When I meet with groups or teams one of my favorite exercises to use is what I call “Roles and Goals.” Adapted from the original outline in Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, the exercise helps participants connect with their deeper purpose while showing them how to work toward that deeper purpose every day.
This is the workflow of the Exercise:
First, Ask each participant to write down all the different roles they have in life. Roles may include things like, father, mother, husband, wife, employee, business owner, student, teacher, writer, friend, church member, volunteer, disciple, son, daughter, mentor, leader, neighbor, citizen, etc. The idea is to get participants to brainstorm as many as possible. After a few minutes when I see pens start to slow down I will call on a few people to share what they have written down so far. This often sparks some ideas for the rest of the group who will be reminded of things they didn’t consider on their own.
Second Ask each participant to narrow down their list to the top 5 roles they have in life. This could mean filtering out some of the seemingly less critical roles they wrote down or potentially combining several roles into something more broad. For example, professional, leader, employee, etc could be combined into “provider.” Some will combine different religious, spiritual, and/or volunteer roles together. The key here is to help each participant come to a conclusion about who they really are and what roles in their lives they really think of as important. Note: most will have a hard time getting the list down to 5. There will be a select few that will have only 3 or 4 and would feel like they were stretching to come up with a 5th.
Third, Ask each participant to pick one of these roles and write down a mission statement for that role in their life. I generally go on to explain that they are trying to articulate what their end goal is as it relates to that role in their life. When life is over (or that role is no longer relevant) what would it look like? This is where participants really have to stretch. I try to give them an example from my own roles at this point so that they can understand more clearly how that may look. Give them enough time and encourage people to share after they have completed their first one.
Depending on how much time you have you may choose to have participants write down goals for each of their 5 roles or you can encourage them to finish the remaining 4 later.
Next, ask them to list out 2-5 specific action steps that they can take to get them just a little closer to their goal. (If they have written all 5 goals ask them to list 1-3 action steps per goal.) The idea is to focus on the simple and easy to achieve things. If they think they need to take their family on vacation then the action steps would not be “take family on vacation.” Instead action steps may be, “find out how much vacation time I have,” or “check prices for flights to Disneyland.”
Lastly, ask each participant to get out their phones, tablets, or physical calendars and add at least one of these action steps per role to their upcoming week’s calendar. Putting the action onto the actual schedule is the turning point to creating power in the exercise because it helps them understand how to take something that is seemingly principled and make it practical.
I encourage participants to repeat the last two steps every week; reviewing their roles/goals and adding action steps to the calendar. This will keep life balanced.