Is your professional ambition leading to disconnection in your love life?
After decades of second-class citizenship, professional ambition is now at the forefront for many modern women. The mind of an ambitious woman is like having 2,743 browser windows open all the time. The average workweek sucks up 72 hours of our life, and it can be hard to let go without feeling like you’re slacking off – especially if you’re passionate about your career and thrive on the validation of success. That’s when the ambition teeter-totter starts giving you motion sickness: At work, you feel guilty about your love life, and at home you feel guilty about your career. Oy.
“Ambitious women often focus on the other aspects of their life over romance,” says Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., bestselling author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness. “They view their love life as a luxury they’ll focus on after they’ve achieved their goals. The problem is, they never achieve what they think they need to in order to allow themselves to start focusing on love.”
Ambition has always been my partner-in-crime and the bane of my existence, since what it’s given to my career it’s taken away from my love life (i.e. I don’t have one). Here’s four ways to work with your ambition so you can have a thriving (and guilt-free) love life:
1. Identify the source of your ambition.
A recent study published in the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology found that adult children who have at least one workaholic parent are likely to suffer from an abundance of ambition (which in my case, explains everything). I’d been using ambition as a cover for the personal insecurities I didn’t want to face about myself. Once you know what you’re avoiding by working so much, you can take charge of your life – and start creating a whole one.
2. Funnel your ambition completely into work only.
“Women who are overachievers tend to see relationships and family as a ‘goal’ or ‘achievement’ rather than a process,” says psychotherapist and relationship expert Kimberly Moffit. “They tend to focus on getting the perfect man, and their feelings of love can get lost in the process.” (Oops.) Streamline your ambition into your career and let your love life happen naturally. Letting go of all expectations will make you look forward to your time off because there won’t be a to-do list attached.
3. Instead of creating work goals and personal goals, create one big picture.
It’s about creating harmony. If you level the playing field and make your personal goals as important as your career goals, you’ll be more likely to thrive in all areas. Don’t categorize your goals: allow your career and personal life to intertwine and benefit from each other. “Ambitious women need to realize that love isn’t just a distraction,” says Moffit. “A good relationship will provide steady and stable support which will help you work more effectively when you’re on the clock.”
4. Add your personal life to your to-do list.
Adding your personal life to your to-do list is an easy mind-trick that kills two birds with one stone: it helps you prioritize your personal life and gives you a sense of accomplishment when you check “Watch Scandal” off your list.
“It doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing: career or love,” says Lombardo. “You can prioritize love while at the same time excelling at other areas of your life.”
What about you? Does your ambition get in the way of your love life? Tell us about it in a comment.
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