Why I Miss Promotion Exams

In the Air Force, enlisted Airmen take promotion examinations. The exams are based on career field and general military knowledge. Exam points are added to annual appraisal ratings for a combined score. All other factors being equal, top-tier scores result in promotion.

When I was selected for E-9 in 2014, it meant no more exams.

I miss the exams.

Some people procrastinate. The most successful procrastinators use the habit as a forcing function to focus on the task, creating an artificial stress, thereby completing work which otherwise wouldn’t get done.

I don’t procrastinate, but I do use exams as a way to focus energy into areas I wouldn’t otherwise choose. For example, it’d be hard to wake up at 0300 to study Air Force history or the intricacies of fall protection, but with an exam deadline looming, I jump out of bed. (NOTE: the lessons in history and fall protection, among the many others, would prove valuable in subsequent promotions.)

So, after the final promotion exam, I signed up for another certification exam. And another. And just this morning, I’m finishing up an application for the BCSP’s new Safety Management Specialist certification.

What is your forcing function?


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