Structure vs Spontaneity

I am fascinated with personality profiling and use this scientific based self-assessment tool with several of my coaching clients.  One of the four mental functions in personality profiling is “Judging” and “Perceiving”.  This function is about how you prefer to deal with the outer world, through structure or spontaneity.  In short, you either have a life preference for being organised or flexible. For example, those that prefer the “Judging” function like:

  • lists, agendas and plans;
  • using diaries and calendars;
  • meeting deadlines;
  • being systematic and punctual;
  • to focus on completing goals.

Those that prefer the “Perceiving” function like:

  • working on several things at once;
  • to respond in the moment and are open-ended;
  • going with the flow, and may not meet deadlines;
  • to be easy-going and casual about time;
  • being adaptable and highly flexible with change.

We are all different, and we all react to daily life differently.  However, those people who are structured and well-organised, could benefit from being more spontaneous. Why?  Our modern day lifestyle has robbed us of the joy to be spontaneous.

For most of us, (including me!), we plan weeks and months ahead for events, family occasions, sports, business functions, study or even planned travel breaks.  If we are held hostage to the calendar and to-do-list, it may lead to burnout, anxiety or stress.  According to the 2015 Stress and Wellbeing survey, conducted by the Australian Psychological Society, 35% of people reported having “a significant level of distress in life”.  While being flexible with time will not cure this, it can go a long way towards reducing stress levels.

Spontaneity is not a life-changing decision.  For those high-end structured people, being spontaneous is often difficult to do.  The idea is simple – just switch up a daily routine.  Not every day, maybe once a fortnight.  Try it and see what happens!

Be aware that the fear of spontaneity may also stop us from doing something out of the ordinary.  Give yourself permission to stop for a while, even a few hours. There will ALWAYS be planned activities to complete such as chores, housework, homework, washing, cooking and grocery shopping and walking the dogs. So, go live in the moment and make a feel-good memory for yourself next week.  Perhaps you may have to plan in an “S-DAY”.  A spontaneous day.  It may even be once a month!  Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Read a great book or a magazine
  • Buy some flowers for yourself
  • Book in for a massage
  • Go clothes shopping and have a coffee
  • Take a different gym class or do yoga
  • Take a surfing/tennis/dance/singing lesson
  • Watch a favourite movie and eat popcorn
  • On the weekend, drive to the beach or the bush
  • Turn off your phone and the computer and take a nap

What is stopping you from booking in an afternoon of nothing? What is one thing you would like to do purely for the fun of it? 

In living a life that is happy, purposeful and fulfilling, sometimes we need to throw caution to the wind and check in with our emotional wellbeing.  It might not be practical all the time to seize the day, so go ahead and seize a moment. You will not regret it!