Now, that you understand the concept of structure, take a look at your Life Plan goals. If you have a goal to work out every day, in what ways could you add structure to this goal? You could join a running club that meets and runs two or three times a week. This is considered positive structure because the time for running is preset and there is no need for you to decide to exercise, and less chance for you to change your mind. Because times are regular and set in advance there are no opportunities for you to be double-booked. The second reason this is positive structure is that three times a week, you are surrounding yourself with the culture of fitness and consciously or not, you will start to conform to the expectations of being fit. You are surrounding yourself with people who have fitness as a goal and who are actively pursuing this goal. You will be talking with and
learning from others with similar expectations.
Take the time to put structure behind each of your goals and they will never be just wishes. For example, you can even add more structure to your fitness goals than a running club. Sign up with a fitness trainer or a disciplined friend to meet at certain prearranged times to work out and build the muscles required for running. If they will call you when you don’t show up, it’s structure. If they don’t care or even notice if you don’t show up, it’s not structure. Now you have two events happening that work together to help you meet your goal of physical fitness. For more momentum, add a third related scheduled activity such as enrolling in a sports nutrition course. Put the money down as a commitment and write the times in your calendar. Then to reward yourself, join a club or group that takes advantage of the byproduct of increasing physical fitness from running, such as a hiking club or biking club. Now, you have four activities that provide structure and cue your behavior to your fitness goal.
You are now running three times a week, meeting a friend or trainer, attending a course on nutrition, and hiking or biking once a week. You are building momentum and creating interrelated activities that focus on that one priority goal: your fitness goal. And, the by products of those activities are: meeting new people, having fun, getting in shape and being outdoors. They all help you prevent relapse. Take a look at your “Life Plan and Goals For Next Year Worksheet“ at the end of Chapter 9. Review your physical health and mental health goals and add structure.
To succeed in preventing relapse you need to add formal positive structure to your days, which requires planning in advance and making commitments to all your goals.
Now, examine your education and learning goals in the same light to add more structure. Instead of just reading a book about leadership whenever you think of it, have the time set aside and write it in your daily planner, half an hour every night at nine thirty before bed for reading. You could also find a group of people from work who are willing to meet regularly and discuss the book. That way you have added more structure to your life and goals because you are publicly committed to finish your readings and have another opportunity to socialize without the use of drugs and alcohol. Are there other related activities or courses to take that again, would add momentum and involve a regular time commitment and advance your goals? Always write the activities in your calendar with times and places.
Next, take the time and put structure into your relationship goals. Family goals are another area where organized structure can help. For example, instead of just dropping your kids off at soccer practice, arrange to stay and help out on a regular basis. Organize structure
within your family by scheduling weekly events like Sunday dinner together or Tuesday movie night. Write the events in your calendar with the time allotment. Don’t allow yourself the old excuses, “I forgot” or “I got busy.” Own your family commitments and use structure so people learn to trust your word.
Volunteering is a wonderful way to add structure to your life. It is a way to improve your own mental health, make new relationships, gain valuable work experience, and create opportunities that might not otherwise be available. You can use your current skills and build new knowledge or skills. So stop now and insert a date and time into your schedule to investigate volunteering opportunities. Continue on and review all your life goals for opportunities to insert positive structure into your life.