There was a time when our economy was driven by manufacturing. In fact, in the town where I grew up, my father and most of my family worked in paper mills. While my father worked very hard and his hours shifted from week to week, when his work was done, it was done. He was able to devote his free time to family and interests by not taking his work home with him.
Today’s workplace is completely different. We are now a service economy in the information age. Much of our manufacturing has shifted overseas where labor costs are lower. Consequently, our work life today is much more knowledge-based and open-ended. While this makes for a more exciting work environment, it does have its downside. We take our work home with us, and, if we’re not careful, it can easily consume our free time.
This is an especially common issue when people are in the early to middle stages of their careers. Unfortunately, it often coincides with when we get married and start a family. Right when we’re needed most as spouse and parent, we allow our careers to take precedence. This conflict is one of the main reasons for the breakdown of marriages today, and the results can be devastating to families.
Don’t get me wrong. Your career will be a key component of your life. However, more than any other aspect of your life, it has the greatest risk of taking over if you’re not careful. One of the biggest regrets people have later on in life is they worked too much and focused too little on what was truly important. Don’t make it your regret. Choose right now to not let yourself become that guy or that girl. Always remember to stay balanced and invested in all areas of your life!
Be mindful of the fact that there are very few people (maybe none) out there who’ve said: “I wish I didn’t spend as much time with my family,” or “I wish I never took that vacation to spend quality time with my children.” I encourage you to take a mental note of your current priorities, how you spend your time, and what you think about most often. Evaluate what you focus on most. If you think things need to change, don’t be afraid to make that step!