Good Reading on Meaningful Work

Mindfulness & Meaningful Work:
Explorations in Right Livelihood

Edited by Claude Whitmyer, Foreword by Ernest Callenbach
Published by Parallax Press, Berkeley, California, 1994, 289 pages

This very good anthology explores the integration of mindfulness and ethics in the workplace. In these pages some of the leading thinkers and doers of our time — Thich Nhat Hanh, Joanna Macy, Sam Keen, E.E Schumacher, Gary Snyder, Shakti Gawain, Shunryu Suzuki, Robert Aitken, Tarthang Tulku, Marsha Sinetar, Rick Fields, Ellen Langer, and many others — share their insights on the practice and value of working and of finding work that is meaningful, life-affirming, and non-exploitative.

Mindfulness and Meaningful Work deepens our understanding of the concept of “right livelihood;” shows us how to go about overcoming the obstacles in our path so that we can find and maintain meaningful, satisfying work; and encourages us to live in a way that increases our inner peace, self-worth, and purpose.

Claude Whitmyer, the editor of this volume, is co-founder and president of the University of the Future. He is also director of FutureU ‘s Center for Good Work in San Francisco, where he serves as a business and livelihood coach. Mr. Whitmyer is also co-author of Running a One-Person Business (Ten Speed Press, 1994, 2nd edition) and editor of In the Company of Others: Making Community in the Modern World (Tarcher/Putnam, 1993).


Ways to Earn Extra Money

Looking for extra cash to keep your household afloat in this storm-tossed economy? Maybe it’s time to turn your hobby into a business. 

Click here to read a really useful article by an expert. It’s not high-tech, but there are other ways to make money without being a technology guru. Learn more about Barbara Brabec here.

Best Part-Time Jobs for Boomers

Deferring Retirement? Best Part-Time Gigs for Baby Boomers
By Selena Dehne, JIST Publishing

At a time when the majority of men and women expect to work beyond their retirement, many baby boomers will use this time to shift gears in their careers. In fact, 80 percent of today’s 76 million baby boomers plan to keep working in the future and more than half of them are interested in pursuing new careers, according to a Merrill Lynch survey.

When it comes to seeking a new career or continuing to work for the same employer, many boomers will opt for part-time employment. This option is particularly appealing for boomers who want flexibility in their schedules or cannot find full-time employment.

“A part-time job can keep you physically, mentally and socially active and perhaps allow you to experiment with a new work role without the commitment and energy drain of a 40-hour workweek,” says Laurence Shatkin, Ph.D., co-author of “225 Best Jobs for Baby Boomers” (JIST © 2007).

Working part-time is also a great solution for boomers who want to retire, but can’t because they’re financially unprepared to leave the work force.

“For the first time since you were a teenager, part-time work may be financially feasible even though you will be paid for fewer hours and probably at a lower hourly rate,” Shatkin says. “Social Security, a pension, a 401(k) or some combination of these may cover a major fraction of your income needs. Plus, Medicare or a retirement medical plan may provide health-care benefits that previously had been affordable only through a full-time job.”

The following are 20 of the best jobs for baby boomers working part-time, based on information from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Teachers, Post-secondary
Annual Earnings: $54,406
Annual Openings: 216,000

Registered Nurses
Annual Earnings: $53,640
Annual Openings: 215,000

Annual Earnings: $87,160
Annual Openings: 23,000

Clinical Psychologists*
Annual Earnings: $56,360
Annual Openings: 17,000

Counseling Psychologists*
Annual Earnings: $56,360
Annual Openings: 17,000

School Psychologists*
Annual Earnings: $56,360
Annual Openings: 17,000

Instructional Coordinators
Annual Earnings: $50,060
Annual Openings: 18,000

Security Guards
Annual Earnings: $20,520
Annual Openings: 228,000

Self-Enrichment Education Teachers
Annual Earnings: $31,530
Annual Openings: 39,000

Speech Language Pathologists
Annual Earnings: $53,790
Annual Openings: 10,000

Truck Drivers, Light or Delivery Services
Annual Earnings: $24,420
Annual Openings: 219,000

