Finding What Works

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I have a friend with a background in finance and was very successful in the corporate world. A few years ago, she left her high paying, structured job, decided to downsize and began living simply.

She became a free spirit who flows from one thing to the next with very little planning.

For as long as I have known her, she has resisted structure.

I am in awe of her because I am the opposite. I love structure. I like making plans and knowing what’s going to happen and when. It makes me feel safe and in control.

I enjoy creating my to-do list and then checking things off. I like how I get things done and how I feel at the end of the day.

Lately, our conversations have turned to improving our eating habits. Of course, I began by logging my food intake. This helped me keep track of what I was eating and I felt accomplished at the end of the day.

My friend fought this. She wanted the freedom to choose what she wanted without the constraints of having to plan. However, since she didn’t have a plan, she would come home from the grocery store with things she really didn’t want.

When I don’t have a plan, I find myself standing in front of the refrigerator wondering what to eat. Then I end up eating way too many chips or cookies. All the stuff I’m trying not to eat.

Recently my friend found an eating plan that felt right to her. It called for planning meals and weighing and measuring her food.

After following this plan, she came to the realization that being free spirited was not freedom at all- it was chaos.

With her new eating plan, she felt more free than she had in a long time because she didn’t really have to think about it. She has set guidelines to follow and as long as she stays inside those she feels satisfied and happy.

So that must mean because I’m a planner, things are copacetic with me. I wish.

Because I usually get results, I think, “if a little planning is good then a lot of planning is better.” The drill sergeant comes out and begins whipping me into shape.

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No matter what I do, it’s never good enough for the drill sergeant. I become miserable and I end up quitting or working myself so hard I burn out or get sick.

In any area of our lives, if the pendulum swings too far toward free spirit, it can lead to chaos and no results. Or if our plan is too rigid it may trigger the drill sergeant which can lead to results but not sustainable ones.

We need to aim for somewhere in between. And it always helps to have a supportive friend to share the journey.

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