We all want to be happy -- and because a large portion of our day is spent at work (8.8 hours, on average) career happiness often is at the center of our quest for overall happiness.
But, is career happiness achievable? And if so, what are some of the boxes you can “check” to lead you down a sunny path?
1. Select a career where you shine
We all have inherent characteristics that allow certain tasks or types of critical thinking to come easy. When we use our natural talents, 8 to 5 doesn’t seem so long, and the tasks we are assigned don’t feel like work.
Successful people tend to say they chose their careers because they love the job and because they are good at doing it. The key is to find activities you like to perform, discover the tasks in which you’re naturally skilled, and then find a career that combines the two.
Many individuals make the mistake of investing in expensive postsecondary education only to discover after graduation they are dissatisfied with their career. An investment up front in investigating your career options saves time, funds and the misery of job dissatisfaction.
2. Choose an employer that invests equally into you
Joe Griffin, CEO and Co-Founder at iAcquire, an enterprise digital marketing agency, explains the need for a balanced employer/employee relationship:
For any employee, regardless of where you are in your career, it’s important that there’s a mutual employee-employer investment. If you are not ready to invest into your employer, you’re considering the wrong employer and vice versa. The ideal relationship is an equally heavy investment. Think about: “How can your employer make you better?” and “What expectation do they have of you, and are prepared to provide that?” Those types of questions will help you evaluate that balance.
3. Define what culture and environment you jibe with
Identify the people that you want to work with and determine where you thrive. Tangible ways to gauge a company’s culture, such as dress code, the workplace, and intangible gauges like shared values, leadership style, communication style, measures of success, and work ethic can all help shape your understanding of a company’s culture.
Work environments these days range from virtual offices to cube-farm corporate buildings. Think about these questions: “What environment do you work best in?” “Where do your distractions come from?” and “Where am I most conducive to productivity and collaboration?”
4. Rank your intrinsic vs. extrinsic values
Values are the beliefs, attitudes and judgments we prize. Fulfilling intrinsic, extrinsic and lifestyle values are key performance indicators for your career happiness. The top values that drive happiness include:
• The work one does: day-to-day tasks
• The way one works: control over daily tasks
• And the people one works with: relationship with co-workers
Take Monster.com’s "Work Values Checklist" to gauge what values are most important to you.
5. Find ways to challenge yourself and constantly learn
Learning expands your viewpoint, offers knowledge that you can use to improve your life, makes you more globally aware, puts you in a position for lifts in salary and rank at work, and serves as a source of enjoyment. A study by the Office for National Statistics found that there is a link between happiness and learning. The ONS asked a group of more than 15,000 people to rate how satisfied they felt overall on a scale of 0 to 10. More than 80 percent of people with high levels of education were very satisfied – meaning that they rated their happiness levels at a seven or above.
It’s no secret that cultivating positive brains makes us more efficient, resilient, creative, and productive, which drives work performance and happiness upward. The combination of selecting a career path where your natural abilities can shine, culture, value, employer/employee alignment and a learning-oriented job can lead you to eternal sunshine.
Allie Gray Freeland is the PR Director at iAcquire, a digital marketing firm based in New York City and Phoenix. She has a degree in Journalism from University of Minnesota and is a frequent guest contributor to business, career, and marketing publications.