If you know my story at all, you know that my ADD was managed until about 20 years ago by living a structured life. In blending my life with my husband’s, I shifted to an unstructured life — though that’s not what I saw it as at the time. Slowly my life started crumbling and I found myself thinking that I needed to incorporate structure back into my life. I sensed my life was better when it was structured.
We moved to where we live now and the lack of structure, though it provided its problems to me, was really nice. I was free to supervise the construction of our home, to go to lunch or tea with new neighbors, throw tea parties for the ladies of the Mesa, work a little bit, and go on ambulance calls with no impact on what was left of my business. (You think there was a hint there?)
Through a series of online courses and live events, I came to realize my lack of structure made me feel stuck. I was ready to release myself from my self-created cage and to be free again. So, I decided to create structure for my life again. I felt like a salmon swimming upstream, facing the resistance to being different than I had been, as they had known me.
I was part of that resistance. Maybe I was the majority of that resistance. I liked my free-flowing lifestyle. I argued with myself that I should be able to be productive and free-flowing at the same time. Try as I might, I wasn’t productive when I persisted with a free-flowing lifestyle.
Being a curious person, I played around with several ways of structuring my life. That exploration helped me find what worked for me as well as give me insights into what would benefit others. The trial-and-error I used helped me create a system that worked for me! I created a free-flowing structure the summer I learned about my own ADD. And it worked!
That success gave me the experience I needed to counsel clients about their need for structure to be their most effective, too. What I had learned was that intentions and goals for projects had to be written down; project steps had to be defined; reminders and alerts had to be put into place.
I still heard resistance from others about structure. I felt resistance to structure when it was rigid. What I finally realized is that structure, at least for someone with ADD, needs to be fluid and not rigid. I know a rigid structure for me, where I mapped out my day in 15-60 minutes blocks, was soul-crushing! I know when I landed on my fluid-structure plan I was productive and my soul soared. A part of me still didn’t grasp the underlying importance of the structure in my life.
Then it dawned on me and I came up with an analogy for structure that I think is brilliant if I do say so myself!
Great Music requires structure. Within that structure is room for lots of variety and creativity. Without structure it’s just noise.
An Excellent Life requires structure. Within that structure is room for variety and creativity. Without structure, it’s chaos.
The free-flow life I’d struggled with was pure chaos. It was cacophony! The creativity was fun, no doubt, but without a framework to work within, the creative elements stood alone and collapsed on each other. There was no real productivity.
That was the reality behind my fluid-structure plan. I knew and applied the rules of structure, customized for my lifestyle. What a great framework to hang my life onto! The creativity came in weaving my tasks and activities around the structure so my day was productive — and I created music. It is a beautiful melody. Now there is tremendous productivity!
Personally, I love the melodic life and level of productivity I have today over what I had before. I’ve transformed my life from the free-flowing life and what I thought was the associated freedom to a truly free life filled with music and fulfilled dreams.