Having a fulfilling career is a key part of a happiness for many people. Though we all have different career goals and personal values, there are essential components that make for a fulfilling career regardless of a person’s situation. So what are the top 3 essentials for a fulfilling career?
Private vs public sector? Part-time vs full-time? Side hustler vs entrepreneur? Remote work vs 9-5 in a cubicle?
Over the past decade, I tried all of the above. From the layers of bureaucracy in the public sector to the cut-throat environment of the private sector, it’s tough to make an apples to apples comparison.
What exactly is a “fulfilling career”?
Throughout my various career paths, experiencing different work cultures allowed me to collect numerous data points on what made for a “dream job”. Here’s what I know to be true.
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Work life balance does not equate to career fulfillment.
If I am constantly seeking work life balance, I’m probably not feeling fulfilled in my career. Sure, we all need a break from our work. It helps us recharge and bring even better ideas to the table.
But there’s a difference when trying to constantly separate work from life so that our personal life is more enjoyable.
Although there’s not one size fits all solution, fulfillment comes down to a sense of connection, meaningful work and autonomy.
1. Community is currency
As studies have shown, career satisfaction comes from having a strong sense of connection with a team. Being a part of a community of like-minded individuals can also encourage personal growth and professional development.
Introverted? Can’t stand office politics?
Yep, me too. As an introvert, I enjoyed working independently and working from home. I was constantly seeking projects that allowed for telework.
I thought that a location independent job was the answer to all work challenges, particularly when it came avoiding office drama. I particularly have a very low tolerance for passive aggressive coworkers and micromanaging bosses.
But soon I realized that having a 100% location independent job was lonely and isolating. I was craving a sense of community.
Got a buddy at work?
Introverted or not, having that in-person connection is important as a social being. In fact, studies have shown that having a friend at work can drastically increase job satisfaction.
It’s not to say you need a BFF at work. But having a healthy dose of social interaction with others can boost the happiness level. After all, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with!
2. Pursuit with purpose
Being a teacher is a fulfilling career. Yet not everyone feels fulfilled teaching. And that a good thing...we can’t all be teachers.
Only you know what your purpose is.
No one else can determine your calling for you. Feeling that deeper sense of fulfillment comes from viewing your career as a calling.
Your sense of purpose comes from your values.
Do you value creativity? Do you lose track of time when speaking in front of an audience? If you could do anything for the rest of your life, what would it be?
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A sense of purpose means having something in your life that is meaningful to you. It's something that will inspire you to a greater level of achievement.
Not sure what your purpose or calling is? We fall in and out of alignment with our true self all the time. It’s part of the journey of self-discovery!
Here are a few tips to help you align with your life purpose.
Having a degree of job autonomy is a critical factor in work satisfaction. Work schedule flexibility? Unlimited sick leave days? Being your own boss?
Having a sense of freedom in the workplace means different things for different people.
After a decade of dabbling in different career paths, I realized a 9-5 cubicle lifestyle felt restrictive. Some prefer the structured work schedule. But I preferred to be in control of how I spent my work hours.
More importantly, I needed the freedom to be able to determine who I spent the majority of my work hours with. It all started when I couldn’t stand one too many difficult coworkers that I began thinking about a career with more job autonomy.
I used the toxic work environment as a motivator to get the heck out of the rat race. Specifically, I created multiple streams of income to speed up my journey to financial independence.
Need more freedom in your career to feel fulfilled?
Create an exit strategy. Focusing on an exit strategy can help to detach from workplace drama.
Even if you never do use the exit strategy, at least it can help ease the tension of feeling stuck. Here was my exit strategy that allowed me to quit my 9-5 job.
For starters, I created an emergency fund in case I needed to quit and take time off to plan out next steps. With every reason to leave the toxic environment, I quickly established my emergency fund within 6 months.
Besides applying for a new job, get creative.
There are many ways to have a side hustle these days. I had fun trying out different side gigs. Eventually, I narrowed it down to focus on creating passive income to achieve financial freedom.
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Pivot your career to align with your ideal lifestyle. After all, having a fulfilling career can be a big part of living a meaningful life.
Changing jobs within the same industry can be challenging. Pivoting to a new industry can be even tougher and take longer.
So what do you do to shorten the lengthy process of job searching?
Step aside, James Bond. Allow me to handle this question.