Last week we looked at ways to sweeten your life, a concept from my and Briana’s book, The Well Life, which also forms much of the foundation material for the Dragontree Coaching Program. I discussed sweetness as one of three pillars of a balanced and joyful life, along with structure and space.
Now let’s look at the value of structure and how it can work for or against us. Consistently incorporating more sweetness into our lives depends on our ability to build healthy structure. Every goal, from the smallest to the grandest, requires structure to get from point A to point B.
Sometimes we encounter clients who try to avoid structure because they don’t want to be restricted by it. While this may help them feel unfettered, it can often backfire because they’re not adequately tracking what they need to attend to in order to make their lives work – much less setting and achieving goals. The feeling that they’re not in charge can destabilize the “freedom” of evading structure.
Other clients embrace structure – they keep a calendar, set goals, practice some discipline around time, etc. – but in ways that are inefficient, rigid, boring, or ungratifying. Perhaps their structures for getting needs met haven’t evolved since adolescence. Sometimes they’re pursuing outdated goals without being aware of it. Frequently they employ structure at the expense of sweetness and space.
Most people lack good training in life architecture. Luckily, it’s a learnable skill and it’s pretty straightforward. Many of the coaches in our program have said that these nuts and bolts represent much of the work they do with clients – often holding the client’s hand through the process of dismantling structures that aren’t working, creating new ones that are healthy, intelligent, and effective, and supporting them to live healthily in alignment with what they’ve established.
Here are six important principles we emphasize for healthy structure:
- First get really clear on who you want to be and how want your life to feel. There is a process for attaining clarity in our Dreambook. In essence, we recommend discerning what kinds of experiences make you feel most inspired, alive, happy, connected, etc. – despite what your parents, teachers, friends, or spouse or anyone else thought/thinks you should do – and then choosing a path that supports this highest expression of You.
- Form a clear inner vision of your intention and make a plan for actualizing it. The inner vision should actually be a vivid multisensory meditation on the look, feel, taste, smell, and sound of the life you’re creating. Evoke it often. Your plan should involve meaningful action that takes you in the direction of your goal while putting you in touch with people, elements, and forces that will help you grow and build momentum.
- Consciously integrate sweetness and space into the structure you create. Like the saying goes, the journey matters more than the destination. We miss the point if we don’t make it sweet and spacious.
- Attend to the plan frequently. A plan isn’t just a robotic program that runs on autopilot once you turn it on. It’s a living thing. Remind yourself of it daily. Stay in right relationship with it. Consciously “stoke” the vision and feelings. Make adjustments to the plan as needed.
- Maintain integrity. Make sure you keep any agreements you make to support your plan – not because the universe will punish you if you don’t, but because you chose this and your word has power. Honor yourself and the seeds you’ve planted. If you need to change the plan, do it consciously.
- Stay open and flexible. While feeding and tending lovingly to your life plan, try to simultaneously remain unattached to how it comes together. Be like a bamboo stalk – strong and unwavering in your growth, but flexible enough to bend in the wind, and hollow inside – meaning, you maintain an open, unclenched attitude around your goals. Obstacles and challenges along the way are inevitable; if met with flexibility and openness you’ll grow around them. Never let your plan become the only thing that’s going to make you happy.
If this sounds good to you, check out The Well Life audiobook (on Audible), which explains these concepts in greater detail. Also, have you ever thought about being a coach? Could you see yourself exploring someone’s life structures with them, helping them “clean house,” working with them to build new a structure that truly serves them and brings them closer to the life of their dreams? If so, check out our life coach training program. Enrollment for the next cohort beginning April 26th is happening now!