A ritual is a carefully defined, highly structured behavior. Think of something as simple as brushing your teeth. Brushing your teeth is something to which you feel consistently drawn to complete. You never put brushing your teeth on a “to do” list.
This is what we want to achieve in our goals. Rather than forcibly push towards goals, the goal pulls us toward it.
Look at Where You are Best
Look at any part of your life in which you are consistently effective and you will find that certain habits help make that possible:
• If you eat in a healthy way, it is probably because you have built routines around the food you buy and what you are willing to order at restaurants.
• If you are fit, it is probably because you have regular days and times for working out.
• If you are successful in a sales job, you probably have a ritual of mental preparation for calls and ways that you talk to yourself to stay positive in the face of rejection.
• If you manage others effectively, you likely have a style of giving feedback that leaves people feeling challenged rather than threatened.
• If you are closely connected to your spouse and your children, you probably have rituals around spending time with them.
• If you sustain high positive energy despite an extremely demanding job, you almost certainly have predictable ways of insuring that you get intermittent recovery.
Great performers rely on positive rituals to manage their energy and achieve their goals. You too can do it!
Why Positive Rituals are Important
Positive energy rituals reduce the need to rely on our limited conscious willpower to take action. They help us be in an “auto pilot mode” to complete what we seek motivation to do.
What exactly happens when you create a Success Ritual?
You would have probably heard it takes 21-30 days to create a new habit. Let me tell what exactly happen in these 1-30 days.
Day 1: “Gravity phase”
In this phase, you incorporate a new ritual into your life. This is the gravity phase, and you can expect a gravity pull to stop you on the action. In this phase, you work against your body’s gravity to get something done.
Day 10: “Resistance”
In this phase, you start feeling better, though you have some internal resistance here and there.
Day 20: “Acclamation”
Your new ritual (change in life pattern) starts becoming integrated in your life. Now, it starts feeling like a natural thing to do. It is becoming part of your personality or routine.
Day 30: Your habit is now part of your life insha’Allah.
Ask anyone who is consistent in doing exercise, and you can see he has built a routine for that. If you ask them how it was “before” – they might tell you it was difficult for them to go and consistently do exercise. If you ask them, how easy it is for them “now” to exercise and work out, they will say it is very easy and natural for them to do. This is because having a routine in place made them overcome the first 20 days, and now it is part of their daily schedule. They do it without even thinking too much of it. That is the power of routine!
A Sample of Morning Success Ritual
Here is an example of a morning ritual of a friend of mine (this ritual is in addition to the daily fajr prayer).
After my friend wakes up, he drinks a bottle of water.
Then for one hour, he has something called “Hour of Power” – he uses this time for exercise/stretching/breathing exercises/reading/writing/listening to motivational tapes, etc. If he uses his hour of power for exercise that day, he likes doing it in the gym because he sees other people also working out with him, and it motivates him further! If he is unable to go to gym, he does this in his home.
After his work-out he takes shower, gets dressed and has a healthy breakfast.
Then he spends 90 minutes on a fully focused work (MVP task – Most Valuable Priority task). To minimize distraction, he turns off his phone and doesn’t check his email during this time. If there is something that he needs motivation to do, he schedules it in this 90 min slot.
Then he takes a twenty-minute recovery break— takes a walk, drinks some fruit juice, etc.
After that, he has another 90 min focused MVP session.
During this total 3 hours of focused morning work, he is able to get nearly twice as much as he had sitting at his desk for up to ten hours a day in previous years.
During the evening, he has planned events such as other physical activities or games he plays. All these are planned, and he says to me that this routine has tremendously improved his productivity and motivation.
This is the power of a great “ritual” in our life.
You can adapt it based on what activities are important to you. Also, make a routine that best suit your personal situations –for example, if you work from home, you will have a different routine than someone who has a 1 hour commute to an office. Adapt it to your need, but make sure you have one!
Are Rituals Boring or Exciting?
Unfortunately, many of us have negative associations with rituals. When a ritual begins to feel empty, stale and even oppressive, the likely explanation is that it has lost its connection to deeply held values.
Without the structure and clarity they provide, we are forever vulnerable to the urgent demands in our lives, the temptations of the moment and the limits of our conscious will and discipline. On the other hand, if our rituals become too rigid, unvarying and linear, the eventual consequence is boredom, disengagement and even diminished passion and productivity. What we need is a balance which you must find and implement accordingly.
Power of Daily Breathing Exercise
Here is another example of a friend’s routine. I will let him describe it in his own words:
“There is one ritual that literally changed my life. It is the daily breathing exercise and gratitude journal ritual I have. I have a special diary called “gratitude journal”. Every evening after work, I sit down, and start taking deep breaths. Then, I open my gratitude journal, and write down “ONE” thing that I am grateful for that day. It may be the fact that I am still alive and breathing, or it may be a quality time I spent with a loved one or being grateful that there are mentors and resources for me that are luxury for many people in the world.
After writing this down, I start my breathing exercise…During this breathing time, I go over all the entries in my gratitude journal. I do this for 5-10 minutes…
This 10 minute daily “gratitude” time has brought miraculous changes to how I see the world, and how I handle daily life stress (I dislike the word “stress” because I see any problem/stress as an opportunity to make myself better). This 10 minute daily breathing has given me a huge edge in my willpower and motivation. You can try it too!”
Create One Routine at a Time
Many times we have the habit of trying to change ourselves all at once. This puts strain on our inner “resistance” and we will be back to our old life again quickly. However, working on one new ritual per month is best.
Imagine, in one year you will have 12 new rituals!
So what is the on new ritual you want to add to your life for next 30 day?
Read Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 4 | Part 5
About the Author
SuccessMuslim (www.successmuslim.com) is a personality development, success-coaching and mentoring website for Muslims. “Success, achieving our best, win duniya and akhira” is the theme of this site. SuccessMuslim is the first Islamic website to completely focus on personality development articles topics. And it is FREE.