Structure Supports Spontaneity
It has worked well for me to moderate spontaneity with structure. I find that making a principled, organized plan does not restrict my freedom so much as it focuses my creativity.
Because I have an organized plan, I know what it may cost or gain if I deviate from it once in a while.
Within that thoughtful plan I feel more free to experiment and to follow my daily organic intuition within the context of pursuing the main goal. The better I plan the more I feel open to being spontaneous, because I have a sense of what I can afford to experiment with and what to ignore when it doesn’t have a productive purpose. I unleash my curiosity and creativity within the bounds of what I am trying to accomplish.
Having a plan also (perhaps counter-intuitively) allows me to be at peace more when I have an illness or threat of injury interrupting my normal training routine. Slowing down because of illness, exhaustion or injury has a cost on my schedule but I have a longer term vision (life-long, injury-free swimming!) that helps me push aside the pressure to achieve something this year by a certain deadline at an unacceptable cost. When I get behind on my schedule, I have a more objective view of what skills are still lacking rather than a vague anxiety over being behind on a dogmatic training schedule.
I keep my eye on the final goal, and set up a progression of sub-goals that need to be achieved to keep me on track to that final goal. Then I set some weekly tasks that keep me, as evenly as possible, developing all the areas of skill and fitness I need to help me achieve the sub-goal. This sets up my ‘practice menu’ for the week – and a menu implies choices, not rigid commands. By this I see that I have options for how I spend today’s time in the water – and those options are all in service of my final goal. I am free to follow my intuition to pick from the those options what I want to do today.