“When you look at the vision you hold for your life, are your rituals a catalyst or a barrier?” ~ Janine Rudder
I’ve always joked that I have an additive personality type. By that I mean that I find solace, safety, and comfort in my routines. When I find something that works, which generally means produces my desired outcome at the level of effort I’m willing to invest, I stick with it.
It’s completely understandable why the comfort and familiarity of routines are appealing. However, a question worth exploring is whether your routines are producing the experiences you want. If aspects of your life could be better, are your current habits going to bring about the change you seek for yourself?
Recently, while listening to a Tony Robbins talk I heard him say, and I’m paraphrasing here - You are the creator of your life, not merely the manager of your circumstances. Those words captivated me in that moment. Although I completely understand and wholeheartedly believe in that concept, we are so easily consumed by managing duties and responding to situations that we begin to act as though reacting to problems and replying to emails is our life. The reality is that we have the option to direct our course instead of being steered by our surroundings.
We Create Our Lives Through Our Habits
Do your rituals reflect what you ultimately want to create, contribute, and experience in life? Or are they a collection of habits intended to keep you comfortable and get you through to the next day? When you look at the vision you hold for your life, are your rituals the catalyst or a barrier?
Our Rituals Are Our Lives
Whether it’s eating a variation on the same kale salad every work day or walking to the café at the same time each day to get the same beverage with your work crew, most of us fall into routines that become indispensable facets of our lives. In some sense, our rituals – the things we do, say, and think every day - are essentially our lives. This realization is powerful because it lays ownership for our lives squarely in our own hands. Viewing life this way will embolden and energize some and leave others feeling defensive and deflated. Your perspective depends largely upon your level of satisfaction with your life and how your daily practices expand the things that bring you joy or neglect them.
If you’re an artist, do your rituals include making art? If you aspire to become an entrepreneur, do your habits create space in your life for developing your business plan? If your goal is to be fit and healthy, does your day include a movement practice and eating natural whole foods?
We Should Question Our Rituals
Regularly questioning our rituals provides opportunities for reflection and to re-align our daily practices with our aspirations. Examining our habits keeps us connected to who we are, who we want to become, and whether we are on the right path. We need this introspective time to keep ourselves honest about our choices.
Paying close attention to those things we do every day reveals some hard truths about the progress we are making in our lives and how we are helping and hurting ourselves in that pursuit.
The Danger of Living on Auto Pilot
By contrast, many of us accept what I call an “auto-pilot” way of life. This is going through life’s motions because you’ve always done it that way, never pausing to question your intentions or set authentic goals. We exist like this because it’s all around us and we haven’t challenged ourselves to question it. We adopt the routines of our family and friends because it’s familiar and easy without stopping to examine where this path is leading and if we want to go there.
Auto-Pilot living is so insidious because it seems harmless. After all, it’s just living the way everyone else around you is living, right? What could be so wrong with that? This way of thinking allows you to take yourself off the hook for how you are experiencing life. It makes everyone else’s standard your standard and normalizes disillusionment with life and even worse, pervasive helplessness.
We Determine Our Rituals, but They Define Us
I know it may seem overly definitive to say that our rituals define us, but they do reveal our reality. I may really want to build my capacity as a photographer, but if I spend most evenings reading books and watching documentaries about the subject, then I am a person who researches photography and not an actual photographer.
When I decided to start writing, I struggled to modify my daily rituals to include writing. I had a big goal with an ambitious timeline. If I wanted to see it actualized, I had to change my habits and act in accordance with my vision. How could I be a writer if I don’t write? I had to re-connect with the identity I created for myself and commit to life changes that aligned with that identity and the outcomes I envisioned.
What I now know for sure is that what we choose to do, even the little things, determines the type of person we become until we make another choice. This life we are living is ours to create, why not make it interesting and enjoyable.
Janine Rudder is a coach and Co-Owner at Manifestara LLC - https://manifestara.com/