Enjoy Wellness

Make the Mundane Meaningful With Michael Norton

Haley Paskalides  |  April 12, 2024

Dr. Mike Norton explains the rituals we can incorporate into tasks we may be avoiding (like paying our bills) to make them more meaningful.

Think, for a second, about all of the things you do before you head to the gym or go out for a run. Do you wear special running shoes? How do you tie them? Do you give yourself a pep talk on days when you’re just not feeling it? Is there a certain playlist you always listen to? Dr. Michael Norton, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, says that while working out at a certain time of day may be a habit, all of the little things we do to get ready are rituals, and paying more attention to them can transform our lives — financially and in countless other ways. 

SUBSCRIBE: New episode drops every Wednesday! Subscribe to HerMoney on Apple Podcasts so you never miss the latest 🙂

In his new book, The Ritual Effect: From Habit to Ritual, Harness The Surprising Power of Everyday Actions, Norton argues that by setting up a specific environment (lighting candles or putting on jazz) when we do things like pay our monthly bills or check in on our investment accounts, we’re creating rituals around our finances and making them feel more like something we enjoy doing. Dr. Norton says some habits, like paying our bills, are “a little bit dry and cold and kind of automatic. But rituals are a way to insert emotion and meaning into the things that we’re doing and they can push us in ways that just executing mindless habits sometimes don’t.”

LISTEN: Your 2024 Happiness Reset 

Dr. Michael Norton also offers rituals as a way to get out of our heads and back into the present moment before going into a big presentation at work, or asking your boss for a raise. Whether it’s practicing what you’re going to say in front of a mirror, or doing a few breathing exercises, Norton says that “rituals literally give our minds something else to do. You’re still nervous for sure, but you’re able to kind of distract yourself from the anxiety by doing this familiar thing that you’ve been doing for a long time. And it does seem like it helps us get out of our own way  and perform to our potential.”

Listen to the HerMoney podcast to hear about how teams in the workplace can use rituals to make their jobs more meaningful, what rituals do for high performers like Serena Williams, and the downsides of taking ritualistic behavior too far. 


Join the HerMoney community! For the latest episode drops and financial news-you-can-use, subscribe to our newsletter at Hermoney.com/subscribe!

This podcast is proudly supported by Edelman Financial Engines. Let our modern wealth management advice raise your financial potential. Get the full story at EdelmanFinancialEngines.com. Sponsored by Edelman Financial Engines – Modern wealth planning. All advisory services offered through Financial Engines Advisors L.L.C. (FEA), a federally registered investment advisor. Results are not guaranteed. AM1969416

Editor’s note: We maintain a strict editorial policy and a judgment-free zone for our community, and we also strive to remain transparent in everything we do. Posts may contain references and links to products from our partners. Learn more about how we make money.

The HerMoney podcast is supported by      Edelman
All advisory services offered through Financial Engines Advisors L.L.C. (FEA), a federally registered investment advisor. Results are not guaranteed. AM1969416

Next Article: