A cat is hiding behind a desk, with the eyes just showing over the top

When Structure Enables Fear

I love structure.  I’ve invested entire weekends and weeks in learning organizational systems, defining processes, and developing lists with subcategories of subcategories.  I have a shelf of books dedicated to these topics, multiple calendars (paper and electronic), and more folders and trays than I can fill.  I want my life structured!

I want my life planned and so I plan for planning and I check the boxes and follow the path but I never reach the end.  Running is one of the rare exceptions.  You follow the plan, you put the miles in, race day comes, you finish.  But then the question arises – now what?  Many people struggle following their first marathon, myself included, to keep going, but at least you finished the plan.

Seth Godin writes of people who are hooked on hacking life in a recent blog post.  It’s a great post and describes a lot of me.  In addition to losing time in the sinkhole of efficiency, I’ve dropped days of my life into:

  • The perfect office or room setup, organizing the furniture just right
  • Researching forever and never creating (this includes the web, books, Twitter – all the usual suspects)
  • Organizing work instead of doing it

And if I’m honest with myself, I think it’s fear that drives all of this behavior.  I want people to think that I’m smart and know what I’m doing.  I’m afraid of being found out and so I read and research but I never get to the end and so I don’t create.  Hey, it’s safe.

Perhaps that’s why the last line of Godin’s post resonates with me:

It’s possible that your next frontier isn’t to get more efficient, it’s to get more brave.

Yes, brave.  A goal worthy of people who want structure in their lives or live more spontaneously.  If we all can move beyond whatever fear is holding us back we can create a special place for ourselves and others.

photo credit: alasam via photopin cc

8 thoughts on “When Structure Enables Fear

  1. moveeatcreate

    I will have to read that article. I can certainly understand some of the relationship between structure and fear. I have anxiety constantly and structure helps me deal with it – but sometimes it enables it, too. Creating structure and schedules for myself can inhibit me from living with spontaneity and the permission to change my mind about things – which plays right into my anxieties! It’s a constant work in progress, this issue. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Chris Post author

      Thanks for stopping and sharing. There is definitely a balance that I’m constantly trying to seek as well. Sometimes I go too far on the side of structure and all that is created is more structure, and sometimes I get too overwhelmed with everything going on and am not sure how to proceed.

  2. Photography Journal Blog

    I just can really relate to this post, so thanks for writing about it. I am definitely a list maker and love structure. Structure really can help with creativity but it also can hurt, it is all about balance. Balance is something I think about a lot.


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