This article is part of a series called the Magical Effects of Morning and Evening Rituals (MEMER). Before proceeding, check out:
- 4 reasons to fiercely protect your rituals
- Why most people fail at developing rituals that stick
- Aligning your rituals with your deeper desires
Are you ready to design your morning and evening ritual? You might be thinking, “no.” And that’s OK. You don’t have to feel ready, but you can still go through the motions and see what happens. Let’s stay experimental.
In the last MEMER post, you identified actions that align with your deeper desires. After doing that, you were left with a handful of aligned actions, such as drinking tea, going to yoga, making love, drawing a picture, calling a friend, going for a nature walk, writing a blog post, cooking, painting your nails, doing something kind for someone else, playing with your pet, taking care of a child, and the list goes on.
The next step is simple: sequencing these actions into a ritual. A ritual is simply a structure with intention – something we make sacred through our attention and love. Rituals, for me, are about elevating the everyday mundane (taking a shower) into a magical experience.
Let’s focus on the morning ritual.
1. List out what you already do and where you do it
We have to begin somewhere. Let’s begin where you are. Take out a paper and pen and write out the way you currently move through your morning. There might not be a set order to the events, but what are the actions you’re already taking? For me, it looks like:
- Make my bed – bedroom
- Shower + pee – bathroom
- Make a smoothie to go* – kitchen
- Get dressed – bedroom
- Put on makeup and jewelry* – bedroom
*Not every morning
Total time: 30 - 60 minutes
2. List out what you’d like to add, and where you’d do it
- Drink a tall glass of water – bedroom (put by my bed night before)
- Write three pages in my journal – yoga room
- Gratitude practice at my altar – yoga room
- Eat breakfast, sitting down – dining room*
*Not every morning
Total time: 30 - 45 minutes
3. Add-in and Re-order based on location
Let's add-in what I'd like to do and then re-order all the actions based on where I am in the house, ordering the sequence in a way that makes the most sense. For example, I want to shower before getting dressed, and I want to get dressed before I do my gratitude practice.
Shower + pee
- Drink a tall glass of water
- Make my bed
- Put on makeup and jewelry
- Get dressed
- Write three pages in my journal
- Gratitude practice at my altar
- Prepare breakfast OR Make a smoothie to go
- Eat breakfast, sitting down
Total time: 60 - 90 minutes
4. Identify your bookends
It’s best to think of your ritual as an accordion that you can stretch or shorten depending on your bandwidth, energy, and time. If my first action is taking a shower, I begin my ritual by turning on the knob (opening “bookend”). If my last action is eating breakfast, I end my ritual by cleaning my dishes (closing “bookend”). Whether you decide to have a luxurious two-hour morning ritual, or a quick thirty-minute one, your bookends don't change and keep you focused.
5. Test for 3 days in a row and take notes
It’s best to test run the ritual for 3 days and make updates. Writing things out is very different than putting it into action. Once you walk through your ritual, you’ll notice changes you want to make, and ways to make the sequence flow more naturally. After completing the ritual, jot down a few observations and review it before you go to bed that evening for the next day.
6. Adjust as you see fit
Some obstacles or barriers might come up. In my case, I discovered that I need to turn on the space heaters in the yoga and dining rooms before I start my ritual, so it makes sense to make that my opening bookend. As in, I wake up, go to the yoga room and living room, and turn on the space heaters. And this is very specific to being in my new home, where insulation is poor. I didn’t realize this until after I tested the whole sequence.
Designing your ritual is iterative, and may change depending on the seasons and your location. A new house, schedule, and/or traveling means you’d have to adapt the ritual. For example, I commute into the city three days a week, and work from home two days a week. On commute days, I need to wake up earlier or have a shorter ritual, which means keeping my bookends but shortening yoga room and/or kitchen time.
Let me know how this goes for you! In the next MEMER article, we’ll talk more about resilient rituals that are flexible enough to evolve as you evolve.