As a virtual keynote speaker who provides strategies for successful behavioral change, resolutions are so last year. Why? Without massive desire and discipline, individuals fail to achieve their stated goals. And to avoid feeling like a failure, yet again, most people avoid setting resolutions. I should know, as I spent years making and breaking resolutions as a former compulsive overeater. If long-lasting, behavioral change is your goal, you must choose rituals over resolutions.
If you religiously read your child a bedtime story, listen to your favorite podcast, but only while exercising, or enjoy your first cup of java while journaling, you know the power of rituals.
Rituals help us:
- Connect to each other and to ourselves.
- Feel a sense of control and calm.
- Develop positive habits with less struggle.
Think of Rituals as Habits 2.0.
Let us assume, for example, one of your goals is to practice mindfulness to reduce stress. Let us also assume, no matter how groggy you are upon waking, you go straight to the bathroom and brush your teeth. This happens because your brain has performed the same action over and over in a similar environment and the habit is ingrained. Since research states an effective way to develop a new habit is to tie it to an existing one, why not practice mindfulness while brushing your teeth to create a new ritual?
Upon waking and making your way to the bathroom sink, choose to breathe slowly and deliberately through your nose as you notice the paste glide on to the electric brush. Following, close your eyes. As the brush enters your mouth, feel the pulsing sensation as the bristles cross your gums. Taste the paste. When the brush stops, rinse, and take a final deep breath. Open your eyes and smile knowing this quiet, mindful start to your day also gave your brain a brushing. After all, this ritual eliminates negative mental chatter such as, “Gee, my face needs ironing,” or “I slept like crap and have so much to get done today!”
Given my own goal of setting myself up for success, not stress, two years ago I adopted a “Scene Before Screen” morning ritual. Years of checking email before my feet even hit the floor caught up with me. I realized it was time to take back control and start my day with what I desired from the world, rather than what the world desired from me.
Now when the alarm goes off, I grab my robe, head to the kitchen, open the blinds, turn on the coffee, and stare out my window. I remain long enough for a gratitude practice and then pour myself a fresh-brewed cup of joe. Only then do I grab my phone, and some mornings, I postpone the inevitable until after my shower. This ritual follows me on the road where my hotel views run the gamut from breathtaking skylines to oversized air conditioning units. (Post-pandemic, I will even appreciate an AC unit view!)
Reworking current rituals can move you closer to what you want, as well. How? Research suggests replacing, rather than erasing, a habit leads to better outcomes, as it demands less brainpower.
Perhaps over the past year, you have poured yourself a nightly glass of vino during dinner prep. This ritual takes your mind off work and helps you shift gears, but the calories and your dependence are adding up. Dry January is the goal. Sounds simple enough until you walk into your kitchen at dinner time loaded with environmental and emotional triggers. Up your success by grabbing your go-to wine glass but replace the vino with sparkling water. If your Netflix bedtime ritual conflicts with your sleep goals, replace stimulating blue lights with lights out thanks to an Audible book.
Whether you want to remove the quarantine fifteen, learn a new skill or move more, rituals, not resolutions, will support your efforts. Unfortunately, rituals are not the only requirement for long-lasting change. Heck, my 50 lb. weight loss took a multitude of strategies to achieve: Own your why; set realistic goals; see where you want to be; feel, heal, and deal with emotions; take micro-steps; and support setbacks with “if-then” planning. I also found having someone to hold your hand or hold you accountable dramatically helps. Yet, I also know the weight has stayed off for decades due to daily rituals I still practice. Bottom line: Rituals rock and will support you on your journey.
At the heart of every sale, every interaction between a leader and a team member, every conversation with a customer…. is a connection. And most importantly, connection begins within. How to make those connections effective, and leverage them for greater success, is the thread that is woven into every one of Colette Carlson’s presentations. For more information on Colette’s customized, virtual or in-person programs, give us a call.