Defining Roles in Life

We all have many roles to play in life, and who we are and how we play them defines us.

In order to have success in life you need to figure out what is expected of you and take responsibility to make sure that those expectations are fulfilled. You would hope that the expectations are clearly defined. If you are talking about your professional life, this should be explained by your manager and should be described in your job description. If it is in your personal life, you need to define your own goals, and then talk to the people around you to see what they expect of you.In marriage two people often have different ideas about what the other person is bringing to the relationship. Do you expect (or hope) your spouse will cook the meals? Have they ever verbalized that? Maybe in general they are willing to do that, but occasionally you surprising them by preparing a feast will really make their day and also make you appreciate what they do for you on a regular basis. What if they had no idea that you expected the meals prepared and don’t understand why you are grumpy when tempting smells are not wafting from the kitchen around mealtimes.Expectations are best met when they are defined. Sit down with your spouse, co-worker or boss and ask them what they expect of you. Ask them “what does a good spouse/employee look like to you? What would you hope to see someone in my role to do?” It is a two way street. The basis of a good relationship is knowing what is expected on both sides. Once you know that, you can change roles if they don’t match what you were expecting. Knowing what is important to the other person and providing that (if possible) can make your relationship go much more smoothly.Once you find and accept the role within the relationship, it is up to you to live up to your part of the bargain. Personal integrity is something that you and you alone, are responsible for. It is one of those things that, once broken, is extremely difficult to rebuild. This is your reputation we are talking about and that should be taken seriously. Again, this works both ways in a relationship and as long as both parties live up to the agreement it can and will be a win-win situation.It all boils down to mutual respect and understanding. At work we need to be professionals and that will make all the difference. Don’t let personality interfere with what you need to do. Likewise in personal situations, as long as there is respect and integrity, there should be smooth sailing.Communication is the basis for all of this. With expectations clearly defined and roles assigned communication is the grease that keeps the process moving along smoothly. We all mature, change and grow as individuals and people can accept that change is part of life. The key is understanding why things are changing, acknowledging that change and keeping lines of communication open.

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Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

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(c) CLO / Carrie Osgood
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Credit: Purdue University photo/Jorge Castillo Quiñones
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