This is a pressing question for a lot of entrepreneurs and people chasing dreams, “Does a relationship squash your motivation?”
Can you simultaneously feast on immense career success, while enjoying great personal success in your relationships as well?
So many entrepreneurs whose sole focus is chasing a big personal dream may be afraid of getting into relationships because they think it will distract them, will make them weak and unmotivated. Ultimately, they might feel they won’t have enough of themselves to give to a romantic relationship. They’re afraid a relationship will take them off their course, their competitors will outhustle them, they won’t achieve their goals, and they’ll end up resenting the one person who gave them unconditional support.
For this reason, many entrepreneurs, artists, and dream chasers end up resigning their life to ‘lone wolf’ status, isolating themselves from intimate relationships in order to protect their time and energy.
They tell themselves, “Oh I’ll get myself a gorgeous girlfriend once I’ve made something of myself and earned millions and achieved fame”. They say they’re going through a ‘selfish period’ and they want to build themselves up before they can feel comfortable offering a partner a part of themselves. They don’t believe you can have it all at the same time because huge success requires enormous sacrifice, so, they choose to sacrifice love for their dream.
Well for starters, if getting into a relationship squashes your motivation and leads to you giving up on your dream, then you clearly weren’t motivated enough to be successful and that wasn’t your dream to begin with.
I understand that success and pursuing a dream takes massive sacrifices. But I also know that choosing between love and your dream is not a decision you will be faced with if you are with the right person.
Is it difficult to make both work? Definitely.
Is it going to test you in all sorts of ways? You can count on it.
But it’s not impossible.
There are massively successful entrepreneurs who have created game changing products and are happily married with several kids. There are movie stars, best-selling authors, and professional athletes living their dreams who have girlfriends, wives, spouses, and families, yet have managed to keep their dreams flourishing while giving to their partnerships.
Here are some important things you are going to need in order to pursue your dream and be in a relationship at the right time.
The Right Relationship.
This is the starting point. If you aren’t in the right relationship, if you don’t respect or value the relationship you have, then you will not make it a priority. You will neglect your relationship, meanwhile resenting and being angry with her for impeding your progress. If you’re trying to make it work with the wrong person while you pursue your dream, both areas are going to fall apart — you will feel bothered and pestered by your girlfriend to spend time with her or give her your attention, which is going to create stress and animosity in your relationship resulting in a carry over to your work life.
Put it this way, a really good relationship is going to nourish and revitalize your energy, while a bad relationship is going to exhaust your energy. Spending time with your girlfriend is going to balance you, keep your reality in check (which can easily become skewed with artists and entrepreneurs), and give you strength and encouragement to dive into your work bursts with a clearer headspace.
When you meet the right person, your dream won’t come true without her. She will become a key piece to your future puzzle. You will no longer see them as mutually exclusive, but rather one in the same. The right girl is going to dig that you have this big dream you’re chasing and you have a plan for the future, so she’s going to want to do whatever she can to help move you along. The right girl is not going to negate progress; she is going to catapult progress.
Best-case scenario: she has a dream of her own that’s a focal point in her life. This allows for you to better understand one another’s drive. This creates an idea-partnership, where you can both offer solutions and insights into each other’s respective dreams and goals. In this case, you can both feed off of each other and you won’t feel like the other person is crowding you or taking the energy out your step.
But at the very least, the absolute bottom rung, she has to understand your drive, pursuit of this dream, and offer you her full support. Ideally, she will hop on board with your vision, as she sees your vision to be compatible and desirable for where she would like to see her life go as well.
A Lot Of Space.
It’s no secret that you will need a lot of space to be creative and put time into your dream. This is why you can’t date someone who’s going to cling to you and demand every second of your time. You need to be with someone who has an individualistic relationship style. IE. They place importance on having separate lives, but then meeting together in the middle. An attached-at-the-hip relationship style simply won’t work if you have a heavy career focus in your life. You need someone who’s highly independent and doesn’t depend on a relationship to fulfill and sustain her. So it’s important that you find someone who values their alone time, has a prominent circle of girlfriends and social activities, as well as hobbies and things of her own she’s interested in.
Communication And Compromise.
Jerry Seinfeld has said that he’s never authentically with his wife when they’re together. That’s because he’s always searching for a joke. But that’s what his wife signed up for. She knew the person she was marrying.
That’s why relationships are about “finding a level of torture you can live with”. No person you will meet is going to qualify for every little detail you want in a person. It’s just about finding someone that you love enough that you are willing to accommodate for all the baggage and difficulties they bring to the table.
So whomever you end up dating is going to need to understand how you operate. They are going to have to accept you. She will accept the fact you have this passion, dream, or career that is important to you and requires a lot of your energy. She can’t except to have a guy who is available to her whenever she wants, if she also wants a guy who is ambitious, motivated, and successful at his career. If she wants to meet a successful and ambitious guy, she needs to understand this is going to come at a cost of time she will get to spend with him. That is where her compromise comes into play — she can’t love that you’re ambitious and driven, but hate that you’re working all the time.
But you have to make her a priority. You have to show her that she does matter. You have to openly communicate with each other and constantly monitor and evaluate your relationship and where you are putting all your attention. If you make goals for your career, then you should make goals for your relationship as well.
Schedule Quality Time.
This plays into communication and making a concerted effort to make the relationship a priority. You are going to have to schedule quality time together. This could be scheduling a weekly date night, or a day on the weekend that you spend together every week, free of work distractions. Maybe you spend every Saturday together? Or every Sunday? That way no matter how caught up you are with work that week, she knows that you have your day together to re-connect with each other. Planning weekend vacations and trips is also another way to nurture and grow your bond as a couple.
Guard Your Energy.
Chasing a dream alone expends almost all of your energy. Now add an intimate relationship to the picture that requires a ton of your mental energy as well. Now your time and energy becomes absolutely paramount. You aren’t going to have time for a massive network of friends, careless time wasting activities, time to go out and get wasted every weekend, time for hobbies, or time for frivolous non-essential work tasks. You’re going to have to become a master of prioritization. We have the opportunity to become more productive at our work by working less, as long as we prioritize and focus on the most crucial tasks to moving our goals forward.
The point many entrepreneurs will make is that you can have it all, just not at once. They will say that while you’re growing your business, a new vision, a new craft, you will have to devote your entire self to it, free of distractions. At least until you get your business or your project to a place where you have the luxury to slow down a little bit.
But I believe both are attainable at the exact same time. It just requires a lot of effort, time management, and the right situation, with the right person, and a whole hell of a lot of communication and work.
Besides, what good is a dream if you have nobody to share it with? A dream by itself is an empty life. If the pendulum of work-relationships falls too heavy in one direction, you will end up unhappy. Career is going to fulfill you in one aspect, but your personal relationships will be what truly, and wholly, make you content and at peace in your life.
I believe when you pursue a dream while you’re in the right relationship, the dream becomes that much more important. The relationship isn’t a distraction to the dream, but rather it becomes fuel for the dream. If you’re an artist, you have your muse. If you’re an entrepreneur, you have your sounding board. The dream doesn’t die, but rather your intentions for pursuing the dream become deeper and more meaningful. The dream instantly becomes more valuable.
Dream big, but love even bigger.