"When exactly did my job become the most important thing in my life?" Jerry Jones was asking himself. His personal life was crumbling, he was spending so little time at home that his wife and kids were becoming alienated. The last time he moved jobs for a promotion, it took six months to find a new home for the family and when moving day came, he was told just how unpopular he had become.
Jerry had fallen into the work trap at a young age. His first real job was working alongside a bunch of single guys and girls who worked hard and long hours. He was one of the few married employees but he felt he had to mirror their behavior if he was going to succeed. He always had the excuse that there was a heavy workload. What he didn't admit to himself was that the workload would always be there regardless of how many hours he put in and it took him nearly 20 years to discover that only he could decide when the working day was over.
The panic working before deadlines habit was also established early in his career. He frequently procrastinated and his work was often poorly planned as a result. He was then forced to work even longer hours to catch up. This energy sapping approach meant that he needed recovery time and the upshot was usually that the following project would start late and require the same last-minute dash.
As an enthusiastic and career-minded individual, Jerry was driven to grasp new opportunities. To please his sponsors, or so he thought, he would often make unrealistic promises about delivery times. He would rarely, if ever, admit to himself or anyone else that something could not be done.
Twenty years on it came home to him with a bang. Someone was asking him to describe himself and, of course, his simple answer was "I'm an engineer". There it was. He defined himself only by the job that he did. It had not occurred to him that he should mention that he was the father of three bright and adorable kids or that he was the loving husband of a gorgeous woman nor did any of his sporting achievements, interests or hobbies feature in his brief description.
He suddenly saw clearly that his life so far had passed as a blur of activity, lurching from one unsatisfactory crisis to the next. He was not living his life in balance, not working to live. He was purely living to work.
He resolved there and then to put things right. From that point onwards his family and his friends would be seeing much more of him whether they liked it or not. He would be much more realistic about what he could achieve; he'd plan his work better and avoid those deadline panics. Working 9 to 5 was now his target and he'd use those hours efficiently. "Jerry, you deserve to enjoy the rest of your life."
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