Career Focus: Balance work with family

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, New Mexico -- Working extra hours is normal in our profession. Yet, we sometimes push ourselves beyond the norm.

When I was an Airman, I willingly worked an 18-hour shift on the flightline. I was not supposed to work beyond 12 hours for safety reasons, but I got so immersed in troubleshooting an A-10's malfunctioning generator system that I lost track of time. I managed to take breaks each hour and ate a boxed meal from the dining facility to keep my strength up. Eventually, I isolated and fixed the problem. I was exhausted and proud.

The squadron commander congratulated me on the fix. He also pulled me aside and said, "Airman Mulcahy, we appreciate your hard work. However, you should've turned the job over to someone after 12 hours. You could've made a mistake due to mental fatigue. You could've hurt yourself or others. We all like to conquer tough problems and be recognized for our efforts. However, you have a family who wants you to recognize them too.

"It's great to receive awards and be known as the best Airman, it's also great to be known as the best dad and friend. Your family and friends are with you for life. Your Air Force career will someday pass."

I will never forget his comments.

Today, I still work long hours, but I always make time for my sons. They're growing so fast that I dare not miss the opportunities. Moreover, I never want to have regrets that I let precious family moments slip away. Thankfully, the Air Force provides many ways for us to balance work and play.

If you want outdoor fun, Hardin Field is just minutes away. Hardin Field provides ample space for flying kites, playing sports, taking pleasant strolls or just hanging out on park benches. We also are lucky to have several playgrounds on the base. If you want some fun off base, the outdoor recreation center can help by providing information and rental equipment for just about any outdoor adventure.

In addition to outdoor activities, we have many facilities that can help us relax. We can watch movies at the base theater. We can workout at two fitness centers. We can swim at an indoor pool. We can find fun youth activities at the youth center. We can eat and bowl at the bowling alley. These services are at our fingertips and can help us balance our professional and personal lives.

The Air Force promotes a healthy balance between work and play by offering us many benefits and entitlements. Leaving work behind may be hard, but it is necessary if we are to maintain healthy relationships at work and home. This balance is rarely easy to achieve. However, the more we balance the two ... the more we will enjoy both.

If you would like information about off-duty activities, give me ring at 846-6636 or e-mail me at joseph.mulcahy@kirtland.af.mil. I'm available for individual counseling and unit visits to discuss any career topics ... just let me know how I can help.

See you in the wings!