Taking care of those things that really matter

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Justin Mulkey
  • 341st Operations Support Squadron Commander
Every day I am faced with challenges I must conquer and decisions I must make.  These can and will happen in every area of our lives; at home and at work.  Often these challenges will add pressures to my life that I have to deal with.  When this happens it is vital I take care of the things that really matter.  These are the things at my core that motivate my decisions, help define what really matters to me and help me not focus on the "what ifs" that really just create additional pressure.

I often ask myself the question "What defines me?"  There are several things I could mention as an answer.  I am an officer in the Air Force.  I am missile operator.  I am a husband.  I am a father. When you ask this question, the first answer that comes to mind will go a long way toward defining what really matters to you, what makes you tick and what keeps you getting up every morning.  There is not a right or wrong answer to this question, but your answer will provide you with a starting point as you truly determine what is important to you so you can set your priorities appropriately.

Once I refocus on what makes me tick, I can start to define the correct priorities to support that goal.  For example, if my first answer is that I am a husband and a father, then I will work to line my priorities up to support my duties as a husband and a father.  This may mean I have to prioritize a work trip over being at my son's basketball game so that I can keep my job and provide for my family.  But it cannot mean I always prioritize the job at the expense of my family or vice versa.  If I fail to balance this correctly, it is highly possible, come separation or retirement I will look around to find my family is no longer with me because of choices I made.

To keep any imbalance from happening, it is important to have a decision-making process to go through that is consistent with the priorities I have and what makes me tick.  I have to make every effort to bounce all my decisions and actions off the following questions.  Does it honor my God?  Does it show that I love my wife?  Does it show that I love and care for my children?  These questions may seem to be skewed completely away from my work environment, but are actually completely consistent there as well, because they are the things I value most and when I stop asking these questions it may allow me to get off balance in my priorities and negatively affect my performance at work.  These are the things that define me and I find that answering these questions with an affirmative has rarely led me astray and has helped me overcome many hurdles and challenges over the years.  I would offer up to you the importance of developing your own set of questions to run through that are consistent with who you are and what you care about. This will help you answer those tough questions when they come and persevere through the challenges you will face.