How to Identify the Primary Roles in Your Life
"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don't much care where..." said Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.
-from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Oh là là, wow. A bit mind blowing. I am not a cat person, but he has a point.
There is value in creating a mental map of who we are and who aspire to become. It is effective to prioritize what is, and what is not, important to us.
In late August of 2012, I participated in a training class to teach the Leader in Me (an educational model based on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People®). The class provided the final push to launch rudeysroom.com, my foray into blogging.
The instructor asked, "What do you want out of life?"
"I don't know. Happiness?"
Inwardly, I was screaming leave me alone; I just want to be. I can't do this right now.
Yet my brain was reeling. I want to know. I am proactive. And, my school signed up to teach the 7 Habits to ourselves and our students.
I can do this.
My head scrambled and he continued, directly at me, "Where do you want to go in life?"
"I don't know," I stammered, "France? Whole Foods? The gym?"
Uh oh. This isn't good. An abysmal sense of confusion and lack of clarity is where I land when asked to ponder life's purpose. How do I get from the vast unknown to the comfort of day-to-day intentional living?
I do believe knowing where you want to go is valid and critical. I am SUCH a planner. I plan embarrassingly far in advance. I have a yearly plan, a 5-year plan. I have a bucket list. Yet, when someone launches into mission-statement talk, I start packing. Too intense. Too much. As much as I plan, I ultimately am for the journey over the destination - for savoring the now.
When I start to question "what is my purpose?," my chest tightens, my brain blocks, and I instinctually reach for the jumbo bag of Pirates Booty.
Semi saved by the bell, the instructor asked us to write our mission statement.
So, I started.
Who am I?
I'm not always sure. I'm Rudey! I am a mother, a wife, a French teacher, a friend, a sister, a word junkie, a dreamer, a Barbie player, a runner, a talker. I have countless roles - pharmacist, nutritionist, housekeeper, financial analyst, cheerleader, social chair, therapist, chauffeur, teacher.
Who am I?
Instead of lobbing through my brain, I decided to approach the speaker privately: "I have so so many goals, that I often get scattered. How do I do it all?"
His advice was straight forward: “What are your roles in life?"
"I don't know. I have like 17."
He narrowed my path. "Okay, but what roles are the most important to you ... which ones define you? Choose no more than seven, and try to integrate them."
I can do that. Some of these roles will change, bien sûr. Others will be life-long.
I am a mother.
I am a wife.
I am a woman.
I am a friend (a sister, a daughter).
I am a teacher.
I am an artist.
I am a francophile (a language lover, a traveler).
Honing in on my primary roles keeps balance in my life.
Creating weekly goals aids me tremendously. I find a quiet(ish) spot on Sundays and design my week, based on my roles and my goals for the roles. The process takes me about 20 minutes.
The blueprint provides enormous focus for the upcoming week and guides my day-to-day decisions. The roles help me design my life, instead of it rolling over me.
My goals are really simple, actually. An example: Mother: Spend 10 minutes with each daughter (individually) at the start of their day, letting them lead.
I save the document entitled, "My Roles" on my computer, for gentle modification the next week. I monitor my progress weekly - adding, adapting and maintaining. Many weeks, I keep the same goal. For example: Woman: Say nightly gratitudes and take at least one bath. Both are mainstays on my list.
It is my hope that success in one area is not because of compensation or failure in another. But sometimes it is, and I re-align.