February 01, 2012

Filling February with stars

Setting goals

Last semester, I kept hearing Boy in Black tease his sister about how many gold stars she was getting each day. At first, I thought he was joking.

But it turned out he wasn’t. Beautiful Smart Wonderful Daughter had set specific goals for the semester and a system of rewarding herself by putting stars on the calendar each day when she did something specific towards each goal. The stick-on stars came in five colours, so she had five different categories. Working out, for example, got a gold star while trying a new recipe got a red one.

Since my daughter is already incredibly organized and self-disciplined, it’s hard to know how much the stars on the calendar made a difference, but by the end of the semester, she had achieved her goals. She’d worked out five times each week, for example, and successfully defended her thesis proposal.

By the time this semester began, we’d all gone from teasing her about the stars to wanting behavior modification charts of our own. So she printed out calendars for all of us, put them in folders, and bought us packets of star stickers. We were instructed to choose five goals to match the colors of the stars.

I decided to wait until February 1 to begin my chart. February is always a difficult month for me, so I figure that maybe the stars will help motivate me to take good care of myself. The categories I've chosen give me credit for things like playing the piano, taking a walk in the woods, and meditating. I admit that it was a little disconcerting to pull out the calendar and realize that we had an extra day in February this year (like the month wasn’t long enough already!), but I hope that filling the days with stars as I achieve my goals will make February easier.

29 comments:

Lilian said...

awww... that's so cute! I wouldn't trust myself to achieve my goals, though, I'm *that* bad. :( Good think that I literally put the fitness classes into my schedule (I changed the time of my class so I'd be able to attend them), so those get done!

I'm sure your chart will be helpful and now that you've told us about it, we can help you be accountable for it! :)

jo(e) said...

Lilian: I'll have to post another photo of the calendar at the end of the month. Hopefully, it'll be filled with stars of all five colours!

Rana said...

Love this! I do something similar using Health Month, but it doesn't have cool star stickers, alas.

Jenevieve said...

Jo(e), I just want you to know that for the last 3 or 4 Februaries, I wake up on the first and say a wee prayer that this one will go quickly for you. <3

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

My mother taught me to do this and used to do it all the time when I was a kid--only I had more than five things.

I used to make bug charts with lots of things and check them off and I got a star at the end of a week if I got a check every day.

This is a little less onerous than that! But I did get a lot done.

There was one period of time when my mother gave me a penny for every check mark and a nickel for every star. I was a rich kids, LOL (young enough to think a penny was a lot.)

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I just sent the online portion of my fellowship app.

jo(e) said...

Mary: Congrats! You should definitely get a star for that.

jo(e) said...

Jenevieve: Aw, thanks. I appreciate that.

Cathy said...

I think I want to do this. I like to get stars.Is this the teacher in me?

henniemavis said...

Oh! Here I thought I would be RESTING in February? Now I feel the gentle tapping of another challenge? HA!

I'm curious about your "Body Care" category. Is that for days when you treat yourself to a massage or pedicure? Or does simply taking the time to brush your hair or teeth count for that one? Seriously, I should get a gold star for toothbrushing. I do often get busy early & forget! What with piano, fitness, work, art, reading, cooking, etc., it's so easy to forget to bathe every now & then ;-)

jo(e) said...

To get a star for the "body" category, I have to go work out at the gym, take a long hike outside, or do something active enough to work up a sweat, like playing Ultimate Frisbee.

I love the idea of treating myself to a massage. I think I'll add that to my Self-Care category. That category includes such things as lunch with an out-of-town friend, so if you visit during February, we could BOTH get stars.

fairbetty said...

What a great and uber-organized idea! I love it! Only... I would probably stop following through with it after a week, sadly.

Jeff said...

Less exciting but important is I would love to get my taxes filed in February so I didn't have to worry about them in March/April.

Amber said...

What a great idea!! I might use this for me and my kids. Pretty stars!

Good luck with February. It's such a beast of a month.

liz said...

I always think of you when February starts. I hope this one is memorable for being filled with fun stars.

Nels Highberg said...

I great the husband at the door every Wednesday night when he gets home from his fourteen-hour teaching day with a sheet of stars and a card we're sticking them on. And I do the same thing for many of your same categories. I use an index card and write down dates with stars. Gotta love star stickers!

susan said...

I think about you as February starts every year, wishing you moments of peace in the long days. I think this is a great way to support yourself.

Loma Kath said...

Love this idea! I knew it well when the kids were little -- but you have me re-thinking it... Good wishes and I look forward to seeing your colorful calendar at the end of the month.

Val said...

what liz said. ♥

Lorianne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paige said...

Oooh, I want to try this. And like so many others here, I've been thinking about you as February approaches; hoping that it goes quickly and easily for you.

Lorianne said...

Let's try that again...

Here's a cool site for creating your own printable calendar. Now all I need are some star stickers.

Gregory Zimmerman said...

reminds me of what our students will do to get a minisnickers tossed out to the crowd upon answering a question correctly!

Jenn said...

This is a great idea that I want to use for myself. I'm a visual person, so seeing the stars is a great motivator for someone like me. While I don't know why Februarys are difficult for you, I know for myself it's a great time to start something new to keep the winter blues away. Goals have a nice way of focusing us and giving us a pickup if we are making progress toward them.

Anonymous said...

Jo(e), you are the easiest blogger to re-find! I haven't been around for a long time. Remember me, Mary Ann, aka Joy? (I understand if you don't...) How my nephew shares your son's name (spelling different though)? With A Y son, I mean. :)

What a cool idea! I think I will try this since I need motivation in changing my life (had a great interview I am hoping turns into a great job!).

Glad to read you again! Happy trails and all that business. ;)

Mary Ann aka Joy

jo(e) said...

Hey, Mary Ann AKA Joy, I do remember you. Do you still have a blog anywhere on the internet? Or perhaps a twitter account?

Jody said...

What a great idea. Especially the part where you get a star for something you love. We may have to adopt this during our challenging semester....

Amber said...

Do we get to see your star-filled chart for Feb? Are you continuing into March?

Such a good idea.

Great job getting through February, jo(e)!

jo(e) said...

Amber: Oh, I *did* mean to take a photo of the chart and put it on my blog. Thanks for the reminder. I'm off on a writing retreat now, but I'll do that when I get home. Yes, I'm doing a chart for March. I like the reward of getting a star.