If you had to choose, which would feel more comfortable to you, a structured life or a fluid life? Would you prefer a sense of order, or a sense of flow?
Most of us gravitate to one or the other. Unfortunately, too many of us get stuck there. Why? Because we’re too lopsided in our approach. Just like we sometimes need to incorporate more action or more dreaming to move toward success, we need some degree of balance between structure and fluidity.
Without the creativity and innovation that can come in a state of unstructured flow, a structured approach can become too rigid. It can keep you trapped in a rut, unable to break free. On the flipside, without structure to contain its energy and channel it in a productive direction, a fluid approach can send that energy flying off in a million directions, only some of which will actually move you forward.
There’s often a natural resistance to the zone you’re not comfortable in. If you lean toward structure, fluidity might seem frivolous, unproductive, or frighteningly uncertain. On the other hand, if you lean toward fluidity, structure might feel constraining or artificial.
In reality, a dose of what doesn’t come naturally will let you more fully enjoy the fruit of what does come naturally.
Opening up to some creative time, for example, or some unproductive time, or embracing an unexpected shift in direction might open the door to new possibilities that would never have occurred to you if every “i” was dotted and every “t” was crossed.
By the same token, adding a dollop of structure to your creative flow helps you direct your effort into forward motion. Structure can enable results which, far from being imprisoning, open up the door to experiencing even more of what you enjoy.
Try this: Take a look at your own life. If you want to narrow it down a little further, take a look at your work. Which side do you gravitate to? Once you know that, ask yourself, “How might a little dose of the other help? Is it possible that too much time in this comfort zone is getting in my way?”
Once you explore that, brainstorm ways you might add more order or create more fluidity. Pick one and experiment with it. If that works, great! If it doesn’t, pick something else and keep experimenting.
After years as a professional malcontent, Curt Rosengren discovered the power of passion. As a speaker, author, and coach, Rosengren helps people create careers that energize and inspire them. His book 101 Ways to Get Wild About Work and his E-book The Occupational Adventure Guide offer people tools for turning dreams into reality. Rosengren's blog, The M.A.P. Maker, explores how to craft a life of meaning, abundance, and passion.