In any type of public service job, how often do you find yourself living off the overtime board? As a young police officer I was elated to have the opportunity to work overtime and step into the “big clock.”
But like any other thing in life I reached burnout. I love being a police officer, I love serving people and helping those that can’t help themselves. However, how many police officers, firefighters, and paramedics are there that often ask themselves how they can better their own situation? And how often do we sacrifice our time for that elusive “big clock”?
I have a rather biased opinion based on my personal experience, that the leadership skills involved with military and law enforcement are great preparation for business. Military and public service jobs require decisive action and confidence in decision making. What better way is there to train someone on how to make a decision, stick with it, and then evaluate with extreme scrutiny those decisions afterward? It shouldn’t be surprising that there is such a big expectation and great reputation for such kinds of people. Work ethic, commitment, and the ability to be proactive are part of the makeup of any good cop or good soldier.
So what happens when someone that loves his job as a cop, firefighter, paramedic, or recently separated military veteran, comes to the point of wanting to better his situation materially – but is getting burned out from overtime and taking the random shift that keeps him from his kid’s baseball game or ballet recital?
I recently reached the point that I had to make a decision to start on a path to freedom. Financial freedom, time freedom, and most important to me, the freedom to know that I have other options, just in case. That is the freedom away from the “big clock” that ties up so many people’s lives. As strong as people like to think they are, everyone is vulnerable, and life always has a tendency to catch up with us.
I decided to go back to college and get a degree in business management, emphasizing entrepreneurial management. I am involved in a startup called justRealsocial.com, which posts videos of businesses to social media. I am applying the skills that I have learned from being a police officer for almost 11 years, such as talking to people, creating relationships, managing time, and working hard, all just a few things that I know help make successful entrepreneurs.
You see, once you decide to try something different, it will amaze you the difference that it can make when you aren’t tied to overtime. Being able to spend time with your kids and being an active part of their lives will be far more rewarding than picking up that random shift. I’m still guilty of it, having to partake in the hoard of overtime that keeps us on top. But slowly I plan to transition and get away from overtime. I haven’t stopped working as a police officer, I’m just using my time differently. I have a great schedule throughout the week, and I count my blessings for that. Now, I just take my regular three days off and work from home on my new project, all the while being an active husband and father to my family.
For any public servant or veteran that may be reading this, don’t sweat the small stuff. The skills you have can be valuable to a business, and may help you get away from that all-too-necessary evil we call the “big clock.”
Vance Debes is a police officer and entrepreneur in central Texas. He started his career in law enforcement in 2006 as a state trooper in Utah and then moved to Texas, where he has been a police officer for 10 years. He is currently pursuing an online bachelor’s degree in Entrepreneurial Management at Brigham Young University-Idaho, and is scheduled to graduate next year. He is also working for the social media marketing tea, of justRealsocial.com. Vance is married and has three children ages 10 to 1.