In an earlier post, we told you that regular Lumosity training (done every 1-2 days) leads to the greatest cognitive rewards. And decades of health behavior research have shown that the most successful way to stick to a long-term goal is to turn it into a regular habit. But how does something go from half-hearted to habit?
Here are three ways to help make healthy habits out of occasional activities—and some of the science behind habit formation.
Tip #1: Part of the big picture
One easy trick is to sneak training into part of another established routine. Many members of our Lumosity community report doing just this.
Dolores, a Lumosity subscriber and registered nurse, does Lumosity every morning as part of her wake-up ritual. “I play Lumosity while drinking my coffee, right before my yoga practice,” Dolores says. Training gets her ready for the day.
Brian, a busy engineer, likes to fit in his Lumosity training during breaks at work. “Sometimes I find it’s easier to play on my iPhone in the middle of the day,” he explains, using our Brain Trainer app to stay on top of training while on the go.
Jessica uses Lumosity in the evenings to help her wind down from a long day at the office. “I do it on my laptop at the kitchen table before I start to make dinner.” She says the exercises help her shift her focus from work to home.
Tip #2: All about consequences
If habits aren’t enough to keep you on track, research in economics offers a different solution: “commitment devices” that offer serious consequences if you fail to achieve your goals. Researchers at Yale who studied this phenomenon realized it was such a powerful idea that they started a company based on it: www.stickk.com. There, you can make a commitment to achieving any goal. If you fail, you have to pay a fine. You can set it up so the fine goes to a friend, or perhaps an organization you dislike.
A user named Christine tells us that she and her son came up with an incentive scheme for doing Lumosity training. “A penny for every Lumosity point,” so she knows he’s motivated to train hard every day. So far her son has stayed on track with regular Raindrops training!
#3: Reward yourself socially
If money doesn’t motivate you, a little friendly competition usually will. Social feedback and the drive to collaborate with friends can be incredibly rewarding. Neuroscience research shows that the same parts of the brain that activate for monetary rewards (e.g. winning money) also light up for social rewards (e.g. a smile from an attractive colleague or conquering a competitor). You can leverage social rewards to reach your goals by sharing your Lumosity progress with friends and family—let them know when you get a high score in Memory Matrix, and you’ll be more motivated to do it again!
Amy, a Lumosity user and mother, sticks to her goals by sharing her Lumosity progress with the rest of her family. “We kind of have a family competition going, because [my son] is actually better at a couple of the games than I am!”
Incorporate these three easy tips and make Lumosity training a daily habit. Whatever motivates you, take these simple steps to start.
(1) Set a goal. Maybe it’s training for three days in a row, or 5, or 10. Perhaps your goal will be to train daily until you reach a new BPI record.
(2) Make a commitment. Tell someone about your goal so that they can help you stick to it. Or put consequences on the line. Promise to take your friend out to lunch if you miss your goal, or give yourself small rewards for each day you train.
(3) Get in your routine. Find a time of day when you’ll have 15 minutes at your computer, and aim to train before or after something else you do on a regular basis. You might train after brushing your teeth in the morning, or at your afternoon break at work, or after dinner in the evenings. Choose a time that works best for you and your schedule.