When is the last time you started fresh? I mean truly, thoughtfully, found the reset button that’s hidden somewhere deep in the nook of your mind and pressed it firmly with the intention to move forward in a new direction? Maybe you tossed that pack of cigarettes in the trash can, or you purged your fridge of processed foods and joined the gym down the street. Or could it be that your goal was more subtle? Maybe you decided that it was high time to be more present; to embody the body that you were blessed with and live life in real-time.
No matter the intention, be it part of a long list, or a single ambition, finding the courage to take a leap forward into uncharted territory can be a brooding challenge for us all. For this reason, we often wait for a milestone to arrive before we feel empowered enough to initiate the change. And, now, here we are, possibly the biggest milestone of all is upon us. Welcome to 2021: the age of flying cars and teleportation! What a time to be alive! Okay, okay, so perhaps we’re not quite there yet and these are just futuristic visions I had conjured up as a child, but the point remains, we are officially living in a time when just about anything is possible. From designer bodies to designer homes, we have the ability to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, does this rump spark joy? And if it doesn’t? Well, what better time than today, the beginning of an era, to do something about it, right?
Whatever your goal may be, one thing is certain, you have every intention to achieve it and in a world where achieving your goals has never been so possible, the pressure is palpable!
There is nothing wrong with awaiting a milestone to embark upon a new journey, let’s start there. A new year’s resolution, for example, can be the perfect opportunity to take action. But what impact does a single action have without commitment to the outcome? Here is where the concept of replacing a resolution with a ritual comes into play. In this article, we’ll examine four steps on how to make the change last.
In the simplest sense, a ritual is a rite or a repeated set of actions. The objective is to take your resolution and attach it to a repeated set of meaningful actions that will reinforce your commitment to achieving your goal. This act of moving from resolution to ritual can also bring you a much-needed sense of peace during this transitional time. Take, for example, a goal that many of us have in our lives and businesses: to increase revenue and decrease expenses. If we make our goal, or resolution, about a number, our brain will have no attachment to it; there’s no emotion, thus, no intrinsic motivation. Define why that increased revenue is so meaningful to you. Will it result in more freedom, ease, security, confidence, fun, peace, or adventure? Define what achieving this goal will do for you, as a human on this planet. (This is why step 1 below is so paramount!) Now that the importance of adding meaning to your resolution has been established, let’s figure out how to get from ambition to celebration!
Well, we all know that the start of a new year, and in this case the beginning of a decade, is accompanied by great expectations. Excitement is in the air and nostalgia is rampant so it only makes sense that self-reflection is thrust upon us. There is value in this self-reflection. In fact, this is where we must begin.
1. Acquire knowledge of self.
This is the very first step to deciding upon your ritual. The only way to acquire knowledge of self is to pause and reflect. This is the greatest gift you can give to yourself. To take the time to lower the volume on the outside world so that you can truly hear what your body is saying is the first and most important action one must take before moving forward in a way that is meaningful. How else but through listening and feeling will you understand what your true needs are?
By this time, you may have already decided upon a resolution, in fact, you’ve never counted down with more zeal to get things started. How are things going now that the streamers have fallen and the balloons have shrivelled? A couple of weeks into the New Year and you might already find yourself struggling to stick to your resolve. You had good intentions and you were highly motivated but life may have gotten in the way of your commitments. If you can relate to the internal conflict of wanting it, but not doing it, then you are not alone. According to U.S News & World Report, 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. Shocking isn’t it? Well no, not really if we’re being honest with ourselves because we all know that the newly crowded gyms and the increased foot traffic along the outdoor trails lessen long before the snow melts. This occurrence is what I like to call ritual regression and the next three points on how to make your ritual last are dedicated to avoiding this pitfall so that you can find yourself sitting confidently among the 20 percent of those who follow through.
Commit to taking quiet time and creating space for yourself to pause and reflect as you move into Step 2. Block an hour in your calendar for resolution reevaluation.
