"A daily ritual is a way of saying I'm voting for myself; I'm taking care of myself." -Mariel Hemingway
My boyfriend recently started a new job. After the initial excitement wore off, the realization of earlier mornings and longer days sunk in.
I'd like to share that we handled this new schedule with gusto, relishing in the chance to seize the day earlier! Except that would be a big, fat lie.
We spent a week off-kilter. I may or may not have been a little cranky (I have never been a morning person).
And then, we stumbled upon a solution. Actually, my boyfriend stumbled upon a solution when he began organizing his day the night before.
Instead of turning to coffee to combat the morning haze (well, let's be honest, we did that, too) we began to up our evening routine.
What started as a way to get through our mornings, quickly turned into a night-time ritual with positive side effects.
Which got me thinking...morning rituals are all the rage for good reason. But, maybe an evening ritual doesn't have to be the ugly stepsister.
I used to resist the idea of a morning or evening ritual big time. Who needs more to do in their day?
The thought of a ritual conjured images of chanting naked around a campfire.
But, as my boyfriend and I stepped up our ritual game, I noticed our mornings got easier, more streamlined, more efficient. We fell asleep faster and slept better. We got more done the following day.
Turns out, we weren't onto something new; many of the ultra-successful have an evening ritual.
"Morning routines are important - but bedtime rituals can have an even greater impact on your success. That's because the last thing you do before bed affects your mood and energy level the following day, since it often determines how well and how much you sleep." (Read more about what successful people do before sleep here.)
A series of investigations by psychologists have shown that rituals can impact people's thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
But, what about us creative folk? Don't routines and rituals zap our spontaneity and our je ne sais quoi?
This was definitely a concern of mine. But, I've found the opposite to be true.
"Rituals provide necessary limitation on your focus, time, and energy so you can delve deeply into the disorder of creative problem solving," saysTodd Henry, author of The Accidental Creative. (Read more here.)
Having a ritual allows me to organize the necessities of life, causes my brain chatter to quiet down, and gives me less stress and anxiety about what's ahead, which frees me up to be more present and instinctive.
Worried about cheating on your morning routine? Don't be. You can have your cake and eat it, too.
Darren Hardy, editor-in-chief of Success Magazine and author of The Compound Effect argues that a person's morning and evening routines are the "bookends" of a successful life.
So, night owls, rejoice, there's a ritual for us after all. And, morning larks, you can jump out of bed even more energized.
Next time, I'll share a few ideas for how to create your own evening ritual.