Steal these rituals used by top entrepreneurs… so you can perform at your best day-in and day-out
Mary’s car sputtered and started losing speed…
She had just enough time to pull off on the side of the highway before it came to a halt.
There she was… hundreds of miles from her destination. Stuck on the side of the road, somewhere between Atlanta and Kansas City.
“Damn, I should have stopped to gas up,” she silently berated herself.
But she hadn’t stopped to gas up. She had been “too busy” driving to stop and put gas in her car.
She didn’t want anything to slow her down and keep her from getting to Kansas City. So she wilfully ignored the orange gas light on her dashboard.
“I’m too busy to use rituals in my life…”
As you may have guessed by now, this story is fictional.
Nobody would be crazy enough to attempt a long distance road trip...
WITHOUT stopping to put gas in their car along the way.
And yet, most entrepreneurs and business owners we speak to are like Mary. When we tell them that installing “rituals” is the key to their success...
They tell us they’re “too busy” building their businesses to do that.
Here’s the irony of that…
Having the right rituals in place helps you get where you want to go FASTER.
Don’t be the person who is too busy to put gas in your car.
The right rituals can mean the difference between success and failure.
In this post, we’re going to share a list of 25 rituals you can put in place to help you get to your destination… faster.
What are "positive energy rituals"?
Rituals help create a ripple effect of positive energy and momentum in your life.
They help you feel energized, enthusiastic and eager to jump into work.
We like simply calling them “rituals” because our definition of rituals is more broad and flexible...
Here’s a simple definition of what a “ritual” is:
A ritual is a deliberate habit you install... that helps you be more successful or that helps you get more of what you want.
A ritual can help you create more focus, productivity, happiness, money, better relationships, etc.
No matter what you call them… rituals are an essential part of creating long-term success.
Our business started to take off after we installed a few simple daily rituals.
We’ve seen how one or two rituals have transformed the lives and businesses of entrepreneurs.
Think of this post as a buffet of different rituals you can choose from
In this post, we’re giving you a long list of rituals you can use in different areas of your life and business.
Think of these rituals like a buffet of different options to choose from.
When you’re at a buffet, you don’t feel the need to eat ALL the food.
You add the food you’re most interested in eating to your plate.
Likewise, don’t think you have to do all these rituals… or even most of them.
Just start with one. Pick the one ritual you think will help you most to put in place in your life.
You can use our PEAK Method to help you identify and install the right “Pillar Ritual” for your situation.
We’ve put these rituals into the most common categories or types of rituals.
You can use rituals to help you…
Stay connected to your purpose and vision
Boost your positivity and emotional resilience
Increase your focus and productivity
Create more revenue in your business
Learn new skills and grow long-term
Improve any other aspect of your life
A couple quick notes about these rituals before we start...
You’ll notice that many of the rituals listed below have nothing to do with work. That’s by design.
We don’t believe in a true separation between “work life” and “personal life”.
The way you do things in one area of your life usually carries over into other areas.
Also, as a general rule, the way you start your day sets the tone for the entire day.
If you’re just starting out with creating rituals…
We recommend you pick a morning ritual to get your day off to a strong start.
Finally, if you have a team, consider creating rituals together. You can adapt and use many of these rituals with your team with a little creativity.
Alright, let’s get to the list...
Rituals for staying connected to your purpose and vision
We’re big believers in using the power of Purpose and Vision in your business.
Purpose is the impact you want your work to have on the lives of your clients and the world.
Vision is a clear, inspiring image of success that pulls you forward.
Here are some simple rituals to help you keep those two things front and center…
Call 1 to 2 customers a week
The purpose of these calls is to connect with your customers deepest ambitions.
Ask them 2 questions:
What are you trying to do in your life or business?
How does our product/service help you do that?
Listen with an open mind, with no agenda, or attempts to upsell them.
These calls help remind you of your purpose...why you’re in business and what higher cause you’re serving.
They can motivate you to keep moving forward. They can also give you ideas for ways you can improve your products or services.
Read your purpose and vision every day
Most of our clients start by writing out their purpose and vision.
One way to keep both things front and center is to print them out and read them every day before you start working.
Doing this will create excitement and energy that will last all day.
Your vision reminds you of where you’re going. That way you make decisions that align with your future success.
You can also re-read your purpose and vision when you need clarity about an issue or a decision…
For example, when you’re thinking about what direction you want your business to go, who to hire, etc.
Listen to your vision while driving
If you’re an auditory person, you can record yourself speaking your purpose and vision.
That way you can listen to them in your car while you’re going to work or driving around doing errands.
Make a video of your vision
Visual people like to create a vision board with pictures of things they want... exciting things that motivate them.
