Are you a habitual habit maker/breaker? Me too.

Routines are kind of a thing for many of us—exercise routines, morning routines, end-of-day-at-the-office routines, meal prep routines. They help ensure that the basics get done and that you can be more mentally present for the right things at the right time.

But, in the end, habits are simply a collection of actions that you execute repeatedly. To create real change in your life, you want to tap into the why —not just into the “what do I have to do now?”

Creating rituals, instead of routines, helps you tap into the deeper implications of the actions you are trying to make habitual; this shift has made all the difference in my life.

Ritual has more attitude that routines. I don’t do things just because I should, I do them because they make my life better or help me get to a place that I want to be. This deeper meaning helps me stick to it and do it harder/better/faster/stronger.

I’ve read a few books in the past year that have bolstered some of my ritual setting efforts:

Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal

This book is a great reminder that laziness is a habit, not a personality trait. To have stronger willpower, you simply must use that willpower more often by starting with tiny things and work your way up. Easier said than done, right? But a nice reminder that you are on the same playing field as even the top achievers. It’s just a matter of building that willpower muscle over time.

Getting started on anything is the toughest part, so simply finding (and executing) the absolute smallest step possible to do the thing you want to do gets you miles ahead after a while. Want to run a marathon? Commit to running for 3 minutes today and then see what happens. Procrastinating on that big project? Tell yourself that you’ll work on it for 10 minutes. If you keep going, awesome. If not, at least you did something. Repeat tomorrow and again and again…

Your Best Year Ever by Michael Hyatt

Michael Hyatt’s latest book is an excellent goal-setting book that also preaches the importance of attacking challenges by taking small steps (instead of eating the frog). But it was his words around understanding the possibility and meaning behind what we’re trying to accomplish that really resonated with me:

“Because our expectations shape what we believe is possible, they shape our perceptions and actions. That means they also shape the outcomes. And that means they shape our reality.”

As you establish your own habits in life, keep your mind ever-focused on the final outcome to elevate even the most mundane activities into something worth doing again and again.