I have asked many colleagues why it matters to them to be promoted to ‘full’ professor (from associate professor) because, at this point in my life, it just does not matter that much to me. The vast majority of full professors I have talked to really could not give me a concrete reason for what motivated them but said that I should be striving for this promotion. A few suggested that I not worry about being promoted and do what I enjoy. The main reasons I have been given for why I should feel this is important are: prestige, salary, accomplishment, and respect. Ultimately, while no one came out and said it explicitly, I think most are interested in the power and influence that it affords them.
And this is also why it just does not matter that much to me. Sure, a more prestigious title might be nice but I doubt anyone in my extended family even knows the difference between an assistant, an associate, and a full professor. Thus, I would essentially have more prestige in a small community that I do not really feel a part of anyway. Having a larger salary would be nice but I make more than my parents combined ever did (adjusting for inflation). My kids pretty much have everything they need. In fact, I worry that they have too much. The sense of accomplishment that comes with a promotion would probably make me feel good for a few months but then I would just be back to feeling terrible about getting proposals rejected. I suppose having more respect from my peers would be nice but it’s the kind of respect I really don’t want, i.e. respect for a title not accomplishments, contributions, or opinions.
While all of these benefits would be nice, I have to think of the cost of the time and happiness I would need to sacrifice to get them. At this point in my life I just do not think the benefits, which I do not see as all that important, are worth the stress, my time with my family, my mental health, etc.