The Power of Rituals

Rituals are habits that are part of our day-to-day activities that lead to desired outcomes. Rituals shape the way our brains are feeling, thinking and acting. Rituals signal to us that it’s time for a specific mindset or activity. They act as triggers to more effortlessly get us ready for what we need to do.

Rituals and the way they make us feel, actually set our brains up for the day about whether we’re going to be in this more expanded thinking space or much more narrow thinking space and the consequences that can have on our performance.

Rituals can also frame your day. When you have that first-thing ritual of sitting with your coffee, reading, or meditating for 10 minutes, it can help you feel grounded and ready to tackle what’s ahead. Similarly, a closing ritual, where you close out the work you’re doing for the day, review what’s coming up, and get yourself organized for the following day helps you sharpen your focus on those specific areas. It makes it easier for many people to let go of the workday instead of bringing it home with them, since you’re receiving a clear signal that you’re done.

But rituals can—and should—be incorporated into your workday to address specific needs. You can intentionally use rituals to improve performance. When you think about combining them as combinations of small habits, you can suddenly find ways to integrate the things you want to incorporate into your day.

Recognize the components and rework your ritual in a satisfying way that becomes an effortless habit over time. Then, think about incorporating the same cue-retain-reward pattern into behaviors you want to cultivate. Look at the types of rituals that can help you focus before a presentation so you’re at the top of your game. That might mean finding five minutes in a room by yourself to write down three key goals for the presentation, breathe deeply, and use affirmations to get yourself in the right mindset.

Summing-up: Are you feeling scattered or unfocused? Adding a ritual or two to your day may be just the ticket to snap out of it.

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