The Trifecta of Professional Happiness

You’ve heard of Good, Fast, Cheap: Pick Any Two. I have a spin on that idea.

  • Career Path
  • Company Culture
  • Compensation

Pick zero to one for an unhappy work experience.
Pick two for relative contentedness at work with some trash talking at happy hour afterwards.
Pick all three for a great job you’ll be happy to go to most mornings.

Career Path
Job is in the field in which you want to work.
Work is satisfying.
Position furthers overall career goals.
Job includes professional development (formal or informal).
Job meets requirements for: (fill in the blank) e.g., challenge, diversity, creativity, et cetera.

Company Culture
You are in agreement with:

Company mission, policies and stated objectives
Leadership and philosophies
Management style

You feel comfortable with:

Company dynamic, i.e., the “personality” of the company
Company’s practices of rewarding employees and performance and correcting problems
Company’s financial health, or alternately, confidential (unknown to you) nature of company’s financial and administrative details

Salary or wages
Bonus and/or commission structure
Safety or innovation incentives
Medical, dental, vision insurance
Mental health and dependency treatment coverage
Retirement plan
Vacation, sick, personal, comp and flex time
Cafeteria plan for medical
AFLAC or other supplemental disability and unemployment insurance
Life insurance
Education reimbursement
Telecommuting policy
Other perks

After I thought of this idea this afternoon, I did a mental inventory of each job I’ve had and tested out this hypothesis. It rings true for me.

My favorite jobs were in the sweet spot: good compensation, in line with my career goals and performing a job I was competent at and liked, and with a company culture that fit me.

The trifecta reflects my obsession with company culture in particular, but I think it applies to normal people too.


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