We want it all —and why not!—but we’re taught that in order to achieve anything great, we should focus on one thing at a time.
If you’re just starting your career or looking to advance in your career, chances are you’re also interested in finding real love.
However, these two goals might be somewhat oppositional, especially if you’re still young.
So how do you make a decision that your future self will thank you for?
There’s no hard answer for this but we can at least try to make sensible decisions.
In this article, I will give you 14 things you must consider to make a better decision when it comes to love and your career goal:
1) Is it easy for you to multitask and compartmentalize?
Look, it’s not impossible to excel in a career while being in a loving relationship. In fact, there are many successful couples who manage to do this. Take a look at Mark Zuckerberg, for example.
However, if you’re not a natural at it, you may be better off choosing one or the other.
How can you find out for sure?
Well, it’s not as difficult as you think.
Just look at your past and give an honest assessment of yourself.
Did you have a relationship before? If yes, were you still able to excel in your school and other commitments?
If the answer is a strong “HECK YEAH”, then my dear, you really don’t have much of a problem. It seems like you can juggle love and career. Unless it’s truly causing you any problems, then you’re doing fine.
If it’s a “nope!” you might want to think about why you weren’t able to maintain a balance between love and career. Was your partner too demanding, or incompatible with your lifestyle? Were you simply unable to manage your time and attention right?
At this point you should think about whether being in a relationship or being successful in life matters to you more, and focus on whatever you have chosen.
2) Do you already have a clear vision of what kind of relationship you want?
When we’re young, usually we are still exploring, especially when it comes to love.
We don’t have the experience and knowledge to know exactly what we want, no matter how strongly you might feel towards someone.
That’s why a lot of people get into relationships with the wrong idea of what they want from their partner. They usually end up with someone who doesn’t match what they were expecting and consequently they feel unsatisfied.
But as we grow up, we start to develop a vision of what kind of relationship we want. We start to realize what we don’t want as much as what we can tolerate.
And if you know what you are looking for, it will be easier to see if the person you’re with matches that ideal…and if they’re worth sticking with even if you’re working hard on your career.
3) Do you already have a clear vision of what kind of career you want?
It’s rare for people to know what they truly want in life when they’re young.
One might think that they wanted to be an engineer, only to later realize that they would rather be an artist. Then a few years down the road they realize that their true calling is in being a journalist.
Figuring out one’s true calling is a journey, and the destination gets clearer and clearer as one grows older.
And when we take that journey, the things we go through in life—the successes and failures both—help bring us closer to our ultimate goal.
Why is this important?
Because you might be saying NO to a great love just for a so-so career, and that could lead you to the biggest regret of your life.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the best way to answer this question is to realize whether you goals are in line with your core values.
Have you ever asked yourself what are your core values?
If you haven’t, you should definitely check out this free checklist from Jeanette Brown’s course Life Journal.
This free exercise will help you understand the core principles that guide and motivate you throughout your professional life.
And once develop a clear vision of your values, nothing can stop you to create a fulfilling life and achieving your goals!
4) How much do you want to achieve in your career?
Do you want to be a millionaire, or do you just want enough to get by? Do you want to live an easygoing and stable life, or do you want to play it risky?
The reason why you want to figure this out is so that when you’re out looking for love, you’d find someone who understands and goes along with your vision.
Let’s say that you want to be a millionaire. In this case, a partner who’d be content with ‘just enough’ might be upset at how busy you are with work, while a partner who agrees with your goals would be more patient with you.
Likewise, if you want a calm, easygoing life in the countryside, you wouldn’t want to hook up with someone who wants to play it risky in the big city. They might think you’re not ambitious enough and resent you for holding them back.
5) Can you both love in a “relaxed” way?
By this I mean, can you love each other without seeing each other too often? Will they get mad if you don’t give them a gift and a long poem every month for your anniversary? Will you feel guilty if you don’t text 20 messages a day?
It’s quite possible to love someone without needing daily contact—even if you’ve been together for a while. It takes time and understanding on both sides but once you know what makes the other person happy, it will be easier to maintain a healthy balance of communication and affection.
If you’re in love with someone who’s understanding—especially when it comes to your career—then you’re on the right track.
If you feel guilty or stressed out if you don’t give you gifts and long messages (or texts) every day, then that’s a sign that your relationship is not one where you can love each other in a relaxed way.
It could be that the problem is with you, because of internalized guilt. It could also be with them being simply demanding. Either way, if this is the case then you’re better off confronting your issues and fixing them. If you can’t do that, then there’s nothing to it but to break up.
6) Is your career your life purpose?
Some of us get serious and passionate about our careers for different reasons. Some for money, some for prestige, some because they feel like it’s their true calling.
If you’re working simply for the sake of money and fame, it’s unadvisable to let go of a relationship—especially if it’s something special—simply for the sake of your career. You’ll regret it.
