Commonly when it comes to making big life changes we adopt the baby steps approach, especially if we’re trying to change multiple things at once. But some new research suggests that we might be better off just doing an overhaul of everything at once as opposed to doing one thing at a time.
Some research on the topic was done at the University of California Santa Barbara and published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. The researchers got 31 different college students to partake in the research, which had to do with making lifestyle changes. Of those 31 people, 15 of them were participating in the changes that the researchers led them on, while the remainder were not.
The 15 that were in the intervention group had to do five hours of day of things that included: 2.5 hours of exercise, one hour of mindfulness practice, and 1.5 hours of lecture on wellness topics like sleeping better, reducing stress, nutrition, and fitness. They did this on each weekday for a period of six weeks. Additionally they limited their alcohol consumption to one drink each day, ate only whole foods, and did their best to sleep eight to ten hours each night.
As all of this was going on, the participants were also being tested for their levels of cholesterol and fat in the blood, how their cognitive functions were performing, their reading comprehension, fitness levels, and memory capacity.
They found that after six weeks the people were scoring better in a wide variety of ways, including: strength, flexibility, endurance, their memory, their performance on standardized testing, focus, mood levels, self-esteem, mindfulness, and overall life satisfaction.
Not only that, but they also found that when they checked in six weeks later the participants were still experiencing many benefits even without having other contact with or support from the researchers.
According to the study author Michael Mrazek:
“Recent research suggests it’s often more effective to make two or more changes simultaneously, especially when those changes reinforce one another. It’s easier to drink less coffee if at the same time you get more sleep. Our intervention extended this logic by helping people make progress in many ways, which can create an upward spiral where one success supports the next.”
Which totally makes sense, all of these things can benefit each other. If you stop binge drinking, you’ll take in fewer calories, which means you’ll see results at the gym faster and with less effort, leaving you energized without being overworked, which gives you more time to be productive doing anything else that you want or need to do with your time. You could write out a flow chart in any number of ways and see this to be true.
The moral of the story, is don’t put off one habit you’re trying to change while you change a different one. Instead dive in and your experience might be a whole lot easier overall.