Work Smarter//

Letting Your Emotions Rule When Deciding on a Job Yields More Job Satisfaction, Study Finds

Research shows that our job satisfaction is rooted in the heart, not the head.

By Quality Stock Arts/Shutterstock
By Quality Stock Arts/Shutterstock

There are times in life where you’re offered a sensible job, right along with the job that would make you happy. Which do you take — do you decide with your emotions or your sensible side?

A new study by Medical Alert Buyers Guide surveyed 1,000 people about their decision-making process, revealing that while employees are still more likely to go with their heads over their hearts when choosing their field of work, it’s the people who follow their desires that end up with the highest job satisfaction.

Employees who followed their hearts have a 10% higher job satisfaction rate. This opens the door to larger conversations – could more people following their hearts solve the burnout crisis? After all, Millennials – who suffer from burnout at a high rate – were the group found most likely to follow their hearts.

Still, most people are practical. When making decisions, 79% said they were analytical, while only 21% said they let their emotions lead the way. (Women were slightly more likely to follow their hearts than men — 23% vs. 19%).

Practicality sometimes leads to a career change

The majority of people are practical: 64% of people believe following one’s head over one’s heart when choosing a career is integral to success.

Still, about 15% of people have changed careers because they regretted the careers they chose.

It’s not about the money

Success is not all about the monetary value – compared to 50% of employees who are very satisfied in their field who followed their heart, only 41% of people who chose their profession based on their logical side can say the same.

One 47-year-old man working in arts and entertainment reported that he learned taking the cue from his emotions the hard way: “The last time I relied mostly on my heart for choosing a career path, I ended up going five months without a paycheck. Follow your heart when you feel that special tug but also keep your smarts about you at all times.”

There are other adult decisions where it’s better not to just dive right in. The top three include buying a home, deciding when to retire, and – yup – deciding on whether to take a new job.

Using your head at work

It’s only natural that the older someone gets, the more likely they are to use their head over their heart when making decisions about taking a new job, or making decisions on that job.

But there are industries that are less emotional in the extreme and more risk-averse than others.

The finance and insurance industry was 82% likely to say “I chose my career based on my head.” Technology and the wholesale and retail industry were right behind them, at 77% and 74%.

Teaching, a job many people do to help others and make a difference, was at 60%. Perhaps not surprisingly, arts and entertainment clocked in at 44%.

It’s better to heed to your head, people say

The creatives of the world get a bit of a bad rap. A full 64% of people believed it’s better to choose their career based on their head rather than their heart if they want to find success – perhaps forgetting all the successful creative people working in various industries.

And 68% agreed that following one’s heart when making business-related decisions could skew their judgment. (Conversely, many business leaders are lauded for following their heart by making snap-instinct “gut decisions” – think Henry Ford and Bill Allen, the CEO of Boeing in the ’50s.)

But following your heart makes you happy

According to the survey data, more people who followed their hearts were more likely to be satisfied in both their current job and chosen field.

Still, those who were in jobs where they followed their head made 13% more than those dreamers who had followed their heart.

And then there are the mistakes: the people who switched careers because they chose the wrong profession: 16% of people switched carers because they regretted following their heart, and 15% because they regretted following their head.

There are all sorts of strange career switches out there, some of them in Hollywood. For example, did you know that Peter Ostrum, who played Charlie Bucket in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” is now a veterinarian? There’s a classic example of someone who went with his heart early on – acting – and now has a career where he is fully rooted in his head. We contain multitudes.

Originally published on Ladders.

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