In my opinion, the major factor is being able to make a difference! It is the basis of real job satisfaction.
That phrase, "being able to make a difference" rarely appeared on the job descriptions I have seen and when it did appear, it was used as motivation when pay was less than stellar. Nonetheless, making a difference is what excites people who take responsibility for others and for their own lives.
When you can actually make a difference in people’s lives by doing your job, you will often endure lousy pay and indifferent management for years before realizing that you can make a difference and make a living wage somewhere else!
Making a difference in other people lives also implies that the people you help are able to acknowledge your efforts to help them. Somehow, this acknowledgement is far more important than being recognized by the people who employ you.
I think that everyone has the capability to find their dream job as long as they understand what is involved and that exchange is necessary to sustain yourself in any position.
There is lot that I could write about dream jobs and nightmare job situations, but the basic requirements for a dream job are:
1. The job itself must have a worthwhile purpose
2. Other people should benefit from your work
3. You should be recognized, not reviled, for doing what is necessary
4. There should be ample financial rewards to allow you to continue this job indefinitely.
Any one of these being omitted can make for a untenable job situation. For example, the job af an elected official can fall short of perfection in several significant ways. Being President of the United States is as close to a nightmare job as I can imagine, because number 3 is almost always out.
Being micro-managed or second-guessed will turn almost any job into an unwelcome ordeal. When this increases to the point where it interferes with your ability to make a difference, you need to determine what actions lead to the greater good.
The important thing to remember is that you always have a choice. You signed up to help people. Are you still able to do so? If not, what can you do to make better use of your time?
For me, that always meant finding a situation where I could make a difference and support my family in the process. There are countless opportunities to do this. All one needs to do is look.