Doing well, one sparkly butterfly sticker at a time

StickersIn elementary school, before the days of grades and curves and final exam weights, I remember getting graded on the following scale:

√- You did a pretty bad job. Too much “Full House” and not enough studying.
 You did alright. Nothing to write home about.
√+ Way to go!! This score will really come in handy when you are gathering your fourth grade papers together for your college applications.
√+ with a sticker: YESSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!! Buy a new magnet, Mom, because this is going on our refrigerator forever!!!

There was something really special about getting a sticker on your test or paper. Even better if they had some kind of pun, like an astronaut saying “Out of this world!” or a teddy bear saying “Beary good!”

At the grocery store as a kid, after I was sure that we bought a sufficient supply of Count Chocula cereal and Koala Yummies, I headed straight for the sticker kiosk, looking for the latest in sticker trends. I’m sure my mom complied because, hey, at least the stickers don’t have sugar.

I am here to tell you that no matter how old I get, I will never lose this desire for stickers.

Even at 25 years old, I still like to be rewarded for doing good things. Thank you notes and flowers are nice, but there’s something magical about being able to reward myself in the form of a sparkly butterfly.

So I have recently devised a system where I can reward myself each time I exercise. And if I reach my goal — which, right now, is 10 stickers for the month of April — I get a prize.

When I first heard of this idea from an elementary school teacher friend, she told me her prize would be to get a pedicure. I’m not a big fan of pedicures, so my first thought for a prize for myself may or may not have been “Ice cream sundae!” So that won’t do.

So, I ask all of you for your thoughts: Other than a sheet full of stickers, what should my prize be if I reach my goal? And what are your favorite memories of stickers?

If you leave a comment, I may just give you a gold star.


5 thoughts on “Doing well, one sparkly butterfly sticker at a time

  1. Yeah….you just totally inspired me to try the same system to get myself to exercise more.
    A few questions: was your number “10” arbitrary? Because besides being mathematically appealing, I heard that after 10 days of doing something concistently it becomes a “habit.”
    And what happens if you lower your standard for what is sufficient exercising? Will you rip stickers in half?

    My personal rewards would be a professional back massage (feels so good!), a manicure (because it’s excessive and I usually just do my nails myself), or indulgence in decadent yummies (gelato!). Knowing you’re not a big fan of the first two, I completely support you in partaking of sugary frozen treats!

    But might it be more fun if you had a partner in crime – to “compete” with? To hole accountable? To share the reward with? Then your options for rewards might expand to, I don’t know, other social adventures that are generally more popular with a buddy?

    Next blog post will you do an e-article about your exercise routine? 🙂

  2. Hi Debra!!

    Great questions, and I’m so glad I inspired you!! Why don’t you move back to Chicago and we could go to the gym together?

    The number 10 was sort of arbitrary. I started last month by saying I should go three times per week, which was around 15 times. I didn’t reach that goal and I was sad, and I only went nine times. I figured that if I’m going to do this, I need an attainable goal. So I decided to set my goal as one time more than the previous month, which would be 10. If I can reach this goal, next month will be 11, or maybe I’ll do one more than whatever I get this month.

    I don’t rip stickers in half, but sometimes I do minimal exercising, like going on my stairstepper while watching an episode of TV in my living room. It shouldn’t count as the same as when I do an hour on the treadmill at the gym, but I should still be rewarded for it! So I give myself a mini sticker for those days. I have a pretty nice variety of stickers, so the mini sticker works nicely for those “half” workout days.

    Gelato sounds delicious but doesn’t it defeat the purpose of exercising?

    Having a partner in crime is a great idea. Any takers out there reading this?

  3. Lia, It’s Becca, your old bunkmate from OSRUI… I just wanted you to know that this made me laugh. I loved stickers as a kid, and had big sticker books. I especially loved the pickle scented scratch-and-sniffs, which actually smell quite foul (there may have been something slightly wrong with me at the time).

    I’m in medical school now and last September I had the opportunity to work in a clinic in Africa. Everyone tells you to bring candy for the kids when you travel for work like this, especially in a country like Malawi where resources are so limited. Well, I did bring some candy, but I also brought three big books of stickers. The kids could have cared less about the sugar. Even more amusing, all the health care providers got really in to them too. We had a big event to raise albinism awareness and had people come from all over the country to hear from doctors and legislators, etc. as well as access healthcare. Almost every speaker gave a serious speech with an animal sticker on his/her lapel. To this day, I don’t think I have seen more fully grown and very small people so enthralled with deep sea creature stickers, and I was right there with them. Sometimes, no matter what your age, all you need is a sticker to crack a smile.

    Keep writing,


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