For example, an image of their new office... “cool, hip office with old brick walls”.
A more powerful way to do this is to use the software Mind Movies.
This program helps you upload images and music to create an exciting, fun digital video that you can watch every day.
Morning Visualization Exercise
It’s not enough to write or record your vision once... and then check back in three months or a year later.
We recommend that you do something to connect with your vision every morning. When you do that you are practicing what we call “Thinking from the End”.
Seeing your vision daily also keeps you positive in the face of difficulties.
Rituals for staying calm, centered and positive
Feeling positive isn’t just about feeling good. Positive emotions give you a whole host of brain benefits…
For example, feeling good helps make you more creative and more productive.
Here’s what we’ve found in our work with many entrepreneurs and business owners…
It’s not enough to simply be a “positive person”. You have to do things that take your excitement and positivity to the next level!
If you don’t already have a daily ritual in place to boost your mindset, we recommend starting with that.
Here are a few rituals that will help you increase your “happiness muscles”...
NOTE: Many of these exercises also increase your emotional resilience - the ability to quickly bounce back after experiencing a challenge or some kind of failure.
Meditation is a tremendous tool for managing your emotions. It helps reset your stress response.
Let’s face it, building a company is stressful. So you need to meditate because it makes you more immune to stress.
MRI scans show that after an eight-week course of mindfulness practice, the brain’s “fight or flight” center, the amygdala, shrinks...
And the parts of the brain that help you pay attention, concentrate and make decisions get bigger.
Meditation helps you become more thoughtful so you can make better decisions... even when you’re under stress.
Meditating also helps your body. It reduces blood pressure, improves sleep, and reduces chronic pain.
Studies show it treats:
- heart disease
- gastrointestinal difficulties
- anxiety and even PTSD.
There are many different types of meditation.
Here are some of the most popular types:
- transcendental meditation
- guided meditation
- kundalini yoga
- loving kindness meditation
- mindfulness meditation.
Doing any kind of meditation for at least 10-15 minutes a day will help you.
Guided meditation is one of our favorite ways to meditate.
Most of us have very busy minds. It’s very hard to shut up the voice in your head that keeps yapping all day long.
That’s why it’s helpful to listen to someone guide you through the process of meditating.
We also love using binaural beats to help us meditate.
Check out this page for an explanation of binaural beats... and to access our guided meditation pack designed for entrepreneurs.
Mindfulness practices are a simple, yet powerful way to build your “happiness muscles”.
Mindfulness is just a fancy word for practicing presence.
Being mindful means you pay attention... to your thoughts, feelings, body sensations and your environment.
You pay attention without judging or reacting.
Let’s say you think about someone you don’t like and you feel angry. You notice that your breathing is shallow and that your stomach is tight.
Being mindful means you don't react to your memory of the person and you don’t judge them or yourself for reacting.
You simply “let go” of all thoughts, feelings and body sensations. That way you can become present to the moment in front of you.
You can practice mindfulness as you do everyday activities... like driving, eating, or walking.
The next time you’re eating your lunch, don’t just shove it in your mouth and inhale it so you can get back to your next task.
Become fully present to your eating. Take your time and really notice the tastes and texture of what you’re eating.
If you do enough mindfulness “reps” each day… you’ll be much better at being present in your life. You will feel a LOT more joy and the people around you will notice the difference.
If you’re a spiritual person, you may want to have a regular prayer ritual.
According to author Larry Dossey, M.D, prayer gives hope, meaning and comfort to people.
You can pray at any time of the day. For example, we have a client whose ritual is to pray for his kids every time he puts his key in the car.
There is a beautiful Buddhist meditation that you can use as a prayer for yourself or for anyone else.
It’s called the “Loving Kindness” prayer or meditation.
Here’s how you do it:
Put your hands over your heart. Feel the warmth of your hands and the gentle touch of your hands on your chest.
Take a couple of deep breaths and then say:
“May I (you) be filled with loving kindness
May I (you) be well
May I be (you) peaceful and at ease
May I (you) be happy”
You can say this powerful prayer anytime...while you drive, wash dishes, when you first wake up or before you go to bed.
It’s especially useful when you’re feeling stressed out, fearful or angry.
Spending 10-15 minutes a day putting your thoughts on paper can be therapeutic.
Research shows that naming our negative emotions can decrease the power of them.
Psychologist Matthew Lieberman showed that naming emotions... turns down the alarm center in the brain (amygdala).
This center is what triggers negative feelings like fear and anger.
Lieberman says: "In the same way you hit the brake when you're driving when you see a yellow light... when you put feelings into words, you seem to be hitting the brakes on your emotional responses."
