We all have rituals, even if we don’t refer to them in those terms. They’re simply the tasks we do on a regular, even daily, basis. They’re so woven into our days that we’re on autopilot when we do them. Things like showering and getting ready for bed, setting up the coffee maker for the next morning, going on a run, or even how we spend time relaxing. Sometimes we introduce new rituals into our days to help us frame our time better, or to become a better version of ourselves.
The challenge comes when our rituals feel more like pain than pleasure. If our rituals become an obstacle rather than a path to more freedom, that can lead to a lot of frustration. It doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, it shouldn’t be.
We get to decide how we want to frame our days. We determine what we need in order to be more focused, productive, and relaxed. Rituals are just a means to that end. So we can adjust them as we need. But where do you begin?
Everyone can ensure their rituals are working for them by asking themselves these two questions:
- How do I want to feel? You get to decide the feeling you want to generate through your ritual. Do you want to feel relaxed? Do you want to feel at peace? Do you want to feel empowered or inspired? It can be easy to look at someone else’s rituals and decide you want to do the same thing. What works for them might not work for you, though. It might not produce the feeling you hope to have. It’s perfectly okay to look to others for inspiration. But ultimately you have to design the rituals that are both best for you and meet that goal of how you want to feel coming out of them.
- Do my current rituals contribute to the feeling I want to have? One of the best things you can do is start by writing down what you already do. Then reassess each part of your rituals. Do they produce the feeling you want to have? If not, you can eliminate them. Or, you can add a new component to get the result you want. Maybe a ritual does produce a feeling you want to have, just not at the right time of day. Don’t be afraid to move different parts of your rituals around. If you feel too tired to exercise in the evening, kickstart your day with a morning workout instead. You are free to do the things you want when it’s best for you.
Asking these two questions forces you to slow down and take stock of your emotions. It might not seem like it, but our emotions play a big part in our ability to be focused and productive. It’s not just about what’s happening outside us; it’s also about what’s happening inside us. As scary as it can be, be honest with yourself.
How do you feel now versus how you want to feel? Do the rituals you currently have direct you toward that feeling, or are they working against you? Answer these questions honestly, and you’ll begin to feel more in control of your day and experience the cascading effect throughout.