Sometime a little over 10 years ago, I remember having to leave my Nephew’s birthday party due to an ‘emergency’ call. Being the Service Manager, even when I wasn’t ‘on-call’, I was still available. I used to drive my Service Van (affectionally called by my wife to be: The Death Mobile) to family events like these, always on edge in case that phone rang. This was my ‘last straw’, the point I realized I couldn’t have the family I wanted if I continued down the same path. Even to this day, I joke with my wife about that awful ring tone we had that signified I was leaving, sometimes when I first got home from a long day - or others at 3am. To be honest, she must really love me because, like every HVAC Technician, I was sometimes working as much as (60) hours per week in the ‘busy seasons’. This definitely speaks to the opportunity in our industry, even ten years ago!
The answer at the time for me was to find another path in the industry, one that I traveled around MA & RI, meeting Technicians like myself and teaching them the basics of the refrigerant cycle, airflow, and efficiency. This came with a significant pay cut, but no overtime. Like all of the career decisions I have made, I wouldn’t change my experiences for anything. Had I made a conscious effort to create a better work-life balance, I believe I would have found more satisfaction in my work and life at home a that time.
This has taken me the last ten years to find, sometimes close to the point of burnout, and if you ask my family still not ‘balanced’. I have now strived to not only plan my work day, but my time at home as well. The happiest times I have are when things with my family are planned, particularly ones that I don’t need to plan myself. Unfortunately, this means when I say ‘Yes' to something at work, I am saying ‘No' to something else. If this 'work yes' requires travel, this means I am telling my family no over a couple of days - and when I have no choice in the matter it literally eats me alive, cannot sleep, etc.
So, I pose the question: Can you have a ‘work-life balance’ in the HVAC Industry?
I have been part of most positions from Technician to Instructor, now in Sales. I have found that being more intentional with your time in both work and home can contribute to your happiness for sure - but does happiness mean you have achieved a balance?
At what point does your responsibility to your company, employees, or customers outweigh your responsibilities at home?