Feb 22, 2024 - Business

Axios Finish Line: Live better longer

Illustration of a hourglass with a DNA strand in place of the glass

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A line in the obituary for 92-year-old Hal Buell, who led AP's photo department from darkroom to digital over four decades, captured in nine words a book's worth of teaching on living better longer:

  • "I had the greatest job in the whole world," he said when doctors and others asked him about his long life in his final days.

Why it matters: The longevity industry is booming and bubbling with advice on fitness, food, fun, hot yoga and cold plunges. But I'm amazed by how many people don't put more thought and intent into optimizing the one thing most do more than anything else — work.

  • That hit home this week when I reviewed our annual Axios survey on employee satisfaction. While we do better than most companies in most areas — we use the Gallup Q12 employee engagement survey — I hate to have any employees who are "actively disengaged."
  • It reminded me of Gallup's own sobering poll results from last year: 62% are indifferent to their work lives. 18% are downright miserable.

🖼️ The big picture: If you have a choice (and many people don't), life is too short not to find deep meaning and satisfaction in your career and company.

  • My top tip to college kids: Search for something you would do for free until life's adult obligations truly take over.

Back in November of 2022, I offered five ways to do this in a broad sense — to put meaning over money. Tonight, let's end with a few more ways to shake things up if you feel disengaged in your current gig.

  1. Dig deeper. Think deeply about what's missing in your work life: Are you confused about your role, deflated by the isolation of working from home, simply bored? I'm surprised by how many people skip this vital first step. It clarifies your root issues.
  2. Play to strength. Identify what you're best at and what you enjoy the most at work. Can you shake up your schedule or shake off bad habits to do more of this? Never underestimate the power of personal or corporate ruts to pull you into annoying work no one actually wants you to do.
  3. Take stock. Inertia sucks our life away. What part of your work routine do you hate? Maybe no one should be doing that task you dread. Figure it out and speak up.
  4. Confess! If you feel lost or confused about your job, don't simply assume it's hopeless. Tell your boss — not in a whiney way but in a sincere, I-want-to-do-better way. You'll probably be surprised by your boss's openness to mixing things up.
  5. Change. People hate to hear this. But stop waiting for other people to make you or your job better. Yes, your boss can help with clarity and direction. But you own you. What small steps can you make to squeeze more joy or meaning out of your work hours?
  6. Quit. This is one most can't do. But many of our readers can: If you're truly miserable for a sustained period of time, do something else. You're not doing yourself or your company any favors loathing what you do eight or more hours each day.

This column appeared in Axios Finish Line, our nightly newsletter on life, leadership and wellness. Sign up here.

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