How Your Career Is Like Dating

I Hate Work

You notice her/him for the first time and she/he makes you smile. Maybe a friend introduced you or you met them online. You start to think about this new person from time to time. Maybe you begin to flirt. They make you happy and eventually you get up the nerve to ask this new person on a date.

Things are fresh, new and exciting, at first. You can’t wait to see her/him because they are fun and your are eager to please. A few months go by and a few small issues begin to surface. Their jokes are starting to annoy you and the way she/he likes to talk right after taking a large bite of food. Their friends are turning out to be immature and shallow. You start to dread your dates and despite your best efforts, and desire to meet “the one” you know how this is going to end.

Yet, you stick it out for a few months or even years. There are still good times and it is better than being alone. Some days you love her/him, some days it is just, ok, but most days you argue and feel like you need a break. You feel as if the only thing holding you together is a single spider web, until it eventually breaks and suddenly it is over. You are single again.

You are left with a sense of sadness, loneliness, and panic. You think more than once, is something wrong with me? Will I always be alone? You start to seriously fear dying alone with cats, so you start to date again. You start to consider settling for someone who only sort of fits what you want. You repeat the cycle again and again. You date many people, but it never seems to work out. That is, until one day, you meet “the one” and everything changes.

Does this sound familiar? Now think about your jobs or careers. You find something you think might be interesting, you might major in this in college, and you eventually land a job. You date your job for a while to see if it is a good fit. You are excited at first until you start to get bored and something about that job really starts to rub you the wrong way. You begin to hate your job. You might stick it out for a while because being employed (with someone) is better than being unemployed (alone). Eventually, you break up with your career and move on to the next, continuing your job dating. After the breakup you are anxious, you don’t know what to do, you think something is wrong with you and you don’t know which way to turn.

My past careers, or more appropriately defined, ways I have earned money for an extended amount of time, have been an experience in dating employment opportunities. I would argue that the single difference, is that there may not be “the one” career that makes your heart sing. There may be a job that sticks for a long time because you love it. But for the majority of us, even if the job rocks your world and you are in love with work, that tends to fade until it is time to pursue, or date if you will, a new curiosity. That is OK and completely normal. You are not alone and nothing is wrong with you.

My point is that when we change careers and start over, many times we believe we are failures. We believe that changing careers is the end of the world and that we will never be happy. The next time you break up with your career, yes it will sting, but rest assured if you have come to this decision, then it is time to move on. Let your previous job, like a previous relationship, be a compass that points you to your true path. Above all else remember to enjoy the journey as much as you can. Remember, it is about the way, not the destination.

(If I could double or triple hashtag this #firstworldproblems, despite the risk of being a cliché, I would. I don’t take it lightly that I have a choice to be an entrepreneur or change jobs.)

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