Considering how different people are — how some excel at math and others at language, how some are driven by money and others by family — it seems impossible that there could be only one quality that makes for satisfaction at work. However, across studies, one feature of employment always stands out as ensuring that workers will feel rewarded in their occupation. Ultimately, if you want a lasting sense of fulfillment from your job, you need to choose to do something you are good at.
Though you might think you’re attracted to certain positions due to their high salaries, the widespread prestige or the ultimate objectives, you shouldn’t factor these into your career decision. Instead, you should look at what workers do every day. Daily tasks aren’t often related to end products. For example, video game designers don’t play games day-in and day-out; they tinker with code, draw and write stories. Some indicators that a job is engaging are:
- Freedom to decide how you do your work
- Clarity, or tasks with defined beginnings and ends,
- Variety in tasks, and
- Feedback, so you can improve.
A job with purpose and meaning is a job that will continue to be rewarding, even if the day-to-day isn’t necessarily enjoyable. When surveyed, people overwhelmingly declare that the most meaningful careers are those devoted to helping people, like medicine and social work. In fact, other research has found that those who devote at least some time to improving others or their community — through volunteerism or some other effort — are less likely to be depressed or suffer common physical health problems. You can earn an online social work degree or pursue other paths into meaningful work today.
You will spend roughly as much time at work as you will with your family, so it is important that your career provide opportunities for you to develop positive relationships with your colleagues. However, more importantly, you should be able to receive help from your co-workers when you encounter trouble. This is a form of social support that is critical to satisfaction, so you should be exceedingly concerned about your teammates when considering a new position.