This is a list of 5-6 aspects of a job or work that you MUST have. This is not “want to have.” This list is the things that you must have in order for you to be satisfied and content in your work, the things that will make it possible for you to be excited to start the day when you wake up every morning.

You’ll want to have a “must have” in most or all of these categories:

1) Type of work
2) Role you will play
3) Impact of your efforts
4) Physical environment
5) Colleagues, culture, emotional environment
6) Compensation

1) Type of work

What do you like doing? What do you want to occupy yourself doing for work? What are your skills, talents, preferences, likes and dislikes? What brings you joy? What can you lose yourself in so time flies? Single focus or variety of tasks?

2) Role you will play

Will you work for someone? For yourself? With others? Be a leader or a follower? Do you like working alone or in a team? Being visible or behind the scenes? Lots of variety or the same kind of role consistently? How much time do you want to spend working? Do you want to be someone others depend on or free of responsibility for others?

3) Impact of your efforts

Does your work need to matter to anyone other than yourself? Do you want to make a difference? If so, what difference do you want to make? Does it matter what kind of company or organization you work for? If so, what kind of company? And what impact will it have? Is there anything that will make it worth doing drudge work?

4) Physical environment

What do you need to be at your best and do your best work? Do you need privacy, light, quiet, noise, open floor plan, a desk and comfortable chair, no desk and always being outside? There are many variations – only you can decide what kind of physical environment you thrive in. Also can be about location, commuting, hours.

5) Culture and colleagues

What kind of emotional environment do you want? What kind of people? Do your values need to mesh with the values of your workplace and colleagues? What kind of atmosphere helps you do your best? Lots of deadlines or little pressure? Competitive or supportive, or a little of both? Structured or flexible? Formal or casual? 9-5 or varied? Task or mission focused? Start-up or established organization/company? Close supervision or self-direction?

6) Compensation

What’s the bottom line dollar pay or salary that you can live with? A figure that covers your basic needs and then some? You can have a figure you request that’s higher than your “I can live with it” figure. Are there other ways you can be compensated, such as time off, benefits, recognition, or travel? How much compensation do you need to reflect your value to your employer, or to quit a temporary or maintenance job to work full-time for yourself?

c Julia Erickson 2007 (with thanks to Linda Hall).

“He can who thinks he can, and he can’t who thinks he can’t. This is an inexorable, indisputable law.” Pablo Picasso