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Navigating Ambition: Managing Interdependent Careers

Striking a balance in a dual-career household is a struggle that an increasing number of couples face. Challenges such as conflicting priorities, missed opportunities and lesser family time are not uncommon. However, there are benefits that come with it too.

Three YWLC mentors, Gan Siow Huang, Minister of State, Ministry of Education & Ministry of Manpower; Dr Jade Kua, Emergency Specialist & Life Coach; and Yong Hsin Yue, Managing Director, Kuok (Singapore) Ltd, shared their personal experiences on navigating through the tough times as well as the joy that comes with being in a dual-career household. The insightful fireside chat was moderated by Tan Kim Yee, YWLC Member.

#1: Establish common ground and priorities as a couple

Even the best plans go wrong. Having common ground and priorities established early in the relationship helps couples know when to take risks, when to pursue huge opportunities for career advancement, and when to make sacrifices.

#2: Communication is key in making decisions as a unit and for what’s best for the family

Being a couple means being a team and teamwork requires good communication to ensure that the couple is aligned. There can be differences in opinions, but being open to listening and making a decision based on what is best for the family takes precedence.

#3: Identify trade offs you are willing to make - you can’t have it all and that is okay

Know when to make sacrifices at different points in life. No one is perfect and to constantly push for perfection is unhealthy. Build momentum, know when to pursue an opportunity and when to let it go.

#4: Show up for the important milestones by prioritising

To juggle between a demanding career and spending time with family can be tough. It is crucial to be present and show support during milestones to let your family know that they are important.

#5: Dual careers can help to broaden perspectives

Couples with different careers provide insights on alternative methods in doing things. It is good to be surrounded by a diverse group of friends and to listen to the various opinions and perspectives. This provides a more balanced perspective to life as well as managing the household.

#6: Tap on each other’s strengths to make the best decision

Take the lead and be confident in your strengths to make the best decision. In decisions that tap on your partner’s strengths instead of yours, trust them to make the decision that is best for the family.

#7: Take turns to pursue individual passions and interests

Invest time in yourself to be independent and to pursue your passions. As much as it is important to spend time with your family, it is equally important to keep time for yourself.

#8: Embrace your successes - don’t feel guilty about having fun

Lastly, learn to let go of guilt and enjoy the moment, be it by going out or attending a conference, there's no need to feel guilty about it. Remember your goals and celebrate little milestones!

It’s natural to want the people you love to be happy. What can be often difficult is understanding what your role is in that.
Thinking about your relationships from the perspective of the job to be done is the best way to understand what’s important to the people who mean the most to you. It allows you to develop the empathy of asking yourself ‘What job does my spouse most need me to do?’, gives you the ability to think about it in the right unit of analysis.
When you approach a relationship with this perspective, the answers will become much clearer than they would by simply speculating about what might be the right thing to do.”
How Will You Measure Your Life? By Clayton M. Christensen:

If we view things from our partner’s perspectives, on what makes them happy, it is possible to thrive in work and at home.


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Organising Committee: Membership Subcommittee

Organising Team: Brenda Lee, Tan Kim Yee

Author: Genevieve Low

Editor: Joaquim Tan

Speakers: Gan Siow Huang, Dr Jade Kua, Yong Hsin Yue

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