How To Make The 4-Day Work Week Possible, According To Someone Who’s Done It

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Andrew Barnes is a fervent advocate for the four-day work week. And we might want to listen to him, because he knows what he’s talking about.As the head of Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand-based company that provides estate planning, philanthropy and investment advisory, Barnes did a trial run of the shortened schedule in March and April 2018. It was so successful that he adopted the policy full-time last November.

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“We are all recognizing that how we work today is not fit for the 21st century, that the pressures of work-life balance are intense, and that the concept of how we work needs to change,” Barnes told Quartz at Work.

Most people may assume that the four-day work week is all about work-life balance and employee wellbeing, and it may well promote both. But, Barnes cautioned, that can’t be the emphasis when business owners decide to adopt the policy.

Instead, he said, the secret to successfully transitioning to a shorter work week is highlighting something else over wellbeing.

So what is it?

It turns out that, to not lose revenue and be happy with the transition, employers should focus on productivity when announcing the change to their workers.

“We sat down with each team and we said, ‘Right, let’s agree what is the base of productivity that you’re delivering now,’” Barnes told Quartz at Work. “And then the deal was, provided you delivered on the productivity goals, you would be gifted a day off a week.”

That gift could be revoked at any time if a team isn’t doing what they need to keep up their output. For some people, Quartz notes, that can mean increased stress, as “employees tend to police one another’s behavior.”

“It’s almost like a social contract with the team and the rest of the business,” Willem van der Steen, a manager at Perpetual Guardian, told Quartz. “You can’t really hide anymore.”

Productivity shines in a short work week

Still, the benefits are fairly indisputable. During Perpetual Guardian’s trial last spring, productivity went up by roughly 20%, while far more staff members felt they could “manage work and other commitments,” according to Quartz.

With the program in place for perpetuity, Barnes has set up a system where employees can opt in, but they don’t have to if it’s not their work style. Only about half of the company’s staff chose to take him up on the four-day work week, though he expects those numbers to continue to grow. Those who already went through the change have more time for family or additional training, they say.

For those in leadership positions who are interested in potentially trimming their work hours, Perpetual Guardian is releasing a paper on Feb. 19 with advice on how to move forward.

“We’re saying to companies all over the world: Just try this,” Barnes said. “What’s the worst that can happen? If you do a trial, your staff will love you for it, even if it fails.”

Sleep Deprivation Is Killing You And Your Career

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The next time you tell yourself that you’ll sleep when you’re dead, realize that you’re making a decision that can make that day come much sooner. Pushing late into the night is a health and productivity killer.According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at the Harvard Medical School, the short-term productivity gains from skipping sleep to work are quickly washed away by the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation on your mood, ability to focus, and access to higher-level brain functions for days to come. The negative effects of sleep deprivation are so great that people who are drunk outperform those lacking sleep.

Why You Need Adequate Sleep to Perform

We’ve always known that sleep is good for your brain, but research from the University of Rochester provides the first direct evidence for why your brain cells need you to sleep (and sleep the right way—more on that later). The study found that when you sleep your brain removes toxic proteins from its neurons that are by-products of neural activity when you’re awake. Unfortunately, your brain can remove them adequately only while you’re asleep. So when you don’t get enough sleep, the toxic proteins remain in your brain cells, wreaking havoc by impairing your ability to think—something no amount of caffeine can fix.

Skipping sleep impairs your brain function across the board. It slows your ability to process information and problem solve, kills your creativity, and catapults your stress levels and emotional reactivity.

What Sleep Deprivation Does to Your Health

Sleep deprivation is linked to a variety of serious health problems, including heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. It stresses you out because your body overproduces the stress hormone cortisol when it’s sleep deprived. While excess cortisol has a host of negative health effects that come from the havoc it wreaks on your immune system, it also makes you look older, because cortisol breaks down skin collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic. In men specifically, not sleeping enough reduces testosterone levels and lowers sperm count.

Too many studies to list have shown that people who get enough sleep live longer, healthier lives, but I understand that sometimes this isn’t motivation enough. So consider this—not sleeping enough makes you fat. Sleep deprivation compromises your body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates and control food intake. When you sleep less you eat more and have more difficulty burning the calories you consume. Sleep deprivation makes you hungrier by increasing the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin and makes it harder for you to get full by reducing levels of the satiety-inducing hormone leptin. People who sleep less than 6 hours a night are 30% more likely to become obese than those who sleep 7 to 9 hours a night.

How Much Sleep Is Enough?

Most people need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night to feel sufficiently rested. Few people are at their best with less than 7 hours, and few require more than 9 without an underlying health condition. And that’s a major problem, since more than half of Americans get less than the necessary 7 hours of sleep each night, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

For go-getters, it’s even worse.

A recent survey of Inc. 500 CEOs found that half of them are sleeping less than 6 hours a night. And the problem doesn’t stop at the top. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a third of U.S. workers get less than 6 hours of sleep each night, and sleep deprivation costs U.S. businesses more than $63 billion annually in lost productivity.

Doing something about it

Beyond the obvious sleep benefits of thinking clearly and staying healthy, the ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are high in emotional intelligence (EQ). These individuals are skilled at understanding and using emotions to their benefit, and good sleep hygiene is one of the greatest tools at their disposal.

High-EQ individuals know it’s not just how much you sleep that matters, but also how you sleep. When life gets in the way of getting the amount of sleep you need, it’s absolutely essential that you increase the quality of your sleep through good sleep hygiene. There are many hidden killers of quality sleep. The 10 strategies that follow will help you identify these killers and clean up your sleep hygiene. Follow them, and you’ll reap the performance and health benefits that come with getting the right quantity and quality of sleep.

