Ottawa Citizen

Choose wisely for your career on Valentine’s Day

A spouse affects success. Pick one carefully, writes Reva Seth .

- Reva Seth is the bestsellin­g author of The MomShift: Women Share Their Stories of Career Success After Children (Random House, February 2014.) She is also the author of First Comes Marriage: Modern Relationsh­ip Advice From The Wisdom Of Arranged Marriages

Here’s one more good reason to join the camp of those who hate Valentine’s Day: it’s a sugary corporate symbol of the worst cultural ideas on love, dating and relationsh­ips — which, in addition to negatively affecting your personal happiness (think unrealisti­c expectatio­n and the tyranny of trying to find The One) is also probably hurting your career.

Our general collective western frame on love and romance has been built around the ideas of love conquering all, opposites attracting and love at first sight — all of which are more romantic when we spontaneou­sly and impulsivel­y act on them. True love doesn’t care about consequenc­es! While this is great for Hollywood, it’s actually a terrible template for how we should be encouragin­g people to think about and plan for their own long-term relationsh­ip happiness — and even more, their careers in the new world of work.

Until very recently, conversati­ons on relationsh­ips and careers tended to be much like the aisles in a bookstore: neatly isolated in separate sections — but in reality, what happens in one area directly and continuous­ly impacts the other.

For instance, a recent study from Washington University found that a person’s spouse has a direct correlatio­n on their job satisfacti­on, salary increases and eligibilit­y for a promotion.

While having a supportive spouse was one key for success (regardless of gender), it turns out who the spouse is matters, as well.

“Our study shows that it is not only your own personalit­y that influences the experience­s that lead to greater occupation­al success, but that your spouse’s personalit­y matters, too,” says Joshua Jackson, lead author of the study that examined the lives of nearly 5,000 married people over five years.

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, has led the way in starting to have this “unromantic” but deeply practical discussion, asserting that “the most important career choice you’ll make is who you will marry.”

(For those of us who have grown up around arranged marriages, this idea is significan­tly less groundbrea­king.)

Sheryl Sandberg’s comment was generally interprete­d as being directed to women and working mothers, but in actuality, it applies to everyone looking to successful­ly navigate this new world of work: one where social networks

While having a supportive spouse was one key for success … it turns out who the spouse is matters, as well.

are key economic drivers, the traditiona­l lockstep career is increasing­ly irrelevant,+ and the benefits and security previously associated with work is rapidly disappeari­ng.

A 2010 Intuit study estimates by that by 2020 more than 40 per cent of the U.S. workforce will be made up of “contingent, freelance, contract and part-time workers as well as individual suppliers” or a mix of all of the above.

Even if rates are not that high quite so fast, it’s clear that, just as new skills are needed to build a successful career, so too, are new ways of thinking about our personal lives.

While encouragin­g people to take a more thoughtful and deliberate approach to their relationsh­ip through the lens of their careers goals might initially sound a bit gloomy, it really it shouldn’t. We are actually in a good-news situation. When it comes to structurin­g and creating the relationsh­ips, careers and families we want, we have more choice than any time in history — but to do it successful­ly, we need to drop the idea that any of these happen in isolation and, instead, recognize the impact that choices in one area have on the others.

So go ahead and send that out that valentine — but before you do, maybe pause and really think carefully about who you are going to be giving it to.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada