A serious component of a happy life is a career that fulfills your dreams and goals—and yes, one that makes you happy too. The happiest careers consist of the jobs that will make your heart sing as you go off to work every morning, but those jobs will be different for different people. Each person is a unique blend of values, goals, needs, and experience; your happiest career must reflect your special mix.
A career that would make you happiest might make another person miserable. For example, working as a kindergarten teacher and spending your day with 5-year-olds might be a dream job for you. But to another person, that job could be a nightmare of epic proportions.
To find the happiest career for you and avoid the unhappy careers that would fill every day with sorrow, consider five topics that will help you get started on the right path to making the best decision about the happiest career for you.
Most people want to earn more money, but the amount of money necessary to make you feel comfortable does exist. This amount of money depends on your cost of living and your expectations. If you grew up with parents who earned six-figure incomes, you will have more difficulty finding happiness with a $30,000 household income than a person who grew up with parents who were poor
You may think that you need to pick a career in which you will make a lot of money to have your happiest career, but you need to know that trade-offs exist for high-salaried jobs. Yes, you can make a lot of money as a partner in a big law firm, but will that job make you happy? Would earning a modest salary running your own shop make you happier? No universal answer exists for that question, but you need to think about it to create the happiest career for you.
Finding Comfort in Your Own Skin
If nothing makes you happier than seeing options all lined up neatly in rows, you'll probably enjoy a career that involves order—like accounting or chemistry. If you live for beauty, designing is probably a better choice. If you love talking with people, a job that requires you to work from home, typing furiously away on the computer with little outside contact is not the happiest career for you.
Incidentally, a lot of different jobs within career lines that can meet different requirements for happiness are available for you to pursue. If you love science and medicine and you love people, maybe a general physician's job would be the happiest career for you.
If you love science and medicine but are an introvert who would rather not spend a lot of time with other humans, you still can become a doctor—but maybe one who specializes in research and doesn't have to talk with actual patients all the time.
Some people love to travel. They love new sights, new sounds, new smells. They love meeting different people and the adventure of getting around a new city or a new country. This type of person would love a job that involved a lot of international travel. Another person wants to come home by 5 p.m. and can't get any rest sleeping in a hotel.
Some people want flexibility. They want to take time off to volunteer in their children's school classroom. They want to take tennis lessons during the day. Maybe they want to work from 6 a.m.-3 p.m. instead of from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. There's nothing wrong with either of those preferences, but if your preference is strong, you will have more difficulty finding a career that will make you happy.
While you want a career that contributes to your happiness, if you expect your career to solve all of your other problems and bring you pure joy, you need to take a step back. The wrong career can make you miserable, but any tolerable job can lead to happiness if the rest of your life is in balance.
A great career won't fix a rotten marriage, but a good career can make it easier to focus on your marriage. A career that is perfect for your personality still won't bring you happiness if you've got other problems that you need to solve. Get out of debt, get counseling, and get away from toxic people. Fixing these matters will make every job happier.
Look around. Talk to people. When business networking is encouraged, this is what advisors are talking about—talking to people to identify your potential happiest career and to learn what jobs are available. Yes, your network to find specific jobs and help others find work, but you also use your network to find out what is available.
Career day at your high school or college just won't cut it. When you let people know what your talents and needs are and ask them if they know anybody with similar talents, you'll find that doors open up. And then, you can talk to those people about what they do.
Suzanne Lucas is a freelance writer who spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she hired, fired, managed the numbers, and double-checked with the lawyers.