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How To Be Confident About Living The Life You Want

How To Be Confident About Living The Life You Want

Back when I was in high school and through the first couple of years in college, I had a clear career goal.

I planned to become a medical doctor.

Why? Looking back at it, my career goal was a result of the encouragement and expectations from my family and friends.

My family emigrated from the Soviet Union when I was 10, and we spent the next few years living in poverty. I remember my parents’ early jobs in America, my dad driving a bread delivery truck and my mom cleaning other people’s houses. We couldn’t afford nice things. I felt so ashamed in front of other kids for not being able to get that latest cool backpack or wear cool clothes – always on the margins, never fitting in. My parents encouraged me to become a medical doctor. They gave up successful professional careers when they moved to the US, and they worked long and hard to regain financial stability. It’s no wonder that they wanted me to have a career that guaranteed a high income, stability, and prestige.

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My friends also encouraged me to go into medicine. This was especially so with my best friend in high school, who also wanted to become an MD. He wanted to have a prestigious job and make lots of money, which sounded like a good goal to have and reinforced my parents’ advice. In addition, friendly competition was a big part of what my best friend and I did – whether arguing with each other about life questions or playing poker into the wee hours of the morning. Putting in long hours to ace the biochemistry exam and get a high score on the standardized test to get into medical school was just another way for us to show each other who was top dog. I still remember the thrill of finding out that I got the higher score on the standardized test. I had won!

As you can see, it was very easy for me to go along with what my friends and family encouraged me to do.

I was in my last year of college, working through the complicated and expensive process of applying to medical schools, when I came across an essay question that stopped in me in my tracks:

“Why do you want to be a medical doctor?”

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The question stopped me in my tracks. Why did I want to be a medical doctor? Well, it’s what everyone around me wanted me to do. It was what my family wanted me to do. It was what my friends encouraged me to do. It would mean getting a lot of money. It would be a very safe career. It would be prestigious. So it was the right thing for me to do. Wasn’t it?

Well, maybe it wasn’t.

I realized that I never really stopped and thought about what I wanted to do with my life. My career is how I would spend much of my time every week for many, many years, but I never considered what kind of work I would actually want to do, not to mention whether I would want to do the work that’s involved in being a medical doctor. As a medical doctor, I would work long and sleepless hours, spend my time around the sick and dying, and hold people’s lives in my hands. Is that what I wanted to do?

There I was, sitting at the keyboard, staring at the blank Word document with that essay question at the top. Why did I want to be a medical doctor? I didn’t have a good answer to that question.

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My mind was racing, my thoughts were jumbled. What should I do? I decided to talk to someone I could trust, so I called my girlfriend to help me deal with my qualrter-life crisis. She was very supportive, as I thought she would be. She told me I shouldn’t do what others thought I should do, but think about what would make me happy. More important than making money, she said, is having a lifestyle you enjoy, and that lifestyle can be had for much less than I might think.

Her words provided a valuable outside perspective for me. By the end of our conversation, I realized that I had no interest in doing the job of a medical doctor. And that if I continued down the path I was on, I would be miserable in my career, doing it just for the money and prestige. I realized that I was on the medical school track because others I trust – my parents and my friends – told me it was a good idea so many times that I believed it was true, regardless of whether it was actually a good thing for me to do.

Why did this happen?

I later learned that I found myself in this situation in part because of a common thinking error which scientists call the mere-exposure effect. This term refer to our brain’s tendency to believe something is true and good just because we are familiar with it, regardless of whether that something is actually true and good.

Since I learned about the mere-exposure effect, I am much more suspicious of any beliefs I have that are frequently repeated by others around me, and go the extra mile to evaluate whether they are true and good for me. This means I can gain agency and intentionally take actions that help me toward my long-term goals.

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So what happened next?

After my big realization about medical school and the conversation with my girlfriend, I took some time to think about my actual long-term goals. What did I – not someone else – want to do with my life? What kind of a career did I want to have? Where did I want to go? How could I be confident about living the life I wanted to live?

I was always passionate about history. In grade school, I got in trouble for reading history books under my desk when the teacher talked about math. As a teenager, I stayed up until 3am reading books about World War II. Even when I was on the medical school track in college I double-majored in history and biology, with history my love and joy. However, I never seriously considered going into history professionally. It’s not a field where one can make much money or have great job security (unless you are very, very lucky).