But if you consider your career your life purpose, it’s a different story… one that’s harder to navigate around. You’ll have to find someone who’s supportive of who you are and what you do.
The thing is, if you find the one, they should not make you choose between your career and your relationship, especially if the career you have is something so precious to you.
7) Do you think you’ll feel stuck with them in the future if you choose them over your career?
Let’s face it, there’s no way to tell for sure.
But we can at least imagine. By imagining what this future version of ourselves and future life is like, we get to know what we really want and what we can compromise and not.
If you’re in love with someone and you know what they mean to you, then it’s probably okay to let go of your career so that you can be with them.
But if you’re not sure, then it’s better to wait for a better time. Because if they’re just not that special enough, you might end up resenting them in the future if you abandon your career for their sake.
And if you feel that is the case—that you’ll feel stuck and suffocated and unfulfilled—then you know what to do.
Love is a wonderful thing but if you won’t be able to love yourself because you have a big unfulfilled desire (your career), then it could definitely be a problem in the long run.
8) Do you want a life that’s unpredictable and out of the box?
Most people live remarkably unremarkable lives.
They graduate, find a job, get married, have kids, and grow old.
But this lifestyle isn’t always enough to make some people feel fulfilled.
At large, few people want to live a life like this. Call it ordinary if you will, but most people want a truly remarkable life that’s filled with adventure.
If your partner wants stability, then you shouldn’t force them to live the life you want. Even if they do love you, they’re just as likely to hate you for it as they are to enjoy the lifestyle you’re imposing on them.
But on the other hand, if your partner is letting you explore your passions, then why break up with them? Tag them along your adventure.
But the bigger question is, are you sure you’ll have this passionate life?
What does it really take to build a life filled with exciting opportunities and passion-fueled adventures?
A lot of us want a dash of excitement in our lives, but end up stuck and unable to progress our goals. We make resolutions, but fail to achieve even half of what we resolved to do.
I felt the same way until I took part in Life Journal. Created by teacher and life coach Jeanette Brown, this was the ultimate wake-up call I needed to stop dreaming and start taking action.
So what makes Jeanette’s guidance more effective than other self-development programs?
Jeanette’s created a unique way of putting YOU in control of your life.
She’s not interested in telling you how to live your life. Instead, she’ll give you lifelong tools that’ll help you achieve all your goals, keeping the focus on what you’re passionate about.
And that’s what makes Life Journal so powerful.
If you’re ready to start living the life you’ve always dreamt of, you need to check out Jeanette’s advice. Who knows, today could be the first day of your new life.
9) Are they the jealous type?
Some people may try to be understanding and kind and sweet, but can’t help but be openly jealous. If your partner or would-be partner is the jealous type, it will be difficult for you to keep a balance between work and love.
You might end up with a situation where you have to be away for months on end because of your career and, when you return, your partner’s jealousy has built up to such an extent that they’re refusing to talk to you at all.
Even things like having to stay late in the office to get work done will be met with suspicion. They would ask you if you’ve been seeing someone at work, or if you’ve been cheating.
You will be a victim of their jealousy, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
This will make you feel resentful and angry, especially because you’re doing nothing wrong.
You’ll have to choose wisely. Regardless of how you may feel for them, however, jealousy can easily turn your relationship toxic.
10) Are you sure you’re not just being worrywart?
Sometimes, we overthink when there really isn’t any problem.
Maybe you really don’t have to decide on whether you should choose your career or them, because they’re not really asking you to make a choice…or the situation that you have now doesn’t need you to make a choice.
Maybe what you simply have is fear of the future and committing mistakes.
You have to know that what you have isn’t just anxiety or lack of confidence to have a good life and make good decisions.
Because hey, what if it will all turn out fine without you having to let go of the relationship you have now?
The thing is, sometimes we’re just being so worried that we make things more complicated than they should be. We’re so afraid of not getting the life we want that we end up making a complete mess out of it.
So try to calm down and center yourself before making any big life-changing decisions.
11) Are you sure it’s not just your fault?
There are times when you think about your relationship and your career as a whole, and there are times when you think about your relationship alone. If the latter is the case, maybe it’s time to consider the whole picture.
Maybe what’s happening with your career is just a passing phase in life and will be over soon enough.
Maybe what’s happening with your career isn’t your partner’s fault but yours and yours alone?
We don’t usually like having to admit fault and sometimes, in our desire to set things right, we put the blame on something else and get rid of it so that we can “start anew.”
It’s probably not your partner’s fault that you’re late for work because you had a squabble about who’s doing the laundry. It’s probably YOUR fault for waking up 15 minutes before you need to clock in at work because you spent all night drinking at the bar.
Getting rid of either your partner or your work in situations like this is probably the worst thing you can do for yourself.
