Does Being Single Hurt or Enable Professional Growth?

By Rebecca Shalomoff

Single professional womanThe pursuit of a relationship has the power to serve as a distraction from achieving other important goals, such as professional ones. It can become so overwhelming that it pulls you away from investing energy into your career. Time at the office can be wasted daydreaming about finding true love or dawdling away the hours surfing internet dating sites rather than getting your work done or putting in the effort to move up the corporate ladder.

“It’s very important to be able to make not let the desire of your lifestyle rule your life, otherwise you can suffer a lot of career damage,” says Dr. Michael Broder, author of The Art of Living Single. “There are single people who spend so much time trying to be in a relationship that it distracts them from professional goals.”

Developing an obsession with finding a way of out singlehood is understandable. For starters, single women have lost their role models – the ladies of “Sex and the City” all found companionship and Bridget Jones got engaged. Actresses that single women look up to, like Jennifer Aniston and Cameron Diaz, are hounded by the press because they are without a man.

Singlehood does not yield itself to a simple, carefree lifestyle. It also becomes hard to embrace the single life as a temporary choice when it starts to feel like an enforced state. Though it is easy to slip into and be consumed by this way of thinking, it can be very, very detrimental.

The desire for a relationship is natural, but the challenge is to be open to love while staying focused on your goals. When living solo gets in the way of moving ahead at the office, the problem is not necessarily the state of singlehood, but how you feel about yourself.

“Attitude and work ethic affect professional growth, not marital status. Professional growth is determined by who you are as an individual,” says Judy Ford, author of Single: The Art of Being Satisfied, Fulfilled and Independent.

“If you are a satisfied, fulfilled, and independent woman those qualities will be seen and appreciated. If you embrace a spirit of optimism about your future, if you love what you do and do what you love, then you can accomplish more than you imagine,” adds Ford. “Marital status has nothing to do with reaching your goals and dreams.”

If anything, people who are single actually have more time to invest into their professional life. They are free of the tug of responsibilities that juggling a relationship and a demanding career entails.

“If you are in a relationship, it’s going to take its share of time away from work,” Dr. Broder says. “People in dysfunctional relationship spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about it and talking to friends about it.”

Research indicates that women in the U.S. who make it to powerful positions in the workplace are mostly unattached. Single women are more likely to put in extra hours at work, to push that much harder, and to take big leaps. So being single can be a blessing, career-wise.

The extreme of that situation is when single women substitute more work activity to replace a relationship. People who are single will tend to bury themselves in their work, bringing work home with home with them or spending time at the office later because there isn’t necessarily anything to come home to.

Focusing on your career is a positive choice as long as you also focus on balancing work and play. If you are nothing but work, work, work, you will suffer burn out. The best approach is to keep a balance between work and play and love.

And thankfully, a woman doesn’t ultimately have to choose between career and love.

“We can have both,” Ford says. “Without love everything is flat. All that is required of us to have love is to keep our hearts open. Know that love is coming and trust that with all your heart.”

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