How to be Flexible when you Like Structure

I’ll come out and admit it – I LOVE a routine. It’s consistent, low risk, and prevents any unforeseen events from occurring. But, as with most habits or rituals, we can’t live in this strict structure mindset 100% of the time – because it’s LIFE!!

These days, I can easily go out after work, hit up a workout class, meet up with friends across town. I plan spontaneous weekend trips and vacation whenever I can. People at work will say to me (as complements) “you’re ALWAYS going somewhere”, “wow, I wish I could go on these small trips, they sound so fun.” And the thing is, it took me a long time to get here. For years, I fully believed that to achieve recovery I need to do the same thing everyday because then I won’t fuck up. 

It was structure to an extreme. And there can also be flexibility to an extreme.  So below, I’ve listed out some specific situations that I’ve strategically worked on (with help obviously – and you thought I did this on my own, I wish) to become, or appear to be, flexible.

Also, I feel like this is pretty self explanatory, but this is different for everyone! As an example –  I need to pack snacks before a vacation so I don’t eat something not abstinent (I don’t eat sugar or flour – that blog is for another day). This is a non-negotiable that let’s me be flexible, but creates structure and peace of mind so I can enjoy the vacation. This may also seem legitimately CRAZY to other people, and I totally get that.

Before we start – there are pros & cons to this whole flexibility with structure thing:

  • PROS: Less stress, more fun, new experiences, good memories, learning experiences, becomes easier the more you do it
  • CONS: More time, more effort, takes pre-work, usually research (hate me yet?), could be risky, potential for things not to go your way

Vacations/Getaway Weekends

  • Make at least one reservation ahead of time
  • Have a light itinerary that lists the top 5 things you want to accomplish
  • Bring Snacks. I always have: 2 Quest Bars, Epic Bars,  individual Almond packs, individual Enlightened Broad Bean packs, a few fresh apples, gum/mints
  • As much as possible, don’t stray away from your everyday eating habits. I used to have a Fuck It mentality when it came to vacations (calories don’t count, my diet starts on Monday). Now I know that the Fuck Its only created physical pain (tummy & migraines), feelings of guilt and shame, and when I would arrive home all I would think about is how I ‘messed up.’ THIS IS NOT THE WAY TO LIVE! Now, I pre-plan. If I have a big brunch with potatoes and cheese, grab a burger at night with no bun or cheese, throw some extra veg on there. DONE & DONE.
  • Ask Yourself: How do I want to feel AFTER the trip is over?

Making Social Plans After Work

  • Change your POV. Believe you can incorporate more time into your work schedule. I used to think I couldn’t do anything after work because I was too tired. In reality, I was just stuck in the habit of going home, watching Netflix, cooking dinner & going to bed.
  • Don’t over schedule. I know Mondays & Thursday’s are my crazy meeting days at work, by 6pm I am famished. Because of that, I don’t make plans after work on those days.

Weekends

  • Divide your day up: mornings, afternoon & evening.
  • Lay out your non-negotiables. What you need to accomplish or the set plans you’ve made with friends/family, doctors, etc. Don’t put too many non-negotiables in one part of the day. Leave wiggle room for unexpected situations, they will happen.
  • Lay out your wants. Walk in the park, a workout class, grocery shopping, shopping for a new dress, etc? These wants can be skipped or shifted as the weekend progresses.
  • Ask Yourself: What can I accomplish this weekend to make the next work week better and easier? For me, it’s my Sunday Meal Prep.

photo credit: Fotolia

5 thoughts on “How to be Flexible when you Like Structure

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