Why You Need Success Rituals

“Success is not an act, but a habit.”

It’s 2014

I’m one of nine children, and the last of three still living at home. The only siblings left are my teenage sisters; my brother Jake just got a big-boy job directing a government agency in northern California. But he’s been out of the house for four years anyway.

I’m the black sheep.

I wake up and regret that my life is so ordinary. Why can’t I be more like my little brother, or any of my brothers? They’ve all graduated college and found success in their careers. Here I am squabbling over bathroom duties with my little sisters, and hoping Mom cooks something good tonight

What’s my problem?

I usually wake up feeling like Kentucky fried bullshit; what I do is even less impressive. Social media sucks me up before I even roll out of bed. And I’m paralyzed by the latest news that says the world is really ending…it’s always really ending.

I almost hope it does, too—to end my shame. I rationalize my idleness on the crippled state of the world. It’s all going to shit anyway, so I’m not going to do anything. Take that, world.

I’ve come up with inventive ways to squander time. Like anxiety. That’s a big one. Living in a state of panic keeps me from thinking about what I’m doing with my life. Depression is another easy out: I’m depressed, what do you expect of me? Everything I do is a distraction to keep my mind off the one important thing… I’m not doing important things. I’m not doing anything.

That was my life.

But here we are now.

It’s 2016

Last week I wake up feeling like shit. I don’t want to move. I ache all over. I’m sure I won’t get anything done. But I do.

I drag my ass out of bed and commit to the routines that have gotten me where I am today. My mind sharpens; the world brightens. Before I know it I’ve exercised, journaled, planned out my day, and written my first article. It’s not even 10:00 am.

By 12:00, the fog I woke in is totally gone. It’s been replaced with positivity, proaction, and accomplishments. 2:00 rolls by and I’ve finished up an interview on a radio show. My topic? How to succeed as a writer and entrepreneur.

I mostly talk about success rituals. If it weren’t for those, I wouldn’t even have gotten out of bed for the interview. I wouldn’t even have my own bed; I’d still be strapped to mom’s couch.

You’re going to have rituals anyway, so you might as well make them success rituals

Success rituals are the deciding factor of your success. They carve out channels in your brain that lead to the actions and results you want. They condition you to make the hard decision by instinct. And the more you commit to them, the easier it is to succeed.

I had rituals before I started my writing career.

I’d wake up feeling regret and depression for the things I hadn’t accomplished, for the failure I thought I was. After wallowing in despair, I’d snap out of it by surfing the web for different forms of despair: how the government is screwing us, how the government is screwing us, and more about how the government is screwing us. I’d stay occupied with that for most of the day.

Then the clock would strike 8:00 pm, and my ritual was to look back on another day wasted, another day where I accomplished nothing, another day of sucking on my mom’s metaphorical teat. I always made sure to beat myself up for that—a bit of ritualistic flair.

But I could only keep doing the same thing for so long before I started feeling crazy. I needed independence to feel whole. I needed to make a difference through my talents. I needed to make something of myself. So, I started making better habits. Simple.

New Habits

After a few months of self-help searching, I identified the habits that kept me back, and I began new habits that would unleash my potential.

  • I’d wake up with the sun instead of sleeping till noon. Then I began my day with affirmations. I looked at myself in the mirror and tell myself how good I am, how worthy I am. I pumped myself up with positivity to start my day with purpose. And wherever I was weakest—discipline, responsibility, etc.—I’d give myself an extra dose of positive affirmations.
  • Then I’d exercise to get my blood pumping, and to build my confidence. I’d take a walk in the woods and focus on what I had to be grateful for (which is always more than you think.)
  • After my walk I would sit down and journal. I reflected on my previous day, how my thoughts influenced my day, what I did well, where I could’ve done better.
  • Then I planned my next day. I took the information gathered from journaling and made tasks to accomplish during the day. I identified the things I needed to do to reach my goals, and promised to give my best effort.
  • Then I jumped straight into work. I’d write for 2 hours, edit for a couple more. I’d research and pitch new clients. I made a habit of doing what I had to do to succeed.

It was hard to start success rituals at first, but I didn’t let the difficulty stop me from living a life I could be proud of. I committed to my rituals like my life depended on them.

Within a month the rituals became second nature. Six months later I was living on my own. Over a year has passed since I started my success rituals: I’ve managed to make more money writing than most people do in their entire careers: I’ve obliterated the anxiety and depression that I used to use as a crutch: And I’ve created a life where I serve other people doing what I love most. It’s all because of my success rituals.

I started with 5 simple ones:

Morning affirmations, Exercise, Journaling, Planning my day, and doing several hours of real work before checking email.

Those rituals gave me a structure to fall back on when I felt weak. They gave me the confidence I needed to tackle bigger goals. And they helped me learn how to make the most of my time. They will work for you.

They also led to umpteen other more advanced rituals that have helped me dramatically increase my pay while giving me more free time in the process.


What are your rituals? What habits will you commit to in order to live an extraordinary life—to live the life you want? Send us a message, or add to the comments section.

If you start these 5 simple ones today, and if you stick to them for 1 month, I guarantee that you’ll be on track for your dream life in one year. Need help? Sign up for our coaching today.

Written by Daniel Dowling
I went from being a highschool and college dropout to writing for the world's best publications in two short years. I owe ALL my success to habits like mindfulness and journaling. - So I built Millennial Success to share those incredible habits with you!