Ivana Gadjanski

researcher and project leader, Columbia University


This conversation is closed.

Do you think it's too much to expect to have success both career- and love life-wise?

I presume we all wish to be successful in different aspects of life: career and private life. Sometimes it even seems easier, simpler to succeed in your job - I have personal experience with science-related profession hence my examples: You study a lot, you get good grades, you apply for scholarships, you apply for grants, you work hard, you do your networking, you keep informed, feed your curiosity and creativity supplemented with real data and facts. Of course, lots of factors can not be influenced, but there are even less for love, right? What do you think about this? How should one approach the questions of relationships? Is it all left just to chance, just to "let it happen" random approach?

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    Oct 26 2011: Love and a successful career are both a need! i think everything is possible if you set your goals and work hard to get them, thats life, is not expecting too much, is achieving what humans should be achieving. You need a job to get food and all those necessary supplies, if you want a successful love life, life will teach you how to get it, learning is making mistakes along the way, the question is: are you willing to spend some of your time making those mistakes in order to find the requirements for a successful love life?
    You are ready know the requirements for a successful career, study, practice, etc..

    This one is one of my favorite quotes: “Don't lower your expectations to meet your performance. Raise your level of performance to meet your expectations. Expect the best of yourself, and then do what is necessary to make it a reality.”Ralph Marston quotes
    This quote applies to many aspects of life :)
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      Oct 26 2011: I really liked your reply Jessica. However, there is this one sentence "if you want a successful love life. life will teach you how to get it" which basically seems to confirm the notion that there is that inherent aspect of randomness in love life. Judging from my own experience as well as by the comments so far in this conversation, it appears that it is safe to say that love life is intrinsically non-deterministic, it's stochastic! Somehow, that gives me some kind of anxiety, since any stochastic process is quite uncontrollable. It seems to me like "having successful private life" is too important to be left purely to chance. Perhaps we should think about ways to help people deal with these matters in more organized way...
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    Oct 25 2011: Acknowledging Frans' wise words that it is too much to expect anything, I do think if we develop effective communication skills, understand our partner cannot make us happy (although we can be happy with our partner) that, even though it is counter-productive, most people, including our partners, do have expectations, and that we can honour "reasonable" expectations, even if they have not been articulated, and ....

    do the same in our carreers, while performing the necessary functions to achieve success (perseverance, competence, compassion, reliability, trustworthiness, etc.) ...

    then, yes we can be successful in both.

    Disclaimer: I define success as "I see it" ... for example if a couple are happy together, drift apart, and are happy separated, I see the union and the dissolution as a success. In a word, success can be defined as, "Happiness."
  • Nov 7 2011: Without thinking, I instinctively wish to respond: "YES! It, OF COURSE, is possible!" But, that's just the optimist out of me reacting. The answer is not as simple. Risking to sound "philosophical', I have to point out that the answer to this question lies mostly in your perception of "being successful" in both domains of your life. If you are a thorough and conscious worker, perfectionist and prone to self-criticism, you'll have a much harder challenge in balancing the two aspects of your life. Try to keep in mind your priorities and "bigger picture" - some days it might be more important that you are a responsible professional, some days that you are a loving partner and some days that you are a caring child or a mother - your priorities will never be the same on everyday basis, so just be careful when prioritizing... Not sure if this really makes sense :-)
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    Oct 31 2011: Excerpt from an article on Yahoo!

    Career women take note: if you want to continue to ascend the corporate ladder all the while maintaining a happy-ish household it may be wise to choose a partner with lesser ambition or a less demanding work schedule, or so suggests a study by a Cornell researcher ...

    After analyzing census data from more than 8,484 professional workers and 17,648 nonprofessional workers from dual-earner families in the U.S., sociology researcher, Youngjoo Cha discovered that there's a potentially negative association between how many hours a man works per week and its effect on the career choices of his female partner.

    In the 2010 paper ""Reinforcing Separate Spheres: The Effect of Spousal Overwork on Men's and Women's Employment in Dual-Earner Households", Cha concludes that being married to a man who works 60 hours a week and more makes a woman more likely to quit her job. In fact, it increases her odds by 42 percent. (For women in professional positions, that risk goes up to 51 percent.)

