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John Papa
John Papa

Posted on • Originally published at

Finding what matters to you

Are you happy?

I've been asked this question many times by co-workers and my leaders over the years. I've been lucky enough to have many leaders who cared enough to ask it and cared enough to help shape the environment around me and my colleagues. But for years I answered that question not even knowing there was a question that must be asked and answered first. A question that will shape whether I am happy or not.

That question is "What makes you happy?".

At some point in my career I decided to invest some time into thinking through that question. it's one that may be different for a lot of people. After all, what motivates you vs your colleague may be different. Sure, there will be overlapping aspects, but we are all different.

First, I realized I am thankful for having a job that compensates me. Not everyone does. More specifically, I am thankful that this allows me to take care of my family.

I'll cut to the end of the story here as I have 3 main points:

  1. I found it helpful to carefully consider and be honest with myself on what makes me happy in a job.
  2. My list evolves as my life evolves. Sometimes items are added, sometimes they drop off that list.
  3. Being happy with my job is not the same as being happy with my life.

I'll share here some of the most important aspects that make me happy at work. Maybe you have different ones or some of the same.

This list is not in order, nor are they all equal to me.

  1. Do I have the time to truly be with my family outside of my "work hours"?
  2. Do I find a challenge that stretches me and fits with how I like to build teams/processes/technology to achieve business solutions?
  3. Do I find the work interesting?
  4. Do I have support from my leaders?
  5. Do I have freedom to control how I get to the objectives?
  6. Do I have opportunity to influence direction?
  7. Do I find authenticity and character to be valued at work?
  8. Am I fairly compensated?

Are there other things I value? Absolutely! The point of this exercise for me was not to list a thousand items. Wow I'd be pressured into making sure I didn't leave something out (there is always something else to add). For example, I highly value working with collaborative people ... I could add that easily to the list above. And maybe I should. But at some point the list serves its purpose to me, which is to help me consider what matters to me.

I'll leave you with this thought ... do you know what matters to you and influences what makes you happy at work? If not, maybe creating your own list will help.

Top comments (4)

cescquintero profile image
Francisco Quintero 🇨🇴

From time to time I put some time to think about what motivates me and how I'm currently feeling. I write it down in a document and review it whenever I feel I'm in the wrong direction.

Guess I'll give it a try to lists with questions to have more actionable elements to get quick feedback.

In the end, it's important we're the most we can line up with the things that bring us joy and fulfillment.

amiamigo profile image
Ami Amigo

John Papa...On a totally different note I love the tech talks on Plural Sight

shaijut profile image
Shaiju T • Edited

Nice 😄, What if you are highly compensated but the the work is not interesting like some old technology For example: Web Forms or PHP , Would you still choose to work ?

carlosabud profile image
Carlos A.

Nice post. Sometimes it's challenging to identify what are the things that make you happy at work, and in life too...

Thanks for sharing.