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The Problem With Soulmates and Perfect Jobs

The concept of a soulmate originated in ancient Greece. It originally represented a single person somewhere in the universe that is your one true love and makes you whole. This attitude has expanded beyond love and into work too (i.e., if only I could find the perfect job). Though at first it may seem innocent, it’s actually a harmful view.

Research shows those with a soulmate orientation—what social scientists today call a “destiny-belief system of love”—are actually LESS likely to be in meaningful longterm relationships.

Why? Because the minute something goes wrong it must be time to move on and find perfection.

Research in work and craft shows the exact same pattern. Those with a soulmate vision for their career—or what psychologists and economists call a “fit mindset of passion”—are LESS likely to end up in careers they love. The minute something goes wrong it’s easy to flee.

Surveys show that 73 percent of people hold a soul-mate vision of romantic love and 78 percent of people hold a fit mindset of passion. Yikes! This is perhaps even more harmful in a world of online dating and online recruiting, where there are infinite possibilities.

It’s important to identify these attitudes in yourself so you can overcome them. There is a lot of inertia behind them, starting with all the Disney fantasies of perfect princesses and princes that we watched as young children. But that’s just not how life works.

What you work on works on you. A perfect match forms over years, if not decades. This is true in relationships and it’s true in work.

This does not mean you should stay with something if it sucks, but it does you mean that you should lower the bar from “perfect” to “interesting,” especially at first. And, if you tend toward a soulmate orientation or a fit-mindset of work, perhaps it’s wise to stay with certain things a bit longer than you may think.


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