Friday, July 6, 2012

Academic Obsession

I realized the other day that I really don't have much drive to excel, and while wondering why that is, I remembered that I haven't actually had any type of goal since college.
My goal then?  To graduate suma cum laude, with was a 3.96 to 4.0 GPA.  I had a 3.97 by the end of my Senior year.
My goal during high school?  4.0 GPA, graduate valedictorian.  Met that goal.
My goal during junior high?  Nothing below an A-.  Met that goal.
My goal before junior high?  Survive.  Barely got that one.

This made me wonder.  Why would I suddenly decide to devote myself to this grades thing at the tender age of 12?  To tell the truth, I don't really remember.
I have a memory of my sixth grade teacher telling me how much she wanted to give me some version of an A in the one class where I had a B+.  I think she fudged the report card I took home to show an A-- rather than the B+ that went on my official record.  Mom and Dad knew what she was doing, but they praised me for "all A's" anyway.

Still doesn't answer why I became obsessed with academics.  I remember flunking a quiz in 5th grade and hating how that felt, and I remember having a B- in something during later elementary school.  Maybe that was 5th grade, too.  That was a hard year, 5th grade.

However, regardless of my motivation then, I look back on it and discover that I learned how to win following the rules.  These weren't expressed rules, but if you managed to learn them, like how to take a test, how to regurgitate the right answer on the homework, how to not be distracted by piddly things like a social life, then you'd get pretty far.
My sister and I seemed to be exceptionally good, I suppose.

The rules for excelling at school don't usually apply to real work, though, except maybe the social life part, which is why I had such a bad time of it for a while.  And the rules that do apply to a real job, I don't much like.
Oh, who am I kidding.  I don't much like the rules that apply to being an adult.

I might not be on the verge of being fired, but I still feel no compulsion to exceed beyond what I know I can do with minimal effort.  That's my general attitude about most things, now.
Maybe I should tell myself something like, "Let's get an A on today's assignment!"  Pffft.

So how does one come up with goals that motivate one to do more than what is required?  Do things like, "Replace my sink," or "paint the office," or "buy a new pair of shoes" really work as a motivation?  I know things like, "not losing my house" or "being able to feed my cats" are my reasons to HAVE a job, but to go above and beyond the call of duty?  Haven't found even one yet.

Not to say I don't do it sometimes.  Sure I do.  My employer gives us monetary incentives during certain parts of the year, and you betcha I'll work my little self into illness to get $50 or $100.  But not on a consistent basis.

I'm not sure I really have a point with all this.  I'm just putting it out there.

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