Most of these answers are wrong.
Socrates already thought this stuff out. He even had Plato write it out for him in a book.
A lot of the answers here can be abstracted into one of the three things that drive the world... money, power, sex.
What we really (or at least should) want is happiness. And happiness isn't some crazy, hippy notion. It's defined as pursuing excellence. If you don't want to read the whole drab manual, the Oracle (not Larry Ellison's) even offers a somewhat relevant pithy synopsis:
- know yourself, and nothing to excess
Find happiness by knowing your lot in life and making the most of it. Most of these answers are short sighted in that they focus on some concrete thing to want or have. Modern social scientists are putting metrics to the fact that getting these things doesn't make you happy.
As programmers, we probably share a lot of the same sentiments about what makes working tolerable or even fun:
- being good at what we do
- working with other people who are pleasant and good at what they do
- having fun at work
- once in a while, being intellectually challenged at what we do
- making enough money to be comfortable
All of these things you can try to create in your work environment - no matter what title you have.