Naming and identifying your feelings can calm down the Emotional Brain.
As psychiatrist and author Dan Siegel says, you can “Name it to tame it.”
Labeling your feelings helps you get distance from your feeling... so you can become more present.
It switches on the reasoning and thinking centers of the brain.
For example you could say, “'I'm feeling a lot of stress right now”, or “I sure am angry right now”, or “This is joy.”
Journaling is also a great self-awareness tool.
Exercise isn’t only about getting in shape and losing weight. Doing 20-30 minutes of aerobic exercise can also do wonders for your mood.
Aerobic exercise boosts neurotransmitters in your brain... so you can stay calm, positive and focused.
Here’s another key emotional benefit of aerobic exercise:
It makes you more immune to stressful situations. It’s like getting a vaccine against stress.
Psychiatrist John Ratey explains that exercise... increases the “flight or fight threshold” in your brain.
This is a fancy way of saying that it takes a lot more to stress you out.
Aerobic exercise increases your heart rate and respiration.
Activities like running, speed walking, swimming, playing sports, or interval training are examples.
Writing in a Gratitude Journal
Practicing feeling gratitude isn’t one of those fuzzy New-Age things.
Research shows that writing 3 things a day you’re grateful for... can help reset your mind for greater positivity.
When you do this practice, it doesn’t just help you feel better in the moment.
You’ll also start to train your mind to see more positive things during your day.
NOTE: For those hyper-achievers who want an extra boost…
Josh has a process he calls the “Happiness Builder” exercise. It’s taking this process and putting it on steroids…
Every morning before he starts work, he fills up a whole page of positive things.
- things he’s grateful for
- things that are going well in his life
- small things that worked out in his favor
- positive experiences with other people, etc.
The key with this practice is to notice the little things in life you can appreciate.
This ritual requires some equipment. But it’s one of the most effective mindset training exercises out there.
Biofeedback training uses technology to track your internal state. The technology gives you real-time “feedback” on whatever it’s measuring…
For example, your heart rate, brainwaves, tension in your muscles, etc.
Our two favorite types of biofeedback training are... Heart Rate Variability (HRV) training and Brainwave training for meditation.
Let’s look at each one….
Heart Rate Variability (HRV) training involves giving you feedback about your heart rate.
You’re practicing a combination of breathing and meditation while you’re hooked up to a sensor on your ear.
The science of Heart Rate Variability and coherence is complex and difficult to fully explain in a post like this...
But doing it for as little as 10 minutes a day can help you feel more positive, calmer and more clear-minded.
You can get sensors that hook up to your smartphone from Heartmath for $129 - $159... and use their free Inner Balance app to start training your brain.
Our second favorite type of biofeedback training is Brainwave training.
This involves meditating while using a headband that measures your brainwaves.
Brainwave training equipment is a little more expensive. You can get a headband from Muse for around $200 (as of the time of this post).
While you listen, the app provides you real-time feedback about how well you’re meditating.
You listen to sounds in the background, like the sound of the ocean.
As you quiet your mind, the headband detects your brainwaves and gets softer.
The more active your mind gets, the louder the sounds become.
Tony Robbins’ Priming Ritual
Tony Robbins starts his mornings with a 10 minute practice he calls “priming”.
His priming ritual is a good example of “ritual stacking”... stringing together a series of rituals one after the other.
Robbins’ priming ritual combines elements of other rituals above. It includes meditation, gratitude, and visualization.
Doing a Hobby
Here’s a ritual that’s deceptively powerful…
We call it a “hobby ritual” it involves doing something you enjoy… purely for the sake of feeling great and getting into flow.
A few times a week, or even every day, do something that gives you joy.
It could be any activity you love...
For Nita, it’s painting and creating art.
For Josh, it’s playing the piano and singing.
These activities don’t necessarily relate to business success. But that doesn’t matter.
Emotions are contagious--if you do something that’s enjoyable just for the pure pleasure of it…
The positive emotion you’ve generated will carry over other to other parts of your life.
The Miracle Morning Ritual
In his book The Miracle Morning, author Hal Elrod lays out his powerful morning ritual.
This ritual is another great example of “ritual stacking”--stringing together multiple rituals in a row.
He starts with some kind of meditation or prayer. Then he spends a few minutes speaking affirmations out loud.
After that, he takes a few minutes to visualize his life the way he wants it… Then he does some type of physical activity to energize his body.
Finally, Elrod spends a few minutes writing in his journal and setting his intentions for the day.
Rituals for focus and productivity
The ability to focus is a key driver for success.
