I'm staying with Mum for a few days, as part of 3 weeks on the road through Australia, Singapore and Malaysia. As much as I love to travel, it is a routine killer (OK so that's one of the reasons I love it!), which can wreak havoc on your state of mind, and disrupt progress toward your goals. I have learned that maintaining a handful of daily rituals can provide some constancy when you're on the road, allowing you to reap the rewards of adventure while finding calm in the comfort of familiarity.
A ritual my husband and I have developed recently is our morning coffee. An insignificant part of many morning routines, for us (OK, for me) it has become symbolic of steeling myself against a challenging day at my day job. It has become as much a metaphorical shot of fortitude as a physical one. Interestingly, neither of us used to enjoy coffee, but as we have welcomed it into our mornings we have learned to appreciate the exquisite beauty of a good cup of coffee, and lament over the lost opportunity that is an over-roasted, watery or just plain awful cup. It has become one more thing for us to bond over.
And so we have brought our ritual on this trip. First it was each morning on our way to the office, with the Surfhouse Cafe at Merewether Beach stealing our hearts and our tastebuds, with incredible views like in the photo above to contemplate while you caffeinate. Now at Mum's, we have found the best coffee in town (coincidentally at the closest coffee shop to Mum's place! A shoutout to the Hole in the Wall for bringing great coffee to Lithgow!), and made it part of our mornings. For me, the ritual includes walking to the coffee shop. I don't always make time for this part, but I love the fresh air and clear head I get from it, and consider it the ‘luxury pack' version of my ritual.
Bringing your rituals on the road helps to keep a level of constancy in your life while you travel. You won't be able to take them all, but variety and unique experiences are the beauty of travel.
Your rituals help shape who you are, and can be intentional or automatic, with positive or negative effects on your life. For example, do you find yourself checking email, Facebook or other social media as soon as you wake? How about when you wake in the middle of the night, or late at night when you are trying to go to bed? Somehow this ritual has crept into my life, and I have recognized that it has at least two negative impacts:
- Your first waking moments, when your mind is at its least cluttered (if not most alert!), are spent looking for emotional stimulus – whether good or bad doesn't really matter. What you find can easily set the tone for your morning, if not your whole day.
- The sleep you don't get while you search for something mildly interesting on Reddit or Pinterest, after you've exhausted the new posts and inbox spam that arrived in the wee hours of the morning.
The good news is that once we recognize these unintentional rituals, it is within our power to change them. The easiest way to change an unwanted ritual is to replace it with something you do want. Our brains are designed to pull us towards the things we think about most – even if we are thinking about how much we want to remove that thing from our life! When replacing a worn-out ritual with one that truly serves you, consider the following:
- What triggers the ritual? In this example, waking up triggers the ritual of checking your phone.
- What enables the ritual? The phone being within easy reach when you wake up.
- What purpose does the ritual serve, and how will you address it? The phone may be an alarm, and you may need to get an alarm clock. Checking the phone may indicate a need to have something to occupy your mind, and you might need to replace it with a book on your bedside table.
What rituals can you identify in your life? Which ones are intentional, and which grew of their own accord? Most importantly, which ones serve you and which ones can be cleared to make room for something that helps you achieve something amazing?
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