1. Stay Away from Sleeping Pills

When I say sleeping pills, I mean anything you take that sedates you so that you can sleep. Whether it’s alcohol, Nyquil, Benadryl, Valium, Ambien, or what have you, these substances greatly disrupt your brain’s natural sleep process. Have you ever noticed that sedatives can give you some really strange dreams? As you sleep and your brain removes harmful toxins, it cycles through an elaborate series of stages, at times shuffling through the day’s memories and storing or discarding them (which causes dreams). Sedation interferes with these cycles, altering the brain’s natural process.

Anything that interferes with the brain’s natural sleep process has dire consequences for the quality of your sleep. Many of the strategies that follow eliminate factors that disrupt this recovery process. If getting off sleeping pills proves difficult, make certain you try some of the other strategies (such as cutting down on caffeine) that will make it easier for you to fall asleep naturally and reduce your dependence upon sedatives.

2. Stop Drinking Caffeine (at Least after Lunch)

You can sleep more and vastly improve the quality of the sleep you get by reducing your caffeine intake. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant that interferes with sleep by increasing adrenaline production and blocking sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain. Caffeine has a 6-hour half-life, which means it takes a full 24 hours to work its way out of your system. Have a cup of joe at 8 a.m., and you’ll still have 25% of the caffeine in your body at 8 p.m. Anything you drink after noon will still be near 50% strength at bedtime. Any caffeine in your bloodstream—the negative effects increasing with the dose—makes it harder to fall and stay asleep.

When you do finally fall asleep, the worst is yet to come. Caffeine disrupts the quality of your sleep by reducing rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the deep sleep when your body recuperates most. When caffeine disrupts your sleep, you wake up the next day with a cognitive and emotional handicap. You’ll be naturally inclined to grab a cup of coffee or an energy drink to try to make yourself feel more alert, which very quickly creates a vicious cycle.

3. Avoid Blue Light at Night

This is a big one—most people don’t even realize it impacts their sleep. Short-wavelength blue light plays an important role in your mood, energy level, and sleep quality. In the morning, sunlight contains high concentrations of this “blue” light. When your eyes are exposed to it directly (not through a window or while wearing sunglasses), the blue light halts production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin and makes you feel more alert. This is great, and exposure to a.m. sunlight can improve your mood and energy levels. If the sun isn’t an option for you, try a blue light device.

In the afternoon, the sun’s rays lose their blue light, which allows your body to produce melatonin and start making you sleepy. By the evening, your brain does not expect any blue light exposure and is very sensitive to it. The problem this creates for sleep is that most of our favorite evening devices—laptops, tablets, televisions, and mobile phones—emit short-wavelength blue light. And in the case of your laptop, tablet, and phone, they do so brightly and right in your face. This exposure impairs melatonin production and interferes with your ability to fall asleep as well as with the quality of your sleep once you do nod off. Remember, the sleep cycle is a daylong process for your brain. When you confuse your brain by exposing it in the evening to what it thinks is a.m. sunlight, this derails the entire process with effects that linger long after you power down. The best thing you can do is avoid these devices after dinner (television is okay for most people as long as they sit far enough away from the set). If you must use one of these devices in the evening, you can limit your exposure with a filter or protective eyewear.

4. Wake Up at the Same Time Every Day

Consistency is key to a good night’s sleep, especially when it comes to waking up. Waking up at the same time every day improves your mood and sleep quality by regulating your circadian rhythm. When you have a consistent wake-up time, your brain acclimates to this and moves through the sleep cycle in preparation for you to feel rested and alert at your wake-up time. Roughly an hour before you wake, hormone levels increase gradually (along with your body temperature and blood pressure), causing you to become more alert. This is why you’ll often find yourself waking up right before your alarm goes off.

When you don’t wake up at the same time every day, your brain doesn’t know when to complete the sleep process and when it should prepare you to be awake. Long ago, sunlight ensured a consistent wake-up time. These days, an alarm is the only way most people can pull this off, and doing this successfully requires resisting the temptation to sleep in when you’re feeling tired because you know you’ll actually feel better by keeping your wake-up time intact.

5. No Binge Sleeping (In) on the Weekend

Sleeping in on the weekend is a counterproductive way to catch up on your sleep. It messes with your circadian rhythm by giving you an inconsistent wake-up time. When you wake up at the same time during the work week but sleep past this time on the weekend, you end up feeling groggy and tired because your brain hasn’t prepared your body to be awake. This isn’t a big deal on your day off, but it makes you less productive on Monday because it throws your cycle off and makes it hard to get going again on your regular schedule.

6. Learn How Much Sleep You Really Need

The amount of sleep you need is something that you can’t control, and scientists are beginning to discover the genes that dictate it. The problem is, most people sleep much less than they really need and are under-performing because they think they’re getting enough. Some discover this the hard way. Ariana Huffington was one of those frantic types who underslept and overworked, until she collapsed unexpectedly from exhaustion one afternoon. She credits her success and well-being since then to the changes she’s made to her sleep habits. “I began getting 30 minutes more sleep a night, until gradually I got to 7 to 8 hours. The result has been transformational,” Huffington says, adding that, “all the science now demonstrates unequivocally that when we get enough sleep, everything is better: our health; our mental capacity and clarity; our joy at life; and our ability to live life without reacting to every bad thing that happens.”

Huffington isn’t the only one. Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, and Sheryl Sandberg have all touted the virtues of getting enough sleep. Even Bill Gates, an infamous night owl, has affirmed the benefits of figuring out how much sleep you really need: “I like to get 7 hours of sleep a night because that’s what I need to stay sharp and creative and upbeat.” It’s time to bite the bullet and start going to bed earlier until you find the magic number that enables you to perform at your best.

