Happiness at work is simple. At least for knowledge workers like me. There are three parameters which need to be in order: Mind, Money and Development.
I think I can find a job that pays more. But I am not trying to change jobs, because changing jobs will diminish the equilibrium of the other ‘angles’ of my (working) life. I want satisfaction from my daily routine as well. Even when I find that, changing jobs will bring a lot of stress. New information, new colleagues, new rules and most likely, less freedom. So I am happy where I am.
Yet it is difficult to explain what I am doing that makes it fun.
A friend of mine is an officer at the fire brigade. It seems a very explicit job: His youngest daughter calls ‘daddy’ to every fire truck. It is easy for him to tell people what he does, but in fact, most of the time he is in meetings and making plans. My job is very obscure to most people. I just push some bits around, if I am lucky. My job consists of meetings, mails and the occasional puzzle. So it is hard to explain why I like it. It is very abstract. Yet there is a kind of challenge in getting things to work. There is a lot of fun when things are broken and you need to figure it out. It is challenging to the mind. It is like juggling with information. So the mind-parameter is on green most of the time.
Currently IT pays pretty good. Good enough to sustain a comfortable life. So another green for me.
The last one is the one my company tries to be different than some other companies. It is the same factor which makes Google attractive to a lot of people. We try to develop ourselves all the time and actually let people pick their own path. If you have some time to develop yourself, train and improve, learn new things, then new challenges await you. So development is the driving force of the other two parameters: More knowledge means more satisfaction for the mind. And more knowledgeable people will get paid better.
What I strive for is a golden triangle. Every now and then work just looks like work, with all the things that make work less attractive. They are accompanied with words like must and deadline and procedure. If this takes too long I will become unhappy.
It is up to you to enjoy your work. You are in control. You can function quite some time if one of the parameters is on yellow or even red. But having one solid green and the other two on red will not create happy workers. This is why people cannot function at their best just on a good salary. They need to be satisfied and challenged. A nice team helps. But I like puzzles and challenges. So things need to break and need to be fixed. And I want to fix new things over time. Besides that I also like to improve on my soft skills as well.
Luckily for me, Internet technology is still evolving at a pretty consistent rate. It promises years of good fun ahead of me.
There is lots to learn.