The house was quiet and dark as I climbed out of bed.
My favorite week is the week in-between holidays. My wife and kids lay sleeping while I headed to the den to spend time alone before the day began.
I've been enjoying this quiet week between Christmas and the New Year, especially after a hectic year of work and activity. Each year I use this week to review the past twelve months and think about what can be improved on in the next twelve.
Just yesterday, I asked my nine year old son Nathan what I could do to be a better father next year. What he said caught me by surprise and has challenged me these last 24 hours:
"Work less, dad."
But, but, wait. How did you.. hmmm.
He was right. Despite being even more selective about choosing new projects this past year, I was guilty of accepting more work than I ought to have. Of course, each project was a great opportunity, but the sum of those extra projects over a year's time drained me.
That's the tricky thing about work you love to do — the work doesn't seem like work at all — until you're in too deep. On top of love for the work is the draw of an opportunity too good to pass up, which makes it difficult to say no.
Mix love for your work and opportunity together and you have a recipe for potential overload and burnout — a place I don't want to visit.
Still, I'm encouraged. Even with all the projects I've done this year, my workload is much lower than the year before. I was successful at choosing fewer, more interesting and more challenging projects in 2011.
My challenge for the year ahead is to keep on the track of working less. To become even more selective about project quality and quantity, regardless of how enticing 'more' may be.
As evening draws to a close, I'm feeling clearer about my path forward, realizing I'm blessed with a loving family and a son who has no fear or telling his dad to work less.