TrustNavigator Blog

It is becoming increasingly clear that the keys to happiness in our life are impacted primarily by the way we prepare for our future. The most successful careers come to those who prepare. The most successful careers are for those who participate actively in college to prepare and in the workplace throughout their career to work with others. The most successful retirement is enjoyed by those who prepare.

There is no better description of this concept than data released over the last year by Gallup. Gallup is studying behavior and asking a lot of the right questions. Recognizing the cultural impact of technology, changes in parenting and the evolution of education, they have produced success models of the workplace and given us a roadmap to put on the refrigerator to read every morning. Yes, some of us still use “post its” to remind us in life of priorities of taking care of ourselves and what we can do for others.

A release from a few years ago was the The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being 5. This is a scientific survey that measures, tracks and reports extensively on the well-being of individuals and organizations. Its simple but so telling of the five essential elements of well-being:

  • purpose: liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals
  • social: having supportive relationships and love in your life
  • financial: managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security
  • community: liking where you live, feeling safe and having pride in your community
  • physical: having good health and enough energy to get things done daily

How many of us apply this list and work to do something about it every day? Consider this, we are raising the first generation that has a negative net worth as they enter post college life. With over $30,000 of average debt the average college student will have 5 jobs before they are 30. This generation has some promising opportunities in an era of exploding technology. But is that same unharnessed technology a threat to their well-being? Parents of children born in the last 15 years can’t explain the do’s and don’ts of cell phones and social media. The prior generation did not grow up with this equipment and experiences. With such elevated levels of anxiety in our children today and snowflaking everywhere, isn’t it time to recognize that teens may have a problem digesting the onslaught of 24-hour barrage from a handheld device.

With which of these elements from Gallup do you disagree? None of these are enhanced by cell phones and social media exposure more than a few moments a day. There are studies that show the average phone owner spends 3-5 hours a day texting and emailing. That is not time on the phone talking to people. Not that life is simple, but where do these key elements overlap with the bombardment of everything else going on in life that comes to us in a hand-held device?

Parents give their children phones at the dinner table to keep them occupied using the “physical element” theory that they are exhausted and need a break. So give the child a phone and a dopamine shot. It certainly is easier than to talk to them over a meal about their future or the other essential key elements in their lives. Sometimes life is a boring but valuable conversation.

A 15-year technology boom has coincided with:

  1. An opioid epidemic
  2. Prescription issuance for anxiety drugs to one in seven children in America (NY Times)
  3. Teen suicide at record levels
  4. High job turnover for young and older adults
  5. Debt levels among our youth that will handicap social and economic development of their generation.

Fifty percent divorce rates and single parent and dual earner households may not be a direct result, but it has not helped. Comparing ourselves to the Kardashians is simply not helping our well-being, nor is listening to the latest tweet from politicians and megastars, who suddenly feel their narcissism is something we should care about. As a great friend said, “we care more about entertaining ourselves than doing the things that matter”. By the way the top stocks during this life cycle Facebook, Google, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Tesla. What does this say about our influences and focus today?

The well-being index is a keel on the boat. It offers much more than just guidance. If we all focused on these issues we would live longer, have better health, quit worrying about others behavior and issues out of our control and focus on our own priorities of well- being. Maybe we could add a little more forgiveness. What a novel idea. Its as simple as losing the phone when we care about those we are with. It’s a self-reminder to eat well and go out for a walk with someone we care about and talk about the future and dreaming. Its an urge to say good morning to our neighbors and working with our co-workers to achieve goals, not to simply check in and out at 9 and 5.

In our next blogs we will discuss how college students and workplaces according to Gallup can progress to greater well-being. We usually don’t promote in these blogs, but next week Ron Ryavec and I initiate our weekly podcast “No Turning Back” with great guests and segments like “Internville”, “Career #” and “Wealth and Wellness”. We try to combine some stories, humor, guest wisdom and solutions to current issues in our communities’ lives. We hope you will join us and try out our podcasts.