Why the Happiest and Unhappiest Careers Are Unique to You
Use These Ideas to Decide Upon the Happiest Career for You
Every person wants a happy life (although some people work very hard to be miserable). A serious component of a happy life is a career that fulfills your dreams and goals—and yes, makes you happy, too. So, what are the happiest careers? The job that will make your heart sing as you go off to work every morning? Well, the surveys say...
No straightforward answer to that question exists. Why? Because people are different.
A career that would make you happiest would make another person miserable. For example, working as a kindergarten teacher. Spending your day with 20 5-year-olds whom you help learn to read, teach them how to make friends, and hear all sorts of amusing things they say, is a dream job for someone—maybe you.
But to another person, that's a job of epic nightmare proportions. Twenty loud children with unreliable bathroom behaviors, temper tantrums and the inability to tie their own shoes? A horror-inducing experience, not the happiest career.
So, how can you find the happiest career for you—and avoid the unhappy careers that would fill every day with sorrow? Here are six ideas that will help you get started on the right path to your happiest career.
How Much Money Do You Need to Make for Happiness?
This seems like a silly question. The answer is usually that you need more than you're earning now.
This, however, is not actually true. An amount of money necessary to make you feel comfortable does exist and this 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 earned $20,000.)
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.
Where Do You Feel Like Yourself?
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 can still become a doctor—but maybe one who specializes in research or a radiologist or pathologist who doesn't have to talk with actual patients all the time.
What Does Work-Life Balance Look Like to You?
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 pm 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 am to 3 pm, instead of 9 am to 6 pm. Maybe a great work schedule to you looks like 11 pm to 7 am. There's nothing wrong about any one of those preferences, but if your preference is strong and not the 9 am to 6 pm expectation, you will have more difficulty finding a career that will make you happy.
Remember, Happiness Comes From Within
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.
You Don't Need a STEM Career to Have a Happiest Career
In recent years with the rise of technology, people are extolling the virtues of STEM careers—science, technology, economics, and math. These are, no doubt good jobs. Most pay quite well. Some have great hours and great flexibility. Others have terrible hours and terrible flexibility.
But, taking a STEM job isn't the key to finding the happiest career for you. People have different personalities. If you won't find happiness in one of those career areas, by all means, don't study for a job in a STEM career no matter how much they are touted as happiest careers.
Plenty of jobs exist in other areas that pay well and utilize the talents that you may have—talents you can utilize in a happier career for you. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't study anything in college or take any apprenticeship that comes your way. You do need to research what is available in careers that are of interest to you. If that's STEM-based, excellent. If not, that's also excellent.
How Do You Figure Out What Jobs and Careers Are Available?
Look around. Talk to people. When business networking is encouraged, this is what advisors are talking about—talk to people to identify your potential happiest career and to learn what jobs are available. Yes, you 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 with those people about what they do. Guaranteed there is a job out there that uses your talents.
If you want to just follow the instructions of your college career center, you can find a job, but it might lead to an unhappy career. If instead, you look at your options, decide upon what you value the most, and are willing to work on happiness from within, then, you may yet find your happiest career.