When were your best memories made? How did the most beautiful things come about in your life?
I bet they happened without your plans or organization or determination. When you allowed yourself to be spontaneous. When you let go of the rules for once. When you let go of your lists and plans.
Structure is a good thing. We all need some routine. It’s on a continuum, some people need more, some less. It makes us feel safe. It’s important for raising children, building a business, a relationship, even building a house. Structure is a way of organizing our lives so they make sense.
Structure is the skeleton that gives shape to our lives. It creates a sense of ownership, order and organization in our life. Structure is a routine throughout our day and week, making a plan and following through. It is setting goals and planning ahead.
A life without structure can add anxiety, depression, frustration and stress. When there is a lack of structure, things get forgotten, there is no point, life can become chaotic and we turn to negativity.
If a writer doesn’t have structure he simply rambles and jumps from thought to thought, confusing the reader.
If a child experiences no structure they cannot learn to feel safe. They cannot trust life. Once there is structure, their little spirits can relax and learn the things children have to learn, like walking, talking, responsibility and how to function in this life.
If you never let yourself stray from your schedule, there is no room for something new and different to come in. Every day is the same and you can expect more of the same.
If you get too rigid, if you hold on to your routine as if your life depended on it and never deviate, you miss out on the wondrous, magical things in life.
Several years ago I decided to write a little book about people’s careers, wanting to find out how they chose to do what they do and how it came about. In my interviews I discovered that a large majority fell into their vocation. It wasn’t in their plan. They met someone, something happened and – boom- a business or career was born.
Think of all your favorite memories, the best times with others, the sweet connection with a stranger, finding that treasure you carry with you everywhere….none of that could have happened while you followed your carefully laid out plans.
A client, we’ll call her Susan, had a strict routine for her weekdays, which included a workout after work, then home for a healthy dinner and staying in to look over her cases (she’s an attorney at a law firm).
She consistently refused any invitations. She was afraid that if she allowed herself any deviations, she’d compromise her health, her sleep and fall behind at work.
But she also worried constantly about finding a husband, especially since she was on the downhill side of 30. Susan wanted to be married and have children.
When one of her colleagues had a mid-week celebration, Susan struggled to come up with a good excuse not to go. Finally, she told herself she’d go just for ½ hour.
At that party she met a wonderful guy. They couldn’t stop talking, she stayed much longer than ½ hour and he became her husband several months later.
This would have never happened had she stuck to her structured, highly organized week.
The moral of the story: Don’t be too rigid with your routine! Beautiful things await if you let go, surrender and allow yourself to meander every once in a while.