Personal and Home Care Aides
Annual Earnings: $17,020
Annual Openings: 154,000

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses
Annual Earnings: $34,650
Annual Openings: 105,000

Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists
Annual Earnings: $46,710
Annual Openings: 21,000

Teacher Assistants
Annual Earnings: $19,760
Annual Openings: 259,000

Legal Secretaries
Annual Earnings: $37,390
Annual Openings: 39,000

Annual Earnings: $67,940
Annual Openings: 3,000

Annual Earnings: $53,040
Annual Openings: 1,000

Janitors and Cleaners, Except for Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners
Annual Earnings: $19,110
Annual Openings: 454,000

Caption Writers
Annual Earnings: $45,460
Annual Openings: 23,000
Annual Openings: 17,000 openings.

Myths about Older Workers

Here are some of those myths — along with the reality.

  • Myth: Older workers can’t or won’t learn new skills.
    Reality: Those over 50 are proving their ability to learn new skills by becoming the fastest growing group of Internet users. And career-changers in their 40s and 50s are taking courses to enhance their skills.
  • Myth: Older workers don’t stay on the job long.
    Reality: Workers between 45 and 54 stayed on the job twice as long as those 25 to 34, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Myth: Older workers take more sick days than younger workers.
    Reality: Attendance records are actually better for older workers than for younger ones.
  • Myth: Older workers aren’t flexible or adaptable.
    Reality: Because they’ve seen many approaches fail in the workplace, they are more likely to question change. But they can accept new approaches as well as younger workers can as long as the rationale is explained.
  • Myth: Older workers are more expensive.
    Reality: The costs of more vacation time and pensions are often outweighed by low turnover among older workers and the fact that higher turnover among other groups translates into recruiting, hiring, and training expenses.

Source: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers-USA

Most Economists Say Recession is Here

Article by Phil Izzo, Wall Street Journal
Thursday, March 13, 2008
The U.S. has finally slid into recession, according to the majority of economists in the latest Wall Street Journal economic-forecasting survey, a view that was reinforced by new data showing a sharp drop in retail sales last month.”The evidence is now beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Scott Anderson of Wells Fargo & Co., who was among the 71% of 51 respondents to say that the economy is now in a recession.The Commerce Department said Thursday that retail sales tumbled 0.6% in February; sales excluding volatile auto and parts decreased 0.2%. The decline reflected a sharp slowdown in consumer spending, the primary driver of U.S. economic growth, as Americans grapple with high gasoline prices and the credit crunch, as well as drops in home values and other asset prices.The survey, conducted March 7 through March 11, marked a precipitous shift to the negative from the previous survey conducted five weeks earlier. For example, the economists now expect nonfarm payrolls to grow by an average of only 9,000 jobs a month for the next 12 months — down from an expected 48,500 in the previous survey. Twenty economists now expect payrolls to shrink outright. And the average forecast for the unemployment rate was raised to 5.5% by December from 4.8% in the previous survey.

Much of the gloom stemmed from last Friday’s employment report, which showed a loss of 63,000 jobs in February, the second consecutive monthly decline. “My recession call comes from the employment data,” said Stephen Stanley of RBS Greenwich Capital. “It struck me as a recessionary number.”

Twenty-nine of 55 respondents said they expect the economy to contract in the current quarter and 25 expect it to do so in the second. The average of all the forecasts is for meager growth — just 0.1% at an annual rate in the current quarter and 0.4% in the second.

Although the classic definition of recession is two consecutive quarters of declines in the gross domestic product, Mr. Stanley pointed out that the National Bureau of Economic Research, the nonpartisan organization that is the official arbiter of when recessions begin and end, doesn’t necessarily follow that definition. “If you go back to the 2001 recession, there was only one negative GDP quarter, and there might not even be one negative quarter in this recession,” he said.

The economists also expressed growing concerns that a 2008 recession could be worse than both the 2001 and 1990-91 downturns. They put the odds of a deeper downturn at an average 48%, up from 39% in the previous survey. Mark Nielson of MacroEcon Global Advisors said that “we recognize the previous two recessions were mild and, if a recession does occur, it is likely to be slightly worse than the previous two.”

