Examining Your Different Roles in Life

This morning, I was reading a book called Early to Rise by Andy Traub (now available on Amazon!*). As you may or may not know, I’ve dedicated myself this year to becoming an early riser – getting up at 5am every morning. In the past week, I have successfully made the transition to regularly getting up that early. And while some mornings have been harder than others, the increased time has led to insane levels of productivity that I’ve only dreamed about.

But that’s not exactly what this is going to be about. In today’s daily reading of the book (out of 30 days of motivational texts), Traub focuses on the roles in life that we each have responsibility for:

“You are choosing who you are going to be today. You are not a victim. You are not the economy. You are not an employee or even a citizen. Choose the role you want to fulfill, then fill it. If you believe you are a writer then write. If you believe you are a composer then create music. If you believe you are handy with a saw then let sawdust fly.”

The exercise for the day then included jotting down all the different roles you have in your life, then circling a couple that you intend to excel at today. So I busted out my pocket notebook and began writing:

  • Husband. Fairly obvious. I’m a married guy, which means I’m part of a very special team with my wife. Our team name is The Bobcats (just kidding, it’s The Meitners – but how cool would that be?).
  • Christian. I’m a firm believer that your faith (or lack thereof) is a responsibility in and of itself. You have the responsibility to live out your moral life. In my case, I have a responsibility as a Christian to make decisions that honor my God.
  • Church member. Not the same thing as “Christian”. As a member of my church, I also have the responsibility to honor God, but I also have the added responsibility of helping to serve and benefit my fellow members of the church community. Those are different.
  • Future father. I’m putting it on the list because, while I do not have children yet, the decisions I make now are going to directly impact their lives. That includes how I treat my health, my appearance, and our finances. Or how we build our home life and environment. Those are things that I’m paying attention to now so that I have a firm base to build upon with my sons and/or daughters someday, Lord-willing.
  • Son. While I am an adult and do not take orders from my parents anymore, I do have the duty to both honor them in how I live my life as a representation of how they raised me, and I also have the responsibility to bring them joy by spending time with them and paying attention to how I treat my relationship with them.
  • Business owner. I’m a freelance copywriter. That means I have a duty to bring my clients excellent service. I also have a duty to my business to do the best job I can to bring in more business in the future, as well as marketing myself and building relationships with prospective clients for long-term success.
  • Friend. I have a great core group of loving friends who bring my joy in my life. As someone who grew up with a rather limited social life (small school, nerdy kid), I certainly do not take for granted to friendships that have been built in recent years.
  • Cat owner. One of my cats walked past me as I was making this list at the kitchen table, and I realized that this too is a role that I should take seriously. Our cats rely on me for their feeding and sanitary needs (fancy way of saying “I clean their poop boxes”), and I also make sure they get to the vet every year to check on their health. I also have to spend some time with them every day to keep them happy. It’s a role that I took on when I decided to get a pet.
  • Citizen. I have a responsibility to pay taxes (though I disagree with how much and where it’s spent, it’s the law). I have a responsibility to vote for a leader. I have a responsibility to follow that leader, even if I disagree with certain policies. Laws are laws. In exchange, I get to live in what is still the greatest nation around.
  • Brother. I have three older brothers, and three sisters-in-law. While my relationships with them can be strained at times, I have the responsibility to protect and develop those relationships, because I love my family and I want to be a good little brother to all of them.
  • Writer. Last but certainly not least, I have the duty as a writer to write. This is non-negotiable.
  • Renter. I have the duty, per the contract with my landlord, to keep my house in good working order. I have the responsibility to pay rent, as well as clear the driveway of snow buildup and cut the grass in the summer.

See how quickly that list can build? It’s amazing.

What’s the point?

While it’s easy to let that list become daunting to look at (like, “Holy crap, I have so much to do!”), it fills me with a certain sense of responsibility. It’s a warm feeling, and it’s an honor to serve in those different capacities – many in my everyday life.

It also is incredibly motivating to take my time seriously. That’s what becoming an early riser is all about for me – creating a schedule where I can work effectively and be the best user of my time, talents, and treasures (which, in my line of faith, we call “stewardship”).

Try it – take out a pen and paper, or open a notepad on your computer, and think of the different roles you have. Get creative with your thinking.

Then, instead of being intimidated by that list, use it as motivation to take your life seriously. That doesn’t mean don’t have fun – it just means that you ought to eliminate wastefulness where you can. Life is not meant to be a lazy affair – it’s work. But when you recognize and respect the different roles that you have, you can work on it without misery or frustration. You have the freedom to put a smile on your face while you serve in your roles.

What roles do you serve? Any creative or fun ones that you want to share? Do so in the comments!

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