7. Stop Working

When you work in the evening, it puts you into a stimulated, alert state when you should be winding down and relaxing in preparation for sleep. Recent surveys show that roughly 60% of people monitor their smartphones for work emails until they go to sleep. Staying off blue light-emitting devices (discussed above) after a certain time each evening is also a great way to avoid working so you can relax and prepare for sleep, but any type of work before bed should be avoided if you want quality sleep.

8. Eliminate Interruptions

Unfortunately for those with small children, the quality of your sleep does suffer when it is interrupted. The key here is to eliminate all the interruptions that are under your control. If you have loud neighbors, wear earplugs to bed. If your mother likes to call at all hours of the night, make certain you silence your ringer before you go to bed. If you had to wake up extra early in the morning, make sure your alarm clock is back on its regular time when you go to bed. Don’t drink too much water in the evening to avoid a bathroom trip in the middle of the night. If your partner snores . . . well, you get the idea. If you think hard enough, there are lots of little things you can do to eliminate unnecessary interruptions to your sleep.

9. Learn to Meditate

Many people who learn to meditate report that it improves the quality of their sleep and that they can get the rest they need even if they aren’t able to significantly increase the number of hours they sleep. At the Stanford Medical Center, insomniacs participated in a 6-week mindfulness meditation and cognitive-behavioral therapy course. At the end of the study, participants’ average time to fall asleep was cut in half (from 40 to 20 minutes), and 60% of subjects no longer qualified as insomniacs. The subjects retained these gains upon follow-up a full year later. A similar study at the University of Massachusetts Medical School found that 91% of participants either reduced the amount of medication they needed to sleep or stopped taking medication entirely after a mindfulness and sleep therapy course. Give mindfulness a try. At minimum, you’ll fall asleep faster, as it will teach you how to relax and quiet your mind once you hit the pillow.

10. When All Else Fails: Take Naps

One of the biggest peaks in melatonin production happens during the 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. time frame, which explains why most people feel sleepy in the afternoon. Companies like Google and Zappos are capitalizing on this need by giving employees the opportunity to take short afternoon naps. If you aren’t getting enough sleep at night, you’re likely going to feel an overwhelming desire to sleep in the afternoon. When this happens, you’re better off taking a short nap (even as short as 15 minutes) than resorting to caffeine to keep you awake. A short nap will give you the rest you need to get through the rest of the afternoon, and you’ll sleep much better in the evening than if you drink caffeine or take a long afternoon nap.

Bringing it all together

I know many of you reading this piece are thinking something along the lines of “but I know a guy (or gal) who is always up at all hours of the night working or socializing, and he’s the number one performer at our branch.” My answer for you is simple: This guy is underperforming.

We all have innate abilities that we must maximize to reach our full potential. My job is to help people do that—to help the good become great by removing unseen performance barriers. Being number one in your branch is an accomplishment, but I guarantee that this guy has his sights set on bigger things that he isn’t achieving because sleep deprivation has him performing at a fraction of his full potential. You should send him this article. It just might shake something loose.

After all, the only thing worth catching up on at night is your sleep.

This article first appeared on LinkedIn.

How To Get A Job Without Prior Experience

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Here’s the challenge everyone who starts their career faces: You can’t get a job because you don’t have experience, but you can’t get experience without getting a job.It’s called the experience paradox or Catch-22 of getting a job. It’s a real challenge. And if you can’t overcome it, you can easily set your career 3 to 5 years back.

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Worse, I’ve seen young folks and people who switch careers destroy their potential by making the wrong decisions early on.

I don’t want to scare you. You can still overcome the Catch-22; but not with conventional career advice. Because what’s the standard advice for people who want to build a career?

“Create a resume, browse job boards, and respond to job applications.” Sorry to disappoint you. If you take that route, you will end up like most people: Frustrated and underpaid.

Don’t worry, there’s a different way. With the right strategy, you can break into any industry and earn what you’re worth.

But I have to warn you. It takes at least twice as much work. However, that shouldn’t be a surprise to you. If you want to have a better career than most folks, guess what; you have to BE better than most folks.

When you do the following 2 things, you will become better—that will significantly increase your odds of getting a job without prior experience.

1. Be The Person You Would Hire

Why is it that companies prefer to hire experienced people for a role? When I started my career, I didn’t understand it.

The reality is that there’s a massive difference between someone who doesn’t have experience at a particular job and someone who has two years under their belt.

Even though two years might not sound like a lot of time, it’s actually a lot of time to learn the ins and outs of a job. And especially when you recently got out of college; because your first two to three years are all about learning to be a professional.

Some people never become serious about their careers. They wake up at a time so they can come to the office just in time. They prefer to sleep in. And they are the first to leave at 5 pm. They don’t ask questions, don’t seek out mentors, LOVE their lunch break, and chit-chat with their co-workers every chance they get.

Imagine you would be the CEO of a company. Would you want a person like that on your team? Of course not.

I must be honest; I used to be like that too. But I realized that attitude will not bring you far. If you want career success, you need to take it seriously. You only get rewarded for results. And what brings results? Skills.

Now, the good news is that increasingly more companies are putting emphasis on the skills of the people they want to hire—not their experience.

In his book, The Virgin Way, I read that Richard Branson, the famous founder of Virgin (that employs approximately 71,000 people), hires for character and skills. He prefers to actually get to know applicants instead of asking them a bunch of boring questions.

If you seek out companies who hire for experience and skills, you have a good chance of getting hired—even if you don’t have experience.

There’s only one condition: You must be a person YOU would hire. Someone who’s not only a professional but also has the skills to do a good job. If you feel like your skills are not that good yet, spend more time on your craft.

So how do you find a company that hires for skills and character? You ask.

Look, getting a job is NOT easy. It requires a lot of manual labor. Sometimes you need to reach out to hundreds of people to even get an interview. So that’s what you do. Be ready to do whatever it takes.

