In grand scheme of life, we spend a lot of time in two places: 1. with our spouse, and 2. in our work environment. That’s why when it comes to choosing a mate and a career, the choices you make can vastly affect your long-term happiness.
Choosing a Mate
Don’t Be Superficial
I would just note that folks who choose spouses based on superficial ideas, such as her body, his money, her career, his 6’3 self, her perfect blue eyes, his taste in music, her taste in clothes, often overlook what actually counts.
Let the Character Qualities Be the Ones You Notice
Talk to anyone who has been in a marriage that has lasted well over 10 years, and they will tell you those things no longer matter as much as they might have when you first started dating. Once a loved member of the family dies or a child is born and needs to be fed, you want someone who is healthy, happy, a good role model, kind, compassionate, and dependable.
Let Go of the Small Stuff
There’s some guy who is able to predict whether or not a couple will divorce with 94% accuracy. Much of what he claims are ‘warning signs’ are resentment, eye rolling, and being overly harsh or critical of your loved one’s actions. I bet I would want to be divorced if I was married to a guy that was constantly teasing me or making me feel bad because I didn’t do something the way he thought was good enough.
Act With Intention
It boils down to this: actions speak louder than words. Hear what your spouse is saying with their actions, not just their words. Be accepting of other’s flaws, and recognize your own, so you can work on them.
Recognize Your Flaws and Continue To Work On Them
For an example, I have a tendency to fill up my schedule by over-extending myself with work, a social calendar, travel and projects. I think this is something I would like to change, to allow myself time to just ‘be’ and have freedom to spontaneously do things my partner and I would like to do.
Be Alone and Be Happy With It
Also, there’s something to be said about being comfortable spending time alone. Marriage isn’t the key to anything; it’s a healthy and wonderful addition to a life, but your ability to be alone, whether in or outside a partnership, can help you grow and evolve into the person you’re meant to become. Keep working on yourself- this leads me to…
Supportive People Are the Most Fun to Be Around
Finally, find a partner who is supportive of your goals, dreams and acts upon helping you make those dreams a reality. Nothing is bigger than someone who believes in your goals, and helps you lay the groundwork to get there.
Choosing a Career
We have too many choices to make, and choosing one of the biggest of all- how to spend your life’s currency- is the hardest to make. What’s the job for you, how do you get it, or how do you decide, in an endless sea of options, what will make you happiest?
Explore Your Options
My sister, Shannon, made an effort to try all classes which she thought were interesting in college. It’s important to chase anything that peaks your interest. Even if it’s insignificant, you’ll probably know whether or not you could make a life doing the thing if you try.
Be Willing to Work For Free
When I was in college, I was fortunate enough to have several internships, which I took. Frequently, I’d have such an overloaded schedule that I wouldn’t have time to see friends, go on vacations, or see my family. For the record, I wouldn’t advise stuffing the schedule ( see my advice on that in ‘Choosing a Mate’) but it did help me when it came time to choose what facet of PR I wanted to get involved in.
Because I was always interested in health, wellness, publishing, technology, non-profit and business, I had internships in each of those fields. Oftentimes, they’d overlap, like when I worked in technology training and then in automotive web development, and frequently, the tools I learned in one field applied to the next.
Because I had 8 unpaid internships in college and then 3 different full-time jobs post-grad, I’ve been able to explore a vast amount of options I would’ve have known about otherwise if I wasn’t open to working for free.
Give Yourself Time
I am stoked to see my little sister going to vet tech school, a dream which she’s had for a long time. I started to talk about going to yoga school while still in high school (!) and it wasn’t until almost 10 years later that I actually graduated from yoga teacher training.
Envision Your Future
I’m a big fan of creating a vision board to see your goals. Mine is on Pinterest, and set to private so only I can see what I have outlined for myself, but I talk about my future often to friends and families. I think the less we paint the future with color-by-numbers, picturing events that HAVE to happen by a certain deadline, and the more we choose to let go of those expectations, and learn to paint with broad strokes, the better the details can be filled in by a power higher than us: fate.
Be Final With Moving On
It’s beyond me how people can step away from decades-long marriages or careers to move onto the next thing without a little bit of melancholy. If that were me, it could be difficult not to look back and wonder ‘what if?’. It’s always the easiest thing to look at the past and paint it in brighter colors than we actually lived in it. But, it’s best to see the future as our only option.
If you let go of a job, spend time flourishing forward. Don’t give in to your doubts, fears or anxieties around the future, and be hopeful for what’s to come. Oftentimes, it’s that something better is just around the bend, and we’re not able to see it yet, for fear of what we’ve lost.
I can’t stress the importance of moving more than I am right now. There are so many things we realize we could’ve made time for, only after the fact. Start with what you have, where you are, and begin.
Energy Flows Where Intention Goes
After years of wanting to learn the guitar, I still know 0 chords. I have a guitar, and think about hiring someone to teach me or learning to play from YouTube about once a week, and I haven’t made it a priority yet. Because it’s not happening, I am not happy with myself, as I’ve always wanted to play a musical instrument, but it’s no one’s fault but my own because I haven’t carved the time out yet.
I’m not an expert in anything, I’m a person who likes reading and listening to other’s career and marriage advice because those are fields of life where I constantly see folks not feeling as if they’re living up to their dreams. If you’re able to do anything, well, why wouldn’t you?
Tell me your favorite advice in the comments.