The most important career advice, from people older than you

Sometimes life/work can be difficult, and finding advice from experienced people can provide a great tool for guidance.

Recently, Karl Pillemer of Cornell University crafted one such tool when he interviewed almost 1,500 people ranging from age 70 to 100 for his inspiring book, “30 Lessons for Living”

You may be thinking that the most common advice had to do with loneliness, family, or friends, but you’d be wrong.

In fact, one of the most overwhelmingly consistent topics had to do with career choices. Simply put, the main piece of advice they had to give was to never stay at a job you disliked.

The elderly people interviewed described staying in such a job as a sort of ever-continuing nightmare that soured life’s experiences. One subject states that “spending years in a job you dislike is a recipe for regret and a tragic mistake.”

To help readers lead a more fulfilling work life, Pillemer developed a useful 5-point refrigerator list from the advice the elderly gave to him.

Choose a Career for the Intrinsic Rewards, Not the Financial Ones

Ultimately, a sense of passion and purpose beats the number of zeros on your paycheck.

Don’t Give Up on Looking for a Job that Makes You Happy

Although it can seem hopeless, or that a certain career is the “safe” option, striving for happiness will be more fulfilling in the long run.

Make the Most of a Bad Job

Unfortunately, you will not likely land a great job right away.

Finding the positives about your current job while searching for something more fulfilling will help you lead a healthier and happier life.

Emotional Intelligence Trumps Every Other Kind

To succeed in your current workplace, and your future ones, you will need excellent interpersonal skills.

Even if your career is tightly focused on technical work, being a people person will make you more likeable and help you advance to where you want to settle.

Everyone Needs Autonomy

Being able to move in directions that interest you, and the ability to make some decisions for yourself in the workplace is of utmost importance.

You want to feel that you have control in your workplace, as it will make you happier overall.

To help people constantly assure themselves they are happy, or are striving to be happy, in their workplace, Pillemer came up with this simple technique: Every day you should ask yourself: “Do I wake up in the morning looking forward to work?”

Once you can answer “yes” to this question, you will know you are on the right track.

3 Replies to “The most important career advice, from people older than you”

  1. every morning when i wake up i want to have a new job with a new experience in other country.i know it could be very difficult for me but i always believe tomorow is a new beginning and always trying to make myself better

  2. I Like my Job, however, My Immediate Managers is not listening to me. From last two years, there is no Salary Appraisal/Increment, for which, I urge him several times, while either he is just ignoring or not responding on that.

    Please suggest me, what should I do?. Should I start looking for change as my all hopes seems vain in this company.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Venky,

      That does sound like a tough situation to be in. Managers have a big impact on people’s satisfaction at work. It’s hard to advice on whether you should move on without all the facts and knowing your situation in more detail. However, in the end you will need to decide based on:

      1. How bad the situation is.
      2. Whether you’ve tried everything possible to fix the situation.
      3. What opportunities you have outside your current firm.

      Here are some articles you might find useful as well –

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