What defines a fulfilling career

Self-employed in an interview

As Confucius once said: “Choose a job that you love and you won't have to work a day in your life.” But how should a job be so that you can look forward to it and get the best out of yourself? We asked four self-employed people what exactly makes a good job for them personally and share their assessments with you.

What are the criteria for happiness in the workplace?

Around forty hours a week, around eight hours a day, with four weeks of vacation required by law and up to the age of 67 - what does an average German do? To work precisely!

You spend more than half of your life working - that's reason enough not to spend this time waiting for the end of the day, but to use the day happily and efficiently. But when are you satisfied with a job and how can this happiness be achieved?

As the World Happiness Report 2017 shows, in addition to salary, the following factors make people around the world happiest in their job:

  • a good work-life balance
  • the level of individual autonomy
  • Diversity and variety
  • Job security
  • social capital (measured in terms of collegial support)
  • Safety for body and health

The population-representative survey by AVANTGARDE Experts was able to show that the salary (52.2 percent) for working people in Germany seems to be the most important criterion for job satisfaction. However, flexible working hours (37.5 percent), the amount of vacation (30.4 percent), the ability to work from home (24.0%) and development opportunities (18.8 percent) also play a decisive role.

Is money really such a crucial factor when choosing a job? What else contributes to a good job? We asked four self-employed people what they think makes a good job and introduce you to the 15 most important points.


Our four interview partners

Trainer and consultant in project management Mario Neumann:

Mario Neumann is a project adventurer: he managed international projects at Hewlett-Packard for 15 years. A training concept for situational project management and several books arose from his well-founded know-how. For his work he was awarded the German Further Education Innovation Prize.

Copywriter Jana Hedrich:

Jana Hedrich is a freelance copywriter from Hamburg. After successfully completing her B.A. Studying German, she began to work as a junior copywriter in a Hamburg advertising agency. Since 2013 she has been devoting herself to "free and wild" writing.

Freelance copywriter Sandra Walzer:

Sandra Walzer is a freelance copywriter, author and conceptionist. Since the idea is the source of her writing when she writes, she calls herself “Miss Idea Finder”. Sandra can already look back on 20 years of professional experience in writing advertising, editorial articles and the like and has been self-employed since 2010.

Web designer Monika Sedivy:

Monika Sedivy originally studied philosophy, but after her first homepage went online in 2003, her passion for web design was sparked. A year later she started her own business and is constantly facing new technologies, programming languages ​​and design trends.

1. The right feeling - feeling good all round

In fact, one of the first thoughts that comes to mind is that this is what a good job should feel like. This feeling starts with the work environment.

Jana Hedrich: “A good job has to take place in an environment in which you feel comfortable. I have a seat in a communal office where various media people sit. The office is modern, lofty and has that famous industrial charm. I really like that and I like coming here. "

But not only you should feel right at home at your workplace, the people around you also make a decisive contribution to the feel-good atmosphere.

Sandra Walzer:“It's a good job when everyone is happy with it. Sounds banal, but it isn't. A good job, not just good texts from me, but good cooperation, with a good feeling on the phone, on site, in the e-mail and afterwards. And if the question is not about projects but about the “job in itself”: Then the good feeling. I get up almost every morning with a smile and look forward to work, and that is invaluable to me. "

So if you don't have to force yourself to work every morning, but can look forward to it, then you've found the right job for you!

2. Passion - Being at work with heart and soul

Since no two people are the same and everyone has their own interests, an ideal job should cover exactly these and bring your strengths to light. Those who devote themselves to their work with passion and dedication can hardly achieve bad results.

Monika Sedivy:“It is very important that you are passionate about your work‘ and that you are enthusiastic about the subject. This is the engine that enables you to do first-class work, to constantly improve and not to be satisfied with mediocrity. "

Jana Hedrich: “I have a real love affair with lyrics. The craft coincides with my personal inclination, it is easy for me and I really enjoy it. Whether in the 'quiet little room', together with my team or with customers - joy and enthusiasm are often the driving force behind good results. "

Sandra Walzer:“My job choice happened while reading a book for young people‘. I had read about a young woman in an advertising agency who was initially interested in design, but then suddenly came up with cool slogans ‘, and bang, then she was born, my idea of ​​the ideal profession. I was 12 years old then. After that there were no more criteria that could hold me back or encourage me even more. Fortunately, I knock on wood, my feeling for my talent was just right. "

Now directly to the job exchange

Find your dream job here

3. Self-Realization - Fulfill your dreams on the job

A satisfactory job should also not bend you, but preserve your authenticity and uniqueness.

Jana Hedrich: “A good job has to leave me as I am. I like to be authentic. This is the only way I can really convince customers and enjoy my work in the long term. "

It is also important that the work reflects your own wishes, ideas and longings.