2. Examine the motivation of your resolution by defining your needs
Not all rituals are created equal so it is important to find out what lies behind them and create goals that are rooted in meaning. This way, you can bypass the self-sabotage that occurs when goals are misguided. In other words, what is your motivation? What are the true needs that you will meet by achieving your goal? After careful consideration, you might find that your goal was inherently flawed, and so stumbling into the territory of the woeful 80 percent was, in fact, inevitable. But before we allow shame to consume us, let’s dig a little deeper. If the goal, for instance, was to be skinny rather than to be fit, you might have found yourself dipping in and out of a fad diet instead of being tethered to a more constructive goal like getting healthy. Deeper still, what does healthy feel like, and what needs will be met as you achieve this? Increased energy might equal greater connection to your kids. Better sleep may equate to more peace. Dropping two inches off your waistline might mean greater self-love.
A ritual of being bound to a scale, rather than aligned with the surge of endorphins that occur when living an active lifestyle, leaves little room for meaningfulness to be the driving force of the goal.
Awesome! Now circle any Needs in the list below that illustrate the deeper motivation for achieving the goal. Feel free to add your own.
Now you know WHY you’ve defined this goal, but WHAT are you going to do to make this dream a reality?
3. Define the actual rituals (aka meaningful, daily activities)
The goal (that lofty thing that we define and hope to achieve sometime in the future) can remain as your vision and guidepost. Rituals are the things you will choose to do every day to ensure those goals become a reality. These are the things you resolve to do; the meaningful daily activities that you must carve out the time for in your calendar.
No, really, do this! Define at what frequency and time you will do each of these rituals and block out time to make them happen. Sound like a lot? If this level of commitment sounds like too much, then revisit your original goals, return to steps 1 and 2, and define a resolution that you’re fully committed to achieving. Review your needs to connect at a deeper level and ensure that you’re actually willing to GO ALL IN!
Alrighty then, now that you’ve returned to the drawing board and reevaluated the meaning of your resolution, rooted in some blissed-out self-reflection, how else can you add permanency to your ritual? It is important to note that we are responsive, sentient beings and we are heavily influenced by our surroundings. Just as the sun and moon influence our circadian rhythm, those around us strongly impact our psyche, ultimately, swaying our actions. This brings us to our final tip on how to avoid ritual regression.
4. Surround yourself with those who will support your rituals
A major snare that often leads to ritual regression is a lack of support surrounding your rituals. Be sure to intentionally immerse yourself with individuals who will encourage you. Place yourself in environments that will nourish and support the changes that you are trying to make. This may mean having to limit your interactions with those who trigger particular weaknesses, or encourage sameness. But the wonderful news is that this move will simultaneously create space for wonderful new relationships and goal attainment! This new support system will help facilitate your positive changes, thus, emboldening you to stick to your resolve, and brightening your life!
Okay, I know that might have been a lot to take in so let’s make these tips bite-sized and wrap them in a bow:
Four Steps That Will Turn Your Resolutions Into Achievements
Acquire self-knowledge via self-reflection. (Meditation is a great way!)
Make your resolutions more meaningful by defining your needs.
Define the recurring rituals that will lead to you reaching your goal.
Surround yourself with people who will support your rituals.
And remember, friends, every day is a new beginning. You’re not always going to be at your best. You’ll be tired, frustrated and busy. Give yourself the grace to be human. None of us are perfect. The worst thing you can do is throw in the towel because you missed a day (or week) of your rituals. The best thing you can do is notice that you’ve fallen off pace and applaud yourself for noticing. Then, revisit WHY you chose these rituals in the first place and get back to pursuing that guidepost!
Food for Afterthought:
Choose an Area of Life where you would like to experience positive movement: relationships, work/career, family, finance, health, knowledge, self-love, self-growth
What is a meaningful goal you would like to accomplish in an Area of Life above?
What needs would be met for you in accomplishing this goal?
Slowly and deliberately go over the list of needs that you defined. Taste. Every. Word.
What rituals (daily activities) will help you to meet your needs? Enjoy naming them!
How will you enjoy meeting your needs today?
To your wellness and joy, always!