The Power of Rituals – How to Build Personal Resilience – Part 4
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence therefore, is not an act, but a habit.”
Goethe said that, and I agree. I find that the more I practice something, the better I get at it–and the better I get at something, the more I want to do it!
Think about something you love to do. Chances are, be it math, golf, yoga, your job, there was a time when you may not have been as good at it. But with practice, you got better and it became easier. This is the power of practice, or rituals.
When we have an opportunity to practice those things most important to us, we experience life as more meaningful, important and fun. However, sometimes it can be challenging to build those things back into our busy lives. We try once and give up. Well, as Anthony Robbins says, “you can’t go to the gym once, and expect to be fit for life.”
So how do we create a habit when things always seem to get in the way?
Here are five, easy steps:
- Pick one change you want to make and focus on that. For example, let’s say you want to take up running and learn a second language. You can certainly do both, but the most successful goal achievers pick one goal and begin with that. In this case, let’s say your chosen goal becomes, “I’ll take up running to improve my fitness.”
- Start small. I didn’t say ‘think small.’ Big goals are exciting and they stretch your comfort zone. For example, if your goal is to eventually run a marathon, you can do it! But don’t start off running six milers, six days in a row. You’ll be setting yourself up for an injury or at the very least, burn out. Instead, ease into it. Create a practice that allows you to run consistently, and build up your running over time. *by the way, if fitness is your goal, try getting help from a certified personal trainer.
- Stay with it. If your new goal was so easy to achieve, you’d already be doing it. It takes time to develop a new habit or to improve. As Malcom Gladwell says in ‘Outliers’, the ‘best’ in the world aren’t just born that way – they pracitice -10,000 hours as a matter of fact! So be patient with yourself and stay with it. Secondly, challenges show up. Let’s say you want to walk three days a week at lunch. You walk on Monday and Wednesday, but Friday you get pulled into last-minute meeting. These things happen. Don’t give up. Try walking before work on Fridays, walk after work, or go with a friend on Saturday morning.
- Celebrate success! – even the small ones. For example, when you take that first walk at lunch, acknowledge what it took to do that; from scheduling it in Outlook, or having to say ‘no’ to someone, whatever it took to get you out and breathe fresh air–congratulate yourself. Celebration doesn’t have to mean hiring a marching band. It may be as simple as saying to yourself, “’I did it, I knew I could.”
- Rinse and repeat: Whatever is helping you to create your new ritual, keep doing it. For example, I’ve created a ritual where, every morning when I wake up, I drink a full glass of crystal-clear water. Then I say to myself, “breakfast of champions”. I’ve started my day with life giving water, I’ve already completed a goal, which makes me feel competent, and I’ve reinforced a good habit. The more I do it, the easier it gets.
Finally, set some milestones. You may intend to do your new habit for life–such as Yoga- but set your sites on the next seven days, or 1 month. This allows you to track progress, celebrate wins, and refocus for the next milestone.
To get you going,try this, right here, right now:
- What is one new habit you’d like to create?
- What is one small step you could take to start?
- What is one challenge that might show up?
- What is one strategy that will help you move through this challenge?
- Who could you tell or invite to join you on your journey?
- What is one way you will celebrate success?
I’d love to hear about your goals, success, and ‘failures’ too (trust me, I’ve had lots).
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Once you even just define your ritual, you’ll be surprised at what you’re able to accomplish.