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Work-life balance: Do I have the time?

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Nathaniel Sugatan
  • 60th Medical Support Squadron

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – I wish there were more hours in a day. I can understand why someone may say this. Perhaps it’s out of frustration or a simple cry for help. However, isn’t this an easy answer? Are you really that busy? 


Understandably, the military’s demands are like no other. Dealing with long work hours, either while deployed or at home station, and fulfilling the role as a parent, coach, friend or a wingman can be challenging. Learning the techniques to balance work and life requires extra attention for members in uniform.      


Many years ago, I was in Guam for my first overseas assignment when a life lesson unexpectedly presented itself. Fairly new at my base, I was working long hours and preparing for a unit inspection and potential deployment. Having a four-month-old baby and taking college classes at night, I was tired and ready for a break. I was getting dissatisfied with excessive duties and my inability to maintain work-life balance.


Yes, I chose to have a baby and take classes at the same time, but I didn’t realize how the long days would impact my physical and mental state or the threat it would pose to my marriage.  Looking back, I am thankful I recovered from it. I learned to prioritize my goals, communicated my intentions with my other half and balanced my work commitments with my family, studies and lifestyle. 


Achieving balance can be incredibly hard and military life doesn’t make it easier. Numerous factors dictate how our work days flow. From last-minute taskers to engaging with personnel issues and directing unit or community events, some days seem to be endless. As you move up in rank, you gain increased responsibilities and your schedule becomes more hectic.


I get it, some days are busier than others, but the 14-hour workdays should not be the norm. Given the unpredictability of your daily schedule, you must simply learn how to be flexible. You have to make achieving balance a priority. Make that conscious effort to reach your “happiness and success.” Maybe you need to address your time management skills or have an honest and open dialogue with your supervisor and family. If you sense your work-life is unbalanced, you cannot afford to ignore it.    


Balancing work and life is not always easy, but it is quite conceivable. You must remember that there is time to be busy and time to relax; there is time for work and time for play. Balance is not about having a perfect day where you have an equal amount of time between work and home. 


Defining a healthy balance is the ultimate goal. It takes practice and patience, but know that you can achieve it and fit your priorities over the course of a 24-hour day. Time is not the problem; adding extra hours in a day is not feasible. Understand that you are in control. Just look in the mirror because it starts with you.