Most entrepreneurs we talk to are in a state of overwhelm. They also don’t have clarity about which activities move their business forward the most.
It’s not enough to want more focus. You need to create the environment, and do activities that fuel your focus.
NOTE: Many rituals for managing your feelings improve your productivity.
That’s why we usually recommend starting with a “mindset” ritual if you aren’t already doing that...
You get benefits in two key areas.
Alright, onwards to the productivity rituals...
The “Morning Producer” Ritual
This is a powerful ritual that sets the tone of your day for focus and productivity.
Instead of starting your day by checking social media, the news, or your email…
Start your morning by being productive!
Take a few minutes to prioritize your day...then spend an hour working on your top priority that requires the most brain power.
Personal development guru Brian Tracy calls this practice “Eat That Frog”...
“Your ‘frog’ is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don't do something about it.
It is also the one task that can have the greatest positive impact on your life and results at the moment.”
This simple ritual sets the tone of your whole day for productivity.
Instead of starting your day consuming information that doesn’t move you forward...
This ritual gets you into a “producer” mindset and sets the tone for productivity.
Getting 7- 8 hours of sleep
Sleep is an overlooked aspect of productivity.
The “hustle porn” prevalent in our society tries to convince us that sleep is a luxury…
That if you’re getting a good night’s sleep, somehow you’re not working hard enough.
But this is simply a myth. It’s a myth that is literally killing entrepreneurs.
Studies show that getting a good night’s sleep is essential for productivity.
In fact, if you go more than four days in a row on less than six hours of sleep…
You have the same decline in cognitive abilities as if you were legally drunk.
Dr. John Medina, the author of Brain Rules, has two rules about sleep:
- Sleep well and think well
- Sleep loss = brain drain.
If you aren’t sleeping well, you’re not working at your peak productivity. It doesn’t matter how much caffeine you’re using to prop you up during the day…
Caffeine is not a substitute for proper rest.
If you’re currently not sleeping between 7-9 hours a night…
Consider creating a nighttime ritual to help you get more Zs.
We listed this ritual twice for a reason.
Aerobic exercise is one of those magical rituals that improves many areas of your life.
As psychiatrist John Ratey, the author of Spark, says:
“I tell people that going for a run is like taking a little bit of Prozac and a little bit of Ritalin because, like the drugs, exercise elevates these neurotransmitters.”
In other words, aerobic exercise helps you feel better AND focus better.
Doing 20 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week boosts key mental skills such as:
- Problem-solving skills
These are all crucial aspects of productivity!
To get the most productivity benefits, we recommend working out in the morning. That way you’ll benefit from the increased focus and creativity throughout the day.
Working in Short Sprints, Then Resting & Recovering
This is a simple ritual that will have a huge impact on your productivity.
We know on a brain level that our attention spans aren’t designed to last for hours on end.
The average human can only sustain attention on a subject for 45-90 minutes... before their performance starts to degrade.
The amount of time you can stay focused depends on the difficulty of the task.
If you’re doing a mindless task that’s automatic and doesn’t require much brain power... you can work on the higher end of that range.
But if you’re doing any kind of “energy hungry” activity like deep thinking or writing…
The amount of time you can stay focused is closer to 45-60 minutes.
So instead of looking at your day as one long marathon…
Break it up into a series of shorter sprints followed by a 10 minute rest and recovery period.
During your recovery period, if you’ve been sitting or standing still while working...
Don’t mindlessly read the news or check social media. Try to do something active that helps you get re-energized.
For example, this next ritual is a great way to rest and recover...
6-7 Minute Walk Breaks During the Day
This ritual is great to combine with the “working in sprints” ritual above.
For example, we often work for periods of around 50-60 minutes. Then we stop and take a walk break of about 5-10 minutes.
New research shows that going for a brief walk can give you 60-70% more more creative ideas.
It doesn’t matter if you’re walking outside in a beautiful park... on a treadmill at your house, or standing in place.
The simple act of moving is what helps your brain function better.
So if you want to maximize your creativity and productivity…
Work for 45-60 minutes in a focused sprint. Then take a 5-10 minutes walk break.
You’ll be amazed at how much more you get done during the day.
You can also do a “walking meditation” by combining mindfulness exercises with walking…
As you walk, listen to the sound of your feet hitting the ground. Notice any sounds of birds chirping or the wind rustling the leaves.
NOTE: If you have a team, consider doing “walking meetings” instead of meeting in a conference room.
Make Your Bed
This one seems silly and trivial. But it’s all about creating early wins in your day.
Admiral William McRaven, author of Make Your Bed, explains:
"If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another.
And by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed."
Again, this is a ritual that’s about starting your morning off the right way.