You reach out to people in HR of companies you’d like to work for. And you ask them about their interview process. How does the application process work? What are the characteristics you’re looking for in candidates?

You can use that information to apply for jobs you’re interested in. But unlike people who blindly apply, you know what they are looking for.

2. Do Free Work

Often, being good at your job and having information about the application process won’t cut it.

I’m a big fan of demonstrating your skills instead of talking about it. During the interview, we only talk. But when you offer to do free work for a company, you actually demonstrate your skills in a real-life setting.

So how can you do free work? Larry Stybel, a clinical psychologist, wrote an article for HBR about his experience launching his career. He shares 3 great tips:

  1. Look for a company you’d love to work for and then be specific about what value you will provide—What will you exactly do for the company? No need to overpromise. It’s better to be honest about what you can. Identify a person you want to work for, and reach out to them directly. Also send your resume along (watch my video on how to create a graphic resume with Canva for tips).
  2. Be specific about what value you will receive—Start with the end in mind. What do you want to get out of it? A reference? A potential job? Experience?
  3. Be specific about the time frame—You don’t want to keep working for free forever. In Stybel’s example, he said: “I promised to work two days a week for two months.” Often, you can’t even work full-time for free. Nor is it something I recommend. Use your time to keep searching for a job.

One of the key lessons for everyone launching their career is to consider yourself as a learning machine. When you feel too proud to learn or work for free, you will be stuck sooner than later.

But when you keep improving yourself and reaching out to people in the industry you want to work in, it will ultimately lead to a real job.

This article first appeared on Darius Foroux

3 Ways Meditation Can Catapult Your Career

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Anyone that’s been to a yoga class recently has heard of the concept of meditation. Chances are, in 2019, you will start hearing about it more in the workplace, too. According to a report by the CDC, the number of American adults saying they meditated jumped from 4.1% in 2012 to 14.2% in 2018.

The benefits of meditation can help you in many aspects of your life, but here are three ways in which the practice can benefit your career.

  • It can help you realize what you really want. For the most fortunate of us, the hunt for a job meant finding out what truly makes us happy and turning that into a career. When that dream isn’t realized right away, it can cause depression and complacency, and ultimately result in the death of that dream. Meditation can not only help you practice self-awareness, but acceptance, as well.
  • It reduces stress. Work can be a huge stressor for most people, especially if there is a large sum of money on the line. When it comes time to grind, that stress can be a real hinderance. For example, a survey from EveryDay Health found that 57% of respondents say they are paralyzed by stress. Mindfulness meditation, even done for only a few minutes a day, can help reduce stress and anxiety, as demonstrated in a 2013 Massachusetts General Hospital study.
  • It gets creative juices flowing. If you work in a creative realm, you understand the concept of walking away and revisiting. Sometimes, when you’re stuck on an idea that you can’t seem to work yourself through, it is best to take a walk around the block and come back to it. When you don’t have that much time, however, focusing on your breathing and meditating for a few minutes allows your brain to do a soft reset.

While it may still seem like a foreign concept to some, the importance of meditation cannot be diminished. As I tell many of the entrepreneurs and job seekers I coach, even if it feels strange, what do you have to lose? I invite you to try it today and see how you feel.

Ashley Stahl is a career coach who helps job seekers find their purpose, land more job offers and launch their dream businesses. Visit for free courses, resources and more.

High or Drunk at Work?

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The recent legalization of cannabis in Canada and parts of the United States has certainly brought with it concerns. On top-of-mind for many citizens is the potential for addiction to marijuana, the dangers of someone who is high getting behind the wheel, the long-term respiratory health impact of smoking (or second-hand exposure to) marijuana, and the use of this drug by youths.[1] As an organizational scholar, the legalization of cannabis has personally led me to wonder how this new social landscape may impact life at work. How might marijuana’s legalization interfere with experiences on the job? What changes may we see when it comes to employee well-being and productivity? Should we even be concerned?

Photo by Yash Lucid from Pexels
Source: Photo by Yash Lucid from Pexels

Before the industrial revolution, psychoactive substances were a welcomed and normative part of the work experience. As Michael Frone explains in an article[2] set to come out early next year in the Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behaviordrugs were commonly consumed during the preindustrial workday; Chinese laborers smoked opium, South American laborers chewed coca leaves, Caribbean field hands smoked cannabis, and workers in Europe and North America drank alcohol. In fact, not only was the use of drugs a socially acceptable practice at work, but some employers actually endorsed or facilitated drug use to increase employee production, combat employee fatigue, recruit workers, and even reward employees.[3] While things have certainly changed since then, and organizations are justly working to ensure that stakeholder safety is not compromised by the ramifications of changing legislation, one can’t help but wonder what our workplaces post-pot legalization will look like. As we await the answer to this question – one that will only be revealed in time – turning to research that has more broadly explored the prevalence and impact of psychoactive substances (i.e. illicit drugs and alcohol) in the workplace, may offer some valuable clues.

First, is there any reason to suspect that employees would get high or drunk at work?

In a representative study of the US population, while approximately 2 percent of employees reported being intoxicated on the job and/or using alcohol within 2 hours of starting a work shift, 6 percent reported using alcohol at work, 9 percent reported experiencing a hangover during the workday, and 47.5 percent reported alcohol use within two hours of leaving work[4]—the latter of which could certainly be tied to what happens at work, and could, in fact, lead to next-day job impairment.[5] Moreover, the use of illicit drugs at work or immediately before was reported by 2.8 percent of workers, while 5.7 percent of employees get high at the end of the workday. Cannabis was by far the most commonly used illicit substance on the job.[6]

Photo by Pixabay
Source: Photo by Pixabay

Research also tells us more about who is more likely to use psychoactive substances at work, with the use of drugs and alcohol being higher among male compared to female employees, younger compared to older workers, those in managerial positions, and those in occupations such as serving and hospitality, arts and entertainment, sales, construction, and transportation.[7] Moreover, negative workplace conditions such as work overload, job insecurity, or emotionally unpleasant environments, may, in fact, drive people to drink and/or use drugs on the job.[8]

Thus, data collected even before the legalization of cannabis shows that although in the minority, thousands of workers are getting high or consuming alcohol on the job – a number which could very well increase, as what was once an illicit substance (i.e. marijuana), becomes legal.

