After working for over 15 years, I’ve formed sort of a list of things I look for in judging my happiness in my job. I’ve come up with 5 things that I judge:
- What I do day in/day out in my job
- Work-Life Balance vs. Career Opportunity
- Who your Boss is
- Who your co-workers are
- How much I make
What I do day in/day out in my job
I list this one first because this really impacts your happiness throughout the day, every day. If you hate the type of work you do and aren’t challenged by it, it can drive you crazy. You’ll either be bored out of your mind because the work isn’t interesting or dread going into work each day because you hate what you do. Still they call it work for a reason and sometimes dealing with a job you dislike isn’t so bad, if the other 4 factors make up for it.
Work-Life Balance vs. Career Opportunity
I group these two together, because I think this topic really is dependent upon what you individually want. For some people they want a job that enables them to be home by 5 pm so they can be with their family or it enables then to pursue their personal dreams. For others they want a job that will give them the opportunity to one day be president of the company or gain the experience to start their own company. These opportunities go beyond the tasks of what the job entails, and speak to what the job enables you to do. This is the reason why someone takes on an unpaid internship for a boss they hate, because it allows them to start working towards a career they dream about.
Who your Boss is
Nothing can make a great job unbearable than a boss who you don’t get along with. Whether it be little quirks they have that drive you nuts or their attitude towards you and your co-workers, who your boss is matters. I’ve had great bosses, who have gone out of their way to understand what my career goals and helped me achieve them. I once had a boss, who helped get me a job within the company in another group in another city after I gave my letter of resignation. His thoughtfulness and willingness to talk to his boss on my behalf, allowed me to stay with the company for another 3 years. I’ve also had bad bosses, who made going into the office every day, torturous. Bosses pretty much impact every aspect of what your job is from what you do, to the hours you work, to the people you work with, and how much you get compensated. Thus it isn’t a surprise that you see people follow a boss they like as their boss changes positions.
Who your co-workers are
The people you work with every day also impacts your happiness. These are the people that you see every day for a vast majority of your waking hours. If you don’t get along with your co-workers, you’ll constantly be distracted by trying to deal with these issues vs. focusing on your job. On the other hand, when you get along with your co-workers so much that they are like friends or family, work seems to fly by and you might not even think of work as work. When you’ve formed such great bonds with your co-workers, you feel like you’re in this together like an army unit that has gone to war together. Thus you may even slug through a bad job, just because you want to be with your friends.
How much you make
I put this one last because I feel like it changes the most. The reason I say this is because we all adjust our lifestyles to the new salary and the satisfaction of making “so much money” just fades. Plus in this day and age of direct deposit, most of us never see our paycheck, it just appears in our bank accounts. But it is still very important, because we all know that how much you make is what drives most of us to choose a job or career. We become anchored to a lifestyle that can only be afforded by a certain salary. We’ve all heard stories about people who stay in a job they hate, because they make so much money they can’t afford to leave.
Overall my belief is that if you’re happy with a majority of these things, you’ll be happy with your job. You’ll be able to keep a positive attitude when on the job and this will enable you to be productive and happy. But one thing to remember is that how you rate the level of satisfaction you have with each of these categories will change constantly. What are your thoughts on these 5 criteria? Do you have any other things you look for in a job?