After considering my options and preferences, I decided that money and security mattered less than a profession that would be genuinely satisfying and meaningful. “What’s the point of making a million bucks if I’m miserable doing it?” I thought to myself. I chose a long-term goal that I thought would make me happy, as opposed to simply being in line with the expectations of my parents and friends. So I decided to become a history professor.

My decision led to some big challenges with those close to me. My parents were very upset to learn that I no longer wanted to go to medical school. They really tore into me, telling me I would never be well off or have job security. Also, it wasn’t easy to tell my friends that I decided to become a history professor instead of a medical doctor. My best friend even jokingly asked if I was willing to trade grades on the standardized medical school exam, since I wasn’t going to use my score. Not to mention how painful it was to accept that I wasted so much time and effort to prepare for medical school only to realize that it was not the right choice for me. I really I wish this was something I realized earlier, not in my last year of college.

3 steps to prevent this from happening to you:

If you want to avoid finding yourself in a situation like this, here are 3 steps you can take:

  1. Stop and think about your life purpose and your long-term goals. Write these down on a piece of paper.
  2. Now review your thoughts, and see whether you may be excessively influenced by messages you get from your family, friends, or the media. If so, pay special attention and make sure that these goals are also aligned with what you want for yourself. Answer the following question: if you did not have any of those influences, what would you put down for your own life purpose and long-term goals? Recognize that your life is yours, not theirs, and you should live whatever life you choose for yourself. This approach is part of a broader strategy of dealing with common thinking errors by considering alternatives, which research shows is a very effective way for avoiding thinking errors such as the mere-exposure effect.
  3. Review your answers and revise them as needed every 3 months. Avoid being attached to your previous goals. Remember, you change throughout your life, and your goals and preferences change with you. Don’t be afraid to let go of the past, and welcome the current you with arms wide open.

Featured photo credit: Confidence via flickr.com

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Dr. Gleb Tsipursky

President and Co-Founder at Intentional Insights; Disaster Avoidance Consultant

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Last Updated on August 20, 2018

Powerful Daily Routine Examples for a Healthy and High-Achieving You

Powerful Daily Routine Examples for a Healthy and High-Achieving You

We all have habits. Big or small, healthy or unhealthy, our habits combine to form routines that play out every day for us. Most of this is done without us even having to think. That’s why even though we understand the importance of having good habits, sometimes it’s tough to stick to a healthy daily routine.

Today, you’ll learn more about why setting a routine can be a challenge. By understanding the root causes for your behaviors, you’ll learn how to make changes and stick with them. You’ll also discover some positive daily routines that can lead you to a healthier and happier life.

Finding and adopting the right daily routine will re-energize you and help you regain wasted time. Your mind and body will thank you for the decreased anxiety and extra care you’ve given it. Here’s to a healthier, calmer, and higher-achieving you.

How a daily routine saves you tons of time

Your daily routine consists of all of your habits. These actions structure your day and make the difference between operating at peak efficiency and struggling to make it through a poorly-planned day.

You can have energizing, time-saving routines, or you can adopt draining, inefficient routines. The choice is up to you. Don’t feel bad if you know that some unhealthy habits have crept into your day. The important thing is to recognize them so that you can make a change.

An excellent daily routine sets you up for success. If you make just one change that saves you 10 minutes per day, you can regain 60 hours of your precious time back each year.[1]

Having a daily routine not only makes you more efficient, it also eliminates your need to waste time deciding what to do next.[2] It’ll help you build good habits and break bad ones.[3] It seems counter-intuitive, but adding some structure to your life can set you free.

Best daily routines for a healthy, calm and higher-achieving life

It takes time to become the best version of yourself but I’ll help you to make it easier by getting you a few healthy daily routine examples to follow directly:

  • Daily routine for good health and more energy
  • Daily routine for an organized life
  • Daily routine for more productive work
  • Daily routine for a stronger relationship

Pick one routine to stick to first

, and then gradually combine one more routine to fit into your life each week. In less than 2 months, you will be living a healthy and successful lifestyle in autopilot.

