Own Your Life Through Your Rituals

I have been reading a lot lately about the power of daily routines: morning routines, bedtime routines, etc. This seems to be a popular topic in the leadership and wellness literature lately. In this article by Alan Henry at Lifehacker.com, I saw not only a great method for helping you to create one, but Alan goes into why you ought to have little rituals… habits that control your day.

Why have rituals? First, they help you de-stress. I am sure that stress creeps into your life from time to time. If you don’t have positive ways of dealing with it, you will adopt negative ways. And that leads to the second reason to adopt rituals: having positive ways of dealing with stress leaves less room for negative ways to creep in. As the Og Mandino said in The Greatest Salesman in the World, “If I must be a slave to my habits, I will form good habits and become their slave.”

Alan shares a three-step process for creating a ritual-habit for dealing stress:

  1. Track your mood and identify your stress points. Find out what causes your stress by keeping a log or journal about your mood. Try to pinpoint what causes the stresses in your life. Are there common themes?
  2. Define your “Interventions,” or rituals you want to pick up. What can you do to take a break from the stress? Something that can be done almost anywhere, so that you can deal with stress even if you aren’t in a familiar environment? As you find these things that can help you deal with the stress, figure ways to automatically trigger the response when the stress goes off. Psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson, PhD calls these “if-then” plans. Planting them into your mind will create triggers to help you when the stress begins.
  3. Make it a habit. Now take your budding rituals and make them part of your routine, using them even when you don’t have stress. When you can call your calming ritual to mind even when you are not stressed, soon the stress will have less power over you because you have developed a means of being calm even before the trouble hits. This detachment leads to emotional stability.

One other reason to create rituals is that they can keep you in touch with the things you value most. How many of us get caught up in the day-to-day and lose sight of the things we value? Stopping and taking a little time out, whether for self-care or self-study or anything else you value ensures that you will live your value… and become a slave to them…

What rituals have you developed for yourself? Why not share them in the comments section below?

How Personal Rituals Can Improve Your Health (and How to Build Them) by Alan Henry at Lifehacker.com


What to Do — and Not

Man-Working-TableA couple of years back on the Chic-fil-A Leadercast, John Maxwell was having a conversation with Good to Great author JIm Collins and Jim mentioned that he has a “to-do” list AND a “to-don’t” list. Author Peter Bergman recently blogged about this topic at Lifehacker.

Peter shared a story about how busy we can get doing things because we are trying to leverage our time, etc. He was running late to a meeting and as he entered the elevator where his client’s office was located, he pulled out his smartphone and began typing an email to the CEO with whom he was meeting. When the elevator stopped, still typing away, he started to get off when a familiar voice said, “Wrong floor.” Of course, it was his client!

His client was a finalist for an “entrepreneur of the year” award, and was just returning from a meeting with the judges. He had made two explicit decisions before entering the room with the judges: he wanted to win; and he was not going to look at his Blackberry while in the room.

Many of us know what we want, but how many of us know what we don’t want? As Bergman points out, many keep lists of what they want, but how many keep a list of things we don’t want?

Rather than Collins’ cute “to-do / to-don’t” names, Bergman calls his lists:

  • Your Focus List (the road ahead)
  • Your Ignore List (the distractions)

Isn’t that the real challenge we have, keeping focused and ignoring distractions?

Develop your own lists and review them daily. When you know what you really want and what you need to avoid, you will be more productive and increase your influence with others.


Two Lists You Should Look at Every Morning at Lifehacker