What rituals do you employ to support your progress and change? 

Rituals have a deep meaning for us, and how you use them and involve rituals in your work will be a catalyst for behavior change. 

rituals and behavior change

Some rituals are a regular part of your day. For example, when I am putting a suit and tie on for an important meeting, I am signaling that I am different in this suit and tie. Therefore my behavior and feelings are different – laying out the suit, picking my tie and socks, and putting them on changes how I think and behave. 

Why Rituals Work 

“… people are more likely to turn to rituals when they face situations where the outcome is important and uncertain and beyond their control;

I pound my feet strongly on the ground several times. I take several deep breaths and “shake” my body to remove negative energies. I do this often before going to work and meetings and at the front door before entering my house after a long day.

Despite the absence of a direct causal connection between the ritual and the desired outcome, performing rituals to produce a certain result appears to be sufficient for that result to come true. While some rituals are unlikely to be effective – knocking on wood will not bring rain – many everyday rituals make a lot of sense and are surprisingly effective.” – Scientific America.

Rituals and finding what works 

Some of your rituals are purposeful and are a process you have developed to relieve stress and make sense of things. You may not be aware of other rituals, like autonomous actions you follow from years of doing what works. 

Rituals and Change Mike Cardus

In this video, I share how, when coaching a manager, she struggled with the dissonance between loving the team and people she managed and feeling their optimism and positive energy. And the pain, stress, and dread she felt at the executive administration meetings that she had to attend. We created a new ritual that supported her progress to “shield” or use a scarf on her body to be the “negative absorption field” in the executive meetings. Following those meetings and returning to her offices with her team, she would remove the scarf. When she took off the scarf, she said, “it felt like I was dropping the negativity when I took the scarf off.” 

The ritual and use of an object supported her hope in progress, helping her team and managers, and working with less stress. 

How to create a ritual

Being purposeful about the rituals you create is fun and can decrease your stress and make change happen. Plus, you can develop habits and rituals that suit you. Here are some steps:

  1. Identify or be observant about things that are not going well (problems) that you would like to approach differently. 
  2. Write or document those problems and how you notice or feel them. 
  3. Write or document what you would like to have happen instead of the problem. This question prompt helps; when this problem is less or absent, what are you doing instead of reacting to the problem? 
  4. Think or create an action. For example, starting the day with 5 coins in your right pocket and noticing the problem, you shift 1 coin from your right to left pocket. Practice the action until it feels familiar. 
  5. Be observant of the challenge you would like to approach differently, and practice your ritual when you notice or feel it may happen. 
  6. Write or document what was different, how you were different, what other people noticed, and what you will do more of and less of next time. 
  7. Continue to refine and work with your ritual 🙂 

In another article, I’ll explore rituals within the workplace and how we can adjust the environment to create rituals of innovation, conflict, teamwork, and hope. 

It would be great to know about your rituals, how you made or created them, and how you make them work.