- On 25 August 2015
- By J.R. Mills
8 Factors For A Happy Career
The Keys To Finding Happiness In Your Job
Do you want to love your job? What are some things you could do to make sure you're in a fulfilling and satisfying career?
Nobody Should Hate His Or Her Job:
There can be many reasons to-dull and repetitive labor, a micromanaging boss, poor compensation-but to spend so many hours a week at an awful job is degrading to the mind, spirit, and bank account. Every work day may not necessarily be a day at the beach, but happy employees contribute to their work and their workplaces in positive ways. The trick is finding a happy medium between contentment in your career and fulfilling your needs. "Great!" you say. "I want to do that. Now what?"
Consider how we-and our society-determine what provides job satisfaction, before you decide how to choose a career. Those who have sought out career counseling or advice columns know that finding a career that will reliably provide happiness and satisfaction are harder to identify than you might think. The traditional metrics are typically a big paycheck, an important title, and social status resulting from the respect society has for the career. Those factors play a big part, but there are others that can enhance or detract from your career satisfaction.
However, everyone's needs, interests, and priorities differ. A new career search should start with self-examination! Here are 8 factors that contribute to a fulfilling career and job satisfaction:
- Money. Money matters. For many people struggling to make ends meet, happiness can come from finding work that pays the bills, that covers the basic essentials and reduces the stress of living from paycheck to paycheck. After a certain point, though, the money you make may not be worth the work it takes, and the most satisfying jobs may not be the best paid. A large disposable income may be a lot of fun, but money doesn't always buy happiness. Just because you bought a yacht with your salary doesn't mean you get to sail around the Caribbean every day. Unless you belong to the 1%, you still have to grind out work productively for forty to eighty hours a week like everyone else.
- Status. People have respect for those with elite careers that require significant skill, effort, and attention. For example, in our society doctors and lawyers share greater social status (and career benefits) than construction workers or waiters. A 2007 study by NORC at the University of Chicago, researchers found that "in general, job satisfaction increases with the prestige or social standing of occupations." This is only true to a point, though. Doctors did report significant job satisfaction but do not rank among the study's top 10 careers for job satisfaction. Other factors-working conditions, stress, career preparation-can take a toll on the overall benefits a worker receives.
- Work Environment. Where you spend your work day can be just as important as what you do! If you love the outdoors, slaving over a computer in a cubicle maze may torpedo any satisfaction you might otherwise feel. Conditions that interfere with your ability to accomplish your tasks detract from your daily experience at your job. Time spent with your coworkers and boss, too, can drastically affect your happiness. If you are a people-person, are you part of a genial team of hardworking colleagues? If you're an introvert, do you have a quiet space to work and think? By understanding yourself and your needs, you can find the right environment to boost your mood and your productivity.
- Priorities. Some are content with their jobs if they meet those basic standards of satisfaction; the opportunities and pleasures that money and success provide are satisfaction enough. Others have career or monetary goals they are working toward, or have no interest in following anything but their life's passion. If, in your twenties or thirties, your greatest desire is to buy your own home, you may be more willing to endure less-than-optimal working conditions in order to get what you want. But if you do not need cash at your fingertips or care about the size of your bank account, what you are willing to put up with work-wise can change your career interests entirely. The qualities that make up the concept of career satisfaction can also change over time, too. Over the course of the average person's work life, from adolescence to retirement, an individual's needs and priorities can change. "As people age and their interests evolve, they eventually expect more, something new or different to keep them satisfied," wrote Jeff Garton, in article for the ERIC Institute of Educational Sciences. Benefits that seem awesome and worth the work at 18 many not inspire the same contentment at 45 or 61. Considering not only your immediate preferences, but also your long-term goals, can help ensure happiness over the course of your career.
- Control. As "job satisfaction is co-dependent on employers doing something or providing something," according to Garten, workers often do not have control over their working conditions. Some people are content to have every hour and every task supervised or planned out, while others bristle at interference and prefer to work uninterrupted. The career itself dictates this somewhat, but if you need to have more control over what you do, how, and when, check out careers that will give you that freedom or look into self-employment opportunities. Wielding autonomy and being able to set your own tasks, goals, and objectives certainly contributes to overall career satisfaction.
