Tools That Work: Symbols

See video version here

I can be quirky. 


Not that you don’t already know that, but I do try to share things that work.  Last week in the accountability group call, we were talking about trying to remember to make the changes we say we want to make.  We’ve talked about phone alarms, notes on the bathroom mirror, strategically placed sticky notes, and such.  And out came one of my quirkier strategies:  Symbols.


During my clinical residency, it was made clear to me that I might be a bit – shall we say “precise” in my view of rules, schedules, and such?  I believe the nicest way they said it was that I had to “Lighten Up.” 

My view was that a rule is there for a reason.  Schedules were respectful ways to help everyone stay on time – and I’m going to be where I said I was, so why must I waste time awaiting your arrival just because you don’t see it that way?  Flexibility had never been my strong suit.  Where’s that hand to the face emoji when you need it?

Working Out the Flaws

In a playful attempt to work on this flaw, I found an old figure of Gumby.  No idea where I first got it, but I found it, took it to the office, and left it on my desk to help me remember.  All the guys – I was the only woman resident at the time – teased me, but I felt it would help and maybe amuse me during a year that was an utter beat-down. 

Then I started taking him with us when we traveled — Obvs – and posing him with various props became my vacation photos.  He went everywhere, and we took lots of fun photos.  It helped me lighten up – and grow more flexible.  If quirky.

Symbols are Tangible Reminders

Sometimes we need tangible reminders as visual cues for our plan, our goals, ways we want to grow and develop.  Can be one of the alarms we’ve talked about or a sticky note, a piece of “goal size” clothing hung where you can see it each morning, or any other symbol of attaining the goal.  The only caveat is that it must be something that will be encouraging and/or inspiring.  It’s even better if it makes you smile. 

Twenty-five years later, Gumby is still on my desk, he still travels with me, and he definitely makes me smile. 

What tangible reminder will be most effective for you?

Leave a Comment

Malcare WordPress Security