Every year US News picks 25 jobs which it considers to be the best for the year, taking into account good pay, manageable work-life balance and prospects.
For 2014 it lists software developer, computer systems analyst and dentist as its top three jobs to savour. Readers may nod in appreciation at these well-paid and no doubt noble career paths. Or they may laugh out loud and reject three such ridiculous ideas. US News fully admits that job satisfaction is a deeply personal matter, and that the list will not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Studies have shown that unhappy employees outnumber happy ones by two to one worldwide. That’s because joy in a job that one might find at a site such as jobstoday.co.uk comes from within, and sometimes, for no discernable reason, the job that should make you happy just doesn’t quite achieve it.
No-one can be forced to be joyful, it grows inside, to be fed by a string of motivating, exciting, fulfilling emotions and actions, from a fat paycheck to a tiny compliment. Even joy itself is subjective, ranging from total euphoria to peaceful serenity to lazy ambivalence.
Some people actively find joy in their job from making others happy – charity workers, doctors and more. Others may actually delight in making people unhappy. Think about sportsmen, animal rights campaigners, and perhaps even parking attendants. Their aim is to do their job well, but they know that other people or ‘opponents’ may suffer through the consequences. The Leonardo Di Caprio movie The Wolf of Wall Street portrays a world where capitalism and greed must succeed at all costs – and blow the consequences.
The happy worker might not actually like the job particularly, but it offers security, or big money that might be enough. Money certainly helps because it provides a platform for overall well-being and security if spent wisely, right from the first day. That means setting up a pension, saving towards a new house or car, and fulfilling the external parts of your life which reflect back into your outlook when you arrive at work in the morning.
There are several fairly universal elements to what might constitute a ‘good’ job. Ideally, one would want a boss who listens to concerns, an opportunity to progress, fair and safe conditions, and approachable friendly colleagues. From there the level of creativity, ingenuity, responsibility and growth that one needs to create joy in their job depends on them.
There are certain factors that a worker may encounter which will stifle joy. Shane Atchison wrote in Forbes about the culture of a company and how it can destroy job performance and even careers, listing empty words from leaders and a generally weird atmosphere in the workplace, even one where it appears that happiness is encouraged.
On another level, some people can only find joy if they do something that makes a difference. It may be inventing something, or achieving something in art, culture, technology or sport. Photographer Doug Menuez followed Steve Jobs in the early stages of his career, chronicling three years of creation and innovation that would eventually change the world. But Menuez said that Jobs rarely relaxed or smiled, such was his drive and self-conscious nature – perhaps he found joy, but also found it hard to express.
So the recipe for finding joy in a job is impossible to prescribe. Joy is individual. A sewage plant worker can be as happy as the multimillionaire CEO if he can locate what it is that makes him happy, and can seize and control ‘it’, and build his working life around ‘it’. Ultimately, we all define our own joy, and only then can we find it.