- Purpose. Ask yourself: does what you do matter? Take a step back and look at the big picture. What does your life's work achieve? Who will it help? What will you accomplish and achieve? Again, this calls back to your priorities, and how much you put into your work. Every task you do may not be meaningful, but the sum total of your work could be. On the other side, even though the purpose of your job may have meaning, the actual day-to-day task that the work entails can be a contentment-killer. Becoming, say, a nurse with the idea of helping people is a great goal and meaningful work, but the actual tasks of the work day-anything involving bedpans, perhaps-may be less inspiring. Purpose can drive you to work through the lesser tasks in pursuit of the larger picture.
- Passion. Examine the things that provide enjoyment and contentment in your life, outside of work: then pursue them. Another research path in the career search is exploring career opportunities that incorporate and emphasize your personal interests, instead of salary and prestige. These jobs may not pay as well, but they are rewarding in different ways. If you have a fierce love of art, working as an artist may be worth the lack of other qualities (and the probability of unemployment). As anyone with work experience can tell you, there is a difference between career satisfaction and career success. A big difference.
- Patience. Don't give up on a profession too soon. Some of the struggle to find the right career requires trial and error, but different jobs in the same employment category can better meet your needs without abandoning the career altogether. An interest in teaching as a profession, for example, can lead to a variety of opportunities that can be explored, chosen, or discarded depending on how well they suit your other needs (e.g. schedule, location, salary, environment, education required, etc.) If you are not satisfied with one type of teaching work, there are other options that may fit you better and provide more enjoyment. If you have tried and hated teaching kindergarten, you don't automatically have to quit your career to find rewarding work; you may just be better suited for a different kind of teaching work. The daily tasks and work life differ greatly, for example, if you work as a college professor instead.
Take the poll below and tell us how you measure your happiness at work.
Career satisfaction does not happen overnight. It takes time, effort, and planning; it takes patience to examine yourself, explore your options, and try out different jobs and career paths. Remember: there is no single method to find success, satisfaction, or happiness. As long as you are moving in the right direction, towards your ultimate goals, all of your work now lays the foundations of your future career success and satisfaction.
Careerbliss.com gathered data from 25,000 company reviews on their website over a two-year period. They evaluated data based on responses by reviewing the factors that contribute to a worker's happiness, such as work environment and compensation. Careers that have greatly limited opportunities (rock stars need not apply) were not considered. For more information on these results, go to: http://www.careerbliss.com/facts-and-figures/careerbliss-happiest-and-unhappiest-jobs-in-america-2015/
Here are five of the happiest jobs in America according to data compiled by CareerBliss.com
- The job: School Principal
What you do: Lead and manage school functions, operations, and activities in K-12 grade.
What you earn: The median salary was $87,760 in May 2012.
How to get there: A master's degree in education and experience working as a teacher are typical prerequisites. Some states may require licenses or other qualifications.
- The job: Executive Chef
What you do: Oversee and run kitchens in restaurants and food service, supervising food preparation and ensuring it meets high standards.
What you earn: The median salary was $42,480 in May 2012.
How to get there: Some choose to attend culinary school, while others work their way up in the kitchens by taking lower-paid positions and learning on the job.
- The job: Loan Officer
What you do: Review, verify, and approve (or reject) loan applications, and relevant tasks therein
What you earn: The median salary was $59,820 in May 2012.
How to get there: Typically, loan officers must first earn a bachelor's degree in business (or a related degree) in addition to training and work experience. In some cases, earning a license is required.
- The job: Automation Technician
What you do: Monitoring and repairing manufacturing equipment, ensuring machine function and productivity
What you earn: There are no bls.gov-gathered statistics but they estimated a possible annual wage of about $50,000, as of 2010.
How to get there: Having a background in mechanics or electronics is useful, through earning an associate's or bachelor's degree. On-the-job training is typically offered after hiring.
- The job: Research Assistant
What you do: Assist scientists, social scientists, professors, and other researchers with information gathering and other tasks
What you earn: Median salary $39,460 in May 2014.
How to get there: A bachelor's degree is typically required, in the relevant or related subject of the research. Specific skills and qualification may depend on the type and source of research.