Mario Neumann: “A good job has nothing to do with a career. A "good job" means much more than a fat salary: exciting tasks and the chance to realize yourself and to use your full potential. "

4. Variety - do not allow boredom

Even if you particularly enjoy doing a certain activity, it becomes very monotonous in the long run. That's why a good job should surprise you and deliver a diverse range of tasks.

Jana Hedrich: “I love the many different industries, topics and products that I am confronted with as a copywriter. You have to keep thinking back and learn a lot from it. Plus, it never gets boring. From car tires to business consulting to make-up and events, everything was included. "

Mario Neumann: “Anyone who has to carry out stupid activities every day quickly becomes bored and mentally wilts. Projects come in handy. By definition, projects are a one-time, often novel, task. Requirements from customers or clients must be obtained. Dates are to be organized, goals to be defined, budget to be obtained and managed, employees to be controlled, progress to be reported, and suppliers and service providers to be commissioned. The list of tasks in project management is long. And since all the different activities are interlinked, projects are usually difficult, but often varied and exciting juggling numbers. "

5. Creativity - Let your imagination run wild

In addition to having fun at work, a good workplace also includes a portion of creativity that inspires the work process and gets the ideas rolling.

Sandra Walzer: “Creativity is like my middle name. Not because I'm so good at it, others can do it differently and just as well or better. But she belongs to me, she is attached to me and I to her. A really strong idea is such a wonderful feeling. I never want to miss my heart pounding when I feel that a great idea is emerging. "

Monika Sedivy: “A job was important to me that matched my inclinations and abilities. In web design, creativity is combined in a very exciting way with analytical thinking, developing solutions and tinkering. Design and coding covers all of that. "

6. Challenge - Grow with difficult tasks

A good job shouldn't be too demanding for you, but it shouldn't be too demanding in the long term. It is therefore particularly important that you are confronted with tricky tasks in your work. By mastering difficult challenges, you can grow with them and gain valuable experience.

Jana Hedrich: “A good job has to be challenging and lure me out of my comfort zone. I love challenges that I am not sure I will master. Then to hang in there, learn and gain a sense of achievement is unbeatable. "

In our article "Healthy overstrain and happiness at work" you will find out how you can distinguish a positive overstrain from an unhealthy one.

7. Development - keep learning

Not only do complex tasks advance you in your job, but also constant innovations in your specialist area. Your job should motivate you to keep learning and broaden your horizons.

Monika Sedivy: “I love to acquire skills and knowledge independently. Web design is the ultimate profession for self-taught people. There is no regular course of study anyway. And even if: Especially in the web area, you are constantly learning new things. "

8. Autonomy - taking responsibility

Making independent decisions and assuming responsibility - that was one of the main reasons for our interview partners to take the plunge into self-employment. But whether employed or self-employed, in a good job you should be free to a certain extent to be able to make your own decisions and to take responsibility for your actions.

Monika Sedivy: “What I value most about being a freelancer is the ability to work independently and independently. I can choose my professional focus and tailor my offer accordingly. I can also choose my assignments myself. I refuse what I don't want to do. I don't have to answer anyone for it. I also don't want to miss the opportunity to organize my working hours any more. "

9. Flexibility - being able to organize time freely

It is not only the type of work that plays a role in assessing a good job, but also the flexibility of time management. This possibility increases work motivation and stimulates creativity.

Sandra Walzer: “I love doing my thing. Clothes, hairstyle, job. I can work well in a team and under superiors, but I can do it even better on my own responsibility. I like to spontaneously take Tuesday off and be on the couch with a book or on my bike in the forest. Work for it on Saturday? I look relaxed. After all, creativity and ideas don't stick to opening times. "

Mario Neumann:“In my opinion, (almost) free time management is the greatest benefit and therefore at the top of the list. A seminar day (with arrival and departure) is clearly structured. On the other days, however, it's up to me whether I want to start at 8 a.m. or after exercise. I work whenever and wherever I want and, above all, whenever the muse kisses me. If I have a bad day, I just give it up and go to the swimming pool or the ski slopes with my daughter. As long as I don't do this every other day, nobody cares. "

10. Persistence - A feeling of security

Despite the many freedoms, the freelancers surveyed are also aware of the risks of self-employment. An essential point is the security of the job.

Jana Hedrich: “Generally related to self-employment: You hardly have any security if you fail in terms of health. The moment you are not working, you are not making any money. The same applies to the vacation period in which you would continue to be paid in the permanent position. But not in self-employment. The idea can put you off. "

But the market saturation of digital professions is also a factor that can endanger the consistency of one's own work.

Monika Sedivy: “The subject is extremely fast-moving. Every year there are new technologies, frameworks, trends and software. Anyone who does not stay on the ball professionally and is willing to invest a not inconsiderable part of their free time in further training can quickly lose touch. The quality of the work suffers. This extreme fast pace is both a blessing and a curse. Will I still be able to keep up with this pace at 60? I dont know."