    [Full article here: http://ca.shine.yahoo.com/kind-husband-good-womans-career-040000043.html]
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      Oct 31 2011: Thomas, thank you for this great, very scientific comment. It never hurts to have statistical data. Perhaps these data would imply that the answer to my question, at least statistically speaking is YES, it is too much to expect both comparably successful.
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    Oct 31 2011: I am no scientist or relationship expert, but I believe that, if two people share the same passion and goal, are smart, there can only be romance between them. Its basic love math. Smart woman + Smart man = romance.

    If a person in your life you love does not support your passion, your goals, dreams, your ideas, there is no point of even trying to succeed, because the minute you start surrounding yourself with negative pessimistic people who don't believe in success, you are on a road to failure, and make no mistake, you deserve to fail!
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    Oct 30 2011: Yes, not only possible to achieve success in both your carreer and relationship to anotherr, but also to sustain a relationship that cultivates your own personal growth.

    David Whyte has written about thissubject in a book entitled, "The Three Marriages". Very worhtwhile read that explores the balance that needs to be achieved between the three.
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    Oct 30 2011: Yes, totally possible. Actually, I would say that having a good love relationship could actually help you be a more successful professional. I'm not saying you have to have love to be successful. But if you have a partner and intentionally talk about how to build a relationship in which you support each other's goals, then you have a huge asset career-wise. Your love can be a source of wisdom, emotional support, practical support (sharing housework, sharing cooking so that healthy meals are available, talking out work struggles, etc). Your partner can help you relax. (Remember you think more effectively- ie your brain functions better- when you are less stressed) Also, having a partner at home can motivate you to work more effectively so that you leave on time. Usually the strategy of working longer hours is one of the most ineffective productivity strategies at work. But on the other hand, being more effective with your time, using your resources to get higher quality work done in less time, focusing on higher priority projects first, etc. are the strategies that make you more effective. What I mean is, having a reason to get home on time can inspire you to work smarter, not harder, and then leave on time to actually enjoy your life.
  • Oct 26 2011: I like all of the answers, combining them all in short would be mine. But here is my shot at it, definitely DON'T EXPECT IT, HOPE for it, yes; and unquestionably WORK to be successful at both,. I truly think you can be successful at both, but lets be realistic with our hopes. I mean, how many Steve Jobs (rip) are there that can drop out of school and be as successful as him? Well, I am surely not one, so to be successful at work you have to prepare and work at it, and when it comes to love just don't expect anything, don't put time-lines, don't swear this or that off and if it is meant to be for you it'll come to your life, and when it does you will know it, work at keeping it... As much as we idealize love thinking that "if it is the real thing it will work no matter what", well, truth is that it needs work from the people who are part of it, which is not to say that it is the burdensome kind of work, but the kind that keeps a relationship going. Part of working out love into our life is BALANCING the different aspects of it, it isn't easy but you work at it and then get used to it, work-life balance (companies try to do this for you, but no, you have to do it yourself!)
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    Oct 25 2011: I presume it is too much to expect anything.
    And I think there is no answer for your question.
    What I do know that the number of singles is growing fast in Western Europe.
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      Oct 25 2011: yes, maybe "to expect" is too strong of a word. Perhaps "to hope" is more appropriate. I am glad you raised that point of the growing number of singles in Western Europe. Objectively speaking this is becoming a significant problem - balancing professional and private life. And any debate I have seen so far ends with similar conclusion: there is no answer to that question. I find it very difficult to accept there is no answer to any question:) Perhaps we need to think about re-defining some customs and rituals...but perhaps this is a topic for another conversation
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        Oct 26 2011: I agree with Frans, but it's a well known fact that you either have a great career or successful emotional life. Hence the growing number of singles. At one point in your life you have to make a choice. The leading values in the West right now are rather career oriented. Re-defining customs and rituals as you say, Ivana, cannot happen of a human design. It is a zeit-geist for all I know :)
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          Oct 26 2011: Jedrek, thank you for pointing this out: "it's a well known fact that you either have a great career or successful emotional life. The leading values in the West right now are rather career oriented" That was basically the reason I started this conversation thread. As for re-defining customs and rituals, I was mostly thinking about ways of parenting and education...perhaps we do not emphasize enough to children that it is necessary to make some effort also in the "private life department", not only job-related. It seems to me that it is very normal to expect students to work really hard for their assignments, projects etc, but their social life is neglected. How many professors you know who are actually concerned about their student's social life? I do not mean that professors should be asking intrusive questions or be overly interested in students' private lives, of course not, but I do think that some general comments could be made, or just some examples from teacher's personal life (of course "edited version", no need to go into very private details), but just to give some kind of pointers, advice, or just to start some discussions like this one...zeitgeist has somehow become "be impersonal" and I fear that could lead to similar crash and crisis we are now seeing in economics. Human beings are emotional and this has been neglected in the professional world. By re-defining customs I meant working on these issues...
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        Oct 26 2011: Ivana, I know its tempting to establish some kind of ministry of emotional affairs, but I am affraid there is no systemic solution to the kind of crisis we are driffting to. I am, however, also convinced that one day things will basically start to change. During the course of history intellect and emotions have intermingled constantly. Maybe now instead of replacing intellect with emotions we will simply fuse the two elements and become all-sided. Won't that be cool? :)

