It's easy to get caught up in life and get centered only on what you or those in close proximity are doing around you. This happens in life in general, but work tends to really weigh on the mind of many people.
I go home most nights from the office and think about what has gone on during the day as well as what is upcoming in the future. In the newspaper business there are a lot of aspects to think about. We have to worry about revenues to support the paper (through advertising and subscriptions) and what we are going to put in it in terms of stories. We have to worry about the size of the paper (if it is cost effective) and how we will build the pages. We have to be thinking about the logistics of delivery, both by mail and by carrier, and also getting the paper to the stands and the merchants that sell it for us. Then there is always the concern about the nickels and dimes part of the business, making money on what we do for our stockholders.
It is where my life, and others in this office, are centered for so many reasons.
I realize many businesses are like this, because I have been associated as a manager in so many other kinds before I came to the Sun Advocate almost 14 years ago.
But while we all are centered on what we do, it is sometimes very good to sit back and get a perspective, some distance on what absorbs us.
I took last week off, not to take a vacation, but to a certain respect to be introspective about that whirlwind we call work.
During that time I did a lot of projects around my home, slept in a couple of days, visited my son and his wife in the Uintah Basin and cleaned a lot of stuff out of a storage unit my wife and I have been gathering junk in for years.
It was a productive week in many ways, but more than anything it gave me perspective on my work at the newspaper. With no big trip or camping excursion to take my mind off of work, I found myself thinking about it continually, despite the absence from the office.
However, by the end of the week I was thinking more about where I was going to store something in my home office, than I was about what was going to appear in this edition of the newspaper.
It helped to remind me of something I sometimes forget. Not everything in life is tied to work, nor is every setback at a place of employment the end of the world. In every endeavor we must face the good and the bad that comes with the courage to move on, and not just give up.
Turning 62 earlier this month, and within the age group now where I could collect social security along with money from some of my other small investments, the idea that I could retire was a liberating feeling.
When I started working for someone else besides my father on our dairy farm at the age of 14 and until the first part of my life, I hardly had any days where I was unemployed. That was because I always worried about where the money would come from if I didn't work. In 48 total years of my work life, I bet there was less than 30 days that I actually didn't have a job of some kind. I was always employed or self employed.
I have been lucky in that. So many people, not due to any fault of their own, have had long periods of unemployment. I have a hard time imagining that, and am very thankful I have always been fortunate enough to find work when I needed it.
But last week was kind of a taste of what real time off could be like. I know I tried to cram a lot of projects in during those few days and that is not what it would be like all the time when I retire. But I also spent some time talking with my niece who was visiting us, spent some time talking to old friends on the phone and even was able to throw the frisbee around for my Border Collie a little more than usual.
She was certainly happy about that.
I have to admit I came back to work Monday a little grudgingly. It had been a productive and interesting week, those few days away. But I still have things I want to do in the newspaper part of my life, things that I think are important.
But the time off made me see more clearly where I am headed and what I want to do before I finally decide to hand the keys to the office to another person who will become publisher. I have gained perspective when I have been off a period of time before, but never like I did last week, due to changing circumstances in my life and in the newspaper business.
It's easy to get caught up in the workings of a business so much that it seems a person must be there for everything that goes on. Last week the business part of my life went on without me for a few days due to my great staff, proving once again that no one is indispensable in the workplace.