Something I posted on February 27, 2012 ·
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.
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!”
Find ways to incorporate these three easy tips and make Lumosity training a daily habit. Start small—try setting a goal to train 5 days in a row. Then put it on your schedule, find an encouraging friend, or start a resolution. And if you need some additional help, remember that subscribers get unlimited daily training sessions as well as access to email training reminders! Get started on your new, healthy habit today.