The Psych Central Report

Balancing Life Roles

By Rapunzel
November 2005

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People have an increasing number of roles in life. The word "career" has expanded to include life roles beyond employment. Satisfaction with life, as well as stress levels, depends not on the number of roles a person has but on their quality.

Roles change significantly throughout life. It can be difficult to balance them, but we must learn to let go of roles that are no longer useful. Some of our roles can be grouped into categories – personal or social, professional, and hobby or leisure, although the categories often overlap. Generally, the rewards balance the responsibilities and make the roles worthwhile. If the rewards are fewer than the responsibilities, it may be time to consider dropping the role.

Rewards take many forms. Some are social, such as love, praise, and approval. There are also monetary rewards or the hope of them in the case of professional and educational roles. Personal enjoyment and satisfaction is another type of reward. There may be a great deal of overlap between roles and rewards.

Role changing is a continual life process, and finding balance can be difficult. Letting go of outdated roles can be difficult and even painful. Sometimes it is enough to set them aside for a time, or to reduce the time spent in one role in order to spend the time that is needed in another.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Nov 2005
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When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.
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