Hunting for the Balance between Life and Work
11/04/2014 // By J.R. Freiburger
In the spring of 1995, I started JRF Construction and we hit the ground running. As the nights grew longer and temperatures colder that first year, I remember working on a particular project that was at it’s final (and most critical) stage—the installation of the decor and furniture. I was nervous about the looming turnover date and was making sure the site was ready for the installation crew so they could stay on task and finish on time, ensuring we made our deadline.
The crew arrived, and everything was going smoothly. They were working hard for the first two days of their four-day installation process. But as the end of the second day was coming to an end, I could tell something was not quite right. Most of their equipment was packed in the truck, and they had been careful not to get too far ahead of themselves on certain components of the job. When I questioned the lead crewman why the pack-up on a Wednesday night, he gave me a reply I will never forget. “Because it’s Opening Day on Friday,” he said. “We need to leave tonight to be home in time to get to the cabin and hunt.”
Was he serious? How were they prioritizing fun and leisure over the job I was so desperately trying to finish in time? How dare they just leave like that? No warning. No communication. And no question—they were going to leave no matter what.
Most construction workers are very salt-of-the-earth kind of people. We hunt, we fish, we work with our hands, and seldom do we consider spending free time indoors. We have to be on the go and in the middle of it all. So the installation crew believed leaving a job for Opening Day was completely justifiable.
As I reflect on this memory, 15 years later, I can’t help but to laugh. Who was I to say that these men should prioritize my job over their hunting trip? I had let my dedicated ways get the best of me. When I focus and make a commitment, nothing can stop me, and I have a tendency to run my company the same way. Sometimes I expect people to commit to goals at work without considering what really makes them tick.
It’s important to remember to maintain a balance with a job you love and the things you love to do outside of the job. And it’s important for me as a business owner to help my employees and those around me find that balance.
Most people spend at least one third, if not half, of their life working. It goes without saying that you should find a job you love. But I would also say that even if you like your job, you most likely wouldn’t do it if you didn’t have to. You would spend your time doing things that really make you complete.
As I write this, I am in a deer stand on a picture-perfect late October evening. My heart is warm, my mind is clear, and my soul is calm. I’m outdoors doing what I love. So maybe I need to go back to work tomorrow and think about why we all work. And maybe the question should be asked differently—how do we manage our time better to work so that we can have more time for those things we most enjoy?