I have been struggling with back problems for over 5 months. There have been problems in a few different areas of my back and shoulder. I have managed to make some improvements with various changes. These have included changing my bed and mattress, more stretching and foam rolling, increased rest, diet change, and starting Yoga. I have changed several different habits, from how I sleep to how I maintain my body. Together these changes made big improvements and I am now only left with pain in one area of my back. But that pain is not budging.

Recently, I noticed that when I am standing, I am leaning to my right which is also the side of my back giving me problems. It suddenly dawned on me that my orthotics (custom-made insoles) are no longer giving me the support I need. So, I scheduled an appointment to be measured for new orthotics.

Powerful habit change

Build powerful habits so that you can make the changes you desire in life with consisent action.

To discover effective strategies to build powerful habits , check out 'Building the Habits of Success'.

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How habits impact everything

Yesterday, I had that appointment and the one thing it has hammered home is how if we want to improve anything in our life, we must change our habits step by step. We don’t often think in terms of habits but consider the following:

  • Productivity is about changing the habits that govern what we do, when and how we do it
  • Anger management is about changing the habitual ways in which we react and respond to situations and people
  • Stress management is about the habits that govern what we do, how we do it, how we respond to pressure etc.
  • Communication is about habits involving listening, language, body language, emotional regulation, etc.

So, if you want to change anything in your life, you need to change at least one habit and the best way to change it is step by step. The nature of habits is such that they work slowly and steadily, They are almost unnoticeable at first. This can be great but in the case of bad habits, it means that you can have messed something up before you realise that something is wrong. The easiest example to give here is a bad diet. You usually have to put on a significant amount of weight before you realise that you have let your diet get out of control.

Getting to the bottom of the habit problem

In my appointment, the Specialist, Stephen, examined my feet from every viewpoint. He scanned both feet, watched how I stood, had me perform a range of movements, and finally, he recorded my feet as I walked up and down the room. The purpose of doing this was so he could see exactly what was going wrong, and the knock-on effects this was having on my body. The greater and more specific the knowledge he gained, the easier it was for him to identify the right solution.

After he had gathered all the information, Stephen showed me the video and then used a model of the foot to show me how things were going wrong. I immediately understood why I was in pain but at the same time, I was optimistic that my pain would soon be gone.

Whatever habit you are trying to change, gather the necessary information so that you can get to the bottom of it and identify a solution that will work rather than one that only provides a temporary fix.

Changing habits step by step

Once I had been shown what was wrong with my foot and the way I was walking, Stephen proceeded to explain how the orthotics would alleviate my problems. I am in the habit of walking on the outside of my foot and not bring the front of my foot around to push off. The orthotics will support the part of my foot which is taking the most pressure, while gently forcing my foot to come around fully. In other words, the orthotics will literally change my walking habits step by step.

Stephen explained to me that it will take a little time for me to notice the difference. With each step, I will be using different muscles to walk and it will take a little time for them to build up their strength. At the same time, the muscles which are hurting in my back will no longer experience the same pressure so, the pain in them will gradually subside.

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Small habit changes lead to major changes

That is the power of habits. Every time you practice a new habit, in this case taking a step, you make a small improvement. The real power lies in the cumulative effect of consistently implementing the new habit. Averaging 10,000 steps per day, I may have to take 1 million steps to resolve the problem, but it won’t be that 1 millionth step that solves it; each step will have played a part.

The same goes for any habit you wish to change in your life. You won’t get to your ideal weight by eating one healthy meal or with one training session. Nor you save the money to buy a house by saving money from one paycheck. But with any goal, if you choose the right habit(s) and implement them daily, you will eventually see powerful changes in your life.

Ideally, every habit would have a tool (in my case the orthotic) which you could use to force you to implement the habit. Unfortunately, that is not the case and in most instances, you are going to have to develop the self-discipline to take consistent action. But when you do so, the rewards are well worth the effort.

Key Takeaways

The following are some key takeaways about habits that have been reinforced by this experience:

  • Whatever you want to improve in your life, will require habit change
  • You need to gather all the information so you can choose the right habit to change
  • The power of habits lies in the cumulative effect i.e. the change is seen when the habit has been implemented many times
  • Unfortunately, at some stage in our life, we have been taught bad, unnatural planning methods which cause many of our organisational and productivity problems.
  • There isn’t always a tool to force you to implement the new habit so self-discipline is important

Powerful habit change

Build powerful habits so that you can make the changes you desire in life with consisent action.

To discover effective strategies to build powerful habits , check out 'Building the Habits of Success'.

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