With that said, should we be concerned? How hazardous is it to be high or under the influence of alcohol on the job?

Studies show that even low levels of workplace drug and alcohol consumption can lead to psychological, cognitive, and interpersonal consequences. While varying amounts of alcohol influence people differently, even at modest levels (0.01 to 0.08 percent BAL) interference has been shown in one’s ability to multi-task, process complex information, make effective decisions, and inhibit aggressive responses.[9] At higher levels (0.08 to .12 percent BAL), depressive symptoms, reduced sociability, sedation and unconsciousness can ensue[10].

Similarly, psychoactive substances like marijuana may indeed have an impact on workplace performance and well-being. The National Institute of Drug Abuse indicates that the short-term effects of cannabis include difficulty with thinking and problem solving, memory deficits, and impaired motor coordination[11]. Research has also identified a significant increase in fatal automobile accidents since marijuana was legalized in Colorado[12] – a finding which is particularly concerning when contemplating the impact of cannabis on jobs that involve transportation or the operation of machinery. Some studies have also shown a relationship between workplace drug and alcohol use, and workplace accidents more generally; in a sample of 16 to 19 year-olds, drinking alcohol or smoking pot on-the-job was related to higher rates of workplace injuries (for example strains or sprains, cuts or lacerations, burns, bone fractures, and joint dislocation).[13]

Photo by Pixababy
Source: Photo by Pixababy

Thus, data would suggest that given the negative psychological, cognitive and physical impacts of psychoactive substances, employees should think twice before letting drugs or alcohol permeate the interface between work and personal life.

Finally, even if we personally would never contemplate using psychoactive substances on the job, what if our coworkers or bosses do not feel the same way? Should we be wary of our colleagues’ drinking and drug use?

Once again, research suggests there may be cause for concern. Several years ago, my colleagues and I conducted a study investigating how leaders’ alcohol consumption affects their subordinates. Using a sample of leader-follower pairs, we asked bosses to indicate the frequency and amount of their alcohol consumption at specific work times. We then asked their employees to rate how often these leaders engaged in various aggressive behaviors — for example, telling them their thoughts or ideas were stupid, or putting them down in front of others. What we found was a positive relationship between leaders drinking alcohol on the job and their rates of abusive supervision.[14] Moreover, among a sample of workers in the manufacturing, service and construction sectors, another team of researchers found that the more male employees in a work unit drink alcohol on the job, the more likely it is that females in that same work unit will experience gender harassment.[15] Thus, workplace alcohol or drug use may certainly result in collateral damage.

While the jury may still be out on whether workplaces will feel the effects of marijuana’s legalization, science on the job-based prevalence and impacts of psychoactive substances more generally, suggests that this issue is not one to be taken lightly.

5 Ways Bosses Can Reduce the Stigma of Mental Health at Work

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Experts tell us that one in four adults will struggle with a mental health issue during his or her lifetime. At work, those suffering — from clinical conditions or more minor ones — often hide it for fear that they may face discrimination from peers or even bosses. These stigmas can and must be overcome. But it takes more than policies set at the top. It also requires empathetic action from managers on the ground.

We count ourselves among those who have wrestled with mental health challenges. One morning a few years ago, in the midst of a successful year, Jen couldn’t get out of bed. As a driven professional, she had ignored all the warning signs that she was experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But her mentor, Diana, could see something was wrong, and when Jen couldn’t come to work, the gravity of the situation became even clearer. In the ensuing weeks, we worked together to get Jen the help she needed.

Diana understood Jen’s struggles because she had been there, too — not with PTSD but with anxiety. As the mother of adult triplets with autism and a busy job, she’d often had difficulty managing things in her own life.

Throughout both of our careers, we have moved across the spectrum of mental health from thriving to barely hanging on, and somewhere in between. What we’ve learned through our own experiences is how much managerial support matters.

When bosses understand mental health issues — and how to respond to them — it can make all the difference for an employee professionally and personally. This involves taking notice, offering a helping hand, and saying “I’m here, I have your back, you are not alone.”

That’s exactly what Jen said when a coworker told her that he was grappling with anxiety; it had gotten to the point where it was starting to impact his work and his relationships at home. He came to her because she’d been open about her own struggles. She listened to him, worked to understand what accommodations he needed, and told him about available resources, such as Employee Assistance Programs. Then she continued to check in to see he was getting support he needed and make it clear that she and others were there to help.

How do you learn or teach the people on your team to address colleagues’ or direct reports’ mental health issues in the same way? Here are five ways managers can help drive a more empathetic culture:

Pay attention to language. We all need to be aware of the words we use that can contribute to stigmatizing mental health issues: “Mr. OCD is at it again — organizing everything.” “She’s totally schizo today!” “He is being so bi-polar this week — one minute he’s up, the next he’s down.” We’ve heard comments like these, maybe even made them ourselves. But through the ears of a colleague who has a mental health challenge, they can sound like indictments. Would you open up about a disorder or tell your team leader you needed time to see a therapist after hearing these words?

Rethink “sick days.” If you have cancer, no one says, “Let’s just push through” or “Can you learn to deal with it?” They recognize that it’s an illness and you’ll need to take time off to treat it. If you have the flu, your manager will tell you to go home and rest. But few people in business would react to emotional outbursts or other signs of stress, anxiety, or manic behavior in the same way. We need to get more comfortable with the idea of suggesting and requesting days to focus on improving mental as well as physical health.