        But for the time being, we have to survive that emotional winter by acting on a small scale, changing what is nearest to us. I am remembering now a scene that happened at a local supermarket here in Warsaw :) The guy who works at the vegetables stand was simply kind to everybody and you could almost feel how the kindness vibrated in the air with everybody being suddenly friendly to one another :) That is how emotions work, they are like the pulsating sun, and everybody no matter how mineralised they have become, want to warm themselves just a little bit, and share it. We are human beings after all :)
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    Nov 25 2011: A few words on the word "success" and the dichotomy suggested in the question. I would like to substitute "satisfaction" for "success," since it strikes me as much more important. The human personality is such that we can't separate out aspects of our lives and grade them separately. They all influence one another. I think that the chances of finding satisfaction in love is greater for one who also finds satisfaction in his/her work. But there are many other important aspects of our lives, particularly social interaction and contribution, and I will suggest that we look at satisfaction (or success, if you will) of the person as a whole.

    For a reflective person, the need to get promoted before one's fellows or to be publicly rewarded with applause and prizes diminishes with maturity. I would say that a bus driver can easily be more successful than a university president or a senator. Even without being head bus driver. I'll go so far as to suggest (here I'm liberating myself from supporting data, of which I have none) that the most successful lives are lived quietly, without fanfare, by people who give of themselves in their community. Can that be combined with satisfaction in work and a warm love at home? You bet it can. It almost always is.
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    Nov 25 2011: I'm going to go ahead and be incredibly old school here... with a modern twist... I think it is impossible for two people to have different careers, and be in a successful relationship. I think you can fall into the old model of provider and parent... Or you can share your work with your partner. Anything else is, of course, possible... but incredibly difficult.

    If you both want to build shelters... No problem, share your passion and mate like wild rabbits for eternity. If one of you wants to be an engineer, and the other one wants to be a parent... no problem. One mate works there ass off, and the other rubs their feet, cooks dinner, and takes the kids to museums and art galleries...

    If you both want to work, and you don't have similar ambition it is difficult to have a happy love life, and have time for your children. You really need a mate willing to dedicate themselves to being supportive of you if you want to have a happy family life, happy children, and a 50 hour a week job. Easier without kids, but still hard.

    The modern twist... The parent doesn't have to be a woman... Fulbright Scholar from Columbia, huh? Hey... How you doin? I like museums... You want a foot rub?

    ; p
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    Nov 24 2011: people face trade-off, it means if we give ourself away on something, other things will be sacrificed. you should choose which is the most important thing in your life now, rank them in priority scale. if you want to build your career first, just give yourself away and i believe you will achieve it. then, you will delay your love-life matters until your first priority is done.
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    Nov 20 2011: The answer to your question is of course YES however people are not mind readers and if you dont put yourself "out there" then no one will know!
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    Oct 31 2011: ratherthanwriting whole essay...u can demand whatever u wish out of ur life..but priority of things and seconly balance between them is important...
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    Oct 30 2011: Hi Ivana - Very interesting question. My answer would be "It depends".

