Why Structure May Be Holding You Back

I was struggling to get my daily routine the way I like to flow. I wasn’t feeling settled in myself. Every morning I set out with the best intentions, but I seemed to slip into a time warp of “other people’s stuff” and I was tired at the end of the day. No energy left to read a good book to feed my mind, feel conversational with my co-pilot, or write at the level I enjoy. I just wanted to go to sleep and try again the next day.

I felt inadequate, like a fake, and annoyed at myself, “I can do better, I have done better.”

Do you ever feel that way?

I knew I wanted a healthy daily routine so I could be fully present to whomever I interacted with and be on my A Game, so I set out to create a new personal structure. One that integrates the things I love and feed my soul (writing, reading, drawing and playing my guitar consistently) and the things I “do” for others. And in a way that flows throughout the day as I do.

Some people will say these things should be saved for last when we’re done with work, but how many times do you tell yourself, “I’ll do [ __happy thing__ ] this evening after I’m done at the office,” or something along those lines? And did you actually do it? Or were you too tired and decided to put it off till tomorrow (and we’re counting years of “tomorrows” by now…)?

I’ll be brutally honest, creating a new schedule for myself was excruciating… I loved drawing it out by hand to “make” it my own, but filling in the actual blocks of time made me really uncomfortable. I stalled, I went around in circles. I writhed in my seat and in my mind. I didn’t want to fill this thing in. I felt like the cat that Pepe Le Pew falls in love with – she’s frantic to get away from his insistent grasp… and yet I knew that if I didn’t do this, I would be stalling on the fulfillment of my personal vision, which includes helping others like you. I would be letting you down if I didn’t lead by example. So I had a moral obligation to get this personal structure sorted out. By setting up a structure that works for me, I get to work better with and for YOU. By taking care of the things that fuel me, I get to infuse the rest of my day with that energy of creation, including my conversations and creations with others. And whilst we often have a good structure in place, sometimes it needs adapting or restarting based on changes we experience. I had lost my stride after a major move, so I needed a major reset in my structure.

Then I realised, this scheduling thing started when I was kid, and for most of us really…

You see, I loved getting my class schedule at school. Every time that new clean sheet showed up in front of me, I got to fill it in and color code my classes. I love love loved that part, especially at the beginning of the school year when I had brand new pens.

But the schedule itself?

I detested that f***er.

Except for the classes I love love loved like History, English and Art.

I detested that schedule because I didn’t want to be told when I could have lunch or take a snack break – what if I was hungry sooner because I have a high metabolism?

Deeper than that though… What if writing stories in English class flowed better for me first thing in the morning than after lunch? What if studying History in the afternoon helped me retain facts because I was relaxed and I could absorb information better? How did these elements impact my overall performance?

As a kid, you don’t usually feel you can speak up about these things (at least not without being told off), you’re just doing what some group of adults decided was “the way” for everyone to follow.

For a long time, I felt like a misfit in school, when it was really the other way around. Once I understood that the school system I had been in did not fit me, I felt massive relief. Perhaps you’ve spent years trying to fit into a system that feels like it’s constantly working against you. How about creating one that works for you?

So the schedule, the imposed structure, these things challenged my free flowing creative spirit. You stifle a kid’s creative spirit, and it explains why there are a lot of unhappy people in this world. Thankfully my parents gave me the ideal creative space at home.

Now, I love to learn, and even though I was a diligent A student (in classes I loved, the rest were comfortable B’s), there were subjects I intuitively felt I would never need growing up. Like Chemistry – had I been shown that baking soda and vinegar could be used to clean off pots and pans, THAT would have piqued my interest from a practical day-to-day use that I could apply later on in life, beyond seeing it as a cool volcano experiment in a lab. But memorizing the Table of Elements? No thank you, not for me. That was mis-used precious time in regards to my creativity, to be honest.

That said, structure is good for certain things; some people need a lot of it, and some people crumble at the thought of it because it feels so restrictive to them. But the structure we had during the Industrial Revolution and the school system that was built around it are long gone. Therefore, we need to adjust all our systems, starting with what works for each one of us.

Some people feel safe in the confines of their highly laid out plan for the day, and their life. And that’s great if it works for them. But for many people it doesn’t, even though they try because someone else told them “5 Things You Must Do To Live the Life of Your Dreams” and it keeps misfiring on them, building frustration and anchoring beliefs that the dream life is NOT for them. Yikes.

Some of the most successful businesses are built on high-detail structure, down to the very minute. Some people function well like this and their calendars reflect that. But does that really leave room for true creativity, innovation, freedom and presence with others?

Do you have a healthy daily routine that works for you?

Whether you lean more towards calendaring every minute of your life, or flowing freely throughout the day. The key is to find what works for you, and recognise when it’s time to adjust.

Me? I can deal with a certain amount of structure – and I learned this not through school but through music studies later on (ironically, Music was my least favorite subject in school).

Studying music gave me a healthy daily routine to develop my patience, persistence, measure progress, and achieve completion. Just half an hour to an hour playing my guitar every day when I was a teenager, I saw myself make significant progress with pieces of classical music that I love. It’s helped me in many ways.

But… one of the things most people I talk to about creating their future seem to struggle with is this thing called structure. What does that look like for them? How do they integrate it into a jam-packed calendar that was built to suit everyone else’s needs and demands but their own?

“But Karin, I need to put these things first so that I can take care of my kids/family/etc…”

I get it, and there’s nothing wrong with that, AND if you’re not taking care of you at the core, most of those people are probably missing out on the very best of you. Which means you’re cheating on them.

Sit with that for a moment…

It’s wonderful and honourable to live from a place of service. But if we keep procrastinating on our personal goals and dreams, then we’re not really mastering our lives. And we really don’t know how much time we have on this precious planet. So why keep putting things off into the future? What are we really telling our kids, protegés and team members by doing this?

Self mastery comes from finding and implementing a structure that includes a healthy daily routine, which supports our personal development whilst we develop our families, friendships, businesses, well being, etc. Not one or the other, not this then that. Like mastering one bar or chord at a time, we’re taking small steps towards our greatness. We’re past lizard brain status, much as it’s still there operating in the background of our minds. And the best of scientists have tangible evidence that we can transform our neurological patterns by thinking differently, which means we have to act differently and LIVE differently as well.

So, I’m inviting you right now to take a look at your personal structure. Look at your overall day-to-day:

  • What works?
  • What doesn’t work?
  • What would you like to see and experience differently?
  • What is something you’ve been saying you wanted to do for a long time but haven’t done yet?
  • How does this impact how you feel about yourself and what you feel you can accomplish in this precious life?

If you need someone to talk this through, reach out to me or someone else you trust to help you get clear and take steps towards improving your personal structure, and create a healthy daily routine that works for you. Hint: start with your happy place, your personal joy. And work outward from there.


PS: This post is the product of my new morning structure where I start my day focused on personal creativity and writing. I hope you enjoyed it! Please share it with anyone you feel could use this kind of inspiration to get a handle on their day-to-day.