Daily routine for good health and more energy

    Morning routine

    1. Start your day with a glass of lemon water

    Simply add the juice of half a lemon to your glass and drink it to enjoy a refreshing start to the day.

    Lemon juice reduces your body’s acidity levels, which in turn protects you against inflammatory diseases such as fungal infections and osteoporosis.[4]

    2. Exercise

    Working out early in the morning improves your energy levels, improves your circulation, and encourages good lymphatic function. Just 20 minutes every day can make a difference! Mix up cardio and weights throughout the week for all-over toning and general health.

    Getting on the scale each morning is also an effective way to monitor your weight. Don’t go weeks without weighing yourself, because this allows you to remain in denial about any weight gain![5]

    3. Eat a good breakfast

    Fuel yourself with a healthy mix of protein, slow-release carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Sensible options include yogurt with nuts and berries, a vegetable omelette, and low-sugar granola bars with a piece of fruit.

    4. Stay hydrated and snack smart

    Did you know that becoming even slightly dehydrated can lead to lowered mood and decreased concentration? Keep water or other low-sugar drinks on hand to sip throughout the day.[6]

    When it comes to snacking, pick foods that will give you a slow release of energy. Pairing a protein with a complex carbohydrate is a smart choice. For example, try half an apple spread with peanut butter. Check out for more healthy snack ideas here.

    Afternoon routine

    5. Get a healthy lunch

    Even the busiest of us can grab a healthy lunch. You just need to think ahead!

    For lunch ideas you can make in advance and take with you to work, check out this post: Healthy Lunch Ideas for Work

    Avoid too much fat at lunch time, as it promotes afternoon lethargy, which isn’t going to help you get through a busy day![7] If you are watching your weight, track everything you eat using an app like MyFitnessPal.

    6. Take some mid-afternoon exercise

    Most of us have a mid-afternoon “slump” somewhere between 2 p.m and 4 p.m, but you can keep yourself going through the day by choosing a healthy lunch and taking some moderate exercise in the afternoon. This doesn’t have to strenuous. Just a 10-minute walk and a few stretches at your desk can work wonders. Check out this list of 29 exercises you can do at (or near) your desk.

    Evening routine

    7. Dinner

    With a plethora of meal planning apps out there, getting a quick but healthy dinner on the table has never been easier! Use an app like Mealime to help you organize your grocery list so that you always have the right ingredients to hand. Be realistic – choose something that doesn’t require a lot of time or effort to throw together, otherwise you may resort to takeout.

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    Green vegetables are always a great choice, as they are packed with antioxidants and have an alkalinizing effect. Choose plant-based proteins such as tofu or seitan or, if you prefer animal protein, pick fish and lamb rather than beef or chicken to minimize acidity levels in the body.[8]

    Avoid caffeine in the late afternoon and evening, because it will prevent you sleeping soundly at night.

    8. Take time to relax

    It’s normal to feel stressed from time to time, but high stress levels leave you vulnerable to a number of health conditions and problems including depression and elevated blood pressure.

    Find a healthy activity that relaxes you, then set aside some time every day to do it! This could be journaling, reading an inspiring book, spending time with a pet, meditating, or simply taking a few minutes to remind yourself of everything that is going well in your life.

    9. Take vitamin C supplement before going to sleep

    Take half a teaspoon of buffered vitamin C powder in a glass of water before turning in for the night.

    This is a quick, effective means of reducing the acidity in your body. It will also ensure that you go to bed well-hydrated, which will help you wake up with a clear head.

    10. Go to sleep at a reasonable hour.

    It sounds obvious, but if you want to feel your best then you must get enough sleep. Most experts recommend that we get between 6-10 hours of sleep per night.[9] Some of us can get by on six hours, but be honest with yourself – if you feel better having had more sleep, bear it in mind when setting your alarm clock.

    Turn off your phone and computer at least an hour before bed, and avoid vigorous exercise in the late evening. These measures will help you wind down when it’s time for sleep.