So think if you’re the kind of person who blames others for your misery, and then ask if you’ve been unfairly blaming others for your own issues.
12) Have you tried talking to your partner about it?
Sometimes, we think we know our partners because we’ve spent so much time with them.
But the thing is that not everybody is psychic. You probably don’t know them as well as you think you do, and they likewise probably don’t know about the problems you’re turning over and over in your head.
What if the idea that they can’t support you and you career is all in your head? What if they actually love you so much that they’re willing to change their clingy ways just to help you achieve your dreams?
What if they’ve already been trying, and that they just need some time to adjust?
If you think they’re worth it, then talk.
13) What other aspects of your life can you sacrifice for you to have both career and love?
If you’re still not ready to let go of them, then ask yourself what other aspects of your life can you sacrifice for you to have both career and love?
Surprisingly enough, there’s more to life than just your career and your love-life. You have your hobbies and vices, for example. Maybe instead of gaming 3 hrs a night, you can use this time to do more work so you can meet your partner on the weekend?
Maybe instead of wasting hours arguing with strangers on social media, you can instead dedicate this time to your partner? Maybe instead of eating out every night, you can eat at home with your partner?
The key here is to be honest with yourself and decide what is worth sacrificing for you to have both love and work in your life.
14) Do you thrive better when you’re in a relationship or when you’re single?
Some people are more focused and inspired to achieve their dreams when they’re in a relationship.
When they’re single, they can’t focus on anything else or even imagine a future because they want to see the “why” of their hard work, which is usually connected to family life.
Being single is something they have to deal with so they can then focus on achieving the life they want.
But some people thrive when they’re single. They enjoy being free, independent, and not having to live their lives worrying about supporting their partner.
Do you like being in a relationship? Do you like being single?
If you’re more inspired and motivated when you’re single, then it would probably be wise to let go of the relationship if you really want to succeed in your career. If you’re more inspired and motivated when you’re in a relationship, then why break up?
How to avoid having regrets with it comes to love
Communicate with your partner
Sometimes, it’s better to talk things out with the person you’re in a relationship with than just ruminating on your own, even if it’s something personal to you like your career.
If you’re worried that you’ll sabotage your career because of them or you’re worried you’ll sabotage your relationship if you stay in your career, then talk with your partner and ask him/her to help you figure out a solution.
Let’s say, for example, that your job decided to deploy you to the other side of the world. This would definitely conflict with your partner’s interests, so you should talk to them about it.
You might be intimidated, afraid of what the outcome may be. But just give it a try—you might just be surprised.
Give it a try before you even think of ending it
Instead of saying “Nah, I’ll not get into a relationship with this amazing person because I want to focus on my career”, give it a go.
As the saying goes, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did.”
So really, to avoid regret, you must give it a try. Only end it when you find that it’s really starting to affect your career. Otherwise, you’ll be a masochist for not allowing yourself to experience love.
And when things go sour, at least you can tell yourself that it really wasn’t what you’re looking for after all. Plus, you’ve surely experienced and learned a lot, which is always great.
Understand that ultimately, there is no “right” or “wrong” path
Most of the time, when we make decisions, there’s no way to find out for sure if it’s truly the better choice. There’s no way we can compare both.
When we commit to a decision, we can only imagine how things would have gone if we had only chosen the other option. Most of the time, we would fantasize that things would have gone better had we picked the other option. More often than not, that isn’t the case.
Keep this in mind every time you start thinking that maybe you made the wrong choice. Maybe you did, or maybe you did the right choice. Either way it’s all in the past and the best you can do is to move forward.
Most of us fear getting old without ever finding someone to stay by our side. But honestly, more people should be afraid of being stuck with the wrong person, or getting stuck in a situation they don’t want to be in.
And the thing is that many of us, in our desperation to fulfil our goals and find love, we reach out and take the first opportunity the world throws our way. Red flags are ignored out of fear of being alone or being bereft of options.
And before we know it, we’re stuck living a life we honestly don’t want.
It pays to be patient, to assess every opportunity at furthering our goals and love lives and making sure that we’re getting what we actually want.
Give it your best
Simply giving a relationship a try isn’t enough. You should try to do your best in whatever it is you do. Some people might shake their heads and say that they regret trying too hard with something that wasn’t meant to be.
But better you regret trying too hard than realize years later that your relationship would have worked out, and was even meant to be, but you simply didn’t try hard enough.
All of us struggle with having to balance our priorities in life, and the question of whether to pursue love or career is one of the more common dilemmas we face.
In the end, a question we could all beg to ask ourselves is what it is that we live for.
Do we live for pleasure, for servitude, or for glory? Where is it that we find fulfillment?
The answers to that question differ for every single one of us, and it’s one of the things that would ultimately plot your course in life.