Systematically developing habits, routines and rituals is very important when learning to ROCK the 9-to-5. It’s also critical that rockers-to-be truly understand why these things are so important. The first article in this series explained the core concepts and the third article provides you with the two elements you need in order to build and improve your own habits, routines and rituals. But right now, I want to ensure you understand the importance of habits, routines and rituals, so we can truly learn to ROCK the 9-to-5!

Rituals reduce our uncertainty and increase our control

Psychologists have studied superstitious rituals among professional athletes and discovered some amazing things. Skeptics can scoff at the superstitious rituals that many pro athletes have created (Michael Jordan wearing his North Carolina shorts under his Chicago Bulls shorts in every game comes to mind) but science doesn’t. Studies show rituals definitely enhance players’ confidence, increase the effort they put forth, and ultimately improve their performance. Superstitious rituals impact players similarly to pre-performance routines, which increase attention, improve execution, raise confidence levels, and increase emotional stability.

The more we use a ritual, the more effective it is because of this virtuous cycle of success.

Social scientists and psychologists have noted that many cultures use rituals before doing unknown or dangerous tasks. If rituals increase our attention and improve execution of tasks, then it’s not surprising that our confidence goes up and we feel more emotionally stable. This explains why performing rituals with an intended outcome in mind helps us achieve those results. And even though science hasn’t proven a direct causal connection between ritual and desired outcome, it’s clear that rituals reduce uncertainty and make us feel in control.

Rituals create a virtuous cycle of success

One powerful characteristic of rituals is that they build upon their own success. I create a ritual using intention and focus, which improves my attention and execution. This builds my confidence, which stabilizes my emotions and allows me to be more attentive and execute even better. My confidence increases yet again and I’m even more emotionally stable, and the cycle continues. The more I perform my rituals, the more effective they can become. The more we use a ritual, the more effective it is because of this virtuous cycle of success.

It’s important to note that the intention of producing the result appears to be the key. That’s why I’ve been saying that rituals are created by taking a routine and adding focus and intention. In fact, bringing “intention” to even simple, everyday rituals makes them surprisingly effective.

So What?

In some ways, the rituals you must build as a ROCKer-to-be are a combination of the superstitious ritual and the pre-performance routine of an athlete. Some parts of a ritual prepare you psychologically and emotionally while other parts prepare you for the physical things to come. A well-crafted ritual creates a virtuous cycle that feeds itself and becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy of success!

Now What?

Journal Prompts: Where do you feel like you have the least amount of control in your life? What causes that feeling? What routine could help prepare you to face those challenges?

Next Action: Focus on a morning routine. If you don’t have one, create it. If you already have one, improve it.

Further Reading: Read the article “Why Rituals Work” in Scientific America.