There has been a huge push in recent years to find personal fulfillment and happiness in jobs. As a former Career Counselor, I always had mixed feelings on this. There are a ton of companies and opportunities out there, but not all of them are going to provide you with happiness and emotional fulfillment, and that is not a bad thing. It all comes down to your priorities. What is important to you in your life right now? What is your long term work goal and how will that impact your life?
Of course, if you can find emotional and personal fulfillment in your job, I think that is amazing and certainly a nice thing to strive for (okay, you can see where I fall on this spectrum)! That said, it is important to consider what is the most valuable to you. What do you need and what do you want?
Here are a few things to consider when evaluating career paths and opportunities:
- Debt/finances: Do you need a higher paying job to pay off debt, pay bills, or live the lifestyle you want?
- Opportunity for growth: Are you looking for a company or industry where there is a lot of opportunity for growth? What is your long term plan?
- Work-life balance: Do you have kids/parents you need to care for? Do you value lots of vacation time over other areas? What about commuting — Is it worth a fantastic job, if you have a four hour commute? Can you work from home when needed?
- Medical Benefits: What are your (and your family’s) health needs and expected future needs? If you are thinking of becoming pregnant, or if someone in your family requires special medical coverage, this may be your top priority.
- Security: Is a steady paycheck and job very important? If so, you may want to avoid riskier opportunities such as working at a start-up.
- Satisfaction: Do you want to work in a place where you can give back to society? Is your top priority a job that makes you happy?
- Culture: Some company cultures encourage teamwork and others are more cut-throat. Some companies encourage after-work socializing, and others have a clear work/home separation. What do you want out of the company culture? Is company culture a priority?
- Health: What are the overall job requirements? Is it a very physical job? What will that mean to your long term health? For example, teaching and physical therapy are often very physical jobs, where you are likely standing for hours at a time. How will that impact your health over 20+ years?
My suggestion is to look at each of these points, and rank your top 3-5 priorities. Take notes as to why these are your top priorities. When you are looking at different opportunities and interviewing, consider how closely the opportunity matches your top-ranked priorities. Do you want emotional fulfillment? Do you want a top paying job? Do you want people to hang out with after work? There is really no right or wrong answer here, but it is definitely worth thinking about what you value and how it will impact your life, before you start your search.