This fall I am going up for promotion to full professor. In preparation for that, I have been putting together my materials. That includes putting together giant three ring binders of programs, syllabi, CDs, reviews, conference books, articles, thank you cards...basically my professional life on paper. While extremely tedious, this is an exercise, which I would recommend that everyone should do from time to time. It is an excellent way to take stock of the past, to think about where you are at the moment, and to be inspired to think of new ideas for the future. I can see very clearly, laid out on the table, what all I have accomplished in the past five years. I am very proud of that. But it also shows me what all I have yet to do and that excites me. It is easy to go back to school, thinking "Just another fall semester, teaching the same classes, the same students, working with the same colleagues..." But when you realize how different and exciting things can be, what great opportunities are out there, then everything seems new and motivating!
So, I encourage every student, every teacher, regardless of age or field, to search for new perspectives, new goals, new ideas, and new dreams. Otherwise, there really isn't a reason to do it.