When we were children, it sounded so simple. Just come up with an answer to the age-old question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" and voila, there's your dream job. But as an adult, you realized it's hardly that simple. In fact, finding a fulfilling career is a lifelong quest for many people.
Don't Expect to Get It Right on the First Try
While you should consider yourself supremely fortunate if you happen to find career contentment at your first job out of school, this is not the reality that most people experience (and if you're reading this article, it's unlikely that you feel your job is perfect). More often, you need to try out a few different jobs before finding one that brings you career contentment and job satisfaction.
There is no magic number of jobs that you need to try before finding the one that suits you best. The key is to be flexible and willing to put yourself out there to try something new. It's also crucial to maintain a high level of self-awareness, so you can identify what qualities you like and don't like about your position. Over time, a clear understanding of your likes and dislikes in a career will help make it easier to identify the best opportunities that suit your needs.
Don't Stick with a Job If You Don't Find It Fulfilling
Don't be afraid to start looking for a new opportunity at the first sign of discontent with a job. There is no reason to stay at a job for an arbitrary period if you are miserable. Life is too short to spend 40-plus hours a week doing something that makes you unhappy.
Rather than quitting right away, wait until you have another opportunity to move on to, so you can avoid financial stress. If you can't find the perfect job within a few months, take matters into your own hands by exploring entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial opportunities. For instance, you could start your own business with a direct sales company like Amway or open an Etsy shop selling handmade goods if you are particularly creative.
Qualities to Look For
When exploring the topic of career contentment, a few common themes present themselves. Things like work-life balance, a minimal commute and a fun work environment are commonly identified by people who have found career contentment in their current jobs. U.K.-based recruitment firm Reed recently conducted a formal survey and identified the following factors are the top qualities that contribute to career satisfaction:
- Simple commute: 31 percent of respondents noted that an easy, stress-free commute help make a job more enjoyable.
- Great workspace: A well-designed workspace that is tailored to create a fun environment scored as a top quality by 29 percent of those surveyed.
- Work-life balance: This is a hot topic in the HR world for a good reason, over 20 percent of people surveyed noted work-life balance as a top contributor to their career contentment.
- Good salary: Surprisingly, career contentment isn't all about the money. Salary was only noted by 18 percent of survey respondents as a factor leading to career fulfillment.
- Social events: 16 percent of respondents said that opportunities to socialize with co-workers at company-sponsored social events were important to them.