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Ways to Build Better Habits This Year

Ways to Build Better Habits This New Year

by Erik Krol, MOT, OTR/LLeave a Comment

There has been much content written about establishing goals during the New Year. Much of the content revolves around personal finance, health, and exercise. Speaking from personal experience, oftentimes, these goals do not make it into the new year, mostly because they have never been measurable or a part of my subconscious routine, too often falling to the wayside. It wasn’t until I read, The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy that I gained a better awareness and ability to form habits that stayed with me. According to Hardy, the success of forming habits that stick is simply performing small compounding actions over a long period of time, quite literally building habits. This idea of compounding can be related to any area of interest, done gradually over time, allowing habits to form and stick. The idea of compounding can most definitely be applied to orthopedic health, wellness, and pain-free longevity if those are your goals.

Habits do not have to be something new that you must do, and they certainly should not feel burdensome. What if the goal is not about creating something but rather about divorcing from an undesirable behavior? A different approach can be working backward from something rather than building up to it. Decreasing variables or taking something away can help form new, positive habits. Take any undesirable behavior you’d like to minimize; consider the variables like triggers, time of day, amount, intensity, etc. Rather than eliminating the undesirable behavior completely, consider weening down the identified variables in small increments or a stacking, compounding fashion. This method will not only help achieve lasting effects but also offer insight into the habits or behaviors by making one hyper-aware of the factors at play and proactively acting on them.

You are not in this alone. Creating habits does not have to be an individual act. Using a friend, family member, or co-worker to help hold you accountable is what you need to turn your goals into habit-building action items. Habits should also be rewarded. According to the author, James Clear of Atomic Habits, actions towards a desired habit should be rewarded until said action becomes subconscious. The reward should also appropriately match the behavior in intensity and duration.

Performing small actions over a long period of time can result in lasting effects in the same way that removing or decreasing undesired stimuli can. While working towards or withdrawing from behaviors, identifying the variables at play that affect the behavior is equally important. Lastly, remember the power of teamwork can create a lasting impression on changed behavior.

If a goal of yours is to be more active and you start to experience any aches or pains, access Athletico’s Free Assessments. A licensed healthcare professional will assess your pain or injury and point you in the right direction for your recovery. Free assessments are available in-clinic and virtually via our Telehealth platform.

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*Per federal guidelines, beneficiaries of plans such as Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, VHA and other federally funded plans are not eligible for free assessments.

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

1. Hardy, D. (2010). The compound effect: multiplying your success, one simple step at a time . Vanguard Press
2. Clear, J. (2021). Atomic habits: Tiny changes, remarkable results: An easy & proven way to build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. CELA.

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About the Author:
Erik J. Krol is a Hand Therapist/Occupational Therapist, father of two, runner, and former college athlete. Erik uses his background education in kinesiology and professional training in hand therapy to provide recommendations on preventing injuries during daily roles and routines. Follow Erik's work and interests in remaining healthy and, more importantly, functional to achieve family, work, and personal goals while combating the environmental and aging challenges.

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