When is the last time you set goals that were fresh?
I mean truly, thoughtfully, pressed the reset button of your mind 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 or joined the gym down the street. Or maybe you recently decided to be more present and live life in real-time.
Whatever your goal was, the challenge was probably in finding the courage to take action.
And then, if you did start to take action, the next challenge was likely continuing to take action until you reached your goal. What impact does a single action have without commitment to the outcome?
This is where the concept of replacing a goal with a ritual comes into play. In this article, we’ll examine the four steps to guide you to set goals that will help you find success and lead well.
Ritual Is the Path to Achieve Your Set Goals
In the simplest sense, a ritual is a rite or a repeated set of actions.
When you attach your goal to a repeated set of meaningful actions, you will reinforce your commitment to achieving that goal.
This act of moving from goal to ritual can also bring you a sense of peace instead of the normal anxiety we experience when we set goals. Seeing the path to your goal as paved with ritual allows you to find more meaning in those goals, and therefore feel more attachment. That’s going to increase the likelihood that you actually reach them.
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 about a number, our brain will have no attachment to it. If there’s no emotion, thus, no intrinsic motivation.
But maybe you want to grow your business so you can help more kids learn how to read. Or maybe you want to decrease your monthly expenses so you can spend a month in the Dominican Republic with your family this year. With a reason to keep up with your rituals, you have motivation.
So, how do you get to the heart of that motivation so you can start moving forward with ritual?
It’s time to think about a goal you have now, one you recently set, or one that you’ve wanted to set but have maybe been too afraid of because you weren’t sure you could achieve it.
Step 1: Acquire Knowledge of Self
To get anywhere, we must begin with self-reflection.
The only way to acquire true knowledge of self is to pause and reflect. Take the time to lower the volume on the outside world so you can truly hear what your body and heart are saying.
This is also the very first step to discovering your inner motivation — what will ultimately drive you across that finish line.
Now, a reflection activity: Think of your goal. Pick one for now. Describe what achieving this goal will do for you or allow you to do. Write it down.
Well done! You’ve crossed the first hurdle and are already on your way to more successful goal setting.
Ok, so now that you know the importance your goal will have in your life, let’s figure out how to get you from ambition to celebration.
The next three steps will help you avoid goal regression and keep you going forwards towards your goals. Ritual is what helps you follow through.
Step 2. Define Your Needs
Not all rituals are created equal.
To dig deeper into our internal motivation and commit to ritual, we have to understand the needs our goal is meeting for us. This way, we can bypass the self-sabotage that occurs when goals are misguided. After careful consideration, you may find that your goal is inherently flawed, and so not achieving it is, in fact, inevitable.
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 getting healthy. Deeper still, what does healthy feel like, and what needs will be met as you achieve this? Increased energy might equal a greater connection to your kids. Better sleep may equate to more peace.
A ritual of being bound to a scale, rather than aligned with the endorphins of an active lifestyle, leaves little room for meaning to drive you toward you goal.
Now a needs-identifying activity: Write down any needs from the list below that illustrate your deeper motivation for achieving your goal. Feel free to add your own!
Great! Now you know why you’ve defined this goal, but what are you going to do to make this dream a reality?
Step 3. Make Time for Rituals
Rituals are the things you will choose to do every day to ensure your set goals become a reality. They are the things you resolve to do — the meaningful daily activities that you must carve out the time for in your calendar.
Now a ritual-setting activity: Determine the frequency and time you will dedicate do each of the necessary rituals to reach your goal. Now, open your calendar and block out time to make them happen. Go ahead!
Sound like too much? If this level of commitment sounds like a lot to take on, then 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.
Remember, we are responsive beings and heavily influenced by our surroundings. Those around us strongly impact our psyche and can ultimately sway our actions.
This brings us to our final step in setting and achieving our goals.
Step 4. Surround Yourself with Support
As leadership coaches, we’ve found that a lack of support surrounding rituals often leads to ritual regression. Be sure to intentionally surround yourself with individuals who will encourage you. Place yourself in environments that will nourish and support the changes you are trying to make.
This may mean having to limit your interactions with those who trigger particular weaknesses, or who encourage sameness.
But this move will simultaneously create space for wonderful new relationships and goal attainment. It will help facilitate positive changes, embolden you to stick to your resolve, and may even brighten your life.
If you can follow these 4 steps, you could just achieve the goals you set.
Remember, 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 it.
Love this? Sign up for our free course: 4 Foolproof Steps to Communicate Better with Your Team to discover how conscious leaders can do better in the face of mistakes, misunderstandings, and miscommunication.