If you are a young and motivated entrepreneur, you may have laser focus like never before. When I first started my career in law enforcement, I was single and determined. I had a five and ten-year plan of everything I wanted to accomplish in my career.
I have now been in my current career for 15 years and I can honestly say I have accomplished more than I ever thought possible in that amount of time because of my determination. In addition, during that time I married my wife and am the father of three children.
When I write it that way, it seems that my life is and has always been awesome. Unfortunately, this is not the case. I have been so successful in my career because I dedicated a ton of time and effort to it.
On the flip side, I neglected my family to achieve it.
I didn’t intentionally neglect my family, I just didn’t realize how much time I was giving to work and how little time I was giving to my family.
The Slippery Slope To A Successful Career
When I started my career, I knew that hard work and determination would eventually result in success. I later realized that I had a problem with an unhealthy work and life balance that would eventually catch up to me.
How I Climbed The Ladder
A little background about myself – I am a police lieutenant for a major city in Arizona. I currently supervise seven sergeants and nearly 60 detectives and civilian staff.
To be frank, I have been very successful in my 15 years in law enforcement. I was able to maintain my motivation and determination to work a myriad of assignments as well as promote twice.
My work was my life and I was good at it. In addition to my career, I am also a father and a husband. I have three children under the age of ten that were the ones who made me acutely aware of my unhealthy work/life balance.
How I Achieved Success With Time Mismanagement
A few years ago I came to a sudden realization that my kids felt they were second to my career. It became routine for me to work extra on holidays and weekends because I had become accustomed to being a work-a-holic to achieve success.
At that moment, I realized that my family felt it was normal for me to put them second to work – and they learned to be “OK” with it.
I achieved success in my career – but my family was suffering. Was there a way to do both effectively without sacrificing one for the other?
Structure Was Absent In My Life
When I had my moment of clarity, I decided to sit down and examine my life. It was clear I had structure and a system in place at work, but my home life was left with whatever pieces of time I had left over.
The structure in career life did not carry over into my personal life. I loved my family more than my career but I was afraid to cut back at work. I didn’t want to risk everything I had worked so hard for, by working less.
I Was A Great Worker – Not A Great Leader
While it was true that I was a police lieutenant and very successful in my career, I was not a great leader.
As many of you know, great leaders embolden their employees and empower them to make decisions. By empowering employees with leadership tasks and responsibilities, employees grow and develop into leaders themselves.
Because I had achieved success by working hard, I was not accustomed to giving up responsibility and delegating tasks to others. In reality, I was a control freak. I was a micromanager!
My control and micromanaging left me little to no time for family because I was involved in everything. Even though my intentions were good, my execution was terrible. I was hindering creativity in my team and stifling their growth.
The Steps I Took To Change My Balance
I credit my children with my career and life change. I put the following steps together in order to achieve a greater work and life balance without sacrificing quality.
1. You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
You don’t know what you don’t know is a phrase people use to describe how a lack of knowledge can impact their decision making. If you don’t know how unhealthy your work and life balance is, you won’t know if you need to change anything.
The truth is, you may be excellent at maintaining a healthy balance. Unfortunately, I had an unhealthy balance for quite some time without even knowing it.
My first step was to document how much time I was truly spending on work in relation to the rest of my life. I found that on a daily basis, I was focusing on work nearly four times more than I was on family time.
This was a gut punch to me. I knew I worked a lot but I didn’t realize how much I was working.
2. Set Goals For What You Feel Is A Healthy Balance
For me personally, a healthy balance is half career and half family. However, to achieve this, I was going to need to make drastic changes at work. I worried that my work product would suffer if I cut back that many hours.
3. Empower Your Employees To Free Up Your Time
The more I looked at how much time I spent on work, the more I found that I was doing tasks that my sergeants and detectives could be doing. The problem was that I was a control freak and didn’t trust others to do the same quality of work that I was.
This is where I quickly learned I was a great worker and a terrible leader. By taking control of every little thing out of fear of losing quality, I was hurting my team more than helping them.
As a leader, it is my job to embolden and empower my employees by giving them tasks and responsibilities that are important. I needed to learn how to delegate and trust my team rather than fear failure.
In reality, my employees needed more responsibility. I was stunting their career growth because I was doing much of what fell into their job description. I did not have any bad intentions, I was just so focused on being a perfectionist. I wanted to do everything myself.
My Empowerment Experiment
I knew I hated to be micromanaged but here I was doing just that. It was time to go out on a limb and trust my employees and give them more responsibility.
When I did this, something amazing happened. Morale improved and my team was much more capable than I thought possible. They started to come to me with ideas to improve work processes because I gave them the power to do just that.
In addition, by giving my employees more responsibility, I found that I had more time for my family. I was not constantly connected to my phone because I had a team in charge that I could trust.
4. Increase Communication
The more I delegated, the more I increased communication. I still actively promote and expect communication from my team and I provide them with the same. By providing clear expectations, my employees know what I need from them and they stay within the guidelines.
In addition, my employees now communicate regularly with me. When they come up with new ideas or progress, they report it to me through phone and email. Before, they rarely contacted me because they sat back and waited for me to tell them what to do.
By trusting, delegating, and empowering them, they have become much more productive and we have accomplished much more than what I could have on my own.
The Benefits Of Delegation
In the past when I thought of delegation, it came with a negative connotation. I worked for supervisors who “delegated” all of their work to me and I was basically a dumping ground. This is not the type of delegation I’m talking about.
Delegate role appropriate tasks to your employees if you find yourself running out of time. Share the workload in order to increase your free time.
Learn to trust your employees and if they need additional training – provide it to them! By realizing my control issues, I have been able to give my employees the tools to grow our unit as well as their own careers.
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Author Bio: Ryan Junas is a police lieutenant for a major city in Arizona. He is also a husband, father of three children, and a personal finance blogger over at Arrest Your Debt. He has a passion for all three things and focuses on helping others build their resume while maintaining a healthy balance.