The people who I see succeeding generally, as in with everything they touch, all have a similar characteristic. They build rituals and habits.
I have a mindmap that I keep open on my right monitor with all of my daily rituals:
I’m not saying that these are rituals you should pick up, or that mine are the best rituals. I just wanted to explore the concept of rituals and habits in relation to success and, well, you write what you know.
Why do I have this list of things that I start my day with, and how does it help?
- It’s the kind of thing that has worked for me in the past.
- It’s a set of best practices.
- It keeps me organized and motivated.
- It’s a building block for something bigger.
- It’s a WHY.
Worked in the Past
This is probably the easiest thing for me to cling to: my rituals (or habits) are what worked for me in the past to feel in control of my health, wealth and relationships.
They say it takes three weeks to build a habit. When I went rock climbing I had to force myself for the first three weeks, but after that it was easy to just go on that specific day of the week. It was unfathomable for me to not go.
I’ve used this for everything from building a social circle, meeting dozens of women whom I could date and possibly fall in love with, to getting a big-ticket ($1,500+ per close) commission job and within weeks becoming the highest performing employee.
If it works, I might as well use it!
Rituals, in my mind, are day-to-day habits. They’re like incantations. So when I get into the office I sit down, open up Sublime Text in distraction-free mode and start writing. I write anything; it doesn’t matter.
The reason I do this is because my job is a creative, thoughtful one. I can’t innitiate something unless it’s been invented, a complicated process has been put in place, I’ve budgeted the time and money and hired the right vendors for the job. William Zinsser says that writing is thinking clearly, and I agree, so I write every day to improve my thoughts.
Writing is thinking clearly.
That sounds very thought-through, and so are my rules on focusing on just one client at a time and ignoring email until almost lunch time.
That’s kind of the point.
Compare a thought-through, ritualized morning versus a normal one in which you’re constantly putting out fires and struggling to decide which mission-critical task to work on first.
By four o’clock you’ve decided, and by seven you’ve left the office distraught.
Organization and Motivation
I’m motivated when I know that what I’m doing is effective.
If I told you that if you invested $100 today, I’d give you $120 tomorrow at no risk, you’d invest right away.
My job is taking someone’s money and making its use be more valuable than the number written on the paper. I’m required to do exactly this every day, and it’s easy when I’m running plays that are guaranteed to work.
But on days when I’m not sure, I spend more time frustrated than motivated. So I organize myself such that even if I don’t know what’s going to work, I’m at least preparing tomorrow or the next day to make me that $120 back.
Imagine if you went to the gym every day. That’s a lot. But now you’re the kind of person who goes to the gym every day.
You’ve just entirely changed yourself.
People will look at you differently, talk to you differently, and feel all of the non-tangible bits of your behaviour differently.
Now you’re ritualized.
And the thing with rituals is that when you start building them, they stack up. Someone who goes to the gym every day finds it easier to eat healthy with very few exceptions. That person then finds it easy to start writing every day. They find it easy to ask one stranger CEO on LinkedIn for career advice every week. They build rituals around their job and their family.
That person can, one block at a time, change the world.
It’s a WHY
WHY you do something changes HOW you do it. Say I woke up this morning and I said, I need to eat. That’s fine, I’ll put together a little bit of food.
But if my WHY is that I need to fuel myself for a productive day and Muay Thai right after work, because I need to be healthy enough to push my way up the ladder at work, because I want to change the world…
That’s going to be an ideal breakfast.
Rituals help you find a more powerful WHY for all of the little things.