Balancing an Ascending Career With a Burgeoning Romance: How to Make It Work
Work-life balance is a lie. OK, maybe it’s not entirely a lie, but the term is misleading. It implies a tidy split with clear delineation between the personal and the professional.
Reality is rarely as clear-cut — especially in the entrepreneurial world, where work can consume your whole life for long stretches of time. For many ambitious, career-minded people, a picture-perfect balance seems like more of a pipe dream than a realistic goal.
But just because the traditional definition of work-life balance may be unattainable, that doesn’t mean those with grand career ambitions have to sacrifice a fulfilling personal life.
If you find yourself struggling to juggle the different sides of your life, try looking at the problem as a matter of prioritization and time allotment rather than some kind of impossible balancing act. After all, it’s not really about achieving a 50-50 split. If you’re deliberate with your time, it’s possible to achieve great things at work and have meaningful relationships — even romantic ones.
Juggling Work and Romance
Work has a way of wriggling between two people. The failure to be present — either emotionally due to the stress of work or physically due to constant travel — can be all it takes to damage a romantic relationship beyond repair.
I’ve been running my own company in one variation or another for close to four years and have been in a committed relationship for much longer, so I’ve certainly encountered the obstacles that a demanding job can present to a relationship. The challenges are many, and the danger of not being present enough for either side of the equation (or for both) is always there, lurking in the shadows.
So yes, it’s difficult. But making time for a personal life also offers big rewards. What I’ve found over the years is that a healthy work life and a fulfilling personal life can do more than co-exist — they can actually flourish together.
My fiance is not just my romantic partner; he’s my partner in all facets of my life. He provides intellectual and emotional support and offers a different perspective from my own, which simultaneously keeps me grounded and reaching for new heights. He immeasurably enriches my personal life and inspires me to keep striving for professional greatness.
Three Strategies to Make It Work
My experience has taught me a few strategies for making sure your relationship thrives alongside your career. One caveat: You’re going to have to work for it. You’re likely deliberate, focused, and dedicated at work, so why not give your relationship the same consideration?
1. Be present during the time you have.
While you may not have all the time in the world to spend with your partner, it’s important to set aside portions of the day or week solely to spend meaningful time with your loved one. The key word here: meaningful.
Take advantage of the time you do have and be present for every moment. Don’t spend it playing a game on your phone or, worse, checking your work email. Yes, your work is important, but the world isn’t going to collapse if you don’t respond to every single email within the hour.
Find the things you enjoy together — the activities and interests that give your relationship meaning — and allow yourself to savor them. Your work may give your life drive, but your family and friends are the ones who can give you strength and support.
2. Figure out what’s good for you.
A common mistake when trying to achieve a work-life balance is assuming that the balance that’s right for others is also right for you. Figure out what you need in order to be the person you want to be — not the person others expect you to be.
Maybe you’re a homebody who prefers peace and quiet, or maybe you’re someone who craves change and excitement and seeks new people and new places of inspiration. Whatever your preference, what’s important is understanding the type of life you want so you can do a better job of embracing it.
3. Try to stick to a routine, even amid the chaos.
If you’re an entrepreneur, many aspects of your life will most likely always be in flux. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, that doesn’t mean your whole life has to possess the same high level of uncertainty and chaos. Routines, no matter how small, can help — they’re an excellent way to reduce stress because they cut down on the anxiety that often comes with uncertainty.
Keep to at least a few routines, especially around your relationship. Maybe this means committing to chatting before bed while you’re on the road. Or maybe it’s a monthly date night. Find what works for you, and stick to it. Even the smallest relationship routines will keep your significant other front and center and let him or her know you care.
While maintaining a healthy home life alongside a heavy workload can be a struggle, that doesn’t mean the two always need to be at odds. Your personal life can actually be your greatest support — having a partner or friend who understands you and supports your goals can be an amazing gift and spur you on to greater heights. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the love and support of good people and my fiance.
After all, work teams and personal relationships aren’t that dissimilar. Both require collaboration and camaraderie, and both have significant milestones that should be celebrated along the way. In both instances, you just have to be willing to put in the work.
Of course, there will always be compromises — no full life is immune. The key is learning to be OK with that. Sometimes, what it takes is finding the person for whom you’re willing to compromise. And when you do, hold on to them.