Our many roles and how they affect our decision-making

Who am I? Good one, right? Let’s narrow it down a bit. Which role am I playing as I am making that decision? We all wear multiple hats, and sometimes we are not conscious who we are, or “which one of me” I should be in the moment I decide. Most of the time it is not that simple anyway.

Am I making this decision as an immigrant, a local, an academic, an auntie, a LGBT person, a taxpayer, a neighbour, a department head, a person on a zero hours contract, a parent, a tech guy, a person of faith, a lover, a Manchester City fan, an XYZ investor, a member of a particular political party, an XYZ survivor etc etc. – all these examples of different roles people play or ways they think of themselves, and one can be most of these things at the same time.

For some decisions, it doesn’t matter. For some it does – and when it does, it is usually very crucial to our identity at that time. And sometimes our many different role identities can be in conflict, they can pull in different directions for a particular decision. Or one might be strong that is called forth in another area of our lives but is not really meant to be that loud where you are right now.

All of that is perfectly normal by the way. We are multidimensional beings, and that is great. And the more conscious we are what is going on inside of us, the better we can come to decisions that align with our many roles we play, and what truly matters. Particularly during times of change this can be a helpful practice to develop.

Often the change you are looking to make might be to rebalance some of these roles, so it’s a good idea to get to know them better as you are negotiating that shift. Ask yourself: Which roles am I playing right now? What does that decision touch? What gets triggered? Any surprising “guest appearances” popping up? Try to name them. Then write down what is important for that role. (When I do this, I literally either sit on different chairs for each role, or move around, stand in a different place etc etc) You are likely going to find that some core values, core criteria are the same across roles. Others might vary. For example your parent role might request a bigger “safety margin” than your adventure traveler role, who might advocate for anything that relieves boredom.

When looking at this for decision making, for the moment ignore what is in alignment or lukewarm. Zoom in on the extremes as relevant for your decision. This points to elements or key criteria you need to be mindful of, these need to somehow feature in your decision making. Look closely. Also, as you are working on bigger changes, ask yourself if you are looking at this from your past (known) or from your desired future (unknown).

There are probably lots of solutions and options out there that do have a bit of safety margin AND can have excitement or something new, to stick with the above example. What would this have to look like to have some of both?  Get creative (and possibly rope in people that embody these extremes for additional input where this is an option).

This makes it clearer which criteria need to be on the table, and allows you to take decisions that are a bit more balanced and that reflect the entirety of your big, beautiful and multifaceted life.

How do you ensure balance in your decisions? Please share.


Want to go deeper?
Check out the values worksheet here.
Or go deeper and get the book.
Or ping me about how coaching might help. 

On speed

Our lives consist of multiple facets that all grow and develop. Just not all at the same speed – remember puberty? (Hormones vs neocortex in the neverending battle of “is that actually a good idea”). Later, as our adult lives are chugging along, unless we get pushed from the outside, we rarely stop and check in with ourselves, our loved ones, our environment. We rarely take step back and check where we are, and how the puzzle of our different areas of life fits together, and what might need attention before things blow up.

It’s a bit like a dance choreography, or square dancing, where different parts can do their own thing for a bit, but then there are key points where everything needs to come together for this to work to not have your or others’ toes stepped on. Sometimes we need to take a look how these different sections work, in isolation, but also in their combination. Where are pain points? Where are things that just constantly drain energy?

Check out the values worksheet here.
Or
go deeper and get the book.
Or
ping me about how coaching might help. 

Clear line of sight

Where are we? Where do we go? What are safe paths, or obstacles along the way? When it comes to our own lives, often there are no maps, or none that we would consider valid. Some of the guiding lights from this journey have to come from within ourselves. Values are a good starting point.

They are the things you value (yes), what is important, what makes you YOU. They are where it hurts when stuff goes wrong, and where you become protective when it looks like it might go wrong.

Again, we are not looking for perfection. Let’s make it simple. Take a specific value (for example “craftsmanship”) and check in with yourself. How fulfilled is this value right now? How can you make this stronger, how can you have this value more represented in your life? What can you do today, next Monday? Keep it simple and actionable, just get this started.


Want to go deeper?

Check out the values worksheet here.
Or
go deeper and get the book.
Or
ping me about how coaching might help. 

On approval (you’re OK)

Looking to make change can be a bit scary. What if the new thing is not in fact better? What will the others think? Will I lose respect? Will they (still) be proud of me? They were so happy when I got XYZ, what if I now want something else?

Meeting people after an absence can be a challenging time for that (as I’m updating this blog post, we are all working on who gets to see whom when and how in the UK as things slowly start reopening in spring 2021). A lot has changed, in many ways, and we are often not in the loop with what changed. We might also need to catch up with ourselves in this emerging new life, if we’re honest.

If you are looking to make changes in your life, conversations can feel like minefields. We are adults (I assume). And yet, on some level, we want others to like us, to respect us, to understand us and to support us in our being-in-becoming.

Your parents might not understand what you are looking to do next, or why you are unhappy and unfulfilled; and they might not need to. What is or was right for them might not be right for you. They might be supportive and just want you to be happy. If that is the case, you are truly blessed. A lot of people are not that lucky, and have to face more resistance our outright attack in their personal surroundings. Especially when the current gig is going so well on the outside. And all the “but I thought you wanted to be a xxx”, “but all the money you invested in setting yourself up as…”, but but but. And every one of these another thing you feel you have to carry on top of everything else.

Your life is yours, and you want to fill it with things that have meaning for you. This is what we came here for. Yes, this involves other people and adult responsibilities etc. But people evolve, priorities shift and things are not static, so it is OK for things to shift and for you to want your outer life to catch up with the changes you are hatching out in your heart.

Where I grew up in Germany people would always wish “stay just the way you are” on somebody’s birthday. To my growing (slightly antagonistic ambitious teenage) self this always sounded like a curse more than a blessing. Growth and development never stops, and it is never too late to have a more fulfilled life that is in line with your values, aspirations, purpose. Being able to articulate clearly what is important to you, what might have shifted and what you are going to do about it makes it a lot easier to rope others into your journey. Even that one person whose opinion you are dreading. They might find it scary (it might remind them of their dreams long-buried and they might resent you for giving it a go – that is their story, you live yours). Or they might find it inspiring. And if they don’t, your little niece might once she is old enough to understand.


Check out the values worksheet here.
Or
go deeper and get the book.
Or
ping me about how coaching might help. 

(Original post from early 2018, updated spring 2021)

On perfection (stop that)

When making changes, we often make the mistake of comparing our old established, well-rehearsed old life with something new we haven’t even built yet. It is completely unfair to expect that level of perfection. Unfair to the new thing, and unfair to ourselves as well. This is not how new things materialize. We get scared of the new thing not being perfect, sometimes before we even start. Perfection or bust.

Really? Ask yourself, is that really true? (assuming your “new thing” is not recreational neurosurgery or something along these lines)

Don’t let the quest for perfection prevent you from taking action. Stop gilding the lily and start getting your hands dirty.


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