This week, I had a dinner with a friend of mine that I hadn't seen in over a decade. Terra is one of those people with whom in no time at all you find yourself having deep conversations, and you leave your time together thinking about things differently.
At one point in the evening, we were talking about achieving goals, and she mentioned an article that she read that talked about how to achieve a goal without becoming obsessive over it. She said that first, you think of a goal, and then you think of the associated ritual that would help you achieve it. So, for example, if your goal is to lose 20 lbs, then the ritual could be, perhaps, a commitment to eat clean and move every day.
Then -- and this is the key part -- once you've figured out the ritual, you focus on that, instead of the goal. So you would, in essence, forget about the 20 lbs, and instead, focus on doing the ritual. At the end of each day, you evaluate: did I move today? Did I eat clean? And if you did, great, mission accomplished. If you didn't, you don't worry about it, and try again the following day.
The result, the article said, is that you'll end up achieving your true goal -- to be fitter and healthier -- and the bonus is that you'll probably meet or even exceed your original goal -- or decide that the original goal wasn't that important. That instead, you'll discover that the ritual itself was really the important thing in the first place.
It's an intriguing thought, and one that I tend to believe. When I first started journaling about 7 years ago, my goal was, originally, to become a prolific diarist: my ritual was to do something in my journal once a day, at least 5 days a week. And this week, in preparation for an upcoming presentation, I went through my old journals for the first time since ... well, ever. I was surprised to discover that over the last 7 years, I've created over 35 journals, filled with colour and imagery and thoughts and words ...
... and it turns out, quite by accident, purely by ritual, I'm a prolific diarist. And I'm good at it.
It makes me wonder what other rituals I should add to my life.