How to choose a job

What you should be looking for in your next gig to be happy and motivated

I am attending another workshop on personal development and crafting a job that matches you and your dreams, this one done by the amazing team of SoManyWays* in Paris. We are going through an exercise on talents and skills, listing tasks we have done in previous jobs and identifying which ones we enjoyed doing. Hearing the participants talking about the practical tasks they have done, it hits me: It rarely seems to be about the tasks! I had read about it but somehow it never made as much sense as experiencing it myself. What motivates people and makes them happy even, is about values.

The majority of people going through a transition have problems making decision on which job or path to take next.

There are a lot of things that help making decisions but here I wanted to focus on the role of intrinsic values. As I dug into research on what I had seen created discontent for so many people in their job, I learnt about one of the theory of human motivation called the self determination theory that enlightened me.

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Here are the notes I gathered on instrinsic values that make us as humans happy and motivated — and that I recommend you should evaluate your next gig:

- COMPETENCE / MASTERY: people like to get better at what they do. They want to improve. People need as well to be recognised for it.

Questions to ask yourself: Do you have the ability to learn in your next position, to become a master at something? Would you have a chance to shine and be recognised for it? Do you have someone that is interested in growing you professionally and personally?

-AUTHENTICITY: We need to be ourselves. I have observed it first hand in all the communities I am part of. People are desperate to be themselves and most of the time they can not: there are too many social pressures to be something that we are not, say things we are expected to say and people are afraid to be judged for being themselves.

As Brene Brown says: “Authenticity is the daily practise of letting go who we think we are supposed to be and embracing who we actually are”

Questions to ask yourself: Would this new gig align to your values? Are the people you work with compassionate and “human”? Would you be able to be yourself with your team? Would you be able to set boundaries?

- CONNECTION to others: the feeling of connection you have with other people. During my year in London I heard so many people complaining about the exhausting lifestyle, the pressure of the city, but saying they were staying for the amazing people London was bringing. Same story — so many people don’t leave their job because they love their team. And that is really important. We need to belong. Mother Theresa says: “The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for.”

Questions to ask yourself: Who are the people you will be spending most of your time at work with? (clients? colleagues? alone?) Are you happy spending a lot of time with them? Do they inspire you? Will you fit with them?

- AUTONOMY: feeling you have control over your day. This is as well the option of working the way you want.

Questions to ask yourself: With the rise of work/life balance concerns and opportunities, I recommend you spend time defining what works for you and what are your non-negotiables in work/life balance. Then see how your next gig fits into this picture and what would they be able to accept? How could you craft your quality of life and quality of work so that all parties are happy?

- PURPOSE: As Greg McKeown puts it in his book Essentialism “when there is a serious lack of clarity about what the team stands for and what their goals and roles are, people experience confusion, stress and frustration. People thrive with a high level of clarity”.

Questions to ask yourself: Do you understand the purpose of the company you are about to work with? Is your manager able to be clear about the purpose of your team and set goals and roles? If you are about to work alone, do you know what your purpose is?


*SoManyWays a pour mission de donner les clés au maximum d’individus, dès le début de leur vie professionnelle, pour être acteurs de leur parcours, des organisations qu’ils choisissent et de la société dans laquelle ils vivent

Self determination theory

Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You


The gifts of imperfection


Cecile Pompei