It’s a great example of how small tweaks to your behavior can produce big results.
Weekly Planning Sessions
This is not a daily ritual, but it can still be very helpful.
Many successful entrepreneurs spend time “blocking out” their weeks in their calendar.
This allows them to move through the week with a clear plan…
And makes the execution of their daily tasks much easier.
Entrepreneur Jack Dorsey has taken this idea of blocking out his time to a whole new level.
While he was the CEO of both Twitter and Square, he created ”themes” for each day. These themes allowed him to focus on his key priorities for both companies.
For example, here’s a look at some of his daily themes:
Monday: Management and running the company
Tuesday: Product development
Wednesday: Marketing and communications, growth
If you’re really busy and you have a lot of tasks to juggle, you can do something similar.
Consider creating a theme for each day of your week.
For example, Mondays and Tuesdays could be selling days where you reach out to new prospects.
Wednesdays could be "content creation" days for new blog posts or marketing campaigns, etc.
That way you’re blocking out entire days to focus on your top priorities.
Rituals for creating sales and revenue
These rituals are about doing activities that drive revenue in your business.
If you’re an entrepreneur, marketing and selling should be your top priority in the early stages.
That said, you should never overlook revenue-generating activities…
No matter what stage of business you’re in!
Here are some helpful rituals for creating revenue...
Sales Calls/Direct Outreach
If your revenue is created from selling… Consider creating a “selling ritual” to start off your day.
For example, we recently helped a client create a ritual of making sales calls from 9:30-10:30 each morning.
This hour of sales activity gave him a huge boost of momentum each day…
And it drove a big increase in revenue in his business.
This is a type of “Morning Producer” ritual, like we listed above. But it’s applied to content creation for online marketing.
With this ritual, you’re spending 50-60 minutes each day creating content.
For example, Josh has a morning ritual of writing for 50 minutes each day.
He gets rid of all distractions and puts his phone face down on silent.
Then he sets a timer on his computer for 50 minutes and does his best to completely focus on the task at hand.
It doesn’t have to be writing. Your ritual could be to script out videos, podcast episodes, or marketing campaigns.
These pre-performance rituals can be “stacked” with any of the other rituals above.
Pre-performance rituals help get your mind in the right state…
BEFORE you do any kind of “energy hungry” activity like writing or selling.
This can be as simple as doing abdominal breathing to relax your mind and body.
Or taking a few minutes to visualize yourself speaking to a prospect...
Imagine speaking with confidence, and seeing the conversation flow with perfect timing.
You can also read a few pages from our book Deliver to get your mind right before a big presentation or sales call.
Rituals for long-term growth and learning
These rituals are crucial for your long-term growth. However, they tend to get pushed out in the “busy”ness of life…
The key with learning rituals is to make them deliberate and intentional.
Don’t just learn for the sake of learning. Focus your learning and skills around the biggest challenge you face... or the biggest growth priority in your business right now.
Daily Reading - The “Five Hour Rule”
The “Five Hour Rule” is a simple practice that several extremely successful entrepreneurs follow. This includes luminaries like Bill Gates, Oprah and Warren Buffet.
Basically, you’re spending an average of one hour per day learning… or five hours per week. (Hence the “Five Hour Rule” name…)
You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can grow with a learning ritual like this in place.
This is another one that’s related to the “5 Hour Rule” above…
But it’s less focused on acquiring more knowledge... and more focused on improving your skills in a particular area of life.
You could spend at least 30 minutes a day practicing a new skill on your own.
Or take 30-45 minutes each day to practice a new skill by role-playing with a friend.
Listening to podcasts/audiobooks while you drive
This is an easy ritual to install. Instead of listening to the radio or to music on your daily commute…
Consider listening to podcasts or audiobooks while you drive. That way you’re taking advantage of driving time to grow long-term.
Final thoughts on this list of rituals
These are some common rituals that have helped us, our clients, and other elite performers stay at their best.
This is not an exhaustive list of every possible ritual you can do.
Think of it more like a buffet of options to get you thinking about which rituals will help you the most.
If you want to get creative about your rituals, then by all means, do it!
The key is to figure out which ritual will give you a ripple effect of positive energy or momentum.
The ritual you choose may depend on what challenges you’re facing in your life or business right now…
It may also depend on what stage you’re at in your business.
Regardless of where you are, using rituals will help you get whatever you want… faster!
Dr. Nita Matthews-Morgan & Josh Matthews-Morgan are the co-founders of Learn Your Brain.
They are a unique mother-son team who specialize in helping entrepreneurs and business owners master their mindset.
They’re the authors of Deliver: How to Perform Your Best When it Counts the Most.