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The 10 most popular work-life stories of 2018

These are the work-life stories you read and shared the most this year.

2018 was a year of both hopeful and discouraging moments in the world of work. As Fast Company‘s Lydia Dishman reported, we’ve seen many instances where employees pushed for accountability from their leaders. We saw workers strike to demand better rights and conditions, and actively protest company policies that they morally opposed. Some leaders responded to those concerns, by publicly shouldering responsibilities and taking steps to have the necessary, yet difficult conversations. Others did not.

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Technology continues to raise questions around the future of work–and how humans will coexist with machines. We also learned more about the upsides and downsides of existing in the gig economy, as well as its promises and perils.

But amid all the volatility and changes in the landscape of work, Fast Company readers remain committed in their desire to succeed in work and in life. As we head into 2019, we can look to these stories to put us in the right path to do just that.

1. 7 warning signs that you shouldn’t accept a job offer

It’s difficult to make an accurate assessment of a company culture in a 20 minute interview, Piyush Patel, author of Lead Your Tribe, Love Your Work, told Fast Company‘s Stephanie Vozza. However, Patel believes that there are a few things that should raise red flags. Messy bathrooms, for example, can be a signal that employees in that company lack a collaborative attitude.

2. What happened when I tried the U.S. Army’s tactic to fall asleep in two minutes

Many of us have trouble falling asleep. In fact, 50 to 70 million U.S. adults have some sort of sleeping disorder, according to the American Sleep Association. If you’ve ever struggled with any sort of sleep issues, you probably know that it has a huge impact on your mood and productivity. Fast Company’s Michael Grothaus has tried everything from meditation to medication to combat his occasional sleep problems. This year, he experimented with the two-minute technique that the U.S. Army employed to help soldiers fall asleep quickly in “less than ideal conditions.”

3. Neuroscience says that listening to this song reduces anxiety by up to 65%

People use all sorts of different tactics to manage stress, one of which is sound therapy. As Inc. columnist Melanie Curtin wrote, neuroscientists in the U.K. have now composed a playlist that has been scientifically proven to ease your anxiety. Curtin wrote, “In this age of constant bombardment, the science is clear: If you want your mind and body to last, you’ve got to prioritize giving them a rest. Music is an easy way to take some of the pressure off of all the pings, dings, apps, tags, texts, emails, appointments, meetings, and deadlines that can easily spike your stress level and leave you feeling drained and anxious.”

4. Six verbs that make you sound weak (no matter your job title)

Words have a lot of power. No matter your job title, they can either command respect or hamper your credibility. Leadership communication expert Judith Humphrey shared the six verbs that can do the latter. When you say “think,” for example, you’re conveying something less than definitive, while saying “need” can “conjure up a feeling of dependency on the part of the speaker.”

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5. Never, ever utter these phrases in a salary negotiation

Salary negotiation is both an art and a science. There are certain techniques that can work no matter who you’re negotiating with. Likewise, there are strategies that will almost always backfire on you. Josh Doody, author of Fearless Salary Negotiationshared the phrases that you should stay away from if you want to impress the hiring manager. First things first? Don’t fall for the trap of answering the “dreaded salary question.”

6. This 75-year Harvard study found the 1 secret to a fulfilling life

These days, it’s hard to prioritize what’s important in your life. But according to a study, there is one thing that trumps everything when it comes to bringing happiness–quality relationships. As Melanie Curtin wrote, “The data is clear that, in the end, you could have all the money you’ve ever wanted, a successful career, and be in good physical health, but without loving relationships, you won’t be happy.”

7. Here are six signs that it’s time to quit your job

Jobs tend to have an expiration date. Sometimes new opportunities prompt you to move on, but other times, that end date isn’t always clear. Fast Company’s Stephanie Vozza wrote about the warning signs that signal it might be time for you to go elsewhere. Perhaps you’ve found it more and more difficult to get out of bed, or that you’re not being recognized for your hard work. If any of these signs look familiar to you, it might be time to wave your current job (or company) goodbye.

8. These are the 5 “super skills” you need for jobs of the future

The world of work is constantly changing. That means that what it takes for you to succeed in your job today will be different to what it will take for you to succeed in five years’ time. That’s why to stay relevant, you need to make sure that you’re consistently working to master these “super skills,” from being adaptable with technology to being resilient in the face of change.

9. This is what it’s like not to own a smartphone in 2018

Fastcompany.com Deputy Editor Kate Davis has never owned a smartphone, making her an oddity among U.S. adults (77% are smartphone users.) But she doesn’t plan to change that anytime soon. Becoming a parent has solidified her “low-tech commitment,” and not being tethered to digital distraction has allowed her to maintain a level of sanity in the exhausting news cycle. She wrote, “There’s a way to stay informed about and proficient in technology while setting boundaries around how much it infiltrates my life.”

10. Don’t tell recruiters these things if you want the job

There is a lot of emphasis on what to say and what not to say during a job interview. But every interaction in the job search process matters. Glassdoor’s Amy Elisa Jackon shares what you shouldn’t say to a recruiter if you want a competitive job offer, from accepting the starting salary without negotiating, or complaining excessively about your previous job.

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