I can remember clearly the very first time I watched Marc Gungor’s clip on the Tale of the Two Brains. The entertaining ex-pastor speaks about the difference between the women’s brain and the men’s brain. For the woman, he commented, everything is connected to everything, and it is all driven by energy called emotion. Watching this clip made me laugh and cry at the same time. My hubby and I got married a few years before, and I could not figure out how my life worked. My life was this giant ball of wool that needed some serious unraveling.
I felt overwhelmed. My live had become a chaotic mess and looking back I was in permanent survival mode, in desperate need of some clarity and unraveling.
During that time I discovered Stephen Coveys’ famous book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, my saving grace. In his book he describes that every person fulfils about 7 roles in life. In the weeks following I went through all my responsibilities and activities.
I picked up my pen and journal and started writing. The unraveling had started, one string at a time. Going through every day life’s responsibilities, making sense of all these loose ends and categorising them.
Identifying your roles
According to Covey everyone should ‘Sharpen the Saw’. In this role you focus on self care. You define your goals for you physical, mental, emotional, financial and spiritual well-being. It is the role most of us easily ‘forget’, because we are so busy surviving in life. But here’s the deal: if we don’t take care of ourselves, how can we take care of our family and the rest of our responsibilities?
I ended up with 9 roles. Although it is a few more than suggested, I couldn’t get over myself to squeeze two into one, and I didn’t want to leave one out.
Here they are:
#1 Sharpen The Saw
#6 Entrepreneur – Proverbs 31
#8 Our Ministry FamilyBase
#9 Family & Friends
After defining my roles, I made a bookmark based on Covey’s weekly compass and put that in my diary.
At the beginning of each week I wrote the big rocks down. My big rocks were the most important things for that week for that specific role. Because I started writing them down, I suddenly became pro-active in planning my week forward.
Discovering your values and goals
A few months ago I ran into Michael Hyatts book Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want. Like Covey, he describes that we have different accounts. But the first thing he makes you do is to craft your eulogy. You know, the speech your family and friends give at your funeral. I found it a confronting exercise and it took me quite a while to get it on paper.
Each role comes with a set of values and goals. And as I journeyed through my accounts, writing down how I wanted to be remembered, I discovered the things that are important for me. Unfortunately I also found that I am not doing them. Some because I was not aware of how important it was for me, others because of the pressure of daily life.
I observed for instance in my role as wife, that I value spending TIME with my hubby. But we don’t date very often, for many different reasons, being a baby sitter for the kids, finances, etc. The funny thing is I keep telling others how important it is… Oops!
When I thought through how I want my kids to remember me at the end of my life, I realised that I wanted them to say ‘Mom always had time for us’. Instead the opposite is happening. The most common answer to their question “Can we play a game?” is, “Not now, I’m busy!” Auch!
With the identification of my roles, my accounts, I found my life completely out of balance. I spend many hours working in our ministry, serving the church, but was neglecting some of my other roles terribly.
Now what?! How do I balance my life again?
Since I started to write down my values and goals per role, my life has changed dramatically. Suddenly I got clarity in my mind and this big messy ball started become more structured.
After writing my values and goals down I made a life journal. For every role I created a collage. I just love the visual reminder and go through it regularly.
Creating my life journal has helped me gain an overview of my life. It set me up to be pro-active in how I want to live my life, so that my hubby and children can remember me for the right reasons.
If you feel lost, overwhelmed and maybe even in a surviving mode like me, pick up your pen! Take a week or two to go over your daily responsibilities. Then start grouping your responsibilities in roles. Once you have your roles defined, think about how you want to be remembered. As a mother, a colleague, a city member, etc. After that write down your values per role and also your practical goals.
What are your roles? Would love to hear from you in the comments below :-).