How to Design Your Very Own Rituals Roadmap

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How to Design Your Very Own Rituals Roadmap

by ERICA KESWIN

As much as we love to make resolutions, they don’t really work. According to U.S. News & World Report, the failure rate for New Year’s resolutions is said to be about 80 percent, and most of us lose our resolve by mid-February. The impulse is human—we all want a fresh start and new beginnings, but maybe there’s a better way?

My decades of studying the stories and science of relationships at work has shown me that rituals actually pave the way to real change and connection much more than resolutions, which is why I say we should make the 2021 the year of the ritual!

What are rituals and why are they important? 

A ritual is something that seems ordinary on the surface but goes beyond its practicality and adds meaning and connection to our lives. Think about candles—our love for them is about more than just their light.

Remember how hard we worked to hang on to our holiday rituals this year? Thanksgiving is clearly not about the turkey. Rituals are something we cling to for dear life, even though they can seem like no-big-deal.

I’ve come up with a formula to help people understand just how important and powerful rituals are. I call it the The 3 Ps of Rituals: Rituals give us Psychological safety + a connection to Purpose = which leads to improved performance—at work, at home, at work/home.

As the subtitle of my book states, rituals turn every day routines into something magical—everywhere.

From resolution to ritual

Every year, one of my resolutions is to have more family dinners. I start off strong, but then one of my three teens or my husband (or me!) is always too busy and then the whole thing fades into the distance, and I feel sheepish and disappointed.

During quarantine in March, I started using Taco Tuesday to transform my doomed-to-fail resolution into a ritual. Instead of forcing us all together as a top-down strategy, I let it happen naturally. And then I supported the ritual, reminding everyone what day it was (so 2020!), buying fun hats, making a show out of making everyone’s favorite tacos.

It’s true that not having anywhere else to go made it a lot easier, but taking the ritual to heart really helped us all have something to look forward to. We all cheered up, ate with gusto (I have some seriously picky eaters in my house) and felt like we belonged somewhere.

Instead of just vowing to do this family dinner thing because it’s good for us, I came to see for myself how magical it is (and it’s not about the tacos!) And trust me, this is one ritual we won’t let go of, even when we return to regular life.

Design your own rituals roadmap

So, what now? How can you bring rituals into your life? How can you transform soon-to-fail resolutions into life-affirming, magical rituals?

In my book, there’s a chapter called “How to Design your Own Rituals Roadmap.” This is how it works: Start by looking at your calendar. What do you see? How are you spending your time? Then ask yourself this tough question: Does my calendar reflect my values?

Because here’s the thing. One of the main reasons resolutions don’t work is that they are often a “box check,” more of a “should” than a heart’s desire. We’re often so busy wanting to accomplish something, we don’t take the time to think about the “why” behind the resolution. Why is weight loss/drinking more water/more family meals important to me?

You’ll be much more successful, and feel a lot more connected to your life if you create rituals that are actually based on your values.

Here are some great opportunities for rituals during your everyday life:

Even in the best of times, managing all the pressures and responsibilities of our lives is a challenge. We humans—we need to feel connected to purpose and meaning, but it’s not easy in the midst of it all. And these days…. well, you know about these days. That’s why I say that this year, more than ever—rituals to the rescue.


This article was featured in the January 10, 2021 edition of The Sunday Paper. It is solely intended to provide information and inspiration. The views are those of the expert. The Sunday Paper inspires hearts and minds to rise above the noise. To get The Sunday Paper delivered to your inbox each Sunday morning for free, click here to subscribe.

ERICA KESWIN

Erica Keswin is a best-selling author, internationally sought-after speaker, and founder of the Spaghetti Project, a roving ritual devoted to sharing the science and stories of relationships at work. She helps top-of-the-class businesses, organizations, and individuals improve their performance by honoring relationships in every context. Her best-selling book, Bring Your Human to Work: 10 Sure-Fire Ways to Design a Workplace That’s Good for People, Great for Business, and Just Might Change the World was published in 2018 by McGraw-Hill. Her new book, Rituals Roadmap: The Human Way to Transform Everyday Routines Into Workplace Magic, will be published by McGraw-Hill in January, 2021. To learn more visit ericakeswin.com.

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