The Feeling of Security
We feel better, more comfortable, competent and able to make decisions if we're not worried about being pink-slipped on a regular basis.
High Relative Income
That's not the same as high income. Earning at least as much money—if not more—than your colleagues and co-workers improves your satisfaction.
Interacting with People
A tight-knit sense of community makes a job feel more like a family. For that reason, small workplaces tend to be preferable to large, impersonal ones.
A Challenge That Requires Use of Your Skills
Busy work won't do. Csikszentmihalyi's research shows that only when we are forced to focus our attention and concentrate in a way that takes us out of our everyday existence do we come close to flow.
Goals That Are Clear and Well-Defined
For many of the same reasons that having financial goals makes for a happier life, having work goals does as well. It's comforting to know that you have marks to meet, that your challenge is achievable and that you're approaching the finish line. Feedback along the way plays an important role as well.
Self-employed people tend to be happier because they're able to make their own decisions without being challenged. You can get the same benefits by being a supervisor in a corporate environment—by being able to work independently. Being in control of the speed at which you work—meeting your deadlines in your own way—is key. A supervisor dictating your every move stifles satisfaction. If you do have to agree to a timetable, better a colleague's than a boss's, and better a customer's than a colleague's.
The ability to work from home from time to time is a very nice perk (one I value very highly), but even smaller liberties—like being able to move your desk in your office or add a chair or couch that speaks of your personality—can improve your feelings of satisfaction. And the ability to get to and from the office with a relatively short commute is also a plus.
We are happier at work if every day isn't the same in terms of where we work (a little travel is a good thing), what we do and which skills we draw on.
Using the Skills You've Spent Time Acquiring
It's important to be valued for the particular skills you bring to work—and to be able to use those skills—rather than just being a body at a desk.
How does society view your job? Is it a position of respect? If so, that's a plus. And note: This has very little to do with how much you earn. College professors have a great deal of respect. Sanitation engineers may earn just as much, but they don't have adoring students hanging on their every word.
If you've found your passion, it's time to hone your brilliant idea.
Please note: This is general information and is not intended to be legal advice. You should consult with your own financial advisor before making any major financial decisions, including investments or changes to your portfolio, and a qualified legal professional before executing any legal documents or taking any legal action. Harpo Productions, Inc., OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Discovery Communications LLC and their affiliated companies and entities are not responsible for any losses, damages or claims that may result from your financial or legal decisions.