    Daily routine for an organized life

      Before work rituals

      1. Make your bed in the morning

      Start the day off right by making your bed. It’s a quick chore that will put you in a productive, organized frame of mind.[10]

      2. Have your workout equipment and clothing ready the night before

      If you like to work out, the morning is the best time to do it! It will leave you feeling full of energy and will give you a sense of accomplishment before you leave the house. Whether you like to go for a walk, take a gym class or do yoga in your bedroom, make sure that you have all the equipment and clothing you need laid out and ready the night before.

      3. Spray down and wipe the largest surfaces in the bathroom

      After your morning shower, spray down and wipe the largest surfaces in your bathroom. It’s much easier and more fun to do mini-cleans throughout the week than wait until the weekend![11]

      4. Put everything back where you found it after breakfast

      When you’ve made your breakfast, put everything back exactly where you found it – this makes everything easier the morning after. If you notice that you are running low on a grocery item, add it to a list you can take with you next time you pass the grocery store.

      5. Run through a list of your essential items before you leave the house

      Before you leave the house, run through a list of your essential items such as your wallet, employee badge, water bottle, and so on. Keep a list of these items near your front door so that you can quickly check your purse or bag before heading out the door. Don’t try to de-clutter or re-organize a room before work, as this will just add to your stress levels!

      When you arrive at work

      6. Prioritize your tasks

      Make a list of tasks and decide whether they are important, urgent, both, or neither. Start with important and urgent tasks, move onto the important and non-urgent tasks, then tackle the unimportant but urgent jobs. Writing a task list gives you a sense of control.

      7. Prioritize your emails

      Before you start your day, spend 10 minutes prioritizing your e-mails. We all receive so many messages each day that we can’t hope to reply to them all! Get into the habit of deciding which ones need your urgent attention, which are important, which are both, and which are neither.

      Check your e-mails every couple of hours rather than every few minutes, because frequent interruptions will impair your concentration and productivity.

      During your coffee break

      8. Keep your finances on track

      Take a couple of minutes to keep your finances on track. Check your bank balance, and make sure that you’re sticking to your budget! You can also use apps to help you manage your money, including Mint.

      9. Think about what you are going to have for dinner

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      Do you need to pick anything up from the grocery store on the way home? Do you need to look up a recipe? This only takes a few minutes, but a bit of planning can save a lot of time later. Why not use a meal planning app such as Mealime?

      At lunchtime

      10. Make personal calls or send personal emails (when necessary)

      This is the perfect opportunity to make any personal calls or send personal e-mails. For example, you could schedule that dental appointment you’ve been putting off, or finally reply to that e-mail from your aunt. These little chores can seem overwhelming when you get home from work and just want to relax, so do them at lunch.

      11. Clear your desk before you leave your desk

      Take five minutes to clear your work desk before you leave for your break. It will help you feel more organized when you return.

      Afternoon routine

      12. Quickly review your to-do list

      If you aren’t making as much progress as you hoped, it’s time to rewrite it!

      13. Carry out mundane and easy tasks

      If possible, carry out mundane and easy tasks such as replying to simple e-mails a couple of hours after lunch, when your energy will naturally hit a slump. In general, as the day goes on, we lose the capacity to make lots of high-level decisions.

      Try to schedule your more complex tasks for the morning. On the other hand, important and urgent tasks must always take priority.

      14. Neat your desk before you leave the office

      Spend the last 10 minutes of your workday neatening your desk and your computer desktop. This will help you stay organized the following morning.

      Evening routine

      15. Put everything you’ve worn on that day the same place you took from

      Always put your coat, purse, and other possessions away in the same place the moment you get in the door. Otherwise, they might go missing!

      16. Do the dishes immediately after dinner

      Otherwise, you might be tempted to sit down in front of the TV and get distracted.[12]

      17. After dinner, spend 10 minutes doing a quick de-clutter.

      Set a timer, choose an area of your home, and get busy! It’s an easy way to see quick results, and will make you feel more in control of your possessions.

      Bedtime routine

      18. Lay out your clothes and accessories for the next day

      This ensures that you don’t have to think about what to wear the next morning.[13] You can even lay out your breakfast dishes![14]

      19. Do a “brain dump” of all your ideas and tasks for tomorrow.

      This is helpful if you tend to lie awake worrying about what you need to do the next day. Once you have written them down, you can go to sleep knowing that you can refer to the list when you wake up.

