Love or Career?
|Pretty classy with the watermark, eh?|
IF YOU REALLY WANT to do it right, then choose neither. Choose a lifestyle that resonates with your whole being and let that guide your decisions in career and love. If it meshes well, proceed; if it clashes, pull back. In order for that to work, you need to be clear on two things: (1) what your true, correct lifestyle is, and (2) how well things are working with that lifestyle.
Your Values & Lifestyle
Your lifestyle is informed by your values, but your values need to be discovered. Cheesy as cliche as it may sound, you discover your values when you are 100% honest with yourself about your situation in life with all its confusion and uncertainty. When you stop trying to find answers, the remainder is unadulterated honesty, and with that honesty, you find some other things pop up. You find courage, determination, and your values. The funny thing is, you don't have to actually look for them. They find you like a puppy wandering back to its owner.
When you figure out what's important in life, you can get a sense of what you want your life to look like. You get a sense of what's right and correct. It's weird because it's not correct in an intellectual way. It's just right and you know it. With a little imagination, you can get a sense of the kind of currents you want to have in your life, from the broad strokes to the day-to-day minutiae. You know that it has to contain honesty and understanding and kindness, humor, focus, intellect. The exact proportions and ingredients vary from person to person, but the basic recipe is always the same.
So by now you've got a sense of what themes you want to permeate your life. You now move onto some big questions like career and relationships. I don't like to talk outside of my own experience, so to be fully honest, I've diverged at this point a few times. One strategy is to take your talents, mix up with your lifestyle, and figure out where you fit in. There doesn't have to be one correct answer, and the answer can change.
Another approach I've taken is to forget about long-term planning and just try and assess what my role is in this moment. I ask myself: how can I act in accordance with my truest values? How can I be totally truthful with my experience? How can I make beautiful moments? (That last question is what it ultimately comes down to.)
A third approach I've taken is to identify my deepest struggles in life (self-consciousness) and resolve to help others overcome it. That's something the existential (logo)therapists like Victor Frankel and the old Rabbinical Jews would have advocated.
All three approaches have felt right to me at different times and for me, they don't conflict. They all point in the same direction. Whichever approach you take--even deciding on your own--is fine as long as you trust in it.
You can choose your relationships the same way you choose your career: examine your lifestyle and see if it fits your current relationship. You have to really be honest and be smart enough to tease apart your feelings of attachment and longing (which will cloud your judgment) with the situation itself. Is this what you had in mind for yourself? Will this relationship further the lifestyle you deserve, or frustrate it?
I don't want to leave you with a bunch of abstract philosophy because this isn't about your ability to digest ideas at all. This is just a guide. If you want to put in the hard work and do the introspection, then stop being in a hurry to solve your dilemma and wait. It'll probably feel like nothing at first, but then you'll have the urge to go back and solve. It's at that point where you have to show restraint. Just sit there and wait, paying attention to your body. How does it feel? You'll slowly start to peel away the layers of thought until you find that there are parts of your body that feel tender. There's nothing you have to do. Just watch it and be silent.
That sets the whole process in motion.