April 25, 2013

Why friends can be better than a Xanax

It feels like we live increasingly busy and yet increasingly isolated lives. Our lives are filled with so many activities involving interactions with so many people, and yet rarely do we stop and make deep connections with any of them. How can you stop? The to-do list is too long. Who has time for the luxury of quality time with friends? For me, I sometimes feel guilty taking time away from my family, or my job to just hang out with friends.

But there is a cost to this type of isolation from friends. There is an increasing body of evidence that suggests that people with close friends are much healthier than those without. People with friends tend to live longer, have better brain health, are more likely to recover from diseases like breast cancer, and are even less likely to get colds (perhaps due to lower stress levels). It is not quite clear why this is the case, but it is a consistent finding. Social support will help you live a healthier, happier life.

So if you are looking to improve your physical and emotional health, start cultivating your friendships. Call that friend you have been meaning to talk to, or invite some people over for a meal, or join a book club. This may be the biggest single thing you can do to take care of yourself.

April 5, 2013

Is an MBA the way out of your career search blues?

Most of us have at some point had a job we just did not like. Perhaps your boss resembled one of the supervisors in the black comedy Horrible Bosses - the Psycho, the Man-eater, or the Tool! Okay, maybe they are not that bad, but you still don't love working for them. Perhaps your paycheck isn't cutting it. Perhaps your job does not seem to have any opportunities for growth, is not stimulating, or perhaps it just feels like your job is sucking the life out of you and you need out, NOW!

That is the point at which some of my career counseling clients come to me. They are smart, determined, skilled people who are burned out and need some help figuring out what the next step is for them. Many of them are considering getting an MBA as a way to expand their option and their paychecks. When I talk to them about the MBA, they have often not done the research to find out if it will really lead them to what they are looking for.

Before you invest the considerable time and money it takes to get an MBA, there are some basic questions you will want answered. This brief, but very helpful article in Bloomsberg BusinessWeek will give you some pointers about what you should consider, and the questions you want to ask business schools before applying to their programs.