This article was written by J. Andrew Davison.
If you knew you were going to die tomorrow what would you regret not doing? I was listening to the radio the other day and an interview with a lady who has spent several years working in a hospice and has heard many death bed confessions.
She said that while she had never had anyone say they wished they had worked harder, most men wished they had not spent so much of their life focused on work.
The pressure on expats can often be greater than their friends and colleagues who stayed back home. Having to deal with a different working environment, a completely new set of fellow employees or subordinates and the different culture may combine to make the job that much harder. Very often jobs overseas entail more socialising than those back home and if regional travel is required that can mean more time away from home.
Large companies tend to push their employees as hard as possible. It’s all about increasing productivity which is usually high on the list of most company’s objectives although they may not publicise it too much. Companies may talk about improving the work environment and adding extra employee benefits but they are all aimed at getting more output not ensuring you get more personal time. Usually, ensuring you are devoting sufficient time with your family and friends is not something they talk about and is certainly not a part of the official business plan.
The result of all this is that you can easily end up working very long hours and finding personal time slips down the list. An active social life may mean there is limited time to spend with the family and if you have children they may end up not seeing that much of you. I have heard many long term expats complain that they had not spent enough time with the family. I am sure the work pressure and frequent travel was a significant factor in the failure of my first marriage.
So if you are a working expat who is struggling with balancing family life and work make sure you give extra weight to the family. In difficult economic times one obviously needs to be cautious about revealing an increased interest in your personal time but there are other ways to increase the time spent with loved ones or at least make sure it is time well spent.
I regret that I did not see my children from my first marriage grow up and am making a big effort to correct that with my second marriage. You only live once, so make sure that you don’t reach the end of your life thinking you have wasted it on things that ultimately were not that important – like making a rich corporation even richer or building your bank balance account to a size which you never really needed and could never spend!
Other regrets of those reaching the end of their lives were losing touch with friends, living life as others expected you to lead it and not what you really wanted and not being happier.
It took me a long time to get the balance right but the earlier you do it the less chance you will end up with too many regrets.
As someone who is a lot closer to the end of their life than the beginning I hope you will take this as well intentioned advice Be happy.
This article was written by J.Andrew Davison for The Expat magazine.
Source: The Expat April 2012
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