Rituals, routines and Habits
Aren’t these interesting words? When you saw the title did anything pop to mind immediately for you?
Do you group these three concepts together? Or are rituals, routines and habits all independent and different for you?
Before thinking about this episode, I may not have grouped them all together, but the more I think about them, the more similarities I see.
A ritual is a set sequence of activities involving gestures, words, actions, or objects. One definition I found also suggested a ritual is performed in a sequestered place.
A routine is a sequence of actions regularly followed. It’s a fixed program.
A habit is a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.
I’ve also seen a ritual described as a routine with meaning – so maybe your morning pattern of waking up, washing your hands and face, brushing your teeth and all that, isn’t super meaningful to you- so you consider it a routine.
But, then, when you lovingly prepare your morning drink, choose and light the perfect candle, settle into position and open your journal knowing that this is the best part of your day, even though it’s also a pattern of activities, because it’s so meaningful to you, maybe you consider it a ritual, like I do.
Maybe we would interchange the words ritual and routine- and use ritual more if there were any kind of woo or ceremonial aspects.
Or, we might consider a ritual as something we do more intentionally and purposefully, while routines and habits might have just evolved or “happened” by default.
The specific words we use to describe them don’t really matter. If you think of your repeated actions as a ritual, a routine, a habit – or even as a practice, it doesn’t really matter – unless the name you choose to use does have specific significance to you, personally.
A short interruption here for a little disclaimer in case you’re one of those people who hates routines. I hope I didn’t wait too long to address you personally: I totally get that doing things the same way every time is not everyone’s cup of tea – so, I have some thoughts and suggestions for you too! Don’t discount this entire episode yet – I’m going to address those anti-routine ideas in a little while.
In My Life
My reason for bringing all of this up to you is to share with you some of the rituals, routines and habits I’ve noticed in my life.
Some of them I’ve carefully cultivated. Some of them, I just inherited or accepted by default and some of them, I used to do – and love- and have now, since, discontinued.
Even though I told you that I don’t really think the specific name we use matters, I’ll share them with you in order of how I think of them. First my rituals, then my routines and finally a few simple habits I’ve cultivated for myself that can really improve your life.
As you learn about my rituals, routines and habits, I want you to consider them for yourself. Maybe you’re already doing them – or something like them. Maybe you tried them before, and they didn’t really work out for you. Maybe you’ll hear of one from me and decide to try for yourself.
And I want to hear all about your rituals, routines and habits too! What do you love to do that I don’t know about yet? What works so well for you and improves your life?
My Overarching Journaling Ritual
You’ve probably already heard about most of my rituals. Many of my rituals are part of my overarching journaling ritual- which got its own episode called My Beloved Morning Ritual. And since the time that I recorded that for you, my ritual has evolved to include some other mini-rituals as well.
For example, every Monday, when I start out the top of my journal entry, I write Morning Pages, and then, instead of just Monday, the date and the time, I write Manifesting Monday.
And then, some time throughout my journaling that morning, I’ll make a short list of what I want to manifest for myself. I don’t have the expectation that what I want will be manifested within the same week – sometimes it is. I don’t have the expectation that what I want will be manifested externally, with no action on my part – many times I already have a plan for how I will create what I want – how I, personally, through my work and effort, will manifest whatever I want into existence.
Sometimes, if I’m slow to think about what I would like to manifest for myself, it turns into a moment of gratitude because I realize how I already have everything I want and need. Sometimes, after I’ve written out what I want to manifest, I’ll check back to a few of the previous Manifesting Mondays and realize that some items on my list have since come into existence. Amazing! Happy – Thank You – More Please!
What about you? Do you have a regular manifesting ritual?
Another ritual that has become a weekly occurrence for me happens on Saturday. Last year, at the beginning of the lockdown, a friend sent me the most fun Corona Care package with soap and nail stuff and a journal and a candle and my favorite pens- basically everything I love. The candle is called Endless Weekend, so I use this candle every Saturday morning to set the stage for my Saturday journaling.
In addition to the day, date and time, on Saturdays I now also make note of the moon phase – both astronomical and astrological (so, for example last Saturday was the New Moon in Pisces). I also make note of where I am in my own personal monthly cycle. I am not sure of the exact purpose of these additional notations yet but I like taking a moment to notice where I am in those cycles and eventually, I wonder if I’ll be able to look back and notice any patterns or correlations.
