Did you know that work can make you happy? At least, it’s one of the major factors in determining overall happiness, and a large part of how happy work makes you is determined by the career you choose. Here are some things to consider when you’re deciding on a career.

1) How do you enjoy interacting with people?

If you’re very much a “people person”, you may enjoy a career that allows you to constantly meet new people and, in many cases, solve their problems. This can be anything from standing on stage as a public speaker to helping people with research as a librarian.

If you prefer to have somewhat limited contact with other people, look for a career where you’ll be able to work as part of a small team instead. You may never need to deal with more than a few individuals, but you will be able to form steady, ongoing relationships with the people you know.

Humans are inherently social beings, and it can be hard to be happy when we’re totally isolated. That’s why your career should include a way to interact with others in a way that’s comfortable for you.

2) What would you like to accomplish? 

Is a job just a way of paying bills and allowing you to eat, or is it something that allows you to advance towards your personal goals? You’re not going to be very happy if you’re drifting aimlessly through life - your career should be used as a way of accomplishing something, even if it’s as small as being able to put a smile on someone else’s face.

In many cases, you’ll need a better education if you’re going to have any hope of accomplishing these goals, so look over your options for a degree and see if any of them would be useful.

3) What kind of work environment do you enjoy?

Some workplaces have a faster pace than others. Technology companies may be bustling all the time, while delivery services give you a lot of time on the open road. There’s no “correct” amount of pressure for a workplace, because the simple truth is that different people enjoy different work environments.

If you’re not sure what kind of environment you’d like, consider job shadowing at several different locations. Exposure to different environments can help you decide what you’re most comfortable with.

4) How much money do you want to make?

Let’s face it, not everyone is going to be a millionaire - and money isn’t the source of all happiness, either. In fact, as far as how you feel on a day-to-day basis, money only matters until you’ve met all of your needs and feel comfortable with your income. Past that point, people’s happiness is influenced mainly by their experiences and how accomplished they feel.

Don’t just look at the average starting salary for your industry, though - look at your opportunities for growth. Some industries offer considerably higher wages later on, while others are pretty flat no matter how long people have been working for them.

5) What are the steps of your career?

Most people don’t step into a job and then do that one thing for the rest of their lives. Whether you’re seeking promotion within the company or planning to eventually transfer to another job somewhere else, careers are usually more of a series of steps than anything else. Think about where you’d like to be, then find out how you can get there.

However, don’t try to force yourself to rise higher than you really want to be. Some people are quite happy with the position they’re able to reach and don’t want to do anything else, and that’s just fine. You are the only person who can decide what you’ll be satisfied with - so all you have to do is keep working until you reach that point.

Guest blogger 

Vera Marie Reed is an ex-elementary school teacher turned freelance writer from Glendale, California. She graduated from CSUN with a degree in elementary education and is now a stay at home mother to her two young daughters. She likes to write about education and parenting issues, and she hopes on day to write and illustrate a series of children's books.  @VMReed

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