Not the cursory responses that most people spit out when asked: money, health benefits, 401k. To be clear, I am not turning my nose up at these perks. On the contrary, they’re great, and should be appreciated. But when I think about the statistics below from a 2014 Gallop report, I can’t help but wonder what thought (if any) goes into deciding what one needs from a career.
- The average American work week is now 47 hours
- 21% of full-time U.S. employees work 50 to 59 in a typical week
- Only 13 percent of workers actually enjoy going to work
Is money the highest need? It could be. But if it is, why are so many spending such a huge chunk of their lives miserable? Is it that the money is not enough? Or is the money enough but there’s nothing else about the work that brings satisfaction?
I can’t answer these questions for everyone else, but I had to answer them for me. And what I found was that my career needs generally fall into these five categories, in order of importance:
1. Glorify God. This means work that won’t ask me to compromise my morals. As Mark 8:36 says, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”
2. Impact a greater mission. Especially when my work equips others to better support those lacking opportunities. Opportunity to eat. Opportunity to be safe. Opportunity to be educated. Opportunity to seek a better future.
3. My voice is valued. Working in an environment where my input and contributions are clearly appreciated and not just tolerated.
4. Flexibility. The archaic mindset that good work can only happen when employees punch a clock in, sit in a cubicle for 8 hours, and punch a clock out, doesn’t encourage creativity and innovation. And that kind of environment is not where I will be happy for long.
5. Money. Yes, it does matter. It doesn’t rule my decision, but it is a determining factor when considering an offer. I read a great quote recently that says, “When you learn how much you’re worth, you’ll stop giving people discounts.” I learned my worth long ago and make no apologies for expecting to be compensated according to the value that I bring to the team.
To return to my original question: What do you *really* need from your career?
Maybe it’s better work-life balance. Maybe it’s a clear path towards growth. Maybe it’s a continued creative outlet. Whatever it is, take the time to think it through if you haven’t already. And once you’ve done so, let those needs be the guiding principles for seeking and choosing your career opportunities. Most of us have to work, that’s the reality of today’s economy. But we don’t have to approach it with dread. The closer we are to a job that fulfills our top career needs, the less likely we are to spend our days upset and daydreaming about quitting.