It started off as a joke.
Credit to our Melissa L. (a schoolteacher, at that) for initiating the conversation about gold stars for effort.
Melissa was commenting on the fact that she deserved a gold star for some of her gym efforts. This sentiment was reinforced from our Rachel H. who was actually the person who referred Melissa and her family to us at RevFit.
So, as a way to keep the joke going, I bought a pack of gold stars.
Once clients started hitting personal bests on their lifts, I’d grab a star and stick it on their shirt: “Gold star for the P.R!”
And, as silly as it may seem, everyone, I mean, EVERYONE, smiles when they get one.
It’s not just personal bests though (we say personal record at the Rev).
Clients might get a gold star for attendance, hitting a weight loss milestone or some other point to celebrate.
However, where I also found value in them was for habit tracking.
And in this case, I credit my online client Paula M.
Paula is a successful dentist as well as a loving and devoted mom and wife in Canada.
She and I started working together through my work coaching in Dr. Nadolsky’s Big Rocks Nutrition program several months ago.
We noticed two areas in her diet and lifestyle that needed attention. Because I know how much she has going on, I told her to give me a daily update on whether or not she successfully nailed those behaviors.
Each day, Paula sends me a message with two thumbs up, two thumbs down, or one up/one down letting me know if she was successful the day before.
I take my gold stars and place them on my blotter calendar at work so I can see what the trends are. If she hits two days in a row of “two thumbs down”, I won’t have stars on the blotter for those days.
I might also send a loving nudge:
Change your trend.
Paula takes the cue and starts correcting course.
So far, it’s been a nuanced but insightful exercise for both of us. We know that even if she is “spot on” with nailing these two habits, there is still the chance that she may overeat in a given day.
However, she stacks the deck in her favor if she can hit one or both habits with more accuracy as opposed to less so.
At the end of each month, we recap what happens with the gold star trends and discuss how to make the next month better.
In Paula’s words: Gold stars: as effective on a “X” year old mother and dentist as they are on a 5 year old!
No truer words have been spoken.
Sometimes, it’s little symbols to celebrate the wins which can speak the loudest.
In this case, that semi-joke about gold stars that Melissa started several months ago has actually turned into something that sparks happiness, motivation and a sense of achievement.
It’s not revolutionary but it’s working for us.
It might work for you, too.