We’ve all heard it many times — New Year’s resolutions don’t stick. It’s been said that more than 80% of people don’t stick to their resolutions beyond the first 3 weeks of the New Year. Rather than writing another pseudo-scientific diatribe on why that’s the case, here’s a more empowering process that gets to the RESULT part, and leaves the rationalization part where it belongs (in the past!).
The concept I want to share with you is something I call “getting leverage over yourself.” My own experience has shown me again and again that when I want to make any kind of meaningful change in my life I am the biggest obstacle. In other words, I have to get out of my own way or nothing I want ever materializes. Sound familiar?
To get out of my way I have to get leverage over my habitual procrastination and fear-based storytelling. Since “environment is stronger than willpower” (love that Bucky Fuller quote), I have to put myself in the best mental, physical, and spiritual starting point for success. This “leveraged” start-point is not in the form of affirmations or “resolutions” as is the case for more than 60% of everyone at the start of a new year.
My own place of beginning is always action-oriented. Whereas a resolution is a “firm promise to do or not to do something,” a ritual is all about actions. In this context, ritual has no religious association other than the fact that rituals have been used in organizing people and resources around spiritual beliefs for thousands of years–so they have clearly had an impact. For me rituals are practices that are created for the conscious purpose of making changes. A capital R “ritual” as I’m using it is simply a conscious practice of doing something at a specific time each day for a specific period of time (usually a minimum of 21 days).
Let’s use health and wellness as a typical example of a New Year’s resolution. You know you want a better body, more energy — basically a healthier you. Instead of promising yourself that you’re going to go to the gym or do yoga 5 times a week or anything else that you’ve quit before, I invite you to create a ritual for better health. Not exactly clear on what I mean?
Well, here’s a ritual that I adopted last March was to make a positive impact on how I felt about my health. I decided to make a green drink every morning (spinach, celery, avocado, almond milk and some other good stuff). I started the knowledge that for a new practice (a/k/a a ritual) to become a habit I would need to do the same thing (make and consume the drink) every day for at least 3 weeks. As it turned out, it’s been more than 8 months and I’ve barely missed a day — even when traveling in Europe over the summer. And, P.S., I feel better about my health than I have in a long time.
Is this resonating? If yes, these three steps will help you to more easily implement and practice the art of rituals in your daily life:
Step 1: Choose a specific area of your life that you have a strong desire to positively impact.
To use my example above, the BIG area I desired to create positive change was in my health and wellness, but the smaller and more actionable area for my focus became changing my morning routine for at least three weeks. This was a very specific target area that I could really create massive focus and attention on.
Step 2: Create a new ritual
Once I knew I wanted to create a positive change in my morning routine, I thought of one new ritual that I could easily implement. A key ingredient in this process is to create a ritual that is measurable and easy to track. For example: had I said “I’m going to transform my health and create new morning rituals!” – I wouldn’t be setup for success, as it’s hard to measure the above statement. Instead, I said “I’m going to transform my health by making the commitment to drink a green juice each morning consistently for the next 21 days.” Ask yourself, how can I create a new ritual that sets me up to WIN?
Step 3: Celebrate your win
It’s important to have people in your life that can help you celebrate your wins–people that will hold you to your highest (hold you accountable out of their own desire to see you succeed). For my health ritual I partnered with my wife you also decided to participate in the juicing ritual. We took turns preparing the drink each morning and shopped together for the ingredients. So whatever the ritual you choose to create remember to celebrate your success at keeping your commitment!
All change begins with a DECISION to take one step in the right direction. I would love to know what specific and measurable decision are you ready to make in your life this year? Comment below and let me know what ritual you’re 100% committed to doing in 2017! I believe in YOU and look forward to reading your rituals below 🙂