7 ways your job should be like a romantic relationship

If you’ve been in a relationship before, you’d know that it is not all happy and dandy like what fairy tales tell you. The famous ‘happy ending’ should be realistically renamed to ‘happy beginning’, as the commitment stage is when the mutual effort in relationships begin.

I think we can all agree that a great relationship reflects on the couple’s ability to compromise and cooperate, can we not?

When it comes to building a career, though, many have the perception that if they sit on their desks and work their 9am-5pm jobs, they are on the right track.

Well, they’re wrong.

That might earn you the bare minimum to remain in the company, yes, but to build a career, you’d need to treat it much like a relationship. It has the same essential ingredients and outcomes, if you think about it. In fact, using this analogy might help put things into a clearer perspective. Like so:

1. To keep the flame going, you need to have passion

Before committing to the whole mutual effort thing, a couple first needs to have chemistry. They need to have that initial attraction, that passion for each other to even begin their journey together.

Just like a relationship, you’d need to have a passion for what you do to be able to do it best. If you’re just going with the flow because having a job is what you’re supposed to do in life, then your job will forever be that: a job.

A fulfilling career on the other hand, takes enthusiasm, commitment, and dedication. If you have these elements, you’ll find that your move up the career ladder won’t seem like that much of an effort. As Marc Anthony once said “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life”.

So, tap into your passions and your interests to begin with, and work from there. If you’re not sure where to start, this quick test should give you a rough idea.

2. Surprise! Everyone loves surprises from their partner.

I’m talking good surprises, of course (no clown suits, please). Do you remember that one time someone went out of their way to put a smile on your face? It was pleasing, wasn’t it? It is a mark that he/she was really committed to you, to be able to plan and execute something with the pure intention of making you feel good.

In the same way, you could also surprise your boss/department/company every now and then when you spend time coming up with original ideas, proposals, side projects, etc. that were not part of your KPI or job scope. Maybe it was an idea inspired by a random event. Maybe it was something you’ve always wanted to pitch but were too afraid to.

Go ahead and just do it. Your boss may or may not shoot down the idea, but hey, you’ll still get brownie points for trying!

And on the chance it gets approved, make sure you give it your all; don’t get too calculative about the hours and effort you put in on the sidelines – it will eventually pay off.

3. Compromise should be more or less equal

One essential ingredient in a relationship is compromise. Sometimes, you’ll want to have pasta for dinner while your better half will vote ‘nasi lemak’. In this case, taking turns is the simple resolution to solving the difference in taste.

At work, don’t expect anything less. If you need to head off early to make it in time for your favourite movie, you should expect to clock in some extra time the next day to make up for it.

If your colleague agrees to cover some duties for you while you’re on leave, make sure you’ve got his/her back when the tide turns.

Remember: you can’t always have the pasta.

4. You will have fights along the way

When you spend so much time with someone, you’ll have constant bickering sessions. Sometimes those sessions extend to larger scale arguments which you’ll either take a while to resolve, or ignore till you bicker about it again in the future.

The same applies to your career. Sometimes in your job, you’ll have misunderstandings with each other, frustration with procedural red tapes, and other such forthcomings.

When this happens, step back from the situation, put yourself in the other person’s shoes, and find the best win-win resolution possible. The important part is not to overthink it.

Things like this happen, especially as you get more comfortable with your environment and colleagues. Just try your best to remain ACAP (as cool as possible).

5. If you have nothing left to offer one another, it is time to move on

There’s a word for relationships that lack everything a relationship should have: denial. The fear of being alone, of change, of the unknown is what keeps someone in such a relationship.

You can either choose to endure the mental burden of being in such a relationship, or you can choose courage and step out of this comfort zone you’ve settled yourself in.

Likewise, if you find that you are unable to learn and grow in your organisation, and are limited in what you can offer them, maybe it is time to make other plans. You might have the comfort of predictability and a stable income on your side now. But 20 years down the road, will you be filled with regret at not challenging yourself and living up to your full potential?

Only you can decide this for yourself.

6. It is okay to play the field till you find Mr. Right

A job is like a relationship - not a marriage. It is okay to get a new one once in a way (not too often, though, no one wants to hire a job-hopper).

Very few are as lucky as this person to find their first job rewarding enough to stay on for the rest of their working life. If you’re one of the lucky ones, congratulations. Otherwise, keep ‘shopping’.

In fact, if you’re just starting out, you’ll find that many will encourage you to do so, as it is a good way of accelerating your experience, broadening your horizons, and getting to know yourself and your limits better.

You’ll also learn that office politics are like toilet-seat arguments: you can never escape them no matter where you go.

7. And lastly, long distance relationships are based fundamentally on trust

Do not misuse that privilege if you’re lucky enough to be working from home.