7 Strategies to Make Your New Habits Stick Starting multiple habits can generate momentum and increase your health benefits.

By Thai Nguyen

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


If you're struggling to build one new habit, try starting multiple. It sounds counterintuitive, but new research from the University of California shows that a "kitchen sink" approach -- taking on a group of new habits -- is more effective than a minimalist one-habit-at-a-time approach.

In the study, college students went through a "multifaceted intervention." They stretched and meditated in the morning and learned gratitude practices and stress management in the afternoon, followed with Pilates, yoga, and body-weight training. They limited alcohol, slept for eight to 10 hours each night, ate whole foods and less carbohydrates and kept a daily journal.

After six weeks, brain scans showed that the students had better focus, reading comprehension, memory and they were happier and fitter. Compared with "narrowly-focused interventions" where subjects only adopted one new habit, benefits from the multifaceted approach were up to 2.5 times greater. The success is due to a domino-like effect; one habit change boosts the effects of another. Follow-up tests also showed that improvements had lasting effects, the students still scored high on mental and physical tests even though they weren't training as much.

The research challenges our quick condemnation of multitasking and juggling multiple goals. A jack-of-all-trades doesn't mean being a master of none. Starting multiple habits can generate momentum and increase your health benefits.

Here are seven key strategies for successful habit change:

1. The "head-heart-hands" approach.

In the study, the holistic approach for building new habits was the key for success. The students took on lifestyle changes that appealed to the mind, emotions, and body. When you are starting new habits, make sure you exercise these three key areas.

Related: 7 Healthy Habits That Maximize Your Productivity Every Day

2. Make a pre-commitment.

There's always a slump following the initial excitement and progress of learning a new habit. A pre-commitment is a "agreement" with yourself to push through the slump -- when you are mentally primed and aware of an impending obstacle, you'll be less likely to quit. Successful people understand that mastery and competency comes from pushing through the slump.

3. Tap into your "flow" state.

There's a special zone where your performance is maximized. When you're taking on new habits, make sure you're challenged beyond your ability, but not quite overwhelmed. This is the zone known as "flow." Don't bite off more than you can chew, but don't starve yourself either.

Pushing yourself too far leads to over-exposure to new information and creates anxiety and stress. Not pushing yourself far enough means you will be under-stimulated and lose motivation.

Related: It's Time to Check In on These 5 Healthy Habits You Resolved to Keep

4. Reframe your stress.

Lifestyle changes can create stress. Reframe your stress response to master new habits. A Harvard study found that reframing your stress response as helpful rather than harmful changes your biological response. Typically during a stressful experience, your heart rate goes up, your blood vessels constrict, and you feel anxious. However, if you view this response as if your body is preparing you for battle, your blood vessels stay relaxed and you will feel courageous.

Reframe the stress that may arise from learning new habits.

5. Track your progress and celebrate.

Celebrating your little wins is crucial for keeping your motivation levels high. Your brain will release dopamine when you consciously celebrate a victory. Dopamine is fuel for motivation and making new habits stick.

6. Include intentional rest times.

Rest is a key ingredient for productivity, creativity, and to consolidate the new information you've learned from new habits. Schedule weekly times or days where you relax and disengage. Try to get seven to nine hours sleep each night.

Related: 7 Essential Habits of a Healthy Entrepreneur

7. Inject novelty.

Don't let your routine turn into monotony. Make slight adjustments to your habits -- change the time, order or location where you do your exercises.

But, only do this if you're becoming stagnant and disengaged. Some personality types gravitate toward routine, others need novelty. If you're a creature of habit, and you're making good progress, do not fix what ain't broke.

Thai Nguyen

Writer & Editor: TheUtopianLife.com

Thai Nguyen writes concise strategies to live a productive life, based off the latest scientific research. You can follow his work at TheUtopianLife.com or connect with him on Twitter and Facebook

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Related Topics


Get a 15-inch MacBook Pro for Less Than $375

Save on this refurbished MacBook Pro for a limited time.

Business News

2024 Could Be the Year that Makes or Breaks a Lot of Small Businesses, According to a New Report

About a third of small business owners indicated on a Slack survey that they aren't sure if their businesses will survive the year.


SMART Goals May Be Holding You Back — Try This Effective Goal-Setting Technique Instead

Everyone suggests SMART goals, but this framework is flawed. Learn why and how to create goals properly — ones that you can actually achieve.

Business News

I Tried 3 AI Headshot Generators and There Was a Clear Winner

Aragon AI, Momo, and FastShot AI all generate headshots using AI, but which one actually works for LinkedIn?

Business News

Red Lobster Changed Its 'Endless Shrimp' Promotion After Losing $11 Million in One Quarter — Now It's Hauling Out Another All-You-Can-Eat Deal

The restaurant chain reported a record $12.5 million operating loss in the fourth quarter of 2023.


Enhance Your Website's Visibility and Dominate Your Competition With These Powerful Techniques

Mastering backlinks and content intent is key to ranking higher on search engines. Our guide can help you learn the right techniques and strategies for improving your backlinks and content quality.