Changing your life requires action: the power of rituals
ACT – Action Changes Things
You know how I have been saying for the last few weeks that change is hard? And that it works best when there’s a method in there somewhere? And most importantly of all, that once all the foundations have been laid with regards to values, visions and intentions then the magic only really happens when there’s action?
Well this week we get into that action.
And with my clients I start this part of the journey off with a little exercise to get them thinking about how they are currently utilising their time. It’s important to know what you’re currently spending your precious time doing if it’s not working for you, so that you can do something different.
Did you know that we spend about 40% of our time every day just doing our habits? Our habits and routines are the things that we mindlessly do simply because over time they have evolved and stuck. And now we habitually do them.
Earlier this year, while Andrew was busy looking for a new job after being made redundant, the morning energy shifted massively in our house. Previously, we were both up and busy doing life from about 6:30am as Andrew left the house by 7am for work. However, while he wasn’t working we got into this habit of waking up at 6:30am but instead of getting on with life we’d take a cup of tea back to bed and scroll through the socials (and sometimes the news) for an hour before I really needed to get up and get the children ready for school and me to the PT Studio for clients. A whole hour of mindless scrolling! Let me tell you, we slipped into that habit SO easily.
I like to differentiate between habits and rituals. Rituals are a superior version of a habit.
For me, habits just happen. They evolve over time. We slip into routines or patterns of behaviour and before long they become habits. Sometimes they’re really positive and add a huge amount to our lives, like back when I was getting up every morning at the crack of dawn to train in the pool every day.
Sometimes though they don’t serve our lives positively. Maybe they did once, but don’t anymore. Or sometimes (like with the whole morning social media scroll) they didn’t ever really add anything to our lives.
A bit like decluttering your home this is something best done in baby steps.
look at a typical day – where are you ‘habitually doing’, as opposed to mindfully acting?
are any of these habits positively serving your life right now? If so, hold that thought and look at creating rituals below.
which habits are no longer serving you?
look at these and consider what is cueing the behaviour? If you don’t understand the triggers and the motivations behind these habits, it’s much harder to turn them around.
look at creating mindful rituals that serve your core values and vision. Ultimately these will be acts that bring us closer to living the kind of life we’re striving for.
The power of a ritual
Human beings are kind of hardwired to love rituals. We have evolved with them as part of our DNA. Some cultures still have wonderfully rich and detailed rituals that are very much engrained in modern-day life. However, most of us in the ‘West’ have lost a lot these sacred spaces in our lives and in our daily practice. So there is something inherently comforting and delightful about creating rituals for yourself.
Remember a ritual is simply an act that you perform mindfully. It doesn’t need to be in any way, religious or spiritual (though it may be of course). It doesn’t need to be complicated or ceremonial, expensive and it should never feel hard. To me a ritual is something that I long to do. It’s something I really miss if I can’t or don’t do. They are deeply personal and unique, though as you’ll see in a moment, many are just personalised variations of ancient practices. Others will be utterly spontaneous and only ever make sense to you and your heart and soul.
I’m going to share a few of my personal rituals that I live my life through. They serve to enrich and further my dreams. And they have evolved to suit my life now. They’ve been tweaked A LOT! But they work for me and I thought that learning about some of mine, might encourage you or maybe even inspire you to create some of your own.
And I’ve typed it like that because that’s how I write it in my journal. It’s my own acronym that stands for:
Meditation Journalling Movement
And it has the love-hearts because it reminds me to do it all with tons of self-love! Remember the silly morning social media habit? Well as soon as Andrew started his new job I totally decluttered the shit out that one and created ♥MJM♥. Whilst I’d been doing all three elements at various stages of my day I had never combined them and scheduled them like this before. It made sure I prioritised them above all else. And crucially it ensured that I set my self-care above everyone and everything else. I give to myself first so that I can then give to others.
So now, every morning between 6:30-7:30am I am in my studio where I spend a whole hour meditating, journaling and doing some gentle yoga flow and stretches to set me up for my day. I light a candle, drink tea, sit in quiet and I listen to some music. But I do it all to fill me up before I spend my day giving away. Tell me that doesn’t make you want to join me tomorrow morning?
Ok, so maybe you won’t want to do what I do. You probably won’t. And even if you did, you’d do it your way. And that is entirely the point. Maybe it wouldn’t be at 6:30am, maybe it would be at 9pm. Perhaps for you it’s doing some full on hardcore workout, or painting or singing or sewing. Whatever gets you in your flow. That thing that fills your soul. Do that.
(I’m doing to do a bit more of a deep dive into journalling and meditation in a few weeks time so if you want to know more, just hang on in there.)
This ritual I have fully adopted from the awesome entrepreneur Amy Porterfield and basically I’d really encourage you to listen to this podcast because she explains really well why she needed to create this space in her diary.
It’s called Tiger Time because she protects it like a mother tiger protecting her cubs. In essence, it is time that I block out in my diary to focus on my business. It’s now – every Tuesday afternoon – so that I can write my blog and build my newsletter for the week. Because I’d always end up putting that work to the bottom of my to-do list. A bit like my ♥MJM♥ it wasn’t happening consistently enough to enable me to pursue my dreams. How could I build my PT business or launch my coaching business if I wasn’t marketing it. And blogging and sending out my newsletter – creating content – is a huge part of that for me.
Tiger Time is a diarised weekly ritual for me. It is mindful and it is directly attached to my vision and my intentions. Tiger Time is why for the last two months I have had new content published on a weekly basis. It’s also why you’ve been getting so many newsletters.
This one might seem like a really strange ritual but as a mindful act it really fits into the ritual bucket. Much like with the social media stuff I realised that I had all this time sitting in the car listening to the terrible adverts on the radio. So now I listen to podcasts. It’s amazing the things I’ve learned about in recent months – do you know about bitcoin?! Neither did I.
See how rituals don’t need to be fussy? It’s not about incense and candles, chanting or prayer. It’s about choosing do do things that add to your life, rather than take away. We are all so time poor that to me it just makes common sense to be spending time on valuable activities that bring you joy and above all bring you closer to that best, most fulfilled version of yourself.