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In last Friday’s post Bill wrote, “Career fulfillment is not just a personal aspiration; it’s a condition that affects our relationships with family and friends. And vice versa; our loved ones’ success or failure in career fulfillment can influence our own lives.”

I agree with Bill: our career fulfillment, or lack thereof, impacts our relationships. I am lucky; my husband has been supportive in my career pursuits, just as Bill’s wife has been supportive of his. This characteristic, in fact, is one of the defining attributes that attracted me to him. Not long after we met I decided to apply for a second masters. He edited numerous rounds of my application essay and he always knew what to say when I’d start to ascend into orbit waiting for the acceptance letter. He’s never made me feel like I needed to be anything other than who I am, though he doesn’t limit my evolution, expecting me to always stay the same as when he first met me. I’d like to think I offer him the same support. The advancement of our careers is our most common topic of discussion.

I truly appreciate the unconditional support my husband offers me because I know what it’s like to not have it. Herminia Ibarra, in her book Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career, writes that it is often those on the periphery of our social circles who propel us forward, and that we should not be surprised if those closest to us are hesitant about our career transitions. Those who time has made familiar and particularly those to whom we are bound through family ties may not see our full picture. They may only see who we used to be or what they want to see – an image to validate their own.

Career fulfillment is a condition that affects our relationships with family and friends but not always for the positive. A supportive relationship is an exceptional gift, not a precursor to finding career fulfillment. Don’t be surprised if the process of figuring out your fulfillment demands you break ties and start out alone, and if you find your authentic relationship only after you have allowed yourself to search for your authentic self.

We’re interested in hearing your stories about how family and loved ones impacted your search for career fulfillment and invite you to share your story.