Amid the concerns about the economy, respondents expect more action from the government and the Federal Reserve. Some 63% said the use of public money to deal with the housing crisis is now likely or certain, while on average they expect the Fed to lower its benchmark federal-funds rate to 2% by June from the current 3%.

Futures markets Thursday priced in certainty of at least a 0.5 percentage point cut in the Fed’s rate target and up to 90% probability of a 0.75 point cut. Officials had, prior to this week, appeared unconvinced a 0.75 point cut was needed, given signs that inflation psychology is worsening. But those views may have been affected by continued upheaval in credit markets and the weak retail sales and employment data. Market participants say this would be a risky time to cut less than investors expect. The Fed will have to weigh the urgency of addressing the continued credit crunch against the risk of appearing unconcerned about inflation.

However, the Fed’s job may be complicated by inflation concerns. The economists raised their average forecast for consumer-price increases to 3.5% by June, up from 2.7% in the prior survey. The change reflects persistently high oil prices and a 4.3% jump in prices last month from the year before. February’s CPI data will be released Friday, and economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires expect a 4.5% increase from a year ago.

Even as the Fed has made clear that it is most focused at the moment on threats to economic growth, some central bank policy makers have continued to voice concerns about the possibility of resurgent inflation. The central bank has used unconventional methods to boost liquidity in the market; its goal is to limit the use of its bluntest weapon, interest-rate reductions, which can fuel price pressures.

Meanwhile, most forecasters expect a recovery to begin in the second half of this year, as the government’s stimulus package and the Fed’s interest-rate cuts begin to spur the economy. By the end of the year, the economists expect inflation still to be hovering at an uncomfortably high 2.7%, raising the question of when the Fed will start raising rates.

Some 84% of economists in the survey said the Fed was too slow to raise interest rates in 2003, and policy makers don’t want to repeat that mistake. But “it’s going to take some time even under the best of circumstances before the Fed can be comfortable that the economic situation has stabilized,” said Bruce Kasman of J.P. Morgan Chase.

One thing is clear: The darkening economic outlook has made Ben Bernanke‘s job less secure, especially with a new president about to enter the White House. The economists gave the Fed chairman just a 59% chance of being reappointed in 2010. “If a Democrat is elected he won’t be reappointed, and [presumptive Republican presidential nominee John] McCain may opt for another, too,” said David Resler of Nomura Securities. “The problems occurred on his watch,” added Ram Bhagavatula of Combinatorics Capital.

Hottest Places for Knowledge Jobs

2-year job-growth forecast: 8.9%

Low energy costs and a cheap but smart labor force are pulling in more Fortune 500 companies. Washington Mutual chose San Antonio for its new regional operations center, which will create 3,000 new jobs during the next five years. And Microsoft is building a $550 million data center here, set to open in 2009.

2-year job-growth forecast: 7.6%

Though Congress is now trying to slow the growth of federal outlays, the nation’s capital is still home to the world’s biggest spender. Uncle Sam is stoking employment in fields from aerospace to medical research to IT services. Economists see 15,000 new high-tech jobs joining the local economy this year and next.

2-year job-growth forecast: 7.2%

Boasting one of the youngest big-city populations in the country, Salt Lake is luring more top employers with its affordable but highly educated labor pool. According to a survey by Manpower, more than half of Salt Lake businesses expect to add headcount this year, one of the highest rates among large U.S. metros.

2-year job-growth forecast: 5.1%

Intel has slashed about 1,000 jobs from its chip fab here since last fall, but that’s no knock on this Oregon city. Continued population growth–buoyed by a delayed real estate slowdown and bigger overseas demand for local goods–is helping to draw more manufacturers and tech startups. One hot niche: open-source software development.

2-year job-growth forecast: 5.0%

Newcomers are still moving here in droves: 34,000 in 2006 alone. Good thing the largest employers have plenty of work for them. A resurgent Boeing added about 5,000 folks to its Washington payrolls last year. Microsoft is expanding its Redmond campus and will continue a hiring spurt that brought in 7,000 new employees in 2006.

Avoiding Job Burnout

A recent article in PsychCentral provides useful practical advice on how to deal with job burnout–a common challenge to many workers. Article Source: Click here.

