Most of us have heard or read about the importance of daily rituals. Yet, we still tend to underutilize them. Often, that’s because we underestimate their power. By eliminating the need to remember and sequence the steps you’re taking, rituals deliver three powerful benefits:
Like the pregame rituals followed by professional athletes, daily rituals are a series of actions that set you up to win. This is perhaps most true of morning and evening rituals.
A morning ritual allows you to begin your day with focus, clarity, and direction. Rightly designed, it ensures you win in key life domains—like your health or your intellectual growth—before you’ve even begun your workday. Similarly, an evening ritual allows you to finish your day with a sense of resolution and an unburdened mind.
Are you experiencing those results? If not, it’s likely because your rituals have developed organically rather than being designed intentionally. Here are 5 steps worth trying:
Step 1) Acknowledge you already have morning and evening rituals
I’m not asking you to adopt something new. This is not something to place on top of your already busy life. We’re just talking about reengineering your existing routines. Start by looking closely at your morning and evening activities. What takes up the minutes from when you first wake till you leave for work? What are actions you follow before hitting the pillow at night?
Step 2) Document your existing morning and evening rituals
What are the key components of your existing morning and evening rituals? You’ve already thought through them. Now, write them down. It’s important that you document your existing morning and evening activities. Why? We can’t improve what we can’t see.
Step 3) Evaluate whether you’re getting the results you want or not
Once you have visibility, you can choose which components stay, which go, and which need to be added. If your current ritual is producing the results you want, great! But my guess is, you suspect your results could be better. The good news is that we have agency and can change our habits to better serve the ends we want to accomplish.
Step 4) Reengineer your current morning and evening rituals
Now, study the components and their arrangement to see what can change to get you closer to your desired outcome. Keep the good, scratch out the bad, and decide what’s missing. Maybe you’re not exercising. Can you fit it in? Maybe you don’t take time to be alone, reflect, or wind down at night? Can you add that? These two rituals should be mutually reinforcing. Your evening ritual should make it easier to follow through with your morning ritual. What do you need to do before bed to make it easier to implement your morning ritual?
Step 5) Implement your new ritual
Cue the Nike slogan, and start the new routine first thing tomorrow. You’ll never get it perfect, so don’t worry about that. Just get started and try to dial it in as you go. The important thing is to implement your ritual, experiment, try something new, and just see how it works for you.
You don’t have to slavishly follow the same ritual. Rituals become dead and lifeless when we lose sight of the goal and we just go through the motions. Your morning and evening rituals are living routines with an end in mind. They can be changed, updated, revised, and tweaked as necessary. If your rituals aren’t helping you produce the results you want, don’t be afraid to rework and adjust them.