Last week, I wrote about why we tend to choose the same path every time we travel to a specific destination. This behavior meets our needs for certainty and helps reduce cognitive overload and decision fatigue. It’s these results that we often strive for when we speak about creating habits.
In part two of this series, I wrote about the downside of habits. When we automate our life we lose presence and connection with meaning and purpose.
This seems to create a challenge, between consistency and automaticity.
If we want to achieve certain results, we know that we must do certain things consistently.
This is where we typically want to create “better habits” to do those things we know we should do.
On one hand, creating habits eliminates the energy drains of cognitive overload and decision fatigue and creates predictability around our schedules that helps us plan our time better.
On the other hand, when we get to the point where we are running on autopilot, we are no longer present to what is happening around us. We lose connection to the people around us and to the life that we are living. Also, when we do the same thing in the same way repeatedly our minds and bodies adapt and we stop growing.
In the big picture view, this is our challenge: How do we create consistency without falling into the trap of automaticity?
The solution is to create rituals.
What is a Ritual?
In this context, I define a ritual as an action done with intention. Rituals have a rhythm to them: daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annual, or some other pattern.
Whereas habits are mindless and automatic, rituals are done with mindfulness.
Rituals Break Habits
In the context of establishing consistency in behavior, ritual might seem like just another word for habits.
In fact, rituals break habits.
Over the past 5 years, I’ve created several rituals — from daily fitness to meditation, that I’ve designed to break sabotaging habits.
I design my rituals to avoid both decision fatigue and automaticity.
Through intentional design and practice of rituals, I’ve turned mundane tasks into special moments worthy of celebration. I’ve created consistency in my foundational practices and creative pursuits. I’ve created space for my best work. And I’ve broken several sabotaging habits.
Rituals is the way to achieve consistency without automaticity and to remove decisions without falling into the trance of mindlessness.