First of all, being ambitious is absolutely essential to accomplishing anything great in life. It’s the fuel necessary for all the hard work needed to achieve great goals. It’s what will keep you focused and push through the tough times.
Being ambitious is great, you think bigger, you dream bigger, you take bolder action and you get better results, and that feels great.
But being ambitious has a dark side as well.
And if you don’t watch out for it, it can bring you down.
Being highly ambitious myself and having worked with 100s of driven people, I’ve seen the great, the good, and the ugly of ambition.
I want to help you minimise the ugly.
So let’s go straight into it.
VISION VS REALITY
Part of being ambitious is thinking and dreaming bigger. We visualise the results we want to accomplish and fantasise about what it will be like.
And that’s all great and usually sparks a lot of drive and passion.
However, it often highlights how far we’re from the goal.
And that can be pretty demotivating.
Even worse, it can make us really unhappy or frustrated about your current situation.
Don’t forget that you’re on a journey that will probably take a long time and never even try to fool yourself into thinking that you’ll find some shortcut.
Appreciate your current situation. It’s a chapter of your story.
Be blissfully dissatisfied – appreciating everything that you have and where you are, while striving for more.
YOU VS THEM
Another trap so easy to fall into is you comparing yourself to others.
Maybe you’re comparing yourself to someone specific maybe to everybody in general.
Remember that if you play this comparison game, you’ll always lose because you’ll always look for someone better to compare yourself to and so you’ll always feel like you’re worse than somebody.
That’s the reality, you cannot be the best at everything.
Comparing yourself will only make you miserable.
Rather than comparing yourself to someone better than you and feeling crap, look at them as someone you can learn from. Investigate what is it that they do that helps them get such results.
The only person you should compare yourself to is who you were yesterday.
Seeing yourself grow will make you feel great.
EGO VS FULFILLMENT
Being ambitious usually gets attention whether for the hard work you’re putting in or for the results you’re getting.
When you start going to the gym with dedication or work extra hard on something, people usually notice, maybe even make a comment, and this attention feels nice, it’s like an ego stroke.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying some praise, recognition and acknowledgement, but it can easily become addictive and in no time you can find yourself being motivated by this more than by the what sparked the ambition in the first place, and that’s a black hole.
When the focus of your drive shifts to recognition, you’ll find that there is no bottom to it. As soon as you get it from someone your ego will go: Ok who’s next. The ego is never satisfied, nothing is enough for it, at least not for long.
Remind yourself frequently why you’re pursuing your goals and what sparked your ambition in the first place. If you can do it daily, great.
See it as prevention.
More importantly, make sure that you WHY is 100% authentic to you, that the reason why you’re pursuing your goals and putting the hard work is because YOU want to.
OVERDRIVE VS GUILT
I won’t BS you, accomplishing anything takes a lot of work.
The usual way how ambitious people operate is in bursts or sprints where they put it 120% energy into the new idea or project, usually for hours, but sometimes for days, weeks or even months.
After some time they start burning out and naturally need to recharge and recover.
That’s all fine as long as they get the needed rest.
But what often comes with ambition is creeping guilt when we’re not giving 120%, when we’re not working or using all possible time.
That is not healthy, mentally and physically.
Accept that you have a limited amount of energy and any extra energy is being taken on a credit card with very high interest. The price you’ll pay for that loan is way higher than what you’ll gain through the extra bit of work.
Pace yourself, your success is a marathon, not a sprint.
If you sprint a marathon, … well, you won’t because it’s impossible.
Learn to listen to your body and when you need to recharge. Then find a way to recharge that won’t make you feel guilty – maybe reading or exercising.
Think of the long term impact of you burning out – if you break what else will be impacted?
So. keep your ambitiousness high but watch out for these four ways it can backfire on you and jeopardise your growth and success.
Previously published here and reprinted with the author’s permission.
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