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The standard work week in America is 40 hours, and demanding careers can require 60 hours/week or more. So you'll probably be spending at least 35% of your waking hours at work, and possibly more like 50% of your waking hours. As such, your job experience will be a major input into your life satisfaction.
Surveys (for example, this one) have found that almost 50% of American workers say that they're unsatisfied with their job.
Some jobs have higher self-reported job satisfaction rates, and others have lower job satisfaction rates. An informal survey found that self-reported job satisfaction varied by career from 40% to 90%. These results should be taken with a substantial grain of salt: self-reports can be unreliable, and a given job will select for a certain type of person, who may be unrepresentative of the general population. Still, the survey hints at the possibility that picking the right career can have a major impact on job satisfaction.
How satisfied you'll be with a given job depends heavily on your personal characteristics. For example:
- Some people find fast-paced, high pressure work environments exhilarating, and are bored by lower-key work environments, while others find lower-key work environments pleasantly peaceful and relaxing, and face-paced work environments overwhelming.
- Some people prefer jobs that involve interacting with people a lot, and other people prefer jobs that allow them to keep to themselves.
- Some people prefer physical labor over intellectual labor, and others prefer intellectual labor over physical labor.
By understanding your personal preferences, and strengths and weaknesses, you can improve your chances of picking a career that's good for you.