We moms are savvy at creating ways to modify our children’s behavior through sticker charts, but have you ever thought of creating one for yourself?
Several years ago, I read a book by Gretchen Rubin called The Happiness Project and in that book, she talks about individuals having control over inner happiness and how a lot of it doesn’t even have to do with actual emotions or physiology. She breaks the book down by months and the goal is to focus on one aspect each month so by the end of one year, you feel “happier.” My goal after reading it was to start with the month I was in and focus on one thin each month just like Rubin did but of course, I never go around to it.
Ironically, my husband and I stumbled across her podcast last week when we were driving home from a trip. She has a podcast called Happier. In the one episode we listed to, she talked a lot about the concept of “outer order, inner calm.” The theory is when you’re outside world is more in order, your inside self can feel more relaxed and calm.
My problem is my outside world never, ever feels in order. I always feel slightly out of control, like I’m chasing my life instead of getting ahead of it. So the other day when I was creating summer sticker charts for the boys, I realized I needed my own sticker chart. When do we get too old for sticker charts? I’ve always done much better with everything if something or someone is holding me accountable.
I printed myself a sticker chart and wrote down five behaviors I feel will make me happier. These behaviors either help my outer world get more in order or they force me to unplug and take care of myself. Below is my sticker chart.
The five behaviors I chose for this week and why are:
- Awake between 5:00 am and 5:30 am: This one is huge for me. When I wake up early and accomplish a nice chunk of my word before the boys get out of bed, my entire day is smoother. As you can see, I slept in this morning until Case woke up at 7:00, and I’ve felt off all day. I’m also much more of a morning person than a night owl, so
- Read 10 minutes before bed: I’ve always been a reader but there is zero time during my day to read for pleasure. Even when the boys have their reading/quiet time, I jump on the computer to check email, return a phone call, etc. I read other material all day long, but I miss simply reading for the love of reading. I’ve decided to re-introduce it into my day by reading 10-15 minutes before I fall asleep. Then when I’m in the car or on vacation, I’m hopeful to read a little bit longer each day.
- De-clutter one thing: I swear every nook and cranny in my home is stuffed with stuff. Everything feels disorganized including my desk, wallet, all closets, kitchen drawers, the boys’ rooms, and so forth. Surely, each day I can de-clutter one thing and over time, perhaps an entire room will become organized. So far, I’ve de-cluttered my wallet and my file folders. Rubin talks a lot about de-cluttering and organizing in her books and podcasts. Study after study supports a clean, organized home fosters a happier disposition.
- Play/puzzles: I love playing and doing puzzles, but I rarely force myself to unplug and do these two things. On Monday, we threw the baseball for about an hour and it was so relaxing. I’ve also gotten into the habit of having a puzzle ready and available on the coffee table so I can shut my mind off briefly and focus on something calming.
- Exercise: I have a true love-hate relationship with exercise. When I exercise, I feel amazing, but finding the time to exercise can be impossible. My new goal is to combine playing and exercise. Monday we went coanoeing which to me felt like playing but was also a good workout. When I can’t make this happen, I’ve been doing short HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts in the kitchen.
Whether you need a printable sticker chart for yourself or for your kiddos, I’ve included one below. This is the one we use. It’s purposefully blank so everyone can tailor it to specific dates and goals.
Interestingly, I’m better at ensuring the boys are completing their sticker charts now that I have one. Each morning and evening we all sit down and put our stickers on our charts. They know what my sticker chart behaviors and ask me throughout the day if I’ve completed them yet. I must say, they’re excellent at holding me accountable.
I’ve quickly learned kids aren’t the only ones who benefit from a behavior modification system. We adults often need a little help as well. Have fun!