Encourage open and honest conversations. It’s important to create safe spaces for people to talk about their own challenges, past and present, without fear of being called “unstable” or passed up for the next big project or promotion. Employees shouldn’t fear that they will be judged or excluded if they open up in this way. Leaders can set the tone for this by sharing their own experiences, as we’ve done, or stories of other people who have struggled with mental health issues, gotten help and resumed successful careers. They should also explicitly encourage everyone to speak up when feeling overwhelmed or in need.

Be proactive. Not all stress is bad, and people in high-pressure careers often grow accustomed to it or develop coping mechanisms. However, prolonged unmanageable stress can contribute to worsening symptoms of mental illness. How can managers ensure their employees are finding the right balance? By offering access to programs, resources, and education on stress management and resilience-building. In our marketplace survey on employee burnout, nearly 70 percent of respondents said that their employers were not doing enough to prevent or alleviate burnout. Bosses need to do a better job of helping their employees connect to resources before stress leads to more serious problems.

Train people to notice and respond. Most offices keep a medical kit around in case someone needs a bandage or an aspirin. We’ve also begun to train our people in Mental Health First Aid, a national program proven to increase people’s ability to recognize the signs of someone who may be struggling with a mental health challenge and connect them to support resources. Through role plays and other activities, they offer guidance in how to listen non-judgmentally, offer reassurance, and assess the risk of suicide or self-harm when, for example, a colleague is suffering a panic attack or reacting to a traumatic event. These can be difficult, emotionally charged conversations, and they can come at unexpected times, so it’s important to be ready for them.

When your people are struggling, you want them to be able to open up and ask for help. These five strategies can help any boss or organization create a culture that ceases to stigmatize mental illness.

Here’s Why Your Job Is Causing You Stress And What You Can Do

Author Article


Americans are collectively dissatisfied with their professions.According to a recent Gallup study, 51% of US workers don’t feel any kind of meaningful connection to their careers – with 16% outing their dejection as the author of their poor performances.

Because we devote so much time to the thing that pays our bills (92,120 hours over the course of a lifetime to be exact)  our sense of self-worth has become beclouded. Of course, a delusion of purpose operates with a great many other components.

Let’s dissect.

Aimless and undervalued

A general crisis of professional identity has been brewing for some time. Ladders has previously reported about how “a lack of recognition” is one of the primary factors that seduce many young workers into a perpetual state of career readjustment:

“The 2017 Mind the Workplace report, released by the nonprofit group Mental Health America (MHA) and The Faas Foundation, surveyed more than 17,000 U.S. workers in 19 industries and found that 71% were either “actively looking for new job opportunities” or had the topic on their minds “always, often or sometimes” at work.”

On balance, Millennials believe their wages to be a poor representation of the work they put in–this poses a huge problem. Validation rivals most monetary incentives from where I sit, especially to those of us being compensating for doing the things we’re passionate about. A failure on the employers part to satisfy pangs of ego (not that they ought to) seems to be resulting in workers miserably submitting to mediocrity in the fields they’re falling out of love with.

recently wrote about the effect the college myth has had on our evaluation of meaningful careers. The erroneous equivocation of degrees and wages, caused many people to lose sight of what it was they needed to feel satisfied at work – when education becomes a means to economic stability, identity tends to get lost in the exchange.

There is a wealth of reasons to be miserable at work outside of the existential ones, of course. Factors like the commute, stagnation, your coworkers, your boss, long-hours,  also play crucial roles over time.

Performative workaholism and pervasive career malaise have melded, giving way to the most depressed labor ecosystem in decades. In a recent study, 63% of Americans said that their job caused them to engage in unhealthy behavior, like crying and or drinking. Work-related stress also rivals diabetes as a heart disease risk factor.

Care about your job, Be passionate about yourself

According to and 

The book mentions 7 key authors of our daily work anxiety, Fosslien and Mollie call them the “7 deadly stresses:” obsessing about email on vacation, the scope creep (continuous arbitrary growth in a project’s scope), unpredictable schedules, the information firehouse, sleep deprivation, unrealistic deadlines, and social isolation.

On the subject, they state: “Letting your job consume you is unhelpful and unhealthy. It makes small problems seem exceptional and places too much emphasis on casual conversations and interactions.”

They believe that caring less is not only personally relieving, it also makes you less likely to produce panicky incompetent work. The same impulse that will see you turn off your phone so that you can be more engaged in your life outside of work, will dually foster a clear and level headed mind ready to be productive the following morning. They emphasize that being “less passionate” about work doesn’t mean not caring; you should simply care about yourself more.

When you leave work, they suggest you ensure you truly “leave” by adhering to these helpful stipulations: only touch email once, allow one day a week to be completely dedicated to catching up (don’t take on any new task), make room for mini-breaks, and establish an after-work ritual, like bike riding home – something that can serve both mental and physical stimulation.

How To Change Your Career for a Happier Life

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How To Change Your Career for a Happier Life

In today’s world, there are a lot of people stuck in jobs that they hate. You would be surprised to know just how many people go to work just for the paycheck, sacrificing their happiness for money every single day. Your degree or work experience should not have to dictate the career you choose. You should strive to get into a profession that fulfills you and makes you happy. As the saying goes, do what makes you happy and the money will follow. Career changes are never as bad as people claim they are, and if it is your happiness at stake, then it is definitely worth it. It is never too late to get into a profession you are passionate about and one that you are actually good at.

So have you been wondering whether it’s time for a career change? If so, there are a few tell-tale signs that can help you make up your mind. Here is how to tell whether it is time to change careers.

