The Secrets of Career Satisfaction

The Secrets of Career Satisfaction

By Jay Leonardi

Posted on November 1st, 2017 at 2:00 PM

Career Satisfaction sounds easy: Step 1) find something you enjoy doing; Step 2) make lots of money doing it.

There you go. Done! Or are you?

Does Career Satisfaction really come that easy for most people? Or does it require something deeper to reach a level of satisfaction where you feel true contentment in your work-life?

The biggest challenge of attaining career satisfaction is that people are so different in personality, values, and psychological needs. For some people, career fulfillment may come from high levels of achievement, spectacular income, and enviable social status. For others, it may be the opportunity for self-expression and creativity, or for the chance to serve and help others.

To find your own keys to Career Satisfaction, you must evaluate many factors, and choose a career that most aligns with those factors. Here are some factors to consider:

Interesting or Fun Job:

Determining what’s interesting is often difficult, because what’s fun for one person may be awful for the next; however, there are questions you can ask yourself to guide your career choices.

Is the subject or environment considered exciting by most people? Is the subject interesting enough that you could see a television show devoted to it? Doctors, firemen, and Airforce pilots might score high, while bank tellers, data entry clerks, and floor layers might score lower.

Is your day composed of a variety of activities or is it the same thing over and over? Does your position include multiple, distinct activities during the day as well significant variety from one day to the next? Is the job structured where every day is something new and different? Repetitive functions and assembly line work could certainly lack variety.

Does the career you’re considering allow fun interaction with people? Does this position involve pleasurable interaction with others or is it more repetitive and stressful in nature? Are people typically happy, excited, motivated, and fulfilled when performing this work?

Would you have the opportunity to learn interesting things? Is the development of new skills an integral part of the job? Does the job allow you the chance to create something new, or does it simply involve completion of a process? Is each day filled with creativity and the opportunity to innovate? Or is the position focused on completing forms, paperwork, and other details?


For many people, the stress and pressure within their career can have a major impact on their overall career satisfaction. Excessive stress often destroys an otherwise enjoyable and fulfilling career. As you evaluate the stress level present in your potential career choices, it’s important to be aware of several factors.

Does the career involve intense, life and death-type responsibility? Would you be responsible for the safety or lives of others. Would you face intense responsibility to never make a mistake? Will mistakes cause catastrophic results?

Would you face continuous rejection? Does your work receive constant review and criticism? Are you involved in selling a product or service where rejection is a constant part of your day? Would you spend most of your time dealing with people’s problems? Would you face angry or hostile customers? Are you subjected to highly emotional situations?

Is work volume and time pressure a likely challenge? Would you be subjected to strict deadlines, multiple priorities, and conflicting priorities? Is burnout and turnover often a problem in this career?

Bragging Rights:

If you value prestige and social approval, you may want to evaluate the concept of “Bragging Rights.” How would society tend to view you in terms of stature, perceived rank, and the impressiveness of your job title? In other words, how much fun would it be to tell people what you do for a living?

A second element of Bragging Rights includes fame and public recognition. If you had this career, would you be well known to others, often in the media, or recognized while out in public? Would you work with high-level people such as doctors, lawyers, business owners, politicians and famous people?

Would your career title indicate that you have a very high income or that you are highly educated? When it comes to Bragging Rights, it’s more fun to brag about your Ph.D. than confess that you didn’t graduate from high school.

Mental versus physical labor:

For many people, the idea of physical labor and the chance to work with their hands is a key element of career happiness, for other people, the idea of getting dirty, sweaty and hot sounds just awful. There are several issues that should be considered:

For some young people, the thought of using their strength and endurance sounds enjoyable; however, it’s important to remember that careers last 40-plus years. Lifting stacks of shingles onto a roof at 60 may not be as much fun as it was at 25.

