It has happened to you. You set a goal, start working towards it and then you give up. You fail…again.

Why do people fail at achieving important goals? Of the many reasons, the most often overlooked is the need to surround the critical action of achieving a goal, or the sub-goals,  with ritual. Let’s explain this with a few examples.

You want to lose weight?

By now you realise that super-human exercise programs are often unsustainable. Or, living the rest of your life by trying to manage portions with tiny bowls is unsustainable. Or, that forever eating only one type of food is not sustainable. Or, managing calories so you starve yourself into skinny is unsustainable. Then you learn what does typically work and you resolve to follow that new lifestyle. [to learn what typically works for most people, search this website using, “weight loss”]. You identify your most important major goal: change the type of food you eat. Next you identify steps to doing that. In this case, you know you must eat at least 3 major meals and several snacks throughout the day. Yet to eat with that appropriate frequency and still lose weight, we must eat the right types of food. So, we start by changing what we eat for breakfast, for example. And you resolve to keep it consistent and SIMPLE. So, breakfast will become one of your sub-goals.


  1. Eating sufficient and satisfying quantities of foods.
  2. Eating the right foods ANYTIME you feel hungry. [Search this website using “types of food”.]
  3. Eating almost unlimited quantities of food when eating.
  4. Avoiding the need for portion control, calorie counting, or worrying about getting sufficient minerals, vitamins, or any other nutrient.
  5. Avoiding most packaged foods, and especially those great-tasting, instant meals that can be zapped in microwave ovens, boiled in their plastic packages, etc.
  6. Eating each of your main meals, without skipping any, and eating snacks between meals.
  7. Simple. Efficient. Cost-effective. Do-able almost anywhere you travel. STREAMLINED. It has to be something that you can do as a no-brainer, with little thought, little effort, little concern about complexity.
  8. You must enjoy it, too. If eating, you either must love the food or be able to become accustomed to it to the point you love it, eg., reducing or avoiding sugar in your coffee.


Based on the above major goal of losing weight, now you know that you must start your day with a GREAT and HEALTHY breakfast that is rich in high-ORAC value food, high in fiber, and great-tasting. Your breakfast will be something you can love and live with for the rest of your life, but it will no longer be packaged crunchy or instant cereal. Rather, you will take a few seconds more to cook your breakfast. You will have the same breakfast food almost every morning so you won’t have to think about what to eat.

Assume for this example you decide to have cooked rolled oats and raisins as your new lifestyle breakfast for either your heart, brain, arteries, or just to lose weight. Now you surround that with a ritual.

  1. Awaken at the same time every day.
  2. Freshen up.
  3. Pull out the SAME small pot each morning.
  4. Add the same amount of water into the pot each morning.
  5. Bring the water to a boil. Add two or three tablespoons of rolled oats and a heaping handful of raisins. Lower the temperature of the stove element. Stir a fixed number of times, let’s start with 10 clockwise circles and 5 counterclockwise.
  6. When cooked, about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on your preference, remove and let cool. If in a hurry, as I typically am, grab a handful of ice cubes and stir those into your new healthy breakfast.
  7. While you are eating your breakfast, do NOT watch TV and don’t read anything. Focus on eating that healthy breakfast.
  8. When done, follow the same actions every day. Example, immediately wash your pot and cooking and eating utensils. Place on your dish rack or dry and replace in your kitchen cupboard or drawer.


Getting a promotion is a gigantic goal. Right? But you have come to learn that there is some skill, some knowledge, some sort of training that you lack and that is holding you back. You resolve to acquire that new skill or knowledge so you can make yourself more valuable and to better qualify to get that job promotion. For purposes of this example, let’s assume you need to study something on a regular basis.

  1. Awaken at the same time every day.
  2. Freshen up.
  3. Make your morning beverage. If tea or coffee, use your favorite cup. Place it on the table or desk at the ready.
  4. Switch on your background music, if you listen to background music while studying.
  5. Grab your books, computer, and note paper, if you use note paper these days, from the same place as you store those items every day.
  6. Settle into your study spot. If it is the kitchen table, sit in the same chair at the same spot at the table.
  7. Study for the exact same amount of time each day.
  8. Restore your study materials to the exact same place from which you obtained them.
  9. Wash and return your favorite cup to the dish rack or cupboard.
  10. Begin the rest of your day.


  1. Awaken at the same time every day.
  2. Freshen up.
  3. Dress in your workout clothes.
  4. Make your morning beverage. If tea or coffee, use your favorite cup. Place it on the table or desk at the ready.
  5. Spend 30 minutes sitting in your favorite chair, reading your daily dose of news on your computer while sipping on your morning beverage.
  6. Make your breakfast–see healthy breakfast above.
  7. Gather your whatever personal belongings you need to take with you to your workout.
  8. Move to the same spot each morning where you can don your jogging or training shoes, don your MP3, etc.
  9. Head to your workout, or head out the door.
  10. Begin your workout exactly the same way each day.
  11. Do whatever  workout or training you decide that will let you best reach your goals, but  focus on sub-goals and find a way to surround each sub-goal with some sort of ritual. Not a complicated ritual but a ritual nonetheless. When I begin my jogging I take two gigantic breathes, raise my shoulders, and exhale hard while dropping my shoulders. That’s my “signal” to begin my workout. Before doing my interval sprints, I tap my chest three times and mentally shout to myself to “Get going!”.

Concentrate on the ritual, not on the effort required for the sub-goal.


  1. Pick your main, gigantic goal.
  2. Break it into sub-goals.
  3. Take each sub-goal and build a ritual around each sub-goal.
  4. Focus on maintaining that ritual and that sub-goal, until the goal is achieved and thereafter, if necessary, without ever deviating your ritual(s).

Your ritual for each sub-goal will carry you to success. RITUALS surrounding your sub-goals will allow you to succeed spectacularly at achieving your main, audacious, goals.

“Ritualize” your way to success.