  1. An Event in Your Life Has Sparked A New Interest

Major events in our lives can make us reevaluate our priorities. The birth of a child could make you realize you actually need to spend more time at home with the family. A marriage proposal could make you change your mind about taking that job abroad. Sometimes, smaller everyday things can have a similar effect. A youtube video you watched could make you realize just how cool locksmithing really is and push you in that direction.

If an event in your life has lit a spark in you, sometimes it is wise to follow that little voice. It might open you up to opportunities you otherwise may never have had.

  1. Your Current Career Does Not Fit With Your Values

Our values are important to us. They guide our lives and determine how we make decisions. If your current job does not respect what you stand for, you may feel a distinct disconnect with the work. For example, if you are a creative spirit and you believe in always searching for new opportunities for self-expression, and your job provides little or no opportunity for this value, you may realize that it is not the right fit. Then it would be time for a career change.

  1. Your Current Career Just Happened

Sometimes we just find ourselves doing some jobs. We may be pretty good at the said job, but we may have landed there without actually even wanting the job in the first place. Maybe the job runs in the family, or a friend got you that position. All you know is that you do not see yourself doing that job for the rest of your life. If this describes you, then it is definitely time for a career change.

  1. You Are Interested In An Evolving Field

The world today is not what it was 20 years ago. Changes in technology have led to the creation of completely new professions. For example, jobs in social media marketing and app development or remote workingwere almost unheard of twenty years ago. If you fancy yourself a pioneer, you may want to consider getting into one of these fast-evolving fields while they are still in their infancy. This way, you could write the rulebook of how to do what you do.

Once you have made up your mind to get a new start in life career-wise, there are a few steps you can take to ensure a successful transition.

  1. Find out how satisfied you are with your current job. Evaluate your current job satisfaction, and determine what you like or dislike about it.
  2. Determine your interests, outline your values, and list your skills.
  3. Brainstorm alternative careers. With your interests, values, and skills, what else can you potentially do?
  4. Research job options. Compare the jobs that interest you and determine what could work for you.
  5. Reach out to people in those fields. If you have contacts in those sectors, find out as much as you can about what they do and how they do it.
  6. Freelance. If they are accepting volunteers or interns in the fields you are looking at, sign up. Try it out and see how you like it.
  7. Upgrade. Take classes, brush up your skills, and become better and more marketable in the said field.
  8. Consider Vocational Training.
  9. Consider becoming a life coach.

Vocational Training is an essential step to choosing a new career ad mastering a new skill. It can be the perfect way to determine what you are good at. If you know what you are good at and you know exactly what you are looking for, finding a new career to settle into will be a breeze.

Vocational Training is structured differently than university education. If you want flexibility, hands-on training, speed and a specialization in a particular career, vocational training may be the best fit for you. It is perfect for people who know what they want and just need the training to get there. Plus, you’ll have the ability to earn a diploma or even a degree for your position, becoming a real certified master of whatever skill you choose to study.

Example: Changing Your Job To Become A Locksmith

Locksmithing may be the perfect career for you if you are fascinated with locks, puzzles, how things work, and ethical correction. In recent years, it has become one of the most underrated but highly lucrative professions on the planet. Locksmiths are an essential part of today’s society, especially with the ever-increasing need for tighter security features in our everyday life. Whether it is at home, school, or at work, we interact with the handiwork of master locksmiths every day.

If you are the inquisitive creative type who loves to learn how things work, a move to locksmithing would make the perfect career move. What’s more, as a locksmith, you can easily start your business and laugh all the way to the bank because it is such a rare skill. Additionally, when you become the master of this skill, global doors will open for you. Imagine being at the helm of an international locksmithing company that you built from scratch. Sounds far-fetched? Well, it isn’t, and you could be living this very dream if you play your cards right.

The beauty of this career move is that it is so easy to accomplish. With adequate guidance, this is the one move that could possibly open so many doors for you and be the ultimate source of your happiness and eventual success. Furthermore, locksmiths are adventurers and explorers, always searching for newer and more creative ways to do what they do. What this means is that a locksmithing business can open international doors for you, especially since locksmiths love to learn from each other so much. Changing one’s country for a new business perspective is not unheard of, and this move almost always leads to even more success.

If you want to move to a new country in search of a fresh business perspective, the perfect way to do it is by contacting your professional employer organization.

When all is said and done, changing a career can be the perfect way to attain that happier working life you have always been searching for. And if you are a creative person who loves learning the working mechanics of stuff, then locksmithing may just be the career for you!

The World’s Coolest Travel Jobs

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By Ashlea Halpern

Some people love travel so much, they make it their job. Pilots and hotel general managers are among the highest-profile occupations within the tourism sector, but there are countless other travel-intensive gigs that don’t fall squarely within the industry (polar scientistswildlife photographerstouring magicians, and Doctors Without Borders among them). Other ways to merge work with travel include becoming a traveling nurse, volunteering with the Peace Corps, or finding a job as a tour guide, yoga teacher, or scuba instructor. Here, we look at seven of the most common travel jobs—plus the ups, the downs, and resources for pursuing them.

Flight attendant

If this is the first job that springs to mind when you picture a career in travel, you’re not alone. But a life in perpetual motion is not as glamorous as it seems; junior flight attendants don’t always make great money and may find it difficult to date, start a family, or spend time with loved ones. Still, their schedules are flexible and the perks of the job—such as unlimited free and deeply discounted flights—outweigh the negatives for some people.

So how do you become a flight attendant? U.S. airlines provide on-the-job training programs that last three to six weeks. To be accepted, you must have at least a high school diploma or GED equivalent, although preference is often given to applicants with a college degree and work experience in hospitality or customer service. Applicants must also meet certain physical requirements for height, weight, vision, and overall health. Background and criminal history checks are de rigueur.

