What Type of Gold Star Works for You?

yellow and white trophy

We all love a good self-discovery question. Are you a morning person or a night person? An over-buyer or an under-buyer? A simplicity-lover or an abundance-lover? Do you prefer competition or cooperation?

When we know ourselves, we can tailor our surroundings, our schedules, and our choices to suit our own nature. It’s easier to change our environment than to change ourselves.

Self-knowledge is especially useful when we’re trying to make progress on our aims—so we can set ourselves up for success.

Here’s a useful question: When you do something right, what type of gold star do you appreciate most?

Different types of rewards and recognition work for different people.

This matters, because feelings of recognition and accomplishment help us to continue to strive.

  • It’s gratifying to reflect on the progress we’ve made.
  • It’s gratifying to have others recognize our efforts.

If we’re always thinking about our to-do list, we can feel discouraged and overwhelmed. If we take a moment to revel in our ta-da list, we get the energy to keep going.

But people differ in the kinds of gold stars that work for them.

When you identify what gratifies you the most, you can set yourself up to get it.

When you’ve made progress on an aim, what form of gold stars gratifies you most?

  • Praise-seeker: If you’re a fan of the “Five Love Languages,” you know about “Words of Affirmation” (which is my personal love language)
  • Badge-accumulator: You seek outward recognition of mastery, such as a job title, a certificate, a diploma, a publication
  • Trophy-hunter: You want an actual gold star, a physical trophy, Scout badges, a medal, a deal toy
  • Chain-Builder: You get satisfaction from seeing your streak get longer as you “don’t break the chain”
  • Keepsake-collector: You collect a keepsake from something you’ve crossed off the list, such as keeping a playbill from every play you attend or a matchbook from every restaurant where you ate on vacation
  • Likes-gatherer: You want engagement on social media
  • Party-planner: You love to celebrate with a social event, celebratory dinner, party
  • Pat-on-the-backer: You enjoy a literal pat on the back, handshake, fist bump, high-five
  • Rewards-taker: Rewards are very, very tricky! Rewards often backfire! instead, I recommend giving yourself…
  • Treats-taker: Give yourself plenty of healthy treats, whenever you feel like you need a little boost as you make efforts to keep an aim; don’t wait until you deserve it. Here are some suggestions for healthy treats)

Once you identify your favorite kind of gold star, you can make sure you get it.

For instance, if you’re a Chain-Builder, you could get the Don’t Break the Chain Tracker to track an important action, such as taking your medication every day.

If you’re a Badge-Accumulator, you could use the Happier™ app and get badges for different kinds of challenges and aims. Getting those badges will help you stick to an important habit such as writing every day in 2024 for #Write24in24.

If you’re a Party-Planner, you could remind yourself that even though it’s a lot of work to plan that celebratory dinner after you run the 5K, it will energize you to train for another race.

The more we know ourselves, the more effectively we can set up our lives to help us become happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative.

And when we understand that other people might prefer different kinds of recognition, we can tailor our approach to suit them. For instance, if I know my child is a Trophy-Hunter, I could make some kind of “trophy” to award “Great positive attitude during a vacation when he got sick and couldn’t do anything fun.”

What category of “gold star” works for you? What categories have I overlooked?



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