On Saturdays, I do my usual journaling, but I also do a weekly evaluation for myself. I reflect back over the week. It’s a time to notice what went well, then I also note what didn’t work and finally I write out what I’ll do differently and what I’ll continue to do in the next week. I use different symbols for each section – hearts for what went well, dashes for what didn’t work and check boxes for what I’ll do. I love this reflection exercise. Frequently, throughout the next week, I’ll come back to my “what I’ll do section” and check some of the boxes (or seeing them will remind me or re-motivate me that I wanted to do something).
The other rituals that have been incorporated into my journaling happen monthly. You’ve heard me talk about my Thankful 30th ritual where I make a list of 30 things I’m thankful for on the 30th day of each month (and I frequently invite other people to do this too and share 1-2 things from their lists).
What are we going to do this month in February?! We’ll make a list of 28 things on the 28th!
At the end of last year, I also shared my monthly ritual of having an interview with myself. Both of these monthly rituals have brought me so much awareness and gratitude for myself and my life. I highly recommend you incorporate these for yourself if it feels right. And, if you’re hearing about these for the first time, or need a refresher, here are the links: Thankful 30th Ritual and Monthly Interview Ritual
The annual ritual that I’ve been doing even longer than I’ve been journaling is my birthday list ritual. I love it even more since recording that episode for you because it’s my most popular episode so far! I think many listeners of this podcast found me through that episode! And, I’m so glad this topic is coming up for me here in February because it’s a good reminder for me to go check my birthday list from last July to see what I wanted to create and accomplish by my next birthday coming up in July of 2021.
Let’s talk about routines. My routines as more practical in nature.
There are a few routines I use of getting everything set and laid out before I start. This routine happens when I take a shower and when I put on make up. I just like to gather it all together and lay it out, then it’s all ready for me when I want to use it.
Net Worth Routine
After journaling, I also have a daily routine of checking my finances. I use the Personal Capital app (this is my referral/affiliate link if you want to check it out) and love how it keeps me pretty dialed in to where my money is and how my investments are going. I think this routine keeps me in an abundance mindset around money and it also keeps my money management and goals on the top of my mind.
Routines with Others
I love creating routines with other people too. There are a few people in my life that we’ve created some monthly or bi-weekly routines together – like a phone call, or hang out time.
I’ve got a group of friends with whom (in my opinion – guess I should check to see if we all feel the same) we’re in the process of creating a group routine of taking a short trip together just to have uninterrupted time away to spend together.
Surprisingly, I don’t have a lot of routines with my husband, or when we do get into routines, they usually don’t last or stretch out for long – I’ll tell you my theory on this in a minute.
Discarded Rituals and Routines
Speaking of routines that don’t stand the test of time. I have also noticed a few rituals and routines from my own past that I’ve discarded. Either with an intentional decision to stop, or just because it faded away and I forgot about.
A few years ago, when I was really into Tarot, I used to take myself somewhere for coffee or breakfast on the first day of each month to give myself an in-depth Tarot Reading and use it to write out my intention for the month. I had a few different rules (or maybe just strong suggestions) for myself about this ritual. It needed to be a new place each time. It should be in a pretty environment and also a place where I could read the cards and write in my journal with minimal distractions and interruptions – so right away, you might see some of the reasons the ritual didn’t stick around. That’s a tall order to find that perfect environment and then keep finding a new version of it each month.
Doing that ritual on the 1st of every month also felt kind of arbitrary and didn’t always fit in well with my schedule or plans. So, that discarded ritual has highlighted a few things for me: don’t force a ritual, don’t make it too specific with too many rigid requirements and honor that as things change, things change. Tarot is hardly a part of my life or my self-reflection as it used to be, so it makes sense that this ritual wouldn’t be important to me anymore.
Quick Entry Journal
I also used to have a daily routine of taking a selfie at the same time every day and answering the same prompts in a quick entry journal on my phone. I really liked that routine as I was doing it and rarely ever missed a day. I’m so glad I had that routine and have all the pictures and entries from that time. But, again, as things change, things change and I just don’t want or need that routine in my life now. Maybe it will come back. Maybe it won’t.
What if you hate routine?
As promised earlier, I want to address people who are routine-averse. I would classify my husband this way. He doesn’t like to plan ahead. He definitely has different time-management and organizing strategies than I do. I see him subtly rolling his eyes when I suggest we pause what we’re about to do long enough so that I can make a list or a plan.
I think it’s so funny when routine people try to convince non-routine people of how good it is (or how easy it is) – it’s like 2 people speaking to each other in different languages – yes, words are being said and heard, but nothing is getting through.
So, this is NOT me trying to tell you “just do it the same way every time, just make a list, just put it on your calendar.. I know that’s NOT your style.”
