The Importance of Balance.

How many hours a week do you spend at work? (I don’t mean actually working because for a lot of us the two numbers are hugely different. 😊 )

During my 30 years’ service I was very conscious of two things. One: Many of my CID colleagues absolutely loved working 70-plus-hour weeks. ‘Look at all the money we’re earning,’ they would imply. Two: I loved going home on time. I did like more money, but I liked to earn it in one day’s overtime – say, in one 16-hour shift at the end of a set. All the bunce at once. ™

There is an old saying that once you find what you love to do and can get paid for it, you’ll never work another day in your life. That’s nice. Of course, it doesn’t take into account the admin and exterior demands over which we have no control – and no PA to do it for us. There is also an industry of personal development ‘experts’ that say ‘you can work half the time and earn twice as much’, but they were never working in the public sector, were they? I digress.

Something I noticed about many of those overtime-bandits was this: after years and years of ‘dedicated’ (mercenary) service, they were able to give their houses and half their income to their divorced partners. Which is my point.

Spending too much time at work does not serve the relationship you have with the person or persons you profess to ‘love’. They don’t want the money. They don’t want money problems either, but what they married or dedicated their emotions to – is you. So if you’re away at work all the time creating a better lifestyle at the expense of your relationship with the person with whom you want to live said lifestyle, you’re running a fool’s errand.

In the end, it is a question of balance. A balance between what you think you want, and what you know is good for you – both. (Add children as appropriate. Kids want things, but they also want attention. You can’t give kids attention from your policing workplace.)

The nice house. The nice car. The gadgets. The expensive holidays. They’re all wonderful things to have. But they are not needs. A new car is nice, but it’s rarely as good as the older one that’s just as big/powerful/well-equipped and does NOT require finance and return at the end of the lease. (I simply do not see the logic of ‘renting’ a car at the level that used to pay my mortgage.) A holiday in the Maldives is nice but a beach is a beach is a beach. A nice house is a nice house, but if you’re spending all your money on maintaining it, what are you missing out on?

I emphasise, though – it is a question of balance. You can have all of those things if you plan ahead, consider the pros and cons and sacrifices you may have to make – and you do so in partnership with the other people who will have to bear those sacrifices.

You don’t want to end up hearing about the things you kids did through Facebook or a solicitor, all because of your all-encompassing pursuit of what you thought you wanted at the expense of what you actually wanted.

I attended a course once, and the trainer asked, “Do you all want to improve your work-life balance?” “Yes!” came the unanimous reply.

“Right, let’s see just how much more work we can get out of you,” he continued.

Oddly, that’s not what we thought he meant.

Oddly, that’s still what so many people DO.

Think about it. Make the right choice, for the right reasons – and with the right people.

Published by policetimemanagement

30 year policing veteran and time management authority. Now I've combined the two.

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