Gender Parity in Grande Prairie: How Sticker Charts Saved My Summer

Xaverie’s Previous Blog

Peter Lougheed Leadership Scholar, Xaverie MacLennan, takes us through some of the difficulties that arise while working on an independent summer project. 

Once I moved home for the summer, I opened my Gender Parity in Grande Prairie file and envisioned the months ahead as I worked on this project. In my mind I saw a glossy summertime of meetings with community leaders, a full schedule of community involvement, and most importantly: a girl squad of strong female candidates.

At this time, I wasn’t worried at all about achieving my goal; to have 4 women elected onto Grande Prairie’s City Council in the upcoming municipal election. I knew this would be a challenging target to reach, but I was very optimistic about it.

However, as time progressed, it became clear that I had no road map to help me get to the destination I had in mind. With this lack of direction, I floundered. The realities of starting an independent project settled in and the polished ambitions I had imagined faded. Because I was working individually, I struggled with time management, motivation, and found it difficult to stick to my plans.

Additionally, as I researched gender parity in politics, I compared my hometown to other cities. I became envious of the Women’s Initiative in Edmonton and felt covetous towards areas where Equal Voice has a more active presence. I thought about YEG Parity and Opening The Potential (read about OTP here), and juxtaposed these communities against the absence of any citywide effort in Grande Prairie to involve women in politics. This contrast made me feel very alone.

Doubt found a new home in my mind and I wondered whether this project was feasible. Worse, I wondered if anyone except for me would even care about Gender Parity in Grande Prairie.

With these new criticisms in mind, I worked slower and less frequently. I wanted to ignore my doubts and frustrations and the only way to do this was to neglect my Stretch Experience. I opted to focus on other areas of my life, over which I had total control. However the requirements of my Stretch Experience loomed and I dreaded them.

After spending more than my fair share of time in this negative state, I knew something had to change. I needed to work on this project and I wanted to be held accountable for daily progress, even if I was working alone.

So I made a sticker chart. Yes; a sticker chart.

I divided up the amount of work I wanted to do into smaller, more manageable chunks of time, and I established daily check-ins with a fellow PLLC scholar so that we could keep our time commitments on track. Thanks to the advice of a mentor I set S.M.A.R.T. goals for my summer that helped me establish strategies for HOW I was going to achieve each new, smaller goal. Each day I accomplished a goal, I put a sticker onto my chart.

IMG_0272(S.M.A.R.T. Goals Acronym)

In essence, I began building my own road map to help me reach my final destination: Gender Parity on Grande Prairie’s City Council.

To combat the fact that I felt cut off from the incredible initiatives further south in the province, I started emailing, phoning, and texting anyone who I thought might possibly be interested. I quickly became an expert at using Google searches to find people who may be able to assist me and I reached out to everyone that would possibly respond to the many questions I needed answered.

Admittedly, some people hung up on me, and I’m sure some of my emails went straight into the junk file… But people did start replying.

Soon enough, it became apparent that I was not at all alone. It was absolutely amazing to see the types of doors that people opened for me because they wanted to contribute; they felt compelled to help a student create social change.

There is a community in Alberta that firmly believes in gender parity, and believes in our ability as a society to achieve it. A network of allies from across the province emerged; people who were willing to lend an ear, direct me to resources, connect me with leaders, help me further refine my goals, and encourage me to keep going.

To put it simply: the sticker chart worked wonders. I’ve set a goal to reach out to one person each day and talk to them about my stretch experience. This is important because it helps spread the impact of my stretch experience, while also invigorating me and helping me remember that I am not alone; other people do genuinely care about gender parity.

IMG_1209(Pages of stickers that are partially empty indicate that the author’s sticker charts are working well to help self-motivate)

I am very excited to tell you more about this project in coming posts, so stay tuned as I continue with the STEEP learning curve that is bringing gender parity to the forefront of electoral conversation in Grande Prairie!

Xaverie’s Next Blog

I’m curious about how YOU motivate yourself (and stay motivated)? Do you use a sticker chart, or other rewards system? Are you able to visualize your daily goals? Do you use ‘check-ins’ with a peer? I’d love to hear about it!

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