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.