If your childhood was anything like mine, the only thing you liked about going to the dentist was getting to pick out a sticker afterward. (I usually chose a gold star with a little rainbow that proclaimed, "I was brave at the dentist today!") That one little sticker had the power to make me feel like a million bucks for the rest of the afternoon. Every time I glanced down and saw it stuck to the front of my shirt, I would be reminded that I was a Big Girl and a badass. I could do anything I put my mind to. More and more, I realize that feeling is something I miss in my adult life. There's so much to keep track of. If something slips through the cracks, I have a tendency to berate myself fiercely and then feel extra guilty when I inevitably have to reschedule it for later. Sometimes, that cycle can put me on a fast track to feeling like a failure.
So how do I fix it? With Adulting Awards.
Using planner stickers for positive reinforcement
I decided to make myself a set of stickers for my planner that would help me to celebrate (and, okay, laugh at myself a little!) whenever I accomplished some small chore that felt like a personal challenge. Managed to get out of bed without hitting snooze more than once? Slap a sticker on it. Ate something that wasn't ramen? That's worth a sticker. Remembered to take my meds? Oh heck yeah, it's sticker time!
It seems like a silly little hack, but my Adulting Awards have significantly improved my attitude toward myself when I'm having a hard day. And gauging by the popularity of the search term on Etsy, it looks like the they work for a whole lot of other people too.
Don't believe the hype: this isn't supposed to be easy
I have a feeling that the weird osmosis of social conditioning taught a lot of us that being an adult was supposed to come easily, that once we were grown up we would automatically have a total handle on all our responsibilities.
You've probably noticed by now that that's bullshit.
Being a grownup is hard work, y'all. That's why we have our planners. Maybe life was less complicated for our parents or our grandparents (although I doubt it - I'd bet it was just hard in different ways) but being a responsible human being in 2016 takes a metric ton of constant awareness and effort. There are a million demands on our time & energy in any given day, and it is completely reasonable to feel overwhelmed by that sometimes.
So why shouldn't we be rewarded with stickers too?
Added bonus? You can color them in!
Adult coloring books have taken off in a big way lately, and it's easy to see why. The zen-like meditative state required by coloring is a great way to relax. In this instance, it even enhances the effectiveness of the stickers because taking the time to color them in gives you a moment to genuinely reflect on your accomplishment. You deserve to celebrate the challenges you've overcome - even if they seem tiny compared to the big picture.
If you'd like to give this technique a shot, you can snag a sheet of these Adulting Awards in my shop for just $5.
What techniques help you to avoid overwhelm?
Do you use any sort of Adulting Awards to reward yourself for the little things? I'd love to hear about how you use your planner (or any other tactic) to help you keep your head when life gets rough.