      Daily routine for more productive work

        Before work rituals

        1. Plan for the upcoming work the night before

        Some of the most effective and productive people get started on their daily routine the night before.

        Think of this as the planning stage, at this time you might find it useful to plot out your day in blocks of time, with a specific activity planned for each. This is commonly known as the time blocking method.

        Using this method ensures that you don’t end up multitasking which can have a negative impact on your productivity. As the president, Barack Obama often got ready for his day the night before by reviewing what he needed to accomplish.[15]

        2. Wake up at a time that works for you (and sticks to it every day)

        This may sound counter intuitive, it is often imagined that the most productive people are those that can wake up at dawn, and continue into the evening. But the 9-5 work day might not necessarily suit everyone.[16]

        I’m not suggesting that people work less, but someone who works from 10-6 works for just as long as someone who works 9-5, and that extra hour in bed may mean that they’re more fresh and ready to work.

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        Often you might not have a choice in what time you get up, after all, if you are expected at work at 09:00, you can’t be in bed at that time, but if you have any flexibility at all, consider what works best for you.

        3. Eat a good breakfast 

        As also mentioned in the Daily Routine for Good Health, once you have woken up, it is very important to eat well. You need something that will give you a good boost of energy, all the while keeping you full. A good idea is oatmeal with a smoothie or a healthy fruit juice.

        Check out 30 Healthy And Tasty Recipes For Breakfast That You Can Make The Night Before for more healthy breakfast choices that are easy-to-make and will keep you energetic.

        Back to work rituals

        4. Ensure a clean workspace which is distractions free

        A few years ago a study at Princeton University concluded that if in your field of vision, there are many forms of visual stimuli, your brain will spread its focus and attention to each piece.[17] In another word, if your desk is cluttered, your ability to focus on the task at hand.

        Simply clearing your desk of distractions therefore, can have a great impact on your focus, and with it, your productivity.

        5. Don’t check emails first

        Mornings are a great time to do productive work that requires focus, creativity, and strategy. Clearing out the inbox gives you a false sense of achievement, and wastes the opportunity to engage your brain in more proactive tasks. Though you may have read a lot of emails, you have nothing important done.

        Unless your job revolves around emails checking and replying only, never make checking emails your first thing to do when you’re back to work. Instead, focus on your goals and do what really matters.

        6. Tackle the worst thing first

        Start your working day by tackling the most difficult or most pressing task first, the task that will most likely encourage you to procrastinate. This is the philosophy put forward by Brian Tracy in his book Eat That Frog.

        The benefit of this is simple. Even if you accomplish little else that day, you can be happy with the knowledge that you did something important. Also, by doing the most difficult thing first, everything else will be easier.

        7. Take a quick nap or meditate

        When setting up a routine, it can be easy to forget the most important activity – resting. Humans simply aren’t built for working all day, every day without a break. If you don’t consider this in your routine, there is a danger that you will lose energy and enthusiasm all together and burn out, thereby killing your productivity altogether. This can be mitigated by making sure to making sure you get some rest.

        One way to do this is by picking a reasonable time to stop working, another is to take a quick nap, others recommend meditation. It all depends on your preference.

        8. Say no to unreasonable requests

        This can be the hardest things on this list, but it can be one of the most effective. Adding extra tasks and jobs to your day can immediately throw your routine off balance, and it will negatively impact you day’s productivity.

        As such, declining and saying no to extra tasks (that are unreasonably urgent or are unimportant) can be the key to staying productive. After all, doing one thing really well is more important than doing several things badly.

        Sometimes you may be forced to say yes and accept new tasks, but this won’t always be the case. Feel free to say no some times.

        9. Finish up and off on time

        By remaining focused on specific tasks, you won’t feel overwhelmed and overworked as you’re totally in control. And because you have things all planned out, you saved tons of energy from making unnecessary decisions.

        As you should have tackled all the hardest things by now, the rest of the day should be far easier too.

        Daily routine for a stronger relationship

          Morning routine

          1. Kiss each other goodbye

          How often do you rush out of the door with a quick peck on the cheek and a ‘see you later!’ Maybe you’ve got to the stage where you don’t even do that anymore. It’s important to really take the time to say goodbye.