In evaluating a career, you may want to consider the amount of heavy lifting required, the amount of time working in excessive heat or cold, how much standing is required, and the amount of interaction with dangerous equipment

In addition, physical labor may also have a personal safety component. Are you near machines, moving parts, heavy objects, pinch points, or sharp edges? Are you dependent on others to keep you safe? Are you required to wear a hardhat, goggles, gloves or protective closing? Do you face risks from fire, heat, water, entrapment, excessive noise, or danger to your eyes? Are you required to be tied off or wear a safety harness? How much time would you work in a location where the risk of falling is high?

Personal freedom:

The opportunity to control your own work can add a great deal of satisfaction for many people. In comparison, constantly being told what to do and how to do it, can cause stress, anxiety and deep frustration.

When working in this job, is the work typically self-paced, self-managed, and empowered? Are goals, deadlines, procedures, and processes controlled by the individual? Or are you on the receiving end of endless tasks flowing downhill from superiors?

Does the position allow setting your own work hours? Can you vary them according to your needs? Are you able to work from home? Or are you required to punch a clock?

Are you fully empowered or closely managed? Are you free to achieve your goals however you see fit? Or are you constantly monitored and told what to do? Are you able to select or prioritize your own assignments, or are you told what to do from moment to moment? Is the position highly flexible? Or are you bound to federal and state regulations, inflexible guidelines, strict legal requirements, and corporate rules?

Power and authority:

When it comes to work, in one way or another, we are all told what to do. If you’re working for minimum wage, your supervisor will tell you what to do; if you’re a supervisor, you’ll get instructions from the manager, and on up the chain of command. At the top, if you’re the President, the CEO and the Board of Directors will give you your orders. And, of course, the Board can be drummed out by the stock holders. Everyone has a boss.

The difference comes in how much freedom, power and authority your position allows before your boss must get involved. For some, the opportunity to give more orders than you receive is a vital part of career satisfaction.

When you’re evaluating the power and authority within a career position, consider the following:

Does this position exist to manage other people? Do people report to you as “the boss”? How many people would report to you? How many levels of management would you control? Can you hire, fire, and reward others? Do you have the authority to promote, demote, and adjust pay?

Would your peers and subordinates consider you and “expert” in the workplace? Does the position require an advanced degree or over 10 years’ experience? Does the position exist to provide expertise to others?

Would you have the authority to determine goals for others? Would you set firm goals for others or are you limited to offering input about goals? Is your work product used in goal setting, such as with budget analysts?

Would you hold people accountable for results? Would you make final decisions or are you only able to offer advice and input?

Societal benefits:

In comparison to bragging rights, fun, and personal power, some people find deep satisfaction in providing societal benefits to others.

If you’re the type of person who feels pleasure and fulfillment in giving something back, this category may be the most essential to your career satisfaction.

As you consider socially-conscious careers, does the position provide direct benefits to society? Does this job exist to improve social well-being? Do you protect the physical well-being of others? Do you guard against fraud and other types of harm? Does the job allow you to give more than you receive? Is your career dedicated to serving the needs of others? Does this job put the good of others before the needs of self?

Are the lives of other people enriched or improved by your efforts? Do you heal people or protect their health and well-being? Do you provide guidance of a psychological nature? Are you and educator or care-giver? Does your career allow you to work each day to make the world a better place? Does this career create beauty, innovation, peace, unity, spiritual enlightenment, or other forms of harmony?

Career Satisfaction:

Determining the answers to these and other questions is the “Secret” to achieving true career satisfaction. You must take the time to really know yourself and how your needs will be impacted by the details of your career. Each job is a mélange of activities, skills, knowledge, attitudes and behaviors that result in the minute-by- minute realities of your career. It is how you interact with these realities that will decide your true career satisfaction

We hope you enjoyed this JobQuiz article! To learn more about your future career, be sure to take our Career Test. It takes about 12 minutes, evaluates hundreds of career possibilities, and allows you to discover your perfect career.

Share this article: