An Often Ignored Success Secret: Rituals Are More Effective Than Discipline

Investing in real estate.

Starting a new business "on the side."

Learning a new skill.

Creating your own website around your passion.

These are typically all new things that require change.

And change is hard.

It usually requires breaking old habits.

And old habits die hard.

How many times have we all tried something new only to drop it after a few days?

We've all done it.

Often you scold yourself and say things like, "If I only had more discipline, I'd get these things done."

We know because we used to say the same thing.

But we've learned that discipline is not all it's cracked up to be.

There's a better way.

A simpler way to accomplish new things.

Over the years, observing our own behaviour and watching the behaviour of hundreds of investors, we've picked up on something.

Let's share a few examples of what we've seen and then we'll comment on them.

New Activity: Real Estate Investing

We've now watched literally hundreds of investors. And one of the key differences between those who accomplish things and those who don't is this:

The investors who pick up the most properties set a couple of times a week to go out and look for them.

They open their calendars and literally schedule times to go look at properties.

They don't "hope" to find time "next week." They break out their calendars and go out searching for properties until they find one.

New Activity: Starting a New Side Business

A good friend is starting a side business while working full time.

And he's making progress.

Each week he spends one evening a week responding to job requests.

And another evening a week submitting job proposals to those who have expressed interest.

He does this every week.

Even if he picks up a new job, he makes sure those two nights a week he's doing those two things.

New Activity: Learning Guitar

My son has guitar lessons every week.

Some weeks he's loving them and jamming out AC/DC like a madman.

And other weeks he'd rather be playing with his friends.

But he does the class ... even if his friends are ringing the doorbell to play outside while his lesson is on ... he does the class.

Now he's jamming out some amazing riffs that make me think Justin Beiber has some competition coming! 🙂

New Activity: Creating a Website Around Your Passion

I know two people who want to create an online business around their passion.

One sends out tweets on Twitter every day and "communicates" with his audience.

The other spends one evening a week creating one single page for his website.

After several months the "Twitter friend" is talking to people, the website friend is accomplishing his goal.


Have you figured out where we're headed with all this?

It's much more important to create rituals for new habits than it is to work on your discipline.

We love Tony Schwartz's work and in his book with Jim Loehr, The Power of Full Engagement, he comments on how it can be very useful to think about change in a different way.

He suggests that instead of working on being more disciplined with your new habits ... you should work on creating new rituals.

In his book Happier, Tal Ben-Shahar, has this great quote from Tony Schwartz, "Building rituals requires defining very precise behaviours and performing them at very specific times - motivated by deeply held values."

We couldn't agree with this more.

This blog post that you're reading is written each Thursday morning. That's our time/ritual for blog posts.

Over the years, it's created a blog that gets us traffic, leads for our business, and ultimately new customers.

It's an asset that has been created by ritual.

Not, "whenever we felt like posting something."

Right now I'm in the middle of trying to create a new ritual for myself of going to Nick's Crossfit Gym.

I'm not going "whenever I feel like it." It's in my schedule for 6:00 am.

I get up and I go.

There's no thinking, no talking myself out of it. I'm trying to create a new ritual that takes hold in my life.

And when I get there I can't talk myself out of doing any of the exercises because they're written on the whiteboard each morning for me.

No thinking required.

I look at the list and then do the exercises. That's it.

Rituals help put Nick and me in situations where we HAVE to get things done. We have to complete this blog post, we have to work on a specific aspect of our business, we have to spend time at a certain property, we have to meet with a new contact.

Tal Ben-Shahar, in his book, Happier, has this great example of top athletes who use rituals.

They know at what specific hours they need to be on the field each day, after which they know they go to the gym, and then they stretch.

There's no discipline, it's in their calendar.  It's a ritual to them.  Part of their life.

If you're trying to do something new break out your daily calendar and enter in a time to do it.

If you don't feel like doing it at that time just do it anyway.

New habits are hard to create but thinking of them as rituals instead of having to cultivate more discipline has really helped Nick and myself.

Hopefully, this helps you too!

Until next time ... YOUR LIFE! YOUR TERMS!

(this article was originally shared in 2012 but we liked it so much we thought we'd share it again!)

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0 comments on “An Often Ignored Success Secret: Rituals Are More Effective Than Discipline”

  1. The irony of me reading this at this very moment in my life is astronomical! i have been recently struggling with "disciplining" my focus to accomplish my investing tasks! I greatly appreciate this help(sign) and know now that I just HAVE to do it!!

    Thanks guys!!!

    Changing MY life, to MY terms!!

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