Stability Versus Happiness on the Job

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Jobs that offer a lot of stability do not always leave the people who perform them feeling good about their work. The reasons why are a little tough to figure out. It could be because more stable jobs tend to involve working with abstracts like numbers or machines like computers, while less stable jobs often involve working directly with people. If you’re trying to figure out how highly you should prize stability in your career, ask yourself the following questions:

– How often do I need feedback? Many people derive satisfaction from their work in proportion to how often they get positive feedback about it. A person who matches that profile might want a job in which they interact directly with customers or students. For many, seeing the impact they make on a person’s life is much more important than trying to discern the value of their work based on their paycheck.

– How stable is your job, really? Jobs can sometimes come with hidden instabilities. Even if it’s fairly certain that you’ll still have the same position in a year or two, your responsibilities and even your pay can change depending on the situation. If a company is struggling or an industry is failing, even a job that’s traditionally secure may not be safer than a normally risky position elsewhere.

– How much income do I need to be satisfied? While working directly with people correlates positively with job satisfaction, that relationship doesn’t always hold up. Jobs that pay very poorly often leave people feeling unsatisfied, even if they interact with people regularly. And even a temporary job with very little stability can feel satisfying if it pays well enough to relieve some financial pressure.

– Will the job make me feel as though I’m making a positive impact on the world? The jobs that are reported to be the most satisfying tend to be the ones that survey respondents feel allow them to “make a difference.” In the long term, people are most likely to hold on to jobs that allow them to feel good about their work. Thus, finding a job that satisfies you may ultimately be the best path to stability.

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