Most of my clients resist structure at first because they have an outdated idea of what it is.
Structure allows us to progress. But only if it’s sustainable.
When we think of “creating a structure,” many of us think of a rigid schedule with hours packed back-to-back: 6 AM get up, 7 AM workout, 8 AM breakfast, 9 AM -12 PM write, 12 PM – 1 PM lunch, 1 PM – 5 PM P/T job, etc. Just reading that makes me cringe.
Structures without flexibility don’t hold up for me, or my tribe. Because as a creative, I find myself doing exactly the opposite of what I have planned when I get too prescriptive in advance.
That’s why as a coach, my work is all about supporting people in creating realistic structures.
By “realistic,” I’m referring to a structure that is aligned with one’s energies and tendencies, the formulation of which requires objective, non-judgemental self-observation.
Creating flexibility within our life structures is what makes self-management sustainable.
For me, this means blocking off specific days and times for certain kinds of activities and having no more than three main goals on any given day, rather than an endless to-do list. Then, within this expansive structure, I can plan. (The structure in which I plan my life includes dogs. They enhance the quality of my life.)
Yet, I often must remind my clients that planning isn’t living. Paradoxically, when we plan, we must be open to change.
But plan we must, because in the absence of planning we are prone to be cast about by our moods, the desires of others, distractions. And in the end, few if any of our dreams get fulfilled.
The more I live, the more complicated my life becomes; the more I recognize that success is not achieved by avoiding the burdens of family, pets, and property, to “keep life simple.” Rather the key is flexibility. When I plan my life gently from a place of self-compassion (which is not the same as self-indulgence, but we’ll save that for another blog), only then can I hold and enjoy the largeness of my life.