What motivates you to work?

Dan Ariely’s TED Talk, What makes us feel good about our work?, shares a pretty compelling message: Most of us thrive by making constant progress and feeling a sense of purpose, not because of money or because we necessarily find joy in our jobs.

That message doesn’t just apply to us working stiffs out here making a living. It also applies to high school students.

It’s easy to let the pressure of college admissions ruin what could otherwise be an enjoyable high school career.

It’s more important that you work hard and keep learning than it is for you to get straight A’s all the time.

It’s more important that you make contributions to your club, team or organization than it is for you to be the president, the team captain, or some other official position of authority. 

And it’s much more important that you make consistent efforts to become a smarter, nicer, better all-around human being than it is for you to get an acceptance letter from one dream school.

Set high goals for yourself, sure.  But focus on making day-to-day progress. And know that working hard will always pay off in some way.