It’s January so here we go again—trekking dutifully to the gym, sidling up to the juice bar rather than the neighborhood bar, vowing to post Insta-wow on a daily basis, and meditating stoically every morning before the birds’ first chirp. Yearly goals are exciting and invigorating and, from a business perspective, a necessary evil. Unfortunately, sticking with those goals is statistically unlikely.
I am a serial self-improvement junkie—great intentions, a bit light on the stick-to-itiveness (that is an honest to God word, just ask Merriam-Webster). I think about these goals, plan for these goals, enlist others to share these goals, and then, like 77% of the rest of the population, fizzle out on these goals within two weeks. According to researchers from the University of Scranton only about 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions will actually achieve them. What a Debbie Downer.
However, before I (and perhaps you) throw in the towel (or in my case, grab a glass of forbidden Cabernet), here is my secret goal-keeping weapon …Aisle 3 of Michael’s Craft Store, aka, the Sticker Aisle. I must confess, Michael’s kind of gives me the creeps; it’s just a little too “crafty” for my taste (although a blog post I read recently about how a young man discovered he was gay while shopping at Michael’s has given me a new respect for the place). I know, I know…stickers are so juvenile, and yet…seriously, stickers are my super power. I really want to get that smiley face sticker on the calendar each day to prove that I did some form of exercise, even if it is just a half of a sticker for walking the dog.
Clearly, I am not the only adult motivated by stickers as evidenced by the growing number of adult sticker options available on Etsy. Although I am not of the everyone-gets-a-trophy generation, most of my grade school worksheets and piano lessons were anointed with “good job” stamps and gold stars, so maybe the sticker motivation was ingrained in me from the early years. While the theories about motivation are plentiful and the debate about the use of rewards in elementary education ongoing (isn’t everything these days), I just know that I want that sticker! (Especially if my husband already has one for the day.)
So with the self-awareness that I am one who is inexplicably motivated by trivial little stickers (preferably without glitter and not of the puffy varietal), I am calling on my inner sticker strength to use this power for good—to develop my currently non-existing writing practice. I love to write, but I don’t do it (a topic for another day). So, based on the extremely user-friendly advice of James Clear, author of the best-selling book Atomic Habits, I am going to start with a ridiculously easy, obtainable goal— write one sentence every day. That’s it. I don’t have to post it, share it, anything. For now, I just have to write it. To paraphrase Cuba Gooding, Jr: “Show me the sticker!”