Virtually everyone will face the prospect of job burnout at one point. Whether you’re an office worker or a carpenter, a salesperson or a doctor, job burnout occurs when we become dissatisfied with and overwhelmed by our current job and can’t really identify what’s wrong. We’ve gathered together five tips to help identify possible problems and some quick solutions that may help you better bust job burnout.

1. Combat boredom

A lot of people get bored with their jobs, plain and simple. They no longer find the job challenging, or find that the job’s daily routine has become incredibly uninteresting. A job you once looked forward to starting at the beginning of the day now is something you dread.

You can combat job boredom a number of ways. Spice up your current position by asking for different assignments or tasks. Consider a job change within the same company, either by applying for a new position internally or talking to your boss about possible role rotations. If your current company offers you a dead-end to job excitement, consider a new job at a new company.

If you’re really feeling disillusioned with your job, consider changing careers altogether. People do it all the time, even going back to school if need be to pursue something they find more rewarding. Contrary to popular belief, jobs shouldn’t be something you just have to suffer through and not enjoy. The happier you are with your job, the happier you generally will be with life.

2. Avoid focusing too much on your job

Sometimes we end up making our lives about our job. That’s the wrong way around – it should be that our jobs help enhance our lives, either because we’re doing what we enjoy and feel good about, or because they bring us financial security (or a little of both). When your life becomes about your job for longer than a year, you’re at greater risk for job burnout.

There’s nothing wrong with needing to focus on your job and putting in long hours from time to time. Many people do that at some point in their lives. But if you find that you’re sacrificing other things in your life for your job – your social life, your family, or even your own sanity – it’s time to take a serious look at your life priorities.

Seek to “right-size” your working hours once again and put the job back in its proper place within your life. Reprioritize your family and social life, and talk to your boss about your need to find a better balance in your life. Most people understand that the company isn’t your life – and if it’s expected to be, maybe it’s time to find a new company!

3. Avoid office politics

Workplace politics can be exhausting. Trying to figure out how others trying to get ahead might misconstrue your behaviors or words can take up a lot of focus and energy, all at the expense of actual work. It’s best to steer clear of office politics as best you can and just focus on your own career goals and job.

Office gossip often inadvertently leads to office politics. Minimize engaging in office gossip and you’ll discover that office politics will fade into the background. While it’s okay to do occasionally, don’t make it the focus of your workday or always try to second- guess a colleague’s or boss’s behavior. Sometimes a stapler really is just a stapler.

4. Avoid overworking

Some people have a hard time saying “no” to virtually anything job-related. They believe they will be seen as a team player who helps everyone out. But you can also end up being the team doormat that everyone takes advantage of to reduce their own workload.

Don’t let yourself become the “go-to” person that everyone expects will pick up their slack or help them in a tight squeeze. While it’s fine to help your coworkers when the need arises, there’s a fine line before that becomes an expectation – and another workload added to your own.

If it’s not a one-time emergency, politely decline requests to help out on projects where others were expected to do the work. Or, if you need to accept something, ensure what you agree to do is in proportion to your own workload.

5. Better manage your time

Sometimes we feel burned out by our jobs because we feel as though we always have too much to do, and not enough time to do it. This can be a sign of poor time management, spending too much time on unimportant tasks (such as checking one’s email obsessively every five minutes) and too little time focused on the important ones.

Prioritizing your tasks is a key to better time management. Not everything has the same priority. A project your boss gave you until Friday to finish needs to get done while re-doing your organization of a spreadsheet or tool closet can wait.

If you’re in an office job, try setting aside only three or four times throughout the day that you will check and respond to emails. Email is one of the banes of personal productivity; research has shown that most people multitask very poorly. Reduce multitasking as much as your job allows and process tasks one at a time, in the order of their priority.

If your job requires paperwork to be done for many tasks, try to do it at the time of the task rather than saving it for later. When we face a pile of paperwork that needs to be filled out, we often keep letting it go and grow until it becomes unmanageable and overwhelming.

* * *

Job burnout happens to most of us at some point in our lives. The key is to recognize it before it becomes a major problem and work on resolving it, or reducing it, before it overwhelms your life.

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