Stephen Anderson is no stranger to hard work. He used to be a small fruit grower in Hastings, running his own orchards, as well as working at TaylorCorp, a large fruit-growing, packing and exporting company. Work weeks of up to 70 hours were not uncommon.

On a rare family holiday to the States in 2011, Stephen suddenly saw things in his kids that he hadn’t noticed before.

“I’d see them doing something and I’d think, ‘How long have they been doing that for? I haven’t seen that before.’

"I realised that I was spending way too much time at work.  At that moment I knew I needed more balance in my life and I needed to make that happen.”

Making smart decisions for work and leisure

Stephen decided to try and get some better work-life balance.

“I started playing social hockey again about five years ago on a Thursday night. I have a couple of games of hockey a week with guys my own age, and have a beer afterwards. I always feel a lot better afterwards.”

He also opted to give up running his own blocks and work fulltime for Taylor Corp as Operations Manager.

However, the decision to work fulltime at TaylorCorp brought plenty of fresh challenges with it. Stephen’s job is a high-pressure one, dealing with lots of people and their problems on a daily basis. 

“Over the last couple of years we’ve been growing quite quickly and I didn’t take a holiday last year after the end of apple season. So I’d been going for about 12 months, and I was at a point where I didn’t want to be at work. I’m thinking, ‘I can’t take time off because we’re planting up these new blocks, these guys need direction, this, that, and the other’, and by October I just didn’t want to be at work.”

Healthy Thinking workshop

Stephen was approached to attend a Farmstrong Healthy Thinking workshop to see what it was all about.  He says it was very instructive and timely.

“Dr Tom, who was running the Healthy Thinking workshop, said to me that it [the way I was feeling] might just be burn-out and I needed a break. I sat back in my seat. I hadn’t thought about that. It was probably true. You don’t think that you do, until somebody points it out.”

Stephen took a three-week break over the last Christmas period, turned his cell-phone off and spent lots of time with family. “A break like that makes a big difference.” 

Learning to delegate, thinking positively and enjoying family life

Learning to delegate and trust others to get the job done can also be a game-changer, says Stephen.

“Delegation is a big thing. If you’ve got employees, then trust them to do the job. You’ll never get someone to do the job 100% the way you want it done. [But] if you can get it 90% right all of the time, you’re doing pretty well.”

Training yourself to think positively, or at least not to think the worst, is also an important contributor to wellbeing, says Stephen.  As is reaping the benefits of mini-breaks.

“Take little breaks, take yourself away.  Go and do something different. Play tennis, hockey, collect stamps, whatever you like to do. Just do something totally different.

“We’ve got three teenage girls and it’s really good to go and watch them playing their sports, in their choirs, orchestras, acting. When you finally realise the importance of this stuff, it’s almost too late.” 

This profile is abridged from an article published by Farmstrong.

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