

  • Asia stocks bounce, investors no clearer on Fed
    Asia stocks bounce, investors no clearer on Fed Reuters - 57 minutes ago

    Asian shares bounced modestly on Tuesday as doubts the Federal Reserve would hike interest rates next month restrained the dollar, while investors continued to count on more policy stimulus elsewhere in the world. MSCI's broadest index of … More »

  • Yuan Bears Emerge From Hibernation as Fed Imperils G-20 Calm (3) Bloomberg - 58 minutes ago

    Derivative markets are pointing to renewed bets on yuan depreciation, with a three-month measure of expected price swings poised for the biggest monthly increase since January. The increased pessimism comes after a period of calm that sent the … More »

  • Bunzl sees no material Brexit impact, first-half profit beats consensus Reuters - 59 minutes ago

    Bunzl said it was difficult to know the probable impact of Brexit as the terms of Britain's exit from the bloc were unknown, but added that it did not expect any material impact as 85 percent of its business was currently based outside the UK. … More »

  • Iowa at center of debate over 'shadow insurance' deals
    Iowa at center of debate over 'shadow insurance' deals Associated Press - 1 hour 8 minutes ago

    For cash-strapped life insurance companies, the deal sounds almost too good to be true: A state law allows them to create complex financial instruments to transfer liabilities to new subsidiaries, instantly ... … More »

  • Hanjin Shipping Trading Halted After Plunge to Six-Year Low (1) Bloomberg - 1 hour 10 minutes ago

    The creditors made the decision after meeting Tuesday morning, Yonhap said, citing unidentified creditors and the financial regulator. Hanjin Shipping, South Korea’s largest container line, and Korea Development Bank, its main lender, declined to … More »

  • SE Asia Stocks-Sluggish as investors continue to digest Fed comments Reuters - 1 hour 36 minutes ago

    By Geo Tharappel Aug 30 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets were flat to lower in lacklustre trading on Tuesday, with the Philippines leading the losses, as investors continued to digest U.S. Federal ... … More »

  • Dollar extends gains in Asia, US jobs data in focus AFP - 1 hour 50 minutes ago

    The dollar extended its gains Tuesday as investors bet on the Federal Reserve lifting interest rates before the end of the year. Traders have been shifting back into the greenback since Fed boss Janet ... … More »

  • Glencore suspends coal output at Australian mine after worker dies
    Glencore suspends coal output at Australian mine after worker dies Reuters - 1 hour 55 minutes ago

    MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Glencore Plc (GLEN.L), the world's biggest thermal coal exporter, said on Tuesday a 55-year-old contract worker had died at its Newlands coal mine in Australia and it had suspended ... … More »

  • Japan top government spokesman Suga signals readiness to stem yen gains
    Japan top government spokesman Suga signals readiness to stem yen gains Reuters - 2 hours 16 minutes ago

    Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Tuesday the government is watching market moves carefully and is ready to respond "appropriately", when asked whether Tokyo could intervene in the currency market to stem excessive yen rises. … More »

  • Shenzhen-Hong Kong Link Expected to Start in November, CSRC Says Bloomberg - 2 hours 16 minutes ago

    Technical preparations for the link will take place from August to November, with the program scheduled to begin that month, according to a presentation slide at a China Securities Regulatory Commission press briefing in Beijing. Hong Kong’s … More »

  • Oil edges back in Asia after sharp losses AFP News - 2 hours 25 minutes ago

    Oil prices edged up in Asia on Tuesday, a day after retreating on a stronger dollar, but worries about a global supply glut are keeping gains in check ahead of a key producers' meeting next month. Both main contracts tumbled Monday after Federal … More »

  • Malaysian industry players weigh in on the GrabGas controversy
    Malaysian industry players weigh in on the GrabGas controversy e27 - 2 hours 29 minutes ago

    We reached out to Malaysian startup key players, Curry Khoo, TC Wu and Victor Chua to offer their two cents on the recent GrabGas controversy On Aug 25, a former CTO named Julian Ee blogged about how he got screwed over by a Malaysian startup that … More »

  • Malaysia's closing tin prices for Aug 30 Reuters - 3 hours ago

    KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Following is a table of Kuala Lumpur tin market prices provided by a Malaysian trader. (Prices in $/tonne, and volumes in tonnes unless stated) Date KL Premium/ Spot Bid ... … More »

  • Pimco to Hire 20 People to Target $17.4 Trillion Asian Wealth Bloomberg - 3 hours ago

    The $1.5 trillion money manager is in the process of hiring more than 20 people in marketing, operations, legal and compliance teams in the next two years to help cover major retail banks in Hong Kong and Singapore. It also intends to target newer … More »

 
Recent Quotes
Symbol Price Change % Chg 
Your most recently viewed tickers will automatically show up here if you type a ticker in the "Enter symbol/company" at the bottom of this module.
You need to enable your browser cookies to view your most recent quotes.
 
Sign-in to view quotes in your portfolios.

MARKET MOVERS

  • Most Actives
    Most Actives
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.125+0.001+0.81%
    N21.SI
    0.235-0.005-2.08%
    5ME.SI
    0.36+0.01+1.41%
    E5H.SI
    0.32+0.01+3.23%
    5OT.SI
    0.7350.0000.00%
    G13.SI
  • % Gainers
    % Gainers
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.58+0.15+34.88%
    BJZ.SI
    0.525+0.055+11.70%
    BQD.SI
    0.475+0.040+9.20%
    IX2.SI
    0.184+0.013+7.60%
    R14.SI
    0.139+0.006+4.51%
    BRR.SI
  • % Losers
    % Losers
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.11-0.04-26.67%
    5TI.SI
    0.162-0.026-13.83%
    AWS.SI
    0.20-0.03-13.04%
    AWI.SI
    0.176-0.024-12.00%
    A04.SI
    0.155-0.020-11.43%
    5WD.SI

Market Data

  • Currencies
    Currencies
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    1.3623+0.003+0.22%
    USDSGD=X
    1.5215+0.0009+0.06%
    EURSGD=X
    1.7807-0.0008-0.04%
    GBPSGD=X
    75.1190+0.202+0.27%
    SGDJPY=X
    5.6914-0.011-0.19%
    SGDHKD=X
    2.9776+0.0023+0.08%
    SGDMYR=X
    9,742.9688-9.5352-0.10%
    SGDIDR=X
    4.9014-0.0129-0.26%
    SGDCNY=X
    1.0284-0.0015-0.15%
    AUDSGD=X
  • Commodities
    Commodities
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    1,323.80-3.30-0.25%
    GCZ16.CMX
    18.69-0.08-0.42%
    SIU16.CMX
    96.93+1.14+1.19%
    ^XAU
    2.070.000.00%
    HGU16.CMX
    47.08+0.10+0.21%
    CLV16.NYM
  • Bonds
    Bonds
    TreasuryYield (%)Yield Change
    1.18-0.06
    ^FVX
    1.57-0.07
    ^TNX
    2.22-0.08
    ^TYX