more than a paycheckI worry that since I’ve been working from home for a while, I will never be able to go back to working 9-5 in an office. I don’t want to go back to an office, but I fear I might have to—for the same reason many Americans who want to pursue self employment do—health insurance.

In my world, money is no longer the #1 motivator for employment. YES: it is important, of course. But it’s not #1. I’ve had enough jobs that made me miserable to know that having a job I don’t hate is more important than how much money I make. Ever since my first panic attack brought on by my hatred of doing phone customer service, I have held this belief.

And I think that nowadays, a lot of people have come to that conclusion. I think there has been a shift, even in my lifetime, to valuing quality of life, freedom, and time spent with family over income earned. We struggle to earn more money to buy more stuff…..why?

Now, people value flexible work schedules, extra vacation time, and the ability to work from home very highly.

I was viewing the awesome animation of Dan Pink’s speech about motivation. It’s a few years old, but I recommend giving it a watch if you haven’t seen it.

According to Pink–and other studies–one of the top three job motivators is autonomy. Autonomy is basically the opposite of having a boss who is a micromanager. It means you are self-directed.

He explained how one Australian company, once a quarter, tells all the employees than they can work on anything they want for a day, as long as they are able to show results.

Upon hearing this, I got excited. I would *LOVE* to work for a company like that! I’ve had so many ideas but didn’t get to pursue them because they weren’t what my boss told me to do. Being able to do what you want (even for one day) makes you feel closer to the company and more useful. I don’t have a problem being managed, but I feel absolutely stifled by bosses who don’t trust me to do my work. The best boss I ever had was the most hands-off–and he probably got more results and was more respected by his employees than anyone else I’ve ever worked for.

Hmmmm. Upon reflection of my past jobs, an interesting pattern emerges.

My first real job remains the best job I ever had–mainly because my boss was hands-off and trusted me to do my job. The company was a nonprofit, so I never had to worry about increasing profits.

My next job was at a software company. One of my bosses was a poor communicator and my role in high-level technical customer service gave me my first anxiety attack.

I moved into a lower-stress role in writing/editing at the same company and took a big pay cut. I remember when the HR person told me how much less the new job would make—I could tell she thought I would balk. But I was ok with the lower pay.

Next, I worked at a local non-profit. I had specifically searched out a job at a non-profit because I think there is less stress than working at a revenue-based company. (Note: this is not true for all non-profits.)

Now, I work at home for myself. However, not everything is perfect. I’m making less money and I never feel like I get enough done. But that is something I have to improve on.

Working for yourself is a great option for introverted Highly Sensitive People. But if you can’t do that, look for a job with values you share. HSPs don’t do well in environments that don’t mesh with their personal beliefs or don’t offer at least some satisfaction beyond a paycheck.

It’s difficult for HSPs to put up with workplaces that conflict with their values, because they hold their values so incredibly dearly and take them seriously. It would wear on them after a while, resulting in stress, anxiety, and unhappiness.

So, for the huge question of what is the best job or career for Highly Sensitive Persons–the answer is complicated, but one piece of the puzzle is finding work that fits with your personal values and beliefs.

What has been the best job you’ve had–and why?

photo credit: The Bait via photopin (license)