A Job is Not Like a Relationship

Today is Valentine’s Day. It’s that one time a year where we buy cards, chocolates, flowers, cheesy teddy bears and pajamagrams for our loved ones and dazzle them with romance. It’s also the time of year when we see career articles comparing our jobs to a successful romantic relationship. They point out all the similarities a career and a relationship have. And while there are some similarities on the surface, a career is nothing like a relationship, or at least a relationship that matters to you.
Yes, you might have some superficial comparisons, but that is all they are. Superficial. When I mention a relationship, I’m referring to a close friendship or a loving relationship you have with a partner. Just like a career, no one relationship is the same, but successful relationships, ones that last, have similarities. 
I know a little bit about each topic. One at which I have been very successful, the other that is a constant quest for me to improve. I have had struggles at both and have also had a lot of joy. I have learned that, at times, I have put more of a focus on my career than my relationships, and that is not a good balance. 
You can half-ass your way through a job for years and no one will notice. You can put on a happy face for eight hours a day, do what’s expected, and this can be satisfactory. Hell, you may even get promoted. But a relationship takes real work. A relationship is not nine-to-five. There are no annual performance reviews in a solid relationship. Everyday is a review. You will constantly receive feedback from your relationship. This feedback will not always be positive, but it will be truthful.
If careers and relationships are so much alike, why are we pushing work-life balance issues and trying to get everyone to spend more time away from their jobs? Great relationships make you want to get all of your work done so you can spend time with that person. You yearn for the early train so you can spend time with that person. You want to find ways to cancel that business trip or catch the earliest flight possible to get home. You won’t want work-life balance in your relationship.
There is a push to make our jobs and careers more social. We want to brand our careers and tell the world about them. A relationship is not social. It is not a hashtag, a status update or a post on Instagram. It is something special, shared between two people, and way beyond social media. 
A job can bring a lot of fulfilment and happiness, and I hope you are able to get the type of joy like you would from a happy relationship. 
So on this Valentine’s Day, take time to think about those close relationships you have. Look at what truly makes them special to you. Then, think about your job. Think about all the things that make you happy in your job. I hope there is a point to where those are never ever the same.
The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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