          Create 3-5 minutes in your morning routine to just be with your partner and properly say goodbye. Kiss each other meaningfully and take in the moment. It’s important not to get in such a rush that these small gestures don’t get overlooked.

          During daytime

          2. Create little daily rituals when you’re together and apart

          Creating small actions that are meaningful to both of you can build a sense of connection and these can carry on throughout your day when you’re apart.

          Find a certain song you sing to each other when you bring a cup of coffee. Leave a message on the fogged up mirror for your partner to discover or leave little notes in the car or biscuit tin. Text a joke of the day on your lunch breaks.

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          These types of rituals bring a sense of positive expectation and bonding – something only the two of you share together. Without these, relationships can become stale.

          Evening routine

          3. Kiss each other hello

          Again, these moments can get looked over once the initial spark of a relationship has died down. We often walk in the door exhausted, maybe even irritable, and we don’t take the time to connect.

          Spend a good amount of time saying hello to each other. Kiss, cuddle, ask how each other is or don’t say anything at all and take in the embrace. Physical touch in silence is equally powerful.

          It’s very easy to neglect this simple routine where it becomes a habit to not do it anymore.

          4. Schedule regular date nights

          This is particularly important when you have kids. When your lives are controlled by children and extra responsibilities, your relationship can get overlooked. This is when things can breakdown and intimacy gets lost no matter how much you love each other.

          Schedule regular date nights where you can be free from responsibilities and really connect with each other. Use this time to check in with how each other is feeling, and most importantly, have fun. Keep reconnecting with the reasons you fell in love in the first place.

          5. Create a bonding bedtime routine

          When the doors are closed and you’ve finally fallen into bed, it’s easy to want to fall asleep but bedtime is a wonderful time to get connected with your partner not only in a physical way but in an emotional way too.

          Try to go to bed at the same time and use it as your couple time. Pillow talk is a great time to bond. While you’re in a relaxed state, talk about your days at work, any concerns or even future plans. Communication and talking things out is the best habit you can have as a couple. Just make sure you take the time to really listen to each other with respect and an open mind – always ending the night on a positive note.

          Regular relationship habits

          6. Say thank you to each other

          Whether it’s in the morning, evening or a text in the day, remember to express gratitude to your partner.

          Feeling thankful is a powerful way to create love in a relationship because it benefits both of you. Really feel gratitude for something they’ve done – even if it was something small two months ago. It’s impossible to feel gratitude and negative feelings at the same time so this can really strengthen your love for each other.

          7. Use your partner’s love language

          A lot of bad communication and feelings of neglect are down to not understanding each others love language. There are 5 key ways people express love and two people could have two completely different languages leading to misunderstandings.

          Find out each others’ love language and try to use it to show your love throughout the morning, day or evening. Your partner may express love through physical touch whereas you express your love through words or gifts. One isn’t better than the other but finding out which one is important to each of you and acting accordingly will help your relationship to flourish.

          How to stick to your routine like glue

          When you do something and no immediate harm comes to you, your brain assumes that it’s safe to continue doing the activity. Overcoming a habit that feels comfortable to you requires impressive amounts of willpower.

          Reaching for a snack or scrolling through social media can sabotage healthy plans by flooding your brain with dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter. That dopamine release causes you to want to continue the action whether or not it’s good for you.

          There may be quite a few things that ought to change in your life. Changing too many habits at once can be difficult and discouraging.[18]

          On top of all that, we only have so much mental bandwidth to devote to making decisions. When decision fatigue sets in, we’re likely to revert to whatever is easiest, even if we know it’s unhealthy.[19]

          Biting off more than you can chew is a surefire way to fail. Instead, pick one routine, and work on that. Or better, pick one habit and stick to that first.

          Try this guide if you aren’t sure how to build habits that stick:

          6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick

          Before long, you can completely reconfigure your day. Slow and steady wins the race.

          Change your routine and improve your life

          You can’t change your entire life overnight, but you can gradually change your lifestyle and routines.

          Upgrading your daily routine is a commitment. By starting small and being realistic, you can develop healthy rituals and efficient routines that help you get the most out of life.

          Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

          Reference

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