Consequently, a satisfactory job should convey a sense of security. Even if no one can guarantee how long you can actually do a particular job - for now the job should feel safe and not arouse existential fears.

11. Teamwork - achieving something together 

A pinch of teamwork should not be missing in self-employment either. Because only the exchange with others gives you a different perspective on your work and stimulates the flow of thoughts.

Jana Hedrich: “As a freelance copywriter who has always been a lone wolf, I always find it exciting to work together in a team. For example with web designers, SEO experts or graphic designers. The exchange is important to me and enriches everyday life. I find the alternation between calm and coming together appealing. "

12. Coffee chat - exchange with colleagues

Closely linked to teamwork, the general chat with colleagues is also an important factor for a good job. In a relaxed conversation, interesting ideas and helpful tips can be exchanged and social contacts can be made for life.

Sandra Walzer:“As a freelance lone fighter, I miss the exchange that happens in the agency, for example, but is so important. These 'Have you already heard' and 'Have you already read' and 'Have you tried it', for technical tricks on the computer as well as for current communication topics. In short: the chat with colleagues at the coffee machine. Of course, I can follow this up via forums or messengers, but it is just not possible on the side. I have to make an effort to stay up to date with the current state of technology, the possibilities, the popular platforms or the outstanding ideas of competitors. "

Jana Hedrich: “Many freelance copywriters work from home. On the other hand, my office is very important to me as a point of contact and workplace. Here I can concentrate and leave my work behind after work. I do not want to do without this place as well as my office colleagues aka 'Office Buddies'. "

Our tips for efficiently improving the working atmosphere will show you how you can contribute to a friendly and pleasant working atmosphere.

13. Meaningfulness - Passing on experiences

Another premise that is often associated with a happy job: The meaningfulness of the job. Not only should you benefit from your work yourself, but it is also very enriching to pass on knowledge and tips to others.

Mario Neumann: “Even in the role of project manager, I had a lot of fun working with people: moderating workshops with customers, designing team developments or conducting training courses. When the opportunity arose to switch to the job of a trainer and consultant, I didn't hesitate and took it courageously. Now I was able to pass on to others what I had learned myself in projects. It gave me a lot of pleasure to see people grow, to give them a helping hand or to inspire them. "

14. International networking - worldwide exchange

In the digital age, it is also very beneficial to think outside the box.Anyone who is internationally networked in their job is influenced by multiculturalism and is always up to date.

Monika Sedivy: “The helpfulness of colleagues around the globe is sensational: users write thousands of forum posts in which they help other users. Regardless of whether in Facebook groups, blogs or relevant Slack channels: web workers exchange ideas and support each other with help and advice. Free of charge. Borders, nationalities, religion or origin do not play a role on the Internet. I don't mean to say that it is the same in IT companies and agencies. The internet is international per se. One thing that I find very attractive. "

15. Last but not least - a good salary

As much as you twist and turn it - fulfilling work must also offer a sufficient financial livelihood. If your commitment and hard work are not sufficiently appreciated, there is quickly no incentive to work even more efficiently.

Jana Hedrich: “A good job has to be lucrative. Budgets that are under value are just not fun. Especially since it strengthens the customer-service provider relationship when you know that performance will also be rewarded. On the other hand, a customer can be sure that the product purchased is really of high quality. "

Conclusion: Your personal happiness at work depends entirely on you

What makes a good job for the individual is a very individual feeling and of course cannot be covered by the 15 listed criteria. One may need time pressure and regular working hours, the other prefers to work flexibly and from a creative flow. But what can be recorded: You should feel completely comfortable in your job!

Therefore, it certainly doesn't hurt to keep the above points in mind when choosing a job:

  1. Feel good
  2. Passion
  3. Self-actualization
  4. variety
  5. creativity
  6. Challenges
  7. Personal development
  8. Autonomy and responsibility
  9. Flexibility and time management
  10. security
  11. Teamwork
  12. Exchange with colleagues
  13. Meaningfulness
  14. International networking
  15. salary

Would you like to find out more about job satisfaction? Then our article "How does job satisfaction get you?" Could help you. If you are not happy in your job after a lot of thought, you can also look around for a suitable new job on our job exchange.


Picture credits: Cover picture: © gettyimages \ zeljkosantrac, picture 1: © Avantgarde Experts, picture 2: © Mario Neumann, picture 3: © Jana Hedrich, picture 4: © Sandra Walzer, picture 5: © Monika Sedivy, picture 6: © gettyimages \ Martin Barraud, picture 7: © gettyimages \ PeopleImages, picture 8: © gettyimages \ PeopleImages, picture 9: © gettyimages \ martin-dm, picture 10: © gettyimages \ Geber86