Structure Precedes Evolution

We’ve all been there—it’s the beginning of the year (or the month) and the possibilities feel endless. “This year I’m going to run a marathon!” “This year I’m going to lose 10 pounds!” “This year I’m changing careers!” “This month I’m going to eat out less!” “This month I’m going to stick to my budget!” These urges are natural. We want to move into the next phase of our lives. We are wired to evolve!

Goals come from our desire to improve our quality of life.

Dreams help us imagine our best future selves.

Goals and dreams are wonderful! But so often our goals are lofty and never achieved. We say we’ll “get ‘em next year.” And why is that? Often, we don’t realize our dreams because we never make a plan to achieve them. Plans lay out a course for progress based on where we are when we begin. Plans should:

  • acknowledge the reality of our current situation

  • include gradual steps that lead to our goal

  • include opportunities for reflection and celebration of progress

When we have a plan, we are structuring our time and energy so that it is possible to reach our goals.

Otherwise, our hopes and dreams go nowhere. Imagine a grapevine. At first it sprouts and looks like other plants, but as it grows it becomes long and thin and reaches out for something to climb. Once it senses a structure, it winds itself up higher and higher. When it’s fully grown, it bears its fruit.

Ideas are like this grapevine. Ideas need a trellis to grow on, otherwise the vines crawl around on the ground; they can’t go anywhere. They never bear fruit and they just wither and die.

Not all of us love planning, I know. I never used to be a planner; I’d just fly by the seat of my pants, hope for the best, keep my expectations low. But that yielded exactly what you’d expect, mediocre results, ongoing dissatisfaction with myself. Over time, I realized that investing time and resources upfront created outcomes I could be proud of.

Now, I begin with my values and I let them infuse my dreams. Then out comes the calendar, the colored pens, the strategizing. Before long, I have built a trellis for my dreams to grow on, and the year ahead of me—the goals I want to achieve—it all feels manageable… and, dare I say FUN! It’s like I’m looking at my path and it leads to my evolution.