    Sometimes looking from the outside in some successful people appear to have it all, I suspect that if you look a little closer something has to give. I guess it is important to find the right balance in each of our lives.

    Some of the very successful business-people I know have made very significant sacrifices in their personal / family lives. I guess that the opposite might also happen, where people have made career / business sacrifices for the sake of their relationships. Who knows, maybe there is a perfect middle ground somewhere.

    If you find the right answer let me know.

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    Oct 30 2011: and yes, I completely agree with what you've written here. The only problem is that to find such a partner.
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    Oct 30 2011: ok, thanks for the info, I'll look up that book.
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    Oct 30 2011: yes, I think you touched here an important topic..."it's possible when both parties..."
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    Oct 30 2011: Although, I am curently challenged n this area, I think it is absolutely possibel when both parties are comfortable in their own power and communication is free flowing.
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    Oct 29 2011: This is a tough question...

    Maybe is your parter shares your passion and career. You would need to share a business together else you might just get a better job offer an leave which will end the whole affair.

    Hope like you say, we always have hope. I guess it's important to never get too attached to anything. Everything is transient anyway.
  • Oct 26 2011: Ivana, It is completely absolutely possible to have success both in your prof. and love life. I dont see why not. It's a hard work for your heart for both cases though. And please pay attention to the phrase "work for your heart". I think that the successful career and relationships are not matter of thinking but of feeling & thinking. It might be initially a chance but if you cant take care of it, this chance will go away...so, the truth is take care of everything u do and deal with. - as it is ur baby.
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    Oct 26 2011: Absolutely! I now know that it is possible, however I do think that a lot depends on your partner! As stated below :)
  • Oct 25 2011: I think you can have both and that a lot depends on your partner. I mean, seriously why not? Maybe you wont be the best in the world in what you do but still you can be very succesfull.
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      Oct 26 2011: that is a very good point : A lot depends on your partner! That actually raises another issue: in order to have a functional relationship, is it necessary to have partners of similar background in education/interests?
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    Oct 25 2011: To leave any thing to situation and circumstance to predict is a weak proposal to fate; to plan and fail is rather a better fit to fate; because choice plays an interesting and integral part of in human or natural propositions and its outcome. Whether this choices are conscious or not, life itself holds us accountable of what we do with this time. Therefore balance is good if this balance feeds to the collective universal energy.

    To find love is not a choice is a matter of time; you don’t wake up in the morning saying, oh you know, I will fall in love or I will be in love today! It happen due to universal permutation of energy in time and space. But when you re in love, you will know it and from then on the choice of what you do when in love is all up you, my friend! The next option is, how you negotiate internal conflicts of how you want to fall in love or how you want to be in love.

    Balance in life is a creative energy that builds in us the ability to gravitate toward the equal plane fields before us.
    Therefore you build relationship base on culture, money, and love each one of these is capable of a great and wonderful yet fulfilling life.

    Its all up to you, where are you coming from and where are you heading and with whom?
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    Oct 25 2011: "There are only two motivations in this life."

    Guess that all depends on how much you want of each.

    Finding that equilibrium however.... well i just don't know haha
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      Oct 25 2011: so basically you are saying that it does depend on what we do and how we choose. It is not just random....and I know this was not the primary meaning of what you wrote, but somehow it seems to me that what you said implies this as well
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    Oct 25 2011: http://www.ted.com/talks/nic_marks_the_happy_planet_index.html

    Not at all. Expect the best and achieve a little less.

    In this life there is both free will and fate. Like a game of chess.... or... a rubix cube lol

    If you haven't already seen it, check out that TEDtalk. Nic Marks talks about the 5 things that we can do everyday to be happier. Kinda like what your saying here. Informative nonetheless..
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      Oct 25 2011: thanks for the link. It is a very good talk. but you haven't completely answered what I asked:) is it possible to have sufficient success in both aspects (job and private life) without having to sacrifice too much of any of the two...? I know this is very vague (like what is "too much"?) but still...