For young women, the most important thing of all is to decide for yourself early and for certain if you want marriage and a family. Of course it’s not the only important decision to make that will determine the trajectory of your life. However, it’s one that is most of often overlooked and contributes to significant dissatisfaction and sadness if ignored.

If you are one of the few girls that is actually going places instead of just fooling herself, you have a difficult choice to make regarding how hardcore careerism will fit into your life. Family life is something that either happens early or gets royally screwed up “later, when you’ve played the field, when your career is on track and when you’re ready.” Figure it out early in life. The later in life you figure it out, the worse off you will be.

Understand that unless you’re one of those rare girls with smarts and resources and dedication to bang out a solid career over the next 40 years of 60-hour weeks, a job is just a job. A future spouse, on the other hand, is your first, most important and most valuable asset… or your worst, most horrible liability.

This is no longer the 50’s: Roombas clean the floor, and the divorce spike in the 90’s was partly due to dishwashers and washing machines replacing spouses that never developed the skills needed to contribute something besides doing manual chores that a teenager can do just as well. Men don’t marry women because they have good jobs and earn a lot, or for their collections of travel destinations, closets full of Jimmy Choo’s and Prada’s or sexual prowess that comes with much experience. Unfortunately, the many years of riding the dating carousel doesn’t develop relationship skills and skewes one’s perception about availability of quality partners. (On the flip side, women don’t marry men because they mow the lawn and know how to change a lightbulb, either.)

Whom do men marry? Men marry women that love them and who contribute to their lives; who share a few interests and are pleasant to spend time with.

Despite all the you-go-girl-ism, for most young women a family is a given at some point in life. The way to get there with the least baggage is to start looking for a future husband early as sometimes it takes years to discover a compatible and worthy partner.

Surround yourself with friends that want the same things as you, and who are doing something to get there instead of just whoring and boozing through their 20’s and early 30’s only to find themselves at 37 in an up-scale condo on a Friday night wondering why there isn’t a spouse next to her even though she always expected one to be there. Your early to mid 20’s is the time to have some fun, but also to devote a lot of effort to self-development and learning actually useful skills that will allow you to contribute to those around you when you need to. After all, all relationships are based on contribution and are transactional to some extent.

Since you’re likely to be one of those girls who eventually has a family sooner or later anyway, work hard to find a good husband material. Forget about wasting 6 months at a time hooking up with going-no-where wanna-be rock-stars and jocks that have more bumps on their abs than their brains. Instead of just looking for some fun, look also for a man who will be a partner and an asset. Go on a date with anyone who asks and leave your “criteria” at home. Studies show that attraction is random, despite what people believe, and it’s counter-productive to purposely narrow down the list of available options.

Ignore appearances, fantasies and bullshit and choose a man based on substance and character, whose goals match your own, who respects you and treats you well, and who has high standards of people he associates with and still chooses to spend time with you. Once you find a partner who could be compatible with your personality and interests, go after them with iron willed determination.

Then, focus the lion’s share of your effort, time and attention on your relationship foremost. It’s the relationship that you build that makes you special. Without the depth of a relationship, for a man one woman is pretty much as good as another. If you find a compatible partner and get married, you must make your marriage permanent, loving, fulfilling and sane. Not doing so makes you worthless as a partner and a spouse, not to mention a messed up parent if you plan to have children. And what man would want to commit to someone like that?