Rituals for Starting Things: Be Your Own Ceremonial Torch

Whether it’s a 30 day challenge, or my next new project: I love crafting a good starting ritual to get myself into the MINDSET for success. Truth: nobody is going to build rituals for you. Why not have fun designing some? Ceremonies! Magic! Ribbon-Cutting with massive scissors. Golden Spikes. Weird pre-pitch jiggles on the mound. “Launched my app on Product Hunt!”

Although I love a good show – a good starting ritual does not have to be complicated.

Here are a few of my go-to’s: ⤵

  1. Clear the decks – digital and physical – before starting I clear up all my clutter on my desktop, and I empty a single shelf. There’s always just a deep exhale that comes from knowing you have both literal and metaphorical space to breathe.
  1. Start with a new pen and notebook. Whenever I start a new project, I get myself a fresh G2 Gel Pen in 10, and a new Cambridge Action Planner notebook with lines on the right, and clear scribble space on the left.

*Yes, I’m totally justifying my office product habit here.

  1. Ask my “Starting Questions”:

• Who will I be when I complete this new thing?
• What habits do I need to start or stop to succeed?
• How will I measure?
• What does “Good” look like?
• What does “Mediocre” look like?
• Who can help me to achieve this?

  1. Round up my SQUAD. (And make it fun with swag.) “Hi, I’m doing this thing, u in?” – it’s more fun to do things with others.

• make t-shirts (or mousepads)
• pick a theme to go all-in on
• have fun with puns, GIFS, celebration
• “team” jewels or nerdy pins

  1. Take responsibility for the ritual I want to see. (Don’t assume others will do it for you.)

When beginning, I lean into my values:

👋 Inclusion: make a point to welcome others.

😍 Celebration: set the tone of JOY.

💌 Gratitude: acknowledge GOOD THINGS in the world.

How do YOU mark the start of new things? (I’d love to hear about your favorite rituals – the weirder, the better. How will you bring your own torch today?

The Weekly Meal Plan

Okay, you get roses instead of vegetables! (Last weekend at Fuller Gardens, in New Hampshire.)

Cornerstone habits that add the most value to my week are the ones that provide structure to my days, reduce my mental load to free me up for better decision making.  Meal planning uses a simple template that I repeat!

Prep: I root through my fridge, and seeing what needs to be used up. This week, I went to Farmers Market without a plan, so I have a glut of veg to use. Usually I take a quick pic of my fridge contents to help me plan.

To use this week: scallops, cod, eggs, beet hummus, labne, tomato, cucumber, scallions, garlic scapes, kale, spinach, broccoli, arugula, sweet potato, tortillas, Banza, frozen green beans, frozen onions and peppers, bamya, oatmeal, green goddess dip, piri-piri

  • S: cauliflower gnocchi lemon cacio pepe with scallops and arugula
  • M: miso-mayo cod with garlic spinach
  • T: tomato and wine braised fish from freezer, cucumber tomato salad
  • W: banza (chickpea) pasta with tomato sauce, chicken
  • Th: sweet potato with beef and tahini (Stone Soup)
  • Fr: Epicurious kale and date salad with leftover chickenSa: Cava? or Vietnamese takeout.

Lunches: (usually in no particular order) – or leftovers // broccoli with lemon, parmesan, beet hummus and eggs // arugula lemon parmesan salad with tinned fish // soft boiled eggs and pb protein shake with berries // barbunya pilaki with bamya (stewed cranberry beans and okra)

Snacks + Dessert: cheese sticks, yogurt fruit oats, soft boiled eggs, cottage cheese, key lime pineapple coconut shake, air fried green beans

To Buy: onion, vanilla protein powder, frozen cauliflower (smoothies), cottage cheese, chicken, rice, spindrift lemon, limeade, tea

Batch cook: soft boiled eggs, defrost chicken, slice and freeze bagels, barbunya, strawberry rhubarb mush

Learn something new every day

It’s insidiously easy to go through your day on auto-pilot. Work, checklist, plan, execute. I’m making the effort to learn something new every day, intentionally. I want ideas that make my brain explode with curiosity. Here’s where I’m looking:

I’m gathering books across a variety of my interests – and especially ones that friends are reading. I want to be able to read and then discuss salon style. I’m also a part of several book clubs to encourage this habit. (I’m also working to improve my notes to facilitate easier writing.)

How I’m trying to choose my reading: I try to read a few books on the same topic around the same time, to see commonalities and patterns, and outliers. I’ll gather:

• The top few classic books on a topic
• A new book on the topic
• The BIO of an expert on the topic

Why bios? I’m fascinated by the environment behind the idea. Where were the idea-makers living, what were they doing? Who were they influenced by?

It’s surprisingly easy to become passably fluent in a new topic by only reading a handful of the best books, intelligently curated.

I’m also looking for ideas from slow news, with global context. I’ve cut myself out of the 24-hour news cycle. I’m not interested in the stress, I want insight and information thats a level deeper. I try to catch up every few weeks on the Economist in print. I aim for a diversity of voices and viewpoints. I want to read about the world in a global context. I want to learn:

• How can we work together better?
• How can we do better in our shared mission for a better world?
• How can we learn from one another?
• What are the stories around the world that are being suppressed, minimized, or overlooked?

Where do you learn the best things? What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned or read this week?