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The Power of Daily Habits

Research shows that keeping one or two small promises to yourself every single day, with consistency, not only builds self-confidence quickly, but it also helps bring balance back into your life when you feel unfocused or pulled in too many directions.  These habits can (and should) be small – but they’re incredibly powerful to our well-being.  What’s more, they boost our ability to stay focused while we’re on a journey toward any big goal we’re reaching for.

There are three reasons why having a set of daily habits is so powerful.

First, if you choose carefully, you’ll likely end up with habits that are acts of self-care.  Self-care doesn’t necessarily mean bubble baths and facials (though it can); a better definition is that self-care provides you with the things that you need most throughout your day.  Self-care moves you away from “should” (e.g. “I should keep working even though I’m tired”) and gives you permission to give yourself exactly what you need (e.g. “I have more to-dos on my list, but my body needs rest right now.”)  Habits that have a self-care element include, for example, setting a bedtime so you get sufficient sleep, and setting a minimum amount of water you’d like to consume daily.

Second, having a set of daily habits will help ground you and keep you focused.  For those of us who have packed agendas that are sometimes unpredictable, it’s beneficial to have some element of regularity.  Whether you’re on the road traveling or at home focused on work and family, predictability creates a sense of security for yourself.  Familiar patterns – even small ones throughout the day -- are calming, can decrease the potential for overstimulation, and promote an openness to learning and growth.

Finally, the practice of doing something for yourself every day, and the confidence that goes along with such consistency, increases self-worth in a substantial way.  As you begin to prioritize yourself daily, you build the muscle memory of having steady accomplishments, day after day.  Nearly every journey toward a goal, no matter how big or small, is made up of consistent daily effort.  Your daily habits become a model for everything else you’d like to accomplish in life, and proof to yourself that you can achieve anything.  This is particularly valuable when chasing after larger, long-term (even life-long) goals, like maintaining a healthy body fat percentage.

I have a daily habit practice and highly recommend you do, too.  Pick 2-4 habits, and do them every single day.  Track those habits on paper, on the Sound Medical Weight Loss app, or on the free app Habit List.

Your goal should be to create daily habits that barely feel like you’re stretching yourself.  Ensure the habits you choose are realistic for the life you live now, not aspirational compared to what you used to do at some other point in life.  For example, if you used to have a daily meditation practice of 1+ hours, but haven’t meditated in months, I recommend setting a goal based on your life today, not based on what you’re ideally capable of.  In this example, I’d aim for 15 min of meditation 3x a week to start. 

Also, please ensure this habit is solely for YOU (not for work, kids, family, etc.)   Examples include reading for X min per day, listening to a podcast for X min per day, being in nature once per day, etc.  Finally, try to pick at least one habit that promotes presence or mindfulness; examples include meditation, yoga, breathwork, etc.

Mariel Ilardi  Mariel became a weight loss coach with SMWL after being a patient herself -- having lost 65 pounds through the program! In addition to coaching SMWL patients, Mariel is the founder and CEO of Haven Coaching, an executive and career coaching company.

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