“The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.” – Mike Murdock
We all have routines, rituals, and habits that we already infused into our daily lives. But first, let’s define the difference between routines and habits.
An action intentionally repeated becomes a routine. That said, routines that are maintained over time become a habit. Both, however, can be regarded as our ceremonies.
Often times, our ceremonies can help to express who we are even without us realizing it. “Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character.” – Stephen Covey.
Researchers at Duke University found that we act on autopilot 40-45% of the day. While this may sound like an exaggeration, when we really think about it, it makes sense.
After all, very little thought goes into deciding what to do first when you awake in the morning: should you brush your teeth or shower? Or even when we’re driving home after work – most of us are on ‘auto-pilot’ mode.
This is because our minds love (and are programed for) routines. Whether we’d like to admit or not, we’re creatures of comfort and are not so keen when it comes to change. For example, most of us would react in adverse way to unexpected surprises like road detours.
Our ceremonies can affect all aspects of our life: personal or professional, physical or mental health.
But first, we need to be honest with ourselves about WHY we want to cultivate a routine, habit, or ceremony in the first place. The stronger your WHY – the more you will be motivated and follow through on maintaining it for the long run.
“And actually, it’s not repetition that creates habits. It’s emotions that create habits,” Rangan Chatterjee.
“Many people want to change their life, but they are not willing to change their choices, and ultimately this changes nothing.” MJ DeMarco.
We have wrong assumptions that highly successful people in business or academically – those who (almost) never skip their daily workout or eat healthily – have incredibly high willpower or self-control. But what we assume as willpower is actually their commitment to their habits.
“Successful people aren’t born that way. They become successful by establishing the habit of doing things unsuccessful people don’t like to do.” – William Makepeace Thackeray.
So, if you’re looking to integrate sustainable and healthy ceremonies into your life, below are some practice tips that can help you to get started and more importantly, maintain them:
1. Start small and be specific
For example, you’ve decided that you want to start meditating daily. And right off the bat, you aimed to meditate for 30 minutes.
Realistically, this wouldn’t be a good idea if you’ve never meditated before. Instead, put your timer on 5 minutes to start. Five minutes are more achievable. Continue to do so every day until you feel comfortable to add more minutes to your practice.
You can increase the time from 5 to 8 minutes and so on until you reach the desired 30 minutes. As Leo Babatuta suggested “Make it so easy you can’t say no.”
This also means that you should focus on one improvement or habit at a time. People give up when they are overwhelmed. I tell my clients we add only one thing and remove only one thing. It could be months before we would add another desired habit.
2. Create a pace that’s easy to sustain
Say you’re wanting to do 20 pushups daily. Make it easier for yourself and break it up by have two sets of ten. You can even do one set in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Do this until you have no problem doing 20 in one set. Be patient with yourself and get comfortable even if progress is slow.
3. Anchor a new one to an established one
It’s easier to build a new habit if it is attached to an established one – This is called anchoring.
This is when desired habits are attached to something you already do every day. For example, when I decide to add daily breathing exercises to my habit of posting on social media each morning. So, every day from 7 to 8 am, I would publish my posts. And after turning off my computer at 8, I’d start my exercises.
4. Look for support
If you’re looking to run daily, you may not want to plead and convince your neighbor to run with you. Instead, why not join a running club? These people already cultivate the habit that you want to develop and would likely to have useful tips that’ll help you to do the same.
By joining a group or asking for the support from other individuals that already does what you plan to do, you’ll likely to acquire the support, advice, and encouragement you seek.
5. You’ll have setbacks so show compassion to yourself
High achievers or performers get off track like everyone else. What makes them different is that they get back on track as fast as they can without blaming themselves, external factors, or someone else.
Some life events are unpredictable and out of our control and can derail our daily rituals. It’s not about being perfect or excelling your goals on every turn. It’s about getting back up when you fall down.
We’re responsible for our own ceremonies. This means, we can always create a new one or adjust an existing one. “The best way to improve your self-control is to see how and why you lose control.” ~ Kelly McGonigal.
An all-or-nothing mentality is often the reason for failure for many people. So, don’t let it be your downfall too.
6. Whenever possible, have fun!
Any step to any goals should be as easy and as fun as possible. If they’re not already naturally fun, infuse some fun to it. For example: listen to a podcast or a playlist you love when you work out. Learn to always blend the “fun” thing with the “not-so-fun” thing.
Additional notes & tips:
- When creating your ceremonies, be conscious of your circadian rhythm. For some activities, doing them in some specific times of the day may be better than others.
- If you try to replace some of your habits, remember that it took years to build them. So, keep in mind that it’ll take time to replace them too.
- The stronger your WHY, the more chances you will stick to it. The WHY helps you stay motivated and go back on track when you feel off-track.
- We’ll never be able to control all events in our life completely. Hence, we need to be flexible, adaptable and accept what is out of our control without judgment and with self-compassion.
- Come to the realization good habits are part of self-care. They keep us resilient, healthy, and vibrant. These habits will help to create a life we always wanted.
“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” John C. Maxwell.
Once we truly understand that our ceremonies are our creation and are within our control; we can certainly change them. Good luck!
Disclosure: The information on this post is not intended to be a substitute for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. Always consult with a qualified health professional.
Read More: 7 Priceless Habits of Genuinely Happy People
This post was adapted from an article by Roman Vaynshtok. The Founder of the Peace and Balance Reiki Center, he works with individuals who are looking for healing & relief from physical suffering and/or emotional trauma. You can find the original version here.