Yesterday I celebrated five years of my “Fitness First” ritual.
This is my practice of starting each day with some type of physical fitness activity. It could be a hard gym workout or fitness class, yoga, a swim, or even foam rolling for recovery. (Whenever I feel guilty for “just” foam rolling, my trampoline coach reminds me that foam rolling is a workout. It’s true, in that you do need some strength and balance to prop yourself up on, and roll on a foam roller.)
Ever since I hit my 30 day milestone in this practice, people have asked me how long it takes to become a habit.
Habit. That word makes me cringe.
In the early days, my response was:
I’ll let you know when it becomes a habit.
I soon realized that it would never become a habit. Five years later, I stand by that opinion.
What Habits Look Like
A habit is an unconscious, automatic response to a trigger. Think of Pavlov’s experiment with dogs.
Here are some examples of common habits:
- hitting the snooze button when your alarm goes off
- checking your phone when you wake up
- scrolling aimlessly through social media whenever you’re waiting for something/someone, or you’re bored, or you want to escape
- your heart skips a beat or you physically react each time you hear your phone ping
- automatically going to the same seat in a classroom or conference room
- taking the same route to work each day
- turning on the TV the moment you walk into your home
- eating snacks while watching TV
- reading while eating
- brushing your teeth when you wake up
- putting in the contact lens for your left eye before your right eye (or the reverse)
- biting your nails or other sensory habits (hair pulling, snapping fingers, etc.)
- washing your hands after you use the bathroom
These are things we do without much awareness that we are doing them. Some of them are healthy habits; some are less healthy. All are mindless. And mindless activities drain life of meaning and purpose. After a while, you begin to wonder: what’s the point?
Just because it’s mindless doesn’t make it “bad.”
The point is that we do these things without much thought or awareness.
In fact, the biggest challenge in breaking habits we want to break is creating awareness of these habits.
I call it the ABC’s of change: Awareness Before Change.
The Habits You Desire Are Not Habits
When you understand that habits are unconscious and automatic responses to a trigger, it becomes clear that many of the things we say we want to create as “habits” are not behaviors that lend themselves to habituation.
Fitness. Meditation. Writing. Blogging. Eating healthy. Making sales calls.
None of these is automatic. They don’t just happen. They require intentional, conscious decisions.
If you want to live a life of intention, instead of a life in reaction, and if you want to find greater purpose and meaning in life, then habits won’t do the trick.
You must cultivate a life based in rituals.
Are you ready to step up your game and elevate your life? Join The Ritual Revolution.