The Place for Structures


If you want to achieve a goal or change, it is essential to have structure.  When we’re young, if we’re blessed and fortunate enough to have good parents, some structure is present in our lives from the beginning.  If we don’t have good parents to give us structure, we will automatically become shaped by whatever structures happen to be in our lives at the time we’re growing up- friends, school, sports, hobbies.  For example, when we’re growing up if our parents don’t force us to study, stay out of trouble, be kind to others, eat well, and other things like this, they may never happen our entire lives unless a teacher at school or some other structure we self-impose is strong enough to guide us in the right direction.  Although there is certainly a place for wildness, fun, and adventure, we need a predominance of structure in our lives so that we can get things done, stay health, and live a good life.  Our lives can be negatively affected by a lack of structure.

You may be reading this thinking, “I never had structure in my life.”  That’s ok, because none of us had the perfect amount, and too much structure would probably not be good anyway. Plus, as an adult it’s up to us to put the right structures in place.  So it’s not too late to get the structure you need to create a better future for yourself.  Maybe you want to…..

  • Get in better shape
  • Learn to be a better computer programmer
  • Lose 20 pounds
  • Quit smoking
  • Learn to control your anger
  • Stop worrying
  • Renovate your house
  • Save more money
  • Learn self-defense
  • Become a singer
  • Get a better job
  • Have a better spiritual life and feel more grateful

These are just some examples of things you might want to do.

If we look at the Stages of Change, we can see the 6 stages and where to start thinking about structure:

  1. Pre-Contemplation
  2. Contemplation
  3. Preparation – *Plan your structure here
  4. Action – *Implement your structure here
  5. Maintenance
  6. Relapse

Structure comes into play in the 3rd stage.  Think about and plan out your structure, so that you can achieve your goal.  What this means is that for whatever goal you have you’re going to need to put a committed structure in place which forces you to get there.  If you put the structure in place, you won’t have to think about achieving your goal, you will achieve your goal!

A lack of structure will leave you waffling through life thinking “if I’d only done this” or “if I’d only done that” while at the same time, a committed structure will force you to rise to the occasion and create a life for yourself that is better and more fulfilling.  It’s so easy not to do this.  It’s easy  to avoid any type of structure and just get by.  But you don’t want to do that.  

A great book was written on this topic which I read a few years back:

The Path of Least Resistance: Learning to Become the Creative Force in Your Own Life by Robert Fritz

For the preceding examples, I’ve put together an example of a simple structure that would “force” you to get to where you want to be in regards to this specific goal.  You can choose other structures.

  • Get in better shape    >   Join a fitness class or running group
  • Learn to be a computer programmer   >   Sign up for a course   
  • Lose 20 pounds   >   Write down every single thing you eat
  • Quit smoking   >   Take Nicorette 
  • Learn to control your anger   >   Learn a breathing exercise
  • Stop worrying   >   Use a journal to write out your worries
  • Renovate your house   >   Ask a friend to help you every Saturday on a small project and then do the same for him / her
  • Save more money   >   Set up automatic withdrawals to savings before you get your check
  • Learn self-defense   >   Pay up front for a martial arts class or start a self-defense hobby group once a week for free using materials from books
  • Become a singer   >    Join a choir at a church
  • Get a better job   >   Move to a place that’s hiring 
  • Have a better spiritual life and feel more grateful   >   Get up earlier every morning for quiet time and right down 5 things you’re thankful for every day.

This entire past year I’ve been writing essays on freedom.  Freedom ironically requires structure and self-control.  In the next few weeks, I’ll be wrapping up this series with a couple more essays.

I hope you’ve found this year-long exploration on the philosophy of freedom helpful, and I’m excited to wrap it up on a positive note.



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