Here is what Erica had to say when we asked her about developing positive habits and rituals:
GenHERation®: Based on your research, why is it important for individuals and companies to develop positive habits and rituals?
Erica Keswin: Habits are important because they are automatic, repetitive behaviors that allow us to accomplish tasks (which gives us a reward) without requiring us to exert an exorbitant amount of mental effort. A ritual is repetitive like a habit, but what makes it different from a habit is that you assign details to it and the impact of a ritual goes beyond the practical reach of it. For example, every meal is not a ritual. A corporate team having tea every Thursday to boost morale represents a ritual. Rituals are important because they give us the three P’s: Psychological safety, Purpose, and Performance. Taking part in a ritual on your first day of school or at a new job gives you a sense of belonging, or psychological safety. Additionally, whether you are the leader of a company or an individual, connecting your actions to a purpose allows you to really think about your values and goals, which in turn makes them more meaningful. Overall, having rituals makes you happier and less stressed, enabling you to have better performance in your professional and personal life.
GenHERation®: How can you create habits and rituals to structure your day?
Keswin: You should create a rituals roadmap to map out your day. Write out what your days usually look like. Do you wake up, make coffee, go to work or school, eat dinner, and go to bed? Then, determine when you have time to add rituals to your day. The beginning and the end of the day are important bookends, so I recommend adding your rituals to these timeslots. Not only will you start and conclude your days on a positive note, but you will be more likely to stick to these rituals because you are accomplishing them within timeframes that are less susceptible to change and uncertainty.
GenHERation®: For people looking to develop a new habit or ritual, what are the first steps they should take?
Keswin: First, think about your goals and values—positive habits and rituals should align with both of these. Second, engage in self-reflection and determine if you might already be practicing a ritual. Have you been meditating in the mornings to help you get focused for the day? Third, just go for it! If you think your team will be more productive if you have breakfast brainstorming sessions every Monday, put time on the calendar. Or, if you believe deep breathing exercises will make you get a better night’s sleep and lead to a more productive day, try it. When you are trying out a ritual think of it as a suggestion rather than a permanent fixture in your life. You cannot force a ritual, so if one is not working, it is okay. Just make sure you make the time for this reflection. A litmus test for determining if something stuck as a ritual is realizing that if it did not happen it feels really weird. Something truly becomes a ritual when it becomes a part of what you love to do.
GenHERation®: What are some of your favorite habits and rituals you have developed in your personal or professional life?
Keswin: Every morning, I take the time to really enjoy my coffee. I feel the warmth from the mug and cherish each sip. This is my morning meditation. Other habits and rituals that I find effective and recommend to you are accomplishing your most difficult to do’s earlier in the day, working on one task at a time instead of multitasking, and taking breaks after every 90 minutes of work.
Erica Keswin is a workplace strategist who has worked for the past 20 years with some of the most iconic brands in the world as a consultant, speaker, author, and professional dot-connector. Her bestselling book, Bring Your Human to Work: Ten Sure-Fire Ways to Design a Workplace That’s Good for People, Great for Business, and Just Might Change the World, was published by McGraw-Hill in the fall of 2018. Her next book, Rituals Roadmap: The Human Way to Transform Everyday Routines Into Workplace Magic, will be released in 2021. Erica’s work and insights have been featured in various media outlets, including Forbes, Huffington Post, and O Magazine. Erica is also the founder of the Spaghetti Project, a platform devoted to sharing the science and stories of relationships at work.