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Michael Stankavich

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What is the correlation between happiness and one's career choices?

Beyond the socioeconomic factors of not making enough money to support oneself or a family, to what degree does finding the "right" career impact overall happiness or satisfaction with life?

For instance, social scientists such as Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton have theorized there are diminishing returns in overall emotional well-being when one's annual income meets and exceeds roughly $75,000 (source: http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2019628,00.html) (full scholarly article: https://www.princeton.edu/~deaton/downloads/deaton_kahneman_high_income_improves_evaluation_August2010.pdf). If money was not an issue, to what degree does one's career choices impact one's overall emotional well-being?

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Closing Statement from Michael Stankavich

Based on everyone's input, I've concluded that although there is a correlation with happiness (emotional well-being) and one's career choices, the true correlation is founded upon what Henry described as "progress and fulfillment." While there certainly are significant consequences with relying on a career alone to attain fulfillment (e.g. the risks of unemployment and career dependency), it does appear that finding a fulfilling career can boost one's happiness in the short-term (e.g. being employed can help break up the monotony of life and can help foster a sense of purpose, progress, and fulfillment). However, in the long-term, it seems that being able to live life without regrets (career-related or otherwise) is what leads to lasting happiness.

On the topic of to what degree does one's career choices impact one's overall emotional well-being, as Greg pointed out, considering that most of us spend at least 40 hours a week working, or roughly 30% of our adult lives at work, it could be argued that 30% of our overall emotional well-being is reliant on our career choices. Given that we spend roughly 30% of our lives sleeping, the remaining 40% of our waking lives outside of work plays a presumably larger role in our overall emotional well-being. However, there is also the "work-life" balance that we need to account for, which can greatly diminish out emotional well-being outside of work.

All in all, in addition to living a life without regret, happiness stems from finding the most suitable "work-life" balance. A balance which includes purpose, progress, and fulfillment. As startling as this proposition might appear, I strongly encourage everyone to check out this video on their spare time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOksW_NabEk (hopefully it will inspire rather than demoralize).

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    Apr 27 2014: I think that a person has to separate goals from purpose.

    I think the talk by Elizabeth Gilbert was good regarding purpose. But a person can align that purpose with a lot of goals.

    To your question I think that career choice can be made with goals in mind, but following your purpose within that field.
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        May 13 2014: Except you would not be able to say all things are equally important.

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