To learn more about flight attendant training programs, check the career sites of major U.S. carriers like Delta, United, JetBlue, and Southwest. For juicier insight into the job, pick up a copy of flight attendant Heather Poole’s 2012 New York Times bestseller, Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet.

English teacher

Teaching English abroad can be a great way to live the expat life. To land a job at a reputable school or language institute, you usually need a four-year bachelor’s degree in any subject area and an English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching qualification from an accredited program. TEFL or TESOLcertifications are commonly requested by private language schools and government recruitment agencies because they cover 100 hours of coursework and up to 20 hours of real-world practicum.

Meet the Young Educator Using Instagram for Activism

Once you earn your certificate, you can apply for placement practically anywhere in the world through a specific program or scout job listings on sites like Teach AwayTransitions AbroadESL Base, and Dave’s ESL Cafe. There’s a high demand for native English speaking teachers in China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Spain, Mexico, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Germany, and the UAE. Certain ESL and TESOL certifications can also qualify you to teach English as a second language in public schools across the United States.

Social media influencer

Ask anyone who has built up a serious Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, or Facebook following and they’ll often credit their success to a dash of luck and a lot of hard work. Kiersten “Kiki” Rich, aka The Blonde Abroad, did not amass her 548,000 Instagram followers and 189,546 Facebook fansovernight. “The struggle was definitely real,” Rich says. “I hustled like crazy. I started [by] making contacts and soft-pitching a travel blog I had started. All of my trips in the first year or two were budget or volunteer endeavors.”

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Nearly eight years later, Rich runs a multi-platform business with several revenue streams, but the grind is still “every day, all day long,” and it’s not just about taking pretty pictures. In an oversaturated market of aspiring digital nomads, travelers driven to earn money as a blogger or social media star need to invest in professional camera equipment, develop strategic advertising and marketing campaigns, and, first and foremost, find an untapped niche where they can create original content with a unique point of view. (Learn more from Rich about what it’s really like to be a social media celebrity here.)

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Cruise ship captain

For the aquaphile who could imagine nothing more satisfying than piloting his or her own ship, consider a job on the high seas. Most deep-water captains start their career in an elite maritime academy pursuing a four-year degree (a bachelor’s or master’s degree in marine science or marine engineering is par for the course). Later, they gather real-world experience by interning on boats, shadowing officers on watch, and slowly climbing the ranks—from third mate, to second officer, to first officer, and eventually to ship captain. But this isn’t the only way to get on the water. Captains of river boats and other inland waterway vessels may learn the ropes as “deckhands” (crew members who perform the day-to-day duties that keep the vessel clean and running) and gather on-the-job training as they go.

To get a marine captain’s license, you must obtain multiple certifications, including a Transportation Worker Identification Credential and a Merchant Mariner Credential and pass a test issued by the U.S. Coast Guard. (Learn more about what ship life is really like from the first U.S. woman to serve as captain of a megaship.)

Foreign service officer

Diplomats in the U.S. Foreign Service don’t get nearly as much TV love as their counterparts in the FBI and CIA, but their jobs are hugely important. An applicant to the Foreign Service must pass a rigorous exam that tests his or her knowledge of a wide variety of subjects, including world history and geography, U.S. government and economics, and American culture. After the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT) comes an oral assessment—a mix of interviews and role playing that tests an applicant’s diplomacy skills. (Foreign language proficiency is also a plus.) Medical exams and security clearances are also conducted. After passing the exam, the Foreign Service Officer selection process can take anywhere from six months to two years.

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Once accepted into the Service, officers may be placed at any of the 300 or so U.S. embassies or consulates around the world. (Some officers choose to specialize in fields like information technology, engineering, and public diplomacy, which may determine where they are placed.) The constant moving can be difficult for an officer’s spouse and children, but potential benefits of the job include overseas housing and utilities, transportation and security detail, tuition coverage for kids in grades K-12, and foreign language training. To learn more about preparing for the FSOT and what to expect from a career in diplomacy, start with this comprehensive Foreign Service PDF issued by the State Department.

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Au pair

A gig as an au pair can be ideal for someone who wants to find a job abroad without having to commit to one specific, long-term career path. Think of an au pair as a professional babysitter: In the typical arrangement, the hiring family covers the babysitter’s room and board and provides a weekly or monthly stipend. This is in exchange for childcare, English lessons for their brood, and light housekeeping. Most au pairs fall between the ages of 18 and 30, are single, and have no kids of their own. Au Pair World is the most established platform for connecting would-be au pairs to families in need (13,000 and counting), with placement opportunities in 21 host countries, including Finland, Switzerland, and Australia. New Au Pair has a broader database, listing more than 2,000 positions in 150 countries.

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Ski instructor

The majority of ski instructor positions are seasonal, so the outdoor enthusiasts who work them often pick up other physically demanding jobs (such as a mountain guide or whitewater rafting guide) during the summer months. But some diehard skiers will follow the snow, traveling around the world from lodge to lodge and mountain to mountain to pursue their passion year-round.

You can work as a ski instructor across the United States or abroad in places such as New Zealand, Chile, and France. But the minimum standards for ski instruction certification, determined by the International Ski Instructors Association (ISIA), vary by country. In the United States, a Level I instructor is permitted to teach newbies the basics of alpine or cross-country skiing on well-groomed runs. A Level II instructor works with more experienced skiers, focusing on technique. Only the best skiers can obtain the highest level of certification (Level III), as tested through an exhaustive four-day exam.

Although ski instructors aren’t particularly well-compensated, most don’t do it for the money—free and discounted lift tickets and reporting daily to the slopes is payment enough. To see what kind of ski instructor positions are currently available, comb through country-specific job boards like Cool Works (for the United States) and the New Zealand Snowsports Instructors Alliance. Résumé boosters to help you stand out include first aid training and avalanche safety training.