Around thirty years ago (WOW!) Stephen Covey released his bestseller book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” I still have it and use it as a reference book from time to time. Some concepts he discusses have stuck with me but if I need to see the details I have to pull out the book. One of the things I have recently pondered is our roles and responsibilities in life. Covey says on page 135:
“We each have a number of roles in our lives- different areas or capacities in which we have responsibility. I may, for example, have a role as an individual, a husband, a father, a teacher, a church member, and a businessman. And each of these roles is important.
One of the major problems that arises when people work to become more effective in life is that they don’t think broadly enough. They lose the sense of proportion, the balance, the natural ecology necessary to effective living. They may get consumed by work and neglect personal health. In the name of professional success, they may neglect the most precious relationships in their lives.”
After these paragraphs he encourages readers to develop an individual mission statement to aid in staying on track and keeping our lives balanced. If I looked at my own roles I would be
A follower of Christ (or attempt to do so anyway)
An individual (pursuing self-interests)
Several factors can be considered within each category and it’s up to me to figure out the right mix of factors that would make me feel successful in that area. For example, as a husband, I believe I should, above all, love my wife, but also provide as best I can for her well-being, safety, comfort, and security. For me to feel successful, her needs and desires should be met before my own as an individual (further down the list above). I think each of us have this notion of role/responsibility in the back of our minds but we don’t spend enough time really thinking about it and prioritizing what things are most important. My list above is very different than it was a few years ago. All of those things would still be on the list, but I would have added Sunday School teacher, employee, supervisor, leader and mentor. And the more roles on our list, the harder it is to allocate the 24 hours we have each day to feel successful. (We really don’t have 24 hours considering a third of it is sleeping. But that counts toward meeting individual goals for health and rest).
As Covey says we lose our sense of proportion and balance. If we have not given this topic conscious thought and prioritized our roles and responsibilities we often find that we are just “winging it” and making decisions that are inconsistent with the way we want to live our life. There are surely things that we will have to leave out at times and we need to know we’re leaving out things that are less important.
I think having this prioritization in place helps us manage our time better. We know the areas of our lives that are most important to us and when a decision is to be made about activities we are better able to determine where we want to invest that time. Covey discusses time management as well and provides a “Time Management Matrix” (pages 151 -154). There is a lot of info online regarding Covey’s time management concepts; just google “Stephen Covey time management.)
I think the time investment to consciously consider and prioritize our roles and responsibilities is important and will provide many benefits to improve our decision-making and our lives in general.