There were two seemingly unrelated news articles this week. First of all the Office for National Statistics confirmed that the UK economy had grown by 1.9% in 2013 – the fastest rate of growth since 2007. With the IMF now predicting growth of 2.4% for 2014 this is clearly great news – and it confirms all the anecdotal evidence of the recovery.
The other piece of news? That was from the Prime Minister, who shared his nine top tips for relaxing with readers of the Guardian. These ranged from playing Angry Birds (that was advice given to teenage journalists. Hmmm…) to working when you’re awake to exercising and getting plenty of hugs. So the world’s leading business gurus are not going to worry about possible competition should it all go wrong in May 2015.
But hidden behind the simplicity and the slightly sarcastic slant of the Guardian was an important message – especially when you read the article alongside the favourable economic news.
2014 has got off to a flying start for a lot of TAB members. And I’m delighted for them. After the trials and tribulations of the last few years it’s fantastic that the UK economy is picking up so strongly and that the year ahead looks so promising.
“Astonishing, Ed,” a friend of mine said as he backed out of meeting me for lunch and set up a phone call instead. “Never been so busy. Could sit in the office and work until midnight on Sunday and I still wouldn’t be caught up.”
Which is good – in a sense. But in another way it left me feeling slightly uneasy. Because ‘sitting at your desk and working until midnight on Sunday’ may not be very healthy in the long term – especially when he followed it by telling me he confidently expected to work every weekend until Easter.
So 2014 may be off to an exciting start. By all means seize whatever this year and the improving economy has to offer – but remember the old cliché: no-one ever lay on their deathbed and said, “I wish I’d spent more time at the office…” The most important appointment you’re ever going to put in your diary is the one with yourself and with your family.
It’s tempting when the drought ends and the water taps are turned on again to drink and drink and drink. But as I said last week, you can’t do it all and stay efficient, sane or married. Neither can you do that if you’re at your desk from now until Sunday night and/or every weekend until Easter.
I suspect there are a good few people reading this blog who are thinking, ‘Great. If we’re in for some good times I’m going to really cash in before the next recession.’ That’s fine – but it only emphasises the need to be absolutely focused on your goals and to really plan your work.
You can’t continue to deal with unprofitable clients and you need to start the day by focusing on what will achieve your goals – not on the e-mails that have arrived overnight.
This is going to be a year when several members of TAB York make some giant strides forward – and hopefully your fellow Board members will play a significant part in helping you be successful. But a vital part of that success will be making sure you’re doing the right amount of work and the right amount of relaxation.
Although personally I draw the line at Angry Birds…
PS The Prime Minister also suggested that if you live ‘above the shop’ you shouldn’t spend all your time there. For those of you who didn’t spend the weekend at the World Economic Summit in Davos or who aren’t being flown to Camp David to meet Obama, there’s always the Dales…