05/11/2015 03:35 pm ET Updated May 11, 2016

5 Secrets of People Who Love Their Jobs

Let's just come right out and say it: Not everyone loves their job. In fact, there are people who are downright miserable in what they do for a living. Some of this may be circumstantial -- certain economic or educational limitations, perhaps -- but regardless, jobs may not always give that personal fulfillment or satisfy the creative or nurturing outlets we need as human beings.

Why do we spend so much of our time slogging away at something that doesn't give us a basic level of happiness, then? Because these jobs pay the bills and allow us certain financial freedoms to pursue the things we do enjoy -- like time with our families, vacations, improvements on our homes, etc.

I count myself as one of the lucky ones who honestly and truly does enjoy their work. It's the major factor between describing what you do as a job or as your career. But this article isn't about dropping everything to chase your dream, although many people who do celebrate great personal and professional success. Instead, this is about how we spend so much of our lives dedicated to our chosen (or unchosen) profession -- isn't it important that we are able to understand and manage various tools to make those hours as enjoyable as possible?

After many years in the workplace observing the qualities of both sides, certain qualities of the happy kept surfacing again and again. These are the secrets of those people I have personally met and those who I admire from afar: those who simply and unapologetically love their jobs, despite the many challenges in our current work culture.

Secret #1: Knowing How, When, and the Right Way to say No.
This is something I find particularly important for women. We often avoid saying "no" to things because we don't want to be perceived as rude or abrasive. As a result, we often end up with too much on our plates and can't deliver a high quality of work -- or, we'll work longer hours and sacrifice our personal time and well-being in the process. This is one of the most important lessons for anyone to master: if you can learn to pick your battles, you may just win the war.

Secret #2: Having a Dedication to Something Outside of the Office.
This is hard, no question. But whether it's your family, your yoga practice, or simply spending time with friends -- people who commit time towards something that is completely outside of work are much more likely to avoid burnout and chronic stress. This is a commitment, and an uncompromising one. The payoff is worth it: you will feel better, look better, and actually perform better as a result.

Secret #3: Working Smarter, Not Harder.
Guess what? Being the first one at the office each morning and the last one to leave every night doesn't mean you're owed that promotion. Make sure the work you do is about quality, not quantity. Ask yourself before every task and project -- is this a productive use of my time? Is there a way I can improve the efficiency of the process? It doesn't matter if you're at the bottom of the food chain or managing a staff of hundreds -- the results of your work are what matter. Make every second of your time count for something.

Secret #4: Always keep Learning.
We feel a slight rush of exhilaration when we are challenged with something new: whether it's a new project or even a new career entirely. People who are constantly challenging themselves to learn new things are not only adding to their skill set and elevating themselves in the eyes of their employer, but they are actually happier and growing more confident in the process. Some would even go so far to say that once you feel 100 percent comfortable in what you're doing, it's time to move on and challenge yourself with something else.

Secret #5: Paying it Forward
I've found that most successful people who love their jobs often enjoy inspiring others towards similar achievements. They know what its like to pay their dues, work hard, and be the underdog. As a result they often want to pay it forward to those who they believe have similar potential. But don't be fooled: successful people have very high standards and attention to detail. Find your mentor, and you soon may become a mentor for someone else.