I DON'T mind getting back to work after a short break.

After more than 40 years of working long shifts - many of them from 6pm to 2am - I’m at ease with long hours because sometimes that’s what is needed to get the job done.

It’s the same logic that might see me at my laptop on Saturdays and Sundays for short stints that tackle a particular problem. If it doesn’t disrupt family plans then it just helps manage the rest of my time during the week.

So when I had a few days together over Christmas I could freewheel because I know those little infills have helped clear the decks. Then when the time comes I feel ready for whatever BUSINESSiQ has in store over the next few weeks and months.

This weekly supplement is back (obviously....) so as well as planning that each week, I’ll be heading towards the first quarterly magazine of 2022, due to be delivered on March 25, and our Level Up campaign will take a huge leap forward with events and debates planned to amplify the region’s needs and demands and press home our case for investment and jobs.

Hard work and long hours are fine - they are simply necessary at certain times and at a certain level and I get as much of a buzz from them now as I did doing work experience at the Southport Visiter in Tulketh Street back in the late 1970s.

BUT.... they have to be balanced with time that is specifically not about work. That’s an essential caveat that we all ignore at our peril.

As well as looking after the buildings and the bills, we have to look after our most vital asset and make sure we and our colleagues are understood, supported and given the time to breathe and enjoy the 100mph journey we’re often on.

It's our responsibiltiy to make sure that happens, but we need to press our employers to make sure the space is there to allow it. Read what Josh Gill has to say in our big interview this week and make sure - like me - you're in the sort of business that understands the people it wants to work with.

It may not come as much of a surprise to some of you, but I’m dreadfully unfit (pause for shocked reaction....). Being 61, overweight and with little or no exercise, unless walking to the corner shop for wine counts, is the perfect starting point for change.

I'm going to take responsibility and sort all that nonsense this year because our jobs need energy and ideas and nobody does themselves any favours by hurtling along the motorway weaving between lanes trying to beat the speedtraps, when the better choice would be to choose a slightly quieter road and get there safer and sounder. That's just smart working.

That might all sound a bit Hallmark-card, and maybe that’s why so many of us ignore the message, but it’s simple enough.

This region is on a remarkable once-in-a-lifetime journey and all of us will be cheering it, supporting it and leading it every step of the way - but there is time to enjoy the view and still get the job done.

So as 2022 starts let’s put health and wellbeing at the top of our list for the next 12 months together.

Talk to the people around you - particularly in such extraordinary times - listen to them and let them know you’re there for them.

And look after yourself.

It’s going to be quite a year and we need all the help we can get!