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Succeed in the workplace
Succeed in the workplace

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2.1 My roles in life

Look at Tom’s (an example learner) list below. It shows some of the roles he plays and the kinds of thing these roles demand of him.

Main roles I play …

  1. Student representative – attending meetings to give views of my class to teachers/lecturers, communicating with people on the same course as me.
  2. Volunteer at Samaritans’ helpline – listening to people talk about their worries, planning my shifts to fit with other team members and my family.
  3. Head gardener – teaching summer students the basics, operating machinery, planning seasonal jobs, so they are shared out across the team.
  4. Son – driving my elderly mother to see her friends, using the internet to do her online shopping with her.
  5. Treasurer of pub darts team – taking and banking membership fees, paying expenses, giving reports.

Now think about your own roles in life in this next activity.

Activity 1 My roles in life

Timing: Allow approximately 15 minutes

Part 1

This activity will help you to identify the roles you have played in your life so far and thus provide you with a basis for considering the skills they have helped you to develop.

First jot down in your notebook the roles you play most frequently and just one or two key activities associated with them. If you find it difficult to identify roles, go back to your work on interests and passions from Week 1 and see if these remind you of any.

Another memory jogger is to ask yourself who you have been for other people. For example, are you a sister or a brother, or a manager to your team?

(Adapted from Career planning and job-seeking workbook, Open University Careers Service.)


Your list might have a combination of roles. Some to do with family or friends, others related to work you have done, or to hobbies or interests. Equally, your list might also include roles that you feel have been ‘given’ to you by others and you would prefer not to play. For example, are you always expected to be the ‘fun maker’ in your group of friends, even if you do not feel like doing that?

Part 2

Now you’ve identified your different roles, consider which ones you find more satisfying than others and the roles that you feel you perform well. Again, write down your thoughts in your notebook. Copy Table 1 into your notebook or or you can complete this in your Resource pack [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

Table 1 Roles
Roles I most enjoyRoles I think I do well

You will gain the most from this activity if you take a little time to reflect on what you have written. Use the following questions to trigger your thoughts and write down any answers that occur to you in your notebook.

  1. Are you surprised by the range of things you do and take for granted?
  2. Were you able to identify the kinds of action you have to take in each of these roles?
  3. Did they begin to suggest any skills that might be associated with doing those very different kinds of role?
  4. Were you surprised at which roles you enjoyed or not, and which you felt you performed well or not?
  5. Which roles might you want to continue and which, if any, might you want to stop playing?


You may be surprised by the number of different roles that you have, as it is not something that most people ever consider. Most of them you probably take for granted. Hopefully, you can now see the full range of roles you have, and will be able to think more clearly about the abilities you have that enable you to carry these out.

In the next section you’ll be able to reflect on the abilities you have that go with these roles.