Think about why it’s not your style – like maybe you’re thinking “I’m a disorganized person. I lose everything. I run late.”
Again, I’m not trying to argue with you and solve for those sentences, and I’m not saying that routine is better than spontaneous.
I just want to point out that those self-descriptions are your thoughts. And by considering them and being open about them, maybe you can see how, in some cases, your thoughts are a form of resistance. Especially if you’re using and believing those thoughts as a way NOT to do something.
Instead of calling it a routine- would you want to think of it as a sacred ritual? Or, think of everything you do, in a specific order as success favors for your future self. Like my nightly routine of setting up the coffee so that it starts itself for me every morning.
Even if you don’t “like” structure and routine, you probably are living by many of them- even if you wouldn’t identify them as such. And, if you spend any time with someone who’s a planner and organizer and loves to put things in sequence, I bet that person could pretty quickly identify a few routines you do follow that you might not even be aware of. I’ve recognized a few in my husband who is a much more spontaneous person than I am.
Small Habits to Change your Life
And finally, to end today’s episode, I want to give you some quick habits I intentionally practice that I really think can improve your life!
Grocery List Layout
Make your grocery list in order of the layout of the store – if you go to the same grocery store all the time, and if you write a list, write it in the general order of how you travel through the store (of course, this assumes you go the same way every time). It works for me, my husband has started to “get” my system, but I don’t know if he’d ever do it on his own. He likes the zig-zag method of grocery shopping- I guess you get more steps with that method!
Another Grocery Habit
Get into the habit as you put away your groceries to also put your reusable grocery bags back in the car. Make that part of your routine of putting the food away. It’s just as important as putting frozen items in the freezer so they don’t melt to put the bags back in the car so they’re ready for you when you need them for your next shopping trip.
Carry a Reusable Bag
Speaking of shopping, for years I have carried a very lightweight collapsable shopping bag in my purse. It has come in handy so many times. I really hate getting plastic bags and when I randomly stop into a store, or happen to be shopping with someone who didn’t bring a bag, or when I don’t bring enough bags for my shopping trip, I love that I always have a spare with me.
Same Spot Every Time
Back in the days when I bought new purses and bags frequently, one of my criteria was to make sure there was a specific pocket for my phone. One of the first things we established when we moved into this new house was where my purse and keys would go. Once you create the habit for yourself of where you’ll always put something and you always take the 1 extra second to put it in its place, you’ll never find yourself running around looking for where you put something when you’re in a rush.
Open and Sort Mail Over your Recycle Bin
When you get all your mail out of the mailbox, head straight to your recycle bin to throw all the extra pieces of paper away as you open. If you pay bills online, those return envelopes can go right into the bin too – so you should only be left with a very slim stack of bills or correspondence that you actually need to do something with. This really reduces the stacks of paper clutter that seem to build up!
Multi-task with Audio
I will always advocate for listening to podcasts, audiobooks, or trainings while driving, working out, meal prepping, folding laundry, and any other activity that doesn’t require your undivided audio attention. Listening to podcasts changed my life by improving my commute 100-fold back when I worked at a corporate job- I didn’t have the dread of the drive and I didn’t get grouchy when there was a traffic delay. Instead, I was glad I got extra time to listen. I also love transforming mundane chores into opportunities to learn.
Carry a Timer
Carry a timer with you at all times and use it for all things. This would have sounded a little crazy a few years ago. Now, you probably already have one on you – your watch or your phone? Or even just your microwave if you’re in the kitchen. If you decide to scroll on social media, but don’t want to spend too long. Set a timer! If you’re procrastinating doing a task you really don’t like to do. Tell yourself you only have to work on it for 20 minutes and set a timer. I’ve recently started using the website timeanddate.com when I’m sitting at a computer. I can really get myself sucked in to whatever I’m doing. Having a timer go off to remind me to move on to the next thing is very helpful. (I certainly need this reminder now that I’m dealing with the Gilbert Time Warp.)
Questions to Consider
Now you know all about my rituals, routines and habits. What do you think?
Are these all obvious and you’re already doing the ones that apply to you?
Or, did you hear an idea for something new that you might try for yourself?
Tell me your rituals, routines and habits! I know there are some great ones out there that I’ve never even considered yet.
Would you say that your daily, weekly and monthly routines are intentional or unintentional?
Do you create rituals to do favors for your future self?
What about your habits? How did your “bad habits” start?
Some listeners have told me that listening to this podcast is part of their routine every Friday morning – so thank you for making me a regular part of your life. I love thinking about you and what you’d like to hear. I’m so honored you’re giving a little of your attention to me each week.