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Let’s face it: most of us find it a real struggle to improve some aspects of our lifestyle, whether it be working out, eating right, giving up some negative habits or starting a project that is dear to us.
In this article, I want to give you the missing link for overcoming negative habits and adopting positive ones.
Why Willpower Fails
I just finished an awesome book called The Power of Full Engagement, by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. The book explains how to manage your energy instead of your time to achieve higher performance in every aspect of your life.
In the book, the authors stress the importance of building “positive, energy-building rituals”. They’ve done a tremendous amount of research with top athletes (particularly tennis players) to try to identify what differentiate the top 10 performers from the rest of the pack.
The findings are extremely interesting. The reasons why some players reach the top while others never will is comes down to two main elements: “ability to recover” and “rituals”. Let’s talk about the latter.
Here’s why using willpower alone will fail to change you behavior: it requires your conscious attention.
Let’s say you want to start working out and eat more raw fruits and vegetables in your diet. If you simply rely on your willpower alone to accomplish it, chances are that you’ll do well for a short while, and then fall off the wagon.
Think about it: do you have to remind yourself to brush your teeth every night? Do you have to post a reminder in front of your bathroom mirror to make sure that you brush your teeth before going to bed?
Chances are that no, you just do it automatically. Why? Because it has become a sub-conscious habit. It has become a *ritual*.
Rituals are powerful because they help bring any behavior into a subconscious, automatic habit.
What if you didn’t have to remind yourself to exercise, that you just did it automatically?
What if you didn’t have to think about what foods you’re going to eat, because your diet would basically take care of itself?
What if you could implement a series of automatic, powerful rituals that would bring you to your ideal weight, increase your energy by at least 200%, and keep you in fabulous health for the rest of your life?
How to Build Rituals
Let me give you an example.
For many years, I found myself enable to maintain an exercise program for more than a few weeks at a time.
I would try to work out with a vague, imprecise program. I would go to the gym on an off, go on my bike every day and then give it up for a while.
Whenever I would travel somewhere, I would completely fall off the wagon with my exercise program.
The problem was… I didn’t have clear rituals around those activities! It was entirely left to my conscious attention, which is why it didn’t work.
Ask anyone you know who works out regularly. Chances are that they’ll tell you they work out at regular times.
On Monday, Wednesday and Friday they go to the gym, at 7 a.m., or something like that. And when they’re traveling, they might even have an alternative exercise program they do on the road.
If you’re struggling with your diet, and keep going back and forth between raw food purity and cooked food binges, or you can’t find the motivation to exercise… chances are that you don’t have clear rituals to handle these issues.
Want to start working out?
You need clear problem that will eventually become automatic.
The Three Elements of a Ritual
A clear ritual can include these three elements:
When – At what time are you going to do the activity?
Where – Where are you going to do it?
How – In what manner, in what order, and using what?
For example, you could decide that every morning, you will drink a green smoothie. You will make that smoothie at 8:00 a.m., after your exercise program (when), and make a quantity large enough to have some for later (how).
You’re going to make sure you always have ingredients available to make the smoothies (how). If you’re at home, you’re going to make it with your home blender. And you might even consider buying a travel blender to bring on the road, or create a different breakfast for the times you are traveling (where).
You see, with the example above, the when, where and how have been clearly defined. Once you go through the ritual for a few weeks, it will become completely automatic.
Examples of Rituals to Build
You can completely transform your life by creating many of these powerful, energy-giving rituals. Here are some examples:
– Your morning ritual: what are the first 5 to 10 things you do every morning, after waking up?
– Your daily workout schedule
– Your exercise program for when you’re traveling
– A daily walk
– Your learning or reading ritual
– Your time-management on the Internet ritual
– Your personal renewal time rituals
– Going on a one day cleanse, once a week
– Going an a quarterly cleanse, such as the green cleanse
– Your writing ritual
When building these rituals, don’t try to do everything at once. Work on one or two (maximum three) rituals at a time, until they become automatic.
Be very clear about the when, where and how, and create plenty of rituals for your own renewal and rejuvenation time!
If you want to read more about this topic, I recommend reading “The Power of Full Engagement”. Also, if you’d like to join me for the next three weeks on an adventure to implement three powerful, positive rituals into your life, join the 21 Day Challenge!