''The Ritual'' Examining your rituals!!
Two weeks ago, I started my bi-weekly discussions here on TAP with an article called Lead Thyself. Thus, and in accordance to all the love I've received since, Its only appropriate that i commence my next piece by thanking all of you for your love and support. Thank you again. The word “ritual” has a predominant religious connotation. For the purpose of this article, I will refer to the word “ritual” in the generic sense. On that note, the Oxford dictionary defines a ritual as “a series of actions or type of behaviour regularly and invariably followed by someone”.Take a minute and forget about that religious, sacrificial, ‘juju’ ritual ideology that may be lingering at the tip of your mind. Sure, you can’t erase a perception right now at this moment, I get it, it takes time to adjust to a new idea. But you can put it on pause at least until the end of this article. Thanks in advance. The term ritual can be used interchangeably with the words habit or routine.
Every humanoid has a ritual of some sort. Arguably, our rituals determine the direction of our day and ultimately influence our destiny. Aristotle simplified the latter in the following: “we are what we repeatedly do”. In retrospect, our results are in direct correlation with our actions.
I was recently pondering about certain results I was getting in certain departments of my life. And it occurred to me that I needed to adjust certain elements of my rituals, in order to get more satisfying results. The popular belief is that it takes approximately 21 days to acquire a new habit; however, more recent research indicates that the process of habit formation takes longer than that- on average it’s a 66 day journey (Lally, van Jaarsveld, Potts, & Wardle, 2010). Now, you may have a phantom feeling of having acquired a new routine or kicked a bad habit within a span of 3 weeks, but you have to persevere beyond 3 weeks to solidify your victory.
It’s interesting to note the extent to which our ritual creates a domino effect. In other words, what you repeatedly do in a particular department of your life will eventually influence other areas of your life. Take for example someone who has resolved to loose weight and get healthy in the New Year. Let’s say this individual has a predominantly sedentary lifestyle, less than ideal nutritional plan and about 66 pounds to loose to get healthy. Now, let’s assume this individual has engaged and successfully maintained an effective combination of exercise and nutritional lifestyle change. Now let’s zoom into 66 days later. Actually, let’s be generous and say 12 months later, this individual has achieved their weight loss goal and has maintained an active lifestyle. There is a significant probability that this individual’s relationships have changed (i.e. the individual probably gained new friends at the gym), their finance has changed (i.e. this individual probably no longer dines at McDiabetes on a predictable basis), this individual’s health has obviously changed significantly, and more importantly their perception has changed.
As the old adage states; everything begins in the mind! In retrospect, all this individual did was address one aspect of their life (i.e. health) and it had a domino effect on their relationship, finance and mind among other things. Perhaps, you’re like me and you’ve reviewed your results and realized that you need to adjust your ritual in order to get more effective results.Or you don’t have a set personal ritual other than your “9-5” and you live the rest of your life on the fly. There is ample evidence that positively favors the concept of having a plan. Once in a while, life grants us a surprise or two. Although we cannot plan for the unpredictable,we can certainly maximize our effective management of the predictable.
Do you ever wonder why is it that we all have 24 hours in a day but some become millionaires and others barely make a dollar a day? There are certainly significant factors that affect this discrepancy, such as; socio economic environment, culture and other predispositions. We can even narrow it down to 2 siblings who grew up in the same home, had similar experiences and access to the same resources, and yet one becomes a multi-millionaire and the other one lives from paycheck to paycheck. My point is that at the core, it comes down to one’s ritual. Ultimately, we all need a ritual, an effective one that is, because your tomorrow depends on it. It begins with making a plan, decide what result you want upfront then to the best of your abilities commit to a ritual (i.e. action plan) that will get you the results you want, or something relatively close in case there’s a surprise in the process. Maybe I make it sound like it’s as easy as 1, 2 and boom everything falls into place, as some of you may already know it doesn’t quite work like that. In reality, you may sweat a little or much, you may cry but eventually you will smile and you may even need to significantly adjust your plan and/or ritual. In all, having a plan plus effective action steps is usually worth the dividends. In relations to having a plan, Jim Rohn simplifies it quite well, he states; “never start the day until you have finished the day on paper”. This is a basic principle and an effective starting point.
How will you execute this ritual shenanigan again you ask? Well, you can start with baby steps, you and I are more inclined to walk barefoot through hot and potentially burning pebbles than climbing a challenging mountain for instance.But after you’ve successfully walked through the burning pebbles, the mountain will be less of a challenge.The point is baby steps condition you to take greater steps.
Once you’ve established your plan and incorporated your baby steps into your ritual it is best to find an accountability partner or two to hold you accountable. Unless of course you have super disciplinary powers and your plan is classified “secret”. Seriously, let’s not kid ourselves, a friend recently reminded me that “alone we go far, together we go further”. Accountability makes us more inclined to take personal responsibility; which improves our results. And it must be noted that if you’re trying to get to the Promised Land, don’t consult Pharaoh for support and directions- it’s just not going to happen. In other words, seek a wise accountability partner (haters and naysayers need not apply). For those of you who don’t have a set personal ritual or realize you need to adjust your ritual, today would be a great day to start. Remember that you have about 66 days to solidify your ritual, and if you happen to get that phantom feeling of “I have this ritual together” after 21 days, it’s just a phantom and maybe a little bit of momentum- the journey is not over yet.
Natacha Ntagara holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Rhetoric and Communications. She is a beachbody coach, avid reader and writer. She particularly enjoys reading, studying and writing about leadership and personal development. On her spare time, Natacha enjoys volunteering for local organizations and traveling to exotic locales. You can follow her bi-weekly articles here on tap magazine and connect with her on twitter @Nat Ntagara.