You have many roles to play in life, such as various job to perform, being someone’s relationship partner, and being a a personal growth explorer.

There may be gaps, however, in the roles you identify, and you may want to devise a new role to cover a gap.

Look especially for areas where you’ve been procrastinating or getting weaker results than you’d like. Do you have an appropriate role for that area? Have you chosen a suitable label for the role that you like?

Identity Encourages Behavior

Note that identity supports and reinforces behavior, as noted in the recent Be a Voter post. You’re more likely to succeed in making a behavior change if you seek to adopt an identity change to align with your new behavior.

If you’re not exercising regularly, for instance, could it be because you lack a proper role to support this behavior?

One role could be runner. Another could be yogini. A runner runs, and a yogini does yoga. If you want to call yourself a runner, you’ve got to run; otherwise you can’t honestly claim the label.

I like using the athlete label. It’s a good role that encourages me to exercise in a more balanced way than runner. Athlete works as a good long-term label. It encourages me to keep growing, exploring, and challenging myself in this area of life.

Sometimes labels have interesting side effects. By thinking of myself as an athlete instead of as just a guy who exercises, I buy better running shoes and exercise clothes because it fits the role. This role helps me see exercise as a long-term pursuit worthy of decent financial support.

Another label that works well for me is vegan. Some people prefer plant-based, which labels the behavior but not the role. Consequently, plant-based is significantly weaker in terms of identity – it’s a label for wannabes and approval seekers. It’s better to lay claim to the vegan role and not to be so timid about it. The identity framing of being vegan is stronger than just calling yourself a plant-based person. Vegan is a lifestyle. My yard is plant-based.

What labels do you use for your health and fitness roles? How are they working for you?

Adopting New Roles for Growth

In addition to tweaking and improving your existing roles and labels, you can also add new ones.

For instance, if you want to really get into music or writing, start labeling yourself as a musician or writer. If you want to get serious about coaching, don’t just do coaching – be a coach!

Become that which you want to embody. Create a role for an empowering behavior pattern.

Recently I felt a desire to improve at prioritizing and balancing various projects. Using labels like blogger or entrepreneur don’t help much in this area, so I added a new role to encourage more attention on this skill set: the role of manager.

Previously I didn’t think of myself as a manager, but I do have a lot to manage, and I like the idea of improving my skills to the point where I can genuinely think of myself as a highly effective manager. So this role has a positive association for me – it’s a path of growth.

Note that labels are very personal though. You might dislike a label that works exceptionally well for me. That’s fine. Your invitation is to pick the roles and labels that motivate you.

If a label doesn’t motivate you to engage with some area of life, dump that label, and pick a different one. Sometimes you have to test a few different labels to find one that actually motivates you.

Be careful as well to pick roles that allow room for growth. A good role helps you stretch. A bad role cages you. Take a look at your existing roles. Are there any that you’ve outgrown?

What new roles could you add to your life to remind you to invest in areas that you’ve been neglecting?

Good roles are invitations. They entice you to do some character building in new directions. A good role encourages you to make positive behavioral changes to align with it and to stay aligned. By reminding yourself of the role, you have a shortcut to remember the behaviors you want to adopt.