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thinking about liking jobs

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I seem to mention a lot that I enjoy my job. And it’s true. I don’t really love it every day, but 95% of the time it’s great and the other 5% it’s still passable.

What makes me happy about my job?

I work for a good company, it’s actually won awards basically for being a nice place to work. The team that I work for is (relatively) politics free and I am happy to socialise with them on a limited scale. The location is great, it’s a 50 minute walk for me, the building was refurbished about 5 years ago, and it’s in the city centre. The close proximity to the shops isn’t great for my bank balance, but it’s good for getting errands done in my lunch hour.

All of that helps, but what’s really good about my job is that it suits me.

I work in an up and coming area of my industry, which means a lot of research projects and trials and cutting edge technology. It’s also incredibly varied, and almost everyone is a generalist. This is good for me because I get bored working on different things, and I like the excitement of the new, and unknown challenges.

I’m a sort of data specialist - I’m the spreadsheet geek, and I also do a lot of other data related things. This is good because I enjoy doing it, and almost no one else does, so I’ve always got plenty of work to do. I basically don’t compete for work with anyone else on the team. It also means that I’m seen as an expert in certain areas, very good for the ego.

Some of the stuff I do makes it into the public realm in one way or another - I can actually point to things that other people see and say "I did that". It does so in a way that supports my purpose of making a difference in the world in a good way.

I don’t expect that other people are like me. But, I do think that the key to a fulfilling work life is to have a job that matches well with your skills - it should maximise your strengths (for me, broad brush new ideas) and minimise your weakness (for me, details and implementation). It should also accord with your values, the most important feature of a happy life. Finally, you still need luck, even the best jobs can be ruined by other people.

Having a job that I enjoy (that pays well enough) means that I don’t spend a lot of money drowning my sorrows and trying to buy happiness, so it’s pretty good for my wallet.

What do you think about gaining job satisfaction? Is it mostly luck, or mostly *fit*, or mostly, something else? Let me know in the comments.

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8 comments for “thinking about liking jobs”

  1. Joy in work (great comic illustration - I think) is very important. You spend a huge part of your life while you are awake at work. If you don’t enjoy it that is a huge loss. You do need a certain level of income but trading off extra money for a job you dislike is not worth it.

    Posted by Curious Cat Investing Blog | May 13, 2008, 1:12 pm
  2. IMHO it has to do with figuring out what you really enjoy doing and then finding work that allows you to do that. A few other factors come into play, too: flexibility, decent working conditions, adequate pay and benefits.

    I love my job…mostly because I don’t have to work very hard! ;-)

    Posted by Funny about Money | May 13, 2008, 5:30 pm
  3. When I think of your job, I sometimes feel jealous. I didn’t study maths (you did, right?) but I do enjoy spreadsheets and geek out over analyzing data (blog stats, anyone?).

    Anyway, it’s awesome that you’ve found a place like that I don’t know if my work will ever be like that…I’ll just have to make sure I enjoy the rest of my life. One of these days. ;)

    Posted by Mrs. Micah | May 13, 2008, 5:47 pm
  4. This is something I have been thinking about a lot recently. My last job was pretty bad, but the people I worked with were great and I ended up staying much longer than I should have because of that.
    My current job, for the most part, is more enjoyable but I work entirely on my own, I have a meeting every 2 or 3 weeks but aside from that I have no contact with anyone. No one else in my building is doing anything similar and any attempts at communication get nowhere. Sometimes I get so bored and lonely I wish I was back at the old job.
    I need to find a combination of the best parts.

    Posted by Looby | May 13, 2008, 5:55 pm
  5. @Funny about Money:
    I don’t have to work too hard most of the time - which I quite like. I’m definitely not cut out for the 14 hour work hard play hard lifestyle.

    @Mrs. Micah:
    Data rocks. My job wasn’t always this much fun. It took me a couple of years after graduating to really carve out a role for myself, and it’s only in the last 2 years that I’ve felt predominantly positive about it. I’m still quite often dissatisfied, but that has a lot to do with whether I’m valued by others at work. I think that you’ll get there and probably sooner than you think.

    I guess it’s pretty annoying that the work is fun but the people not so much. Sometimes you can find interesting people in other places to make up for it - although I really like my team, I actually have more in common professionally with people from other teams or companies that I work with/for.

    Posted by plonkee | May 13, 2008, 7:01 pm
  6. I was going to say I love my job, but that’s not true - I love my career. Because my job is more than just the 37.5 hours I spend actually doing what’s in my job description, it’s also about all the extra-curriculars. But a lot of that has to do with the awesome place I work at (and its flexibility).
    So somedays I’m a data geek (yay spreadsheets), somedays I’m a project manager (yay project management software), somedays I’m planning movie night (yay netflix), somedays I’m schmoozing/attending lectures (yay free lunches), somedays I’m abstracting (yay Pubmed), somedays I’m traveling (yay frequent flyer miles).
    And the best part is that I’m taking a leave of absence all together to do fieldwork, and then will have the option to return (or do something else).
    I think it’s more than just about finding a job you like, but also finding a life you like too. And to do that, I think you need to know, well, what you like. :)

    Posted by deepali | May 14, 2008, 3:11 pm
  7. Great post! Job satisfaction is so very very important. Having just left an awful job and being 2.5 weeks into a new one, I can see the impact the terrible job had on me. It made me too exhausted to even contemplate work/life balance, it left me spending more due to unhappiness, it was all day negativity and lack of support.
    I don’t think any job is perfect but my top 5 things that make a job a good job are:
    1. Annual Leave entitlement - I went from 21 days a year to 30 - I feel oh so much better!

    2. Flexible working - being able to work from home, having core house that allow you to finish earlier than 5 once a week etc.

    3. Work life balance - really only possible with the two above points.

    4. Good, positive working atmosphere

    5. Support for your personal development

    Posted by Notes From The Frugal Trenches | May 18, 2008, 12:51 pm

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