One of the true joys I remember from 4th and 5th grade was earning my junior Girl Scout badges. My troop earned plenty through projects we did at meetings, but that was not sufficient for me. Oh no. I needed to freelance on the side. And so, I used to page through the handbook on a daily basis, setting my sights on a new badge. I’d look through the requirements and see which were doable without a major field trip. I’d do the required activities, get my mother to vouch for me, and score another badge, to the point of loading up my vest.
I’ve been pondering, recently, why I found the concept of badges so motivational. Perhaps it was the thrill of tackling a new project — of doing something that might be moderately challenging (as school, alas, wasn’t so much). I enjoyed checking things off, keeping a log of my progress, and then receiving a gold star in the form of a semi-representational badge for doing so.
I’m not sure why it was so motivational, but I know it was. So I’ve been trying to develop a bit of a merit-badge mindset about other projects in life. I like to run, and I know it is good for my health. So I record my daily runs — the date, their duration and route, my weight — and sign up for races. When I run a race I get a finisher’s medal: another form of badge!
I’m also trying to adopt that same mindset for long-term work projects, like writing books or promoting them. I get a little notebook and record the steps I take: setting up some interviews, asking people to review my books. Will that do anything for me? I don’t know. Life, alas, does not actually follow the rules of the Girl Scout Handbook. But, as with earning my “Computer Fun” badge or “Doing Hobbies” badge, at least I feel like I’m making progress.
What tasks in your life would you like to earn a badge for?
photo courtesy flickr user TheatricAL 03. I would love some better photos of the old junior Girl Scout badges, from around 1988.