Working Habits and Rituals Revisited

In a previous post on career changing habits and rituals I left you with these two questions:

  1. What (enjoyable) habits are you aware of in your own daily working life?

  2. In what way are these ritualistic?

Here’s what I came up with.

Three enjoyable habits in my previous corporate IT job with an Investment Bank:

  • Wearing headphones and listening to the sound of the sea.

  • Drinking afternoon coffee.

  • My Meditational commute.

(Caution: the above was my experience. It works for me because the end goal is freedom; in what I believe to be the physical and psychological meanings of that word. Your managers and even some colleagues may see it very differently. I am not responsible if your a#% is fired; you are!)

As for the ritualistic nature of these habits:

  • Wearing headphones:

There were times I needed to concentrate, and in an open plan office with a waist-high cubicle farm, that was a challenge. I often listened to Dan Gibson’s CD, Ocean Surf, 72 minutes of ‘timeless and sublime’ sea sounds.
After 20 or 30 listens over a period of months I didn’t actually need to play the CD anymore; it became possible to imagine the breaking waves in time with my own breath.

  • Drinking Afternoon Coffee:

This is career change rule 4 in action i.e. let time go lightly. I worked long hours in the investment banking world, often working through lunch, and so a short break away from the maddening crowd was a vital recharger.
Market close in Tokyo was 3pm and I always went after that.
At least one member of our team drew the short straw and remained in the office to deal with issues. The kicker for me was to take the break but without the coffee! Seriously, I got just as big a buzz from being with my coffee drinking colleagues. A caffeine-free fix, you might say.

  • Meditational commute:

The Tokyo train and underground service is usually very reliable, safe and clean, but crowded at rush hours. My solution? Go to work after 9am and leave for home after 7pm.
This was my university on wheels, as Brian Tracy likes to say. And a good thirty minutes of the one-hour each way journey was indeed undisturbed, quality time because most commuters were sleeping or generally very quiet.

For 5 minutes on each journey I would practice my simple meditation of visualization and affirmation. The rhythmical nature of the train’s motion and the relative silence between stations, punctuated by familiar announcements and jingles were ideal for creating a light trance state.

Naturally, even if I had known about it, this was not possible when I commuted by car in the UK because road safety is priority #1 through the rat runs between Milton Keynes and Hemel Hempstead. Having been a train commuter in Japan for over 13 years now I really do not miss the hassle of driving. Even the term road rage passed me by, until I saw it in a UK online newspaper some years ago.

As a constructive force for desired change, I thoroughly recommend a daily practice of being ritualistically habitual.