One Person, Multiple Roles

10/28/2013 11:52 am ET | Updated Dec 28, 2013

Editor in Chief. Wife. Mother. PTA Member. Friend. Athlete. How do you balance it all? With all of these roles in life, sometimes it can feel like you're being pulled in a hundred different directions. While some of these roles do have flexibility -- maybe joining that second book club isn't 100 percent necessary? -- chances are, you've designed a life for yourself that consists of different kinds of activities and relationships that fulfill you. I'd then say that one of your top priorities is to keep things balanced and avoiding one role taking control over all others. It's tough. There may be shifts from week to week -- you may be in demand at the office; the next week, your children have three birthday parties to attend; at the end of the month, all of your clubs seem to be hosting events. It goes on and on. If all of your interests and commitments are causing more stress than happiness, it's time to reflect on all your roles, re-assess, re-align, and regain control.

As champions of multitasking, we all think we can have our cake and eat it too, and sometimes, we can! But oftentimes, it takes long-term vision, planning, and managing your roles to truly feel satisfied with each one. When considering all you do, it's important to understand what you want and need from each role. For example, does one role give you regular, short-term gratification that gives you both a confidence and energy boost? Perhaps that's why you do it. Maybe another role is "heavier" for your life, but you know that your effort and commitment will, in the long run, benefit not only your life but that of others around you too. In that case, making short-term sacrifices could lead to long-term gratification. There's an ebb and flow to life, and thus, to your roles; they'll feel "heavy" and then "light," but embracing this cycle will allow you to have more control and fulfillment.

If you read "Roadmap to the Work Week," you know that lists are important for organization and maintaining structure. When it comes to your roles, making a list is important as well. It's possible you don't realize how much you do! How can you appreciate and embrace your roles when you don't accept each one and see how they work together? If I were to make a general list, I'd identify my roles as Business Owner, Teacher, Mentor, Friend, Girlfriend, Daughter, Trainer, and Writer in no particular order. Take a look at your list. You're all of these things at once and each role deserves attention. An important clarification is that each role is not necessarily (or practically) equal to the others in terms of time commitment or energy, but just like your diet, there's got to be a balance in order to be your healthiest and happiest you.

It can be hard to switch things up! But if you're lacking fulfillment in your life, it's worth considering whether one of your roles is out of whack: Have you missed four "quality time" dinners in a row -- with either friends or family? Conversely, do you have cabin fever because keeping an organized house and family is taking up the bulk of your time? Are you exercising enough? When it comes down to it, you are a unique combination of your priorities and commitments in your life, so you have to make choices accordingly. And that can be hard. When a role you've invested time and energy into begins to feel "heavy," remember that at another point, it might have been your "lightest." For me? I have always wanted a family and a fulfilling work life. Sometimes, one gets more attention than the other, but with long-term vision and drive, I know I'm headed in the right direction. When it comes to "heavy" and "light," balance and acceptance are keys to mastering our life's plan.