Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. (The Message Bible)
This is a Speakeasy book, so I got this book for free because I promised to write a book review. You can do this too!
In this short book, Andy Dragt explains how if we structure our lives based on the laws of physics then we will get more accomplished but feel less. busy. I was very interested in this book, as I am trying to structure my life and it is so hard for me! Fortunately, Dragt understands how hard this is, as he is also a person who does not naturally come to structure but he has found it very useful in his life. It certainly is true-I definitely get more accomplished when I structure my time. I like that he has you build in time that is for being spontaneous. That may seem like an oxymoron, but it's not-it's merely saying that in this time frame, I will do what I want and not worry about it fitting in somewhere else time-wise. Dragt explains that freedom is not the opposite of structure, but chaos "and a chaotic life is not freedom."
This book was also good for me because it talks about developing your why, your purpose, and your values, and I had just attended a workshop that touched on these topics. Sometimes it seems like everyone talks about needing a why, but it is nice to have something that actually leads you to it through helpful thinking exercises. The book had me write down my memories of times when I felt really fulfilled and out of those memories, I could start to see what I value and what my purpose is. Now, with my "hope is real" brand, I already had a good idea of what my values and purpose are, but it was a good exercise to do anyway. Our ideas can always benefit from a more thorough fleshing out.
This is what I eventually came up with:
(I value this/my how) (my why) (so this is a priority/ my what)
Follow my call. -> big purpose -> to stay singleminded
Create joy. -> big purpose -> to change the system from one of fear
Immerse myself in Spirit. -> big purpose -> to be able to hear my call
Challenge myself -> big purpose -> to inspire hope (which changes the system)
Receive genuine validation -> big purpose -> to enable people to see the benefit of community
Big Purpose: To change the mental health system of isolation and fear into a community system of joy and hope.
As a friend then said to me: What does community look like to you?
I think community looks like relying more on people than just clinicians. Clinicians can be wonderful-my therapist really did change my life for the better-but still having them on an equal plane as other supporters is a more balanced view. I think it's important not to set clinicians as the ultimate authority because in the end, no one knows ourselves better than ourselves. I am my own true expert, although I may need the expertise of others to see that at times. The more people that we have as supporters in our lives, the more balanced and enriched our lives will be. We will learn how to sift through everyone's many viewpoints and come up with our own truth. Having a wide community safeguards our supporters from burnout and it makes it more likely to get our needs met in a compassionate way. In our capitalist society, the system is ultimately about money-we need people and places who's ulterior is not getting paid in order to truly care for our soul. If I look to a hospital for a solution, my pockets will always be empty and I will probably feel pretty empty too. I believe a community of compassionate people fills us up regardless of whether we have insurance or not. Communities also tend to have more creative solutions to problems rather than a bureaucratic system. When I create a wellness plan for my recovery, I look towards all of my possible resources, not just the ones that fit the medical model. Relying on a wider community also makes us more independent from structures we may not want to always depend on-knowing that I have supporters to back me up inspires me to take more chances.
After figuring out your values, purpose, and priorities comes the task of structuring your time so that you use it well. I have found that knowing these things motivates me to want to follow them more wisely. My days are lot more structured than they used to be, but I will certainly admit that becoming more structured can be a hard and frustrating process. And yet, I guarantee you it is true-when your life contains more structure, you really do get more done and feel less busy and tired overall.
What I have found the most useful is using Instacart as needed (lol), grouping my days as themes, using Monday to plan for the week and Friday to plan for the weekend, starting the day by reading helps my mind calm down and then writing out what I need to accomplish that day is super, super helpful. Also, two cups of coffee every morning. (lol)
Different strategies will work for different people.
What works for you? I hope this book review was thought provoking. I'm interested in hearing people's thoughts on exploring their values, purpose, and priorities and about adding in more structure. Do those things seem intimidating and overwhelming, or exciting and interesting? Let me know!