Finding a career path that makes us feel satisfied and successful isn't easy. It's not something they teach us in school, which makes the journey that much more challenging.

For the past 15 years, I've been devoted to studying the deep disconnect people feel between themselves and their jobs, and the findings are disturbing.

We spend one-third (or more) of our days at work. Work defines us as people, i.e., when we aren't happy at work, other areas of our life suffer. Yet more than 70 percent of workers say they don't feel satisfied with their career choices, and I believe we have serious epidemic on our hands. 

How many times have you heard about people who end up sick, depressed, divorced, abusing substances, etc., because they're unhappy with their careers? What if they liked their jobs instead? Couldn't significantly improving attitudes toward work have a huge impact on the health and welfare of our society?

I have worked with thousands of people on their career challenges, and one reason for job dissatisfaction stands out as the most common.

It's called praise addiction.

We've been trained to seek out incentives like good grades, stickers, trophies, and yes, praise. We like to be liked. More important, we like to be respected. We want people to be impressed with us. It gives us a temporary feeling of happiness.

The problem is we end up making career choices to impress other people so we can feel that fleeting rush of validation. In the process, we lose sight of what makes us truly happy. With each career move, we get unhappier. The more we try to impress, the more frustrated we feel.

Don't believe me? Let me ask you this simple question:

What do you do?

Those four words are the reason so many people are unhappy with their careers. Most people want to answer with something impressive. They want others to respect what they do. Why? As humans, we worry about how our response is received, and for good reason! We know the person who hears the answer will start to judge us. That's because we judge those who tell us what they do for a living too.

Therein lies the issue. Until you stop judging people for what they do for work, you won't be free from judgment yourself. The good news is, if you can free yourself of this bad habit, you can finally focus on finding your intrinsic motivation for work, the work that makes you feel engaged and happy.

The right job for you creates a state of mind that transforms your life. Ask anyone you admire who has deep career satisfaction and they'll tell you it's their connection to the work that makes them so happy. It also gives them the motivation to not give up, which leads to higher levels of success and satisfaction.