What’s interesting, however, is that once you can provide financially for yourself and your family, according to studies, additional salary and benefits don’t reliably contribute to worker satisfaction. Much more important are things like whether a job provides a sense of autonomy — the ability to control your time and the authority to act on your unique expertise. People want to work alongside others whom they respect (and, optimally, enjoy spending time with) and who seem to respect them in return.
And finally, workers want to feel that their labors are meaningful. “You don’t have to be curing cancer,” says Barry Schwartz, a visiting professor of management at the University of California, Berkeley. We want to feel that we’re making the world better, even if it’s as small a matter as helping a shopper find the right product at the grocery store. “You can be a salesperson, or a toll collector, but if you see your goal as solving people’s problems, then each day presents 100 opportunities to improve someone’s life, and your satisfaction increases dramatically,” Schwartz says.
… it’s an important reminder that the smoothest life paths sometimes fail to teach us about what really brings us satisfaction day to day.
Boldfaced emphasis added by me.
It was just yesterday that I re-watched a clip that I saw in a new perspective. While what the guy says sounds jaded, it’s the damned truth:
So that guy in the New York Times article who thinks his $1.2M/year job isn’t contributing something meaningful better catch on that it is.