Friday morning, I was listening to Tony Robbins, the great motivational speaker, and he was talking about rituals.

How creating positive new rituals will change your life.

If you’ve never listened to Robbins, I highly recommend it.

An amazing guy.

Thursday night, I was one of about a dozen featured authors for an Author’s Night at a local community college, Central Texas College. We all had a table set up to display our books, and we took turns at a podium talking about our work.

There were probably 40 or 50 people in the audience — not a big crowd, — but there was a time I wouldn’t have been able to confidently get up and talk to an audience like I did. I’ve had some practice recently at a couple other author events, so that helps, but I also think some changes I’ve made this year were a factor.

Here’s what Robbins talked about in that message:

He used several great examples, and one of them fits in nicely with physical fitness. He talked about the difference in the daily rituals of a fit and trim athlete, compared to the daily rituals of someone who is 20 pounds overweight or whatever. When the alarm clock goes off in the morning, the athlete rolls out of bed, laces up his sneakers and gets moving. Maybe goes to the gym for a workout or goes for a run, or whatever. Every day, the athlete does this, without fail.

The other person rolls over and hits the snooze button a few times, finally gets up, gets dressed and goes down to the coffee shop for the daily mocha cocha grande and a sweet roll.

Simplistic, but you get the point.

In the past, that crowd of negative voices that lived inside my head would have had me terrified about getting up and talking to people about myself. There’s a good chance I would have found a reason to cancel the whole thing and not even show up.

Last night, I got just a little nervous as the author speaking before it was my turn was finishing his remarks, but it didn’t last long, and I did a pretty good job and actually enjoyed myself.

This new level of confidence, I think, is coming from new habits I have created this year. New rituals. A new way of thinking.

Don’t get me wrong — I still have a long way to go, but we seek progress not perfection.

According to Robbins, if there is something in your life that you want to improve, here is what you do:

Think of an area of your life that you would like to be better and write it down.

Whatever it is: physical fitness; a relationship; financial situation; your mindset …

Write that down.

Now, write down what it is exactly that needs to improve in that area. What about that situation do you want to see change? What is lacking? What could be better?

Then, write down what needs to be done to make that happen. What would it take to cause improvement? What actions you can take to improve whatever it is.

OK, that was the easy part.

Now comes the work.

Guess what, hoping things will change usually doesn’t make things change.

When that anxiety took a hold of me in January and I started having severe panic attacks, I had to take action. Wishing it would go away wasn’t going to work.

I didn’t know what the hell to do, but I knew I had to do something. I had no idea what that something was, but I started searching, and what I found was my new morning routine. Or as Robbins would probably call it, my new morning ritual.

I’ve talked about it before, but what I do now is start feeding my brain positive messages as soon as I wake up in the morning. Before I even get out of bed, I start listening to positive, inspirational, motivational, and spiritual messages. I end with some sort of positive guided meditation, and by the time I finish that meditation, I’ve spent at least an hour and more like an hour-and-a-half. I’ve been doing this faithfully now for 79 days, and the results have been amazing.

No more anxiety attacks or panic attacks, for one thing. But also a much more positive mindset. More positive attitude. More positive outlook on life. And those negative voices that we all have in varying degrees from time to time no longer control my brain, like they used to. I still have negative thoughts sometimes, but I can ignore them now. They show up sometimes, and then they just fade away.

Like last night at that author’s event.

If something in your life needs improvement, consider the steps it will take to do that and start a new daily ritual, using the steps you wrote down to make it happen.

Do it every day for 30 days.

See what happens.