Would I be right in assuming you’ve never had a romantic date night without first switching down from work mode, dimming the lighting and playing your favourite music? How about achieving an amazing night’s sleep straight off the back of a busy, stressful day?
The same goes for having an amazing working day. They rarely just happen – but you can absolutely set the scene for an amazing day to happen. My daily ritual is my personal tool for this.
What exactly is a ritual?
A ritual transitions you smoothly from one state of being to another. Based on repetition, whatever your ritual is, you will do it at least once every day. It might be just one special thing that is sacred to you. Personally, mine is a sequence of short actions.
This is my daily ritual to start my day:
Firstly, I get out of bed as soon as my alarm sounds. It is important to start moving straight away. If you lay in bed and fall asleep again this has a knock-on affect to your circadian rhythm and will create a mental attitude of “it’s okay to put things off until later”. Wake up straight away or you may find yourself feeling ‘off’ for the rest of your day.
Next I look at my vision board. This focuses my energy on my big goals and reminds me of where I am heading. Having the mental image of the various projects I am working on keeps my mind laser focused for opportunities when they turn up.
I say my mantra out loud 5 times. It’s something personal that I wrote about 18 months ago. I didn’t believe the words at the time of writing, but they were sentences I wanted to embrace and to become. Writing them down is great, buy saying them out loud every day has an impact on our belief system that over time creates permanent change. I now believe in the words and live by them daily.
I smile. And sometimes laugh at myself while doing it. Does that sound strange? It’s a scientific fact that smiling makes us happier. The brain pathways that make us smile when we are happy actually work in reverse too. So if you smile your brain will release those happy chemicals, and a sense of happiness soon follows!
Next I read 10 pages of a book. This is a habit I have been cultivating for a while, and I aim to keep it up for life. I didn’t read any books until I reached the age of 25. Reading was something that I didn’t enjoy, the words were meaningless and I would forget them almost as soon as I read them. Since installing the habit of reading 10 pages every day, my reading speed has significantly increased and my retention is far superior. This means I read more, faster and gain more from each book I take to. The habit is so drilled in that I find myself enjoying reading and often finishing much more then 10 pages in a 1 day.
The next part of my ritual is to write an entry in my journal. This started life as a gratitude journal, but over time has evolved to include a record of my thoughts, feelings, and what I am working on. I also examine my behaviour, things I might notice that don’t fit with my values and beliefs, and that might create a negative impact on myself and those around me. More recently I have stared writing my intentions, which creates space to manifest my goals without the force of willpower. Read ‘The Power of Intention” by Dr Wayne Dyer for more on this.
The next part of my ritual is to do some yoga and general stretching. I have spent a lot of time with the elderly, and I have seen the horrific impact of NOT taking care of your health, in particular our physical body. Our posture has a direct impact on the experience we call life. Have you ever had a bad back before? If you have you’ll know that it can completely ruin your day, week or even month. The inability to move without pain becomes a constant drain of energy, distracting you from anything positive. I am not naturally flexible, nor do I naturally possess the patience to stretch and focus on my breathe. Giving myself at least 10 minutes a day to stretch does wonders, both for my body and mind. While stretching or yoga I will listen to affirmations or binaural beats to really boost my consumption of positive content.
I will then move onto my morning workout; Running, cycling, swimming, circuit training, boxing, weight lifting; sometimes I do all of them, others I just focus on 1. This depends heavily on my day and how much time I have. I like to listen to motivational speakers or uplifting music while I do this.
Afterwards I will spend at least 10 minutes in the steam room to meditate. I may set an intention for the meditation, I may meditate on a single set of words such as “I AM LOVE” or I may attempt to empty my mind of all thoughts and just sit in nothingness.
I finish with a cold shower, which reduces muscle inflammations and helps recovery time. Not to mention that it wakes me up!
Now I must confess, I don’t stick to my ritual EVERY day. Sometimes I am travelling, like now for example. I am in Chang Mai in Thailand staying at an elephant recuse centre in the Jungle. Yesterday I flew here from Bangkok at 930am, which meant waking up at 6am to travel to the airport. Sticking to a ritual can be hard when travelling, but I still found time today to do all of the things in my ritual, just at different times through the day. One thing I know for sure is that when I do complete my morning ritual, I have the most powerful day.
So why does a morning ritual make a successful day?
According to Steve Key, a professor at the University of Southern California, when it comes to our ability to focus and be productive, “most adults perform best in the late morning.” Therefore, in order to make the most of this peak time period, we need to prepare ourselves with a good morning ritual.
Furthermore, in order to be fully productive, we need to start work with the right mindset. If you start work with an anxious mind – worrying about everything you have to do – or without a clear goal for the day, it is much harder to get things done. If you have a set morning ritual, it helps focus the mind – we are creatures of habit, so we find comfort in routine!
Morning rituals also help you start the morning with a positive mindset – if you feel like you have already accomplished something; it helps you feel more enthusiastic towards ticking off your to-do list. Find it difficult to get started? You aren’t alone – it’s human psychology, we really struggle to get momentum going. But once it’s set off, we are capable of being really productive.
Another fun science fact about morning rituals: we only have a limited amount of willpower and self-control, so naturally it will be at its peak first thing in the morning. This means if you’ve got an important (or unpleasant) task, the best time of day to tackle it is early on. Plus, if you’ve got your head in the right space with a morning ritual, it will make it easier to deal with this job.
Finding your rituals.
What does this all mean? There are three steps you should follow:
Get clear on your goals. Take time to set the goals that mean the most to you and your growth. Set your goals to challenge you. Set them in various areas of your life and over different time frames too.
Decide how you create daily rituals that drive you. You may want to do what John does with his goals, reading them before going to bed and when you wake in the morning. You may find a different ritual works best for you. The point is to find the daily practice that keeps you aligned with your goals.
Commit to your rituals for a month. Give yourself 30 days to make it work for you. This may challenge you, which is good. Over one month, you will begin to see a benefit of your new ritual.
When setting goals, Iook to who you are and be grateful for what you have. Focus on a positive emotional state to accomplish the goals you want to reach.
Why not create your ritual today and share it in the comments below? Let’s inspire each other to try something new and see results!
Thanks for reading, Love Will x