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ARE YOU GOING TOO FAR BEHIND YOUR AMBITION? Understand 6 signs of overly ambitious person and 5 ways to handle your ambition level in life

ARE YOU GOING TOO FAR BEHIND YOUR AMBITION? is to be answered by yourself. Why is it that some people seem to make it far in life, have clear goals and vision, have dreams they go after and seem to be constantly moving forwards, where others seem to be either directionless, jump from one interest to another, waste time in life, get bored quickly or generally don’t know what they want to do in life? Well it’s very possible that some people have a very clear aim in life, and if asked what their ambition in life is, they would be able to say…. “My ambition in life is …” and it follows up with a clear and concise answer. 

So let’s get to it: what’s ambition? There is a saying that “A man without any ambition is a boat without the sails. It can drift in any direction and at the end of the day may find life a fruitless and frustrated nothingness”. Yes, having an ambition in life is the idea that you have something you really want to go after. It’s after something that means something to you in a way that is hard to define in words. 

ARE YOU GOING TOO FAR BEHIND YOUR AMBITION? Understand 6 signs of overly ambitious person and 5 ways to handle your ambition level in life 1

Ambition can be defined as a striving for some kind of achievement or distinction and involves, first the desire for achievement and second the willingness to work towards it even in the face of adversity or failure. 

Is it good to be ambitious? What do you call an overly ambitious person? 

ARE YOU GOING TOO FAR BEHIND YOUR AMBITION? Understand 6 signs of overly ambitious person and 5 ways to handle your ambition level in life 2

In the midst of a global pandemic, many people are re-evaluating their daily race to achieve what over the time has come to be understood as “normal”. Being ambitious is definitely a good thing. However your ambition must Concord with your aspirations. When they don’t, the result can be toxic. Ambition and aspiration are often treated as synonymous because both are used to describe a projection into the future. Projecting allows us to map out or imagine the state that we wish to reach in the future, the way we would like to have accomplished. 

But though people often use the terms interchangeably, ambition is often confused with aspiration. In fact there is a key difference between both terms. As ambition is “an ardent desire for rank, fame or power” while aspiration is “a strong desire to achieve something high or great”. 

Ambition’s bad rap: there are some who insist “Ambition is the root of all evil”, a line that made its original appearance in SHAKESPEARE’s MACBETH.  In so far as ambition is a source of greed. But since the world as we know it is never accurately portrayed in broad strokes of black and white, it would be superficial to say that ambition is “BAD”. I believe the truth of the matter is that ambition can be a positive driver, it can sometimes overshadow our aspirations which are more directly connected to our innermost desires. 

Highly ambitious people are sensitive to resistance and failure and experience almost constant dissatisfaction or frustration. Indeed it is the fear of failure that checks the ambition of all but the most courageous or rash of people. For just as mania can end in depression so ambition can end in anguish and despair. 

Talking about a person’s ambition level it’s a good thing. However ambition at an extreme level can become both immoral and potentially dangerous to oneself. If someone is too ambitious then they can do something that can be unethical but they will do it anyway to reach their goal. In short ambition can be both good and bad and everything will be best when balanced appropriately. The highest understanding, born out of humility, is perhaps that it is not necessary to be ambitious to be high reaching or indeed to feel alive. 

ARE YOU GOING TOO FAR BEHIND YOUR AMBITION?Here are the telling signs your ambitious is becoming “toxic”

ARE YOU GOING TOO FAR BEHIND YOUR AMBITION? Understand 6 signs of overly ambitious person and 5 ways to handle your ambition level in life 3

While a dose of healthy ambition can actually help you to fulfil your aspirations and accomplish things you can be proud of, for the sake of one’s mental, emotional and physical health. It’s important to strive for balance between humility and drive to succeed, between determination and a grounded perspective. 

How can you tell if ambition is getting out of hand? Consider the following 6 signs of harmful, addictive ambition: 

  1. You’re unable to enjoy the present moment

If your present reality never seems to measure up to the future you imagine for yourself, if you often feel like you are waiting impatiently for success that never comes- chances are you’re forgetting one simple truth; life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. Not only are you missing out on the present by focusing too heavily on the future, but chances are without adjustment of perspective, you won’t ever be truly satisfied- regardless of how much ass you kick.

  1. The destination seems more important than the journey

If you’re hype-focused on outcomes at the expense of actual experiences, you may find you’re altogether unhappy. Chances are, other people affected by your decision making may also be feeling the strain.

  1. You crave high speed

Are you avoiding people, places and situations that seem too slow, calm or balanced because they seem weak? If you’re always rushing and yet you always feel like results are too slow to appear, you’re living in a perpetual state of impatience, and that’s not good for anyone. 

This is where the addictive nature of ambition really starts to show its face. Your desired growth rate, however, is likely unsustainable, and burnout is likely. Forward motion is never constant, it’s a rule of the universe, and unfortunately some people forget this and move forward without any proper direction.

  1. You’re anxious and/ or depressed

Many among us who live life tethered to ambition ironically do so in order to free ourselves from the clutches of insecurity and vulnerability. In a way, it’s natural to feed one’s ambition as a way of conquering the anxiety and looming depression that uncertainty, confusion and a palpable lack of agency can generate. 

  1. You’re jealous of the success of others

Ever hear of someone else’s success and not only fail to feel happy for them, but instead feel an active welling up of contempt? Particularly if the success you’re chasing is playing out on a competitive landscape, disdain for said competition along with the tendency to dismiss and denigrate any previous gains one has made as insufficient are a recipe for eternal misery. 

  1. You avoid interactions that won’t further your goals

If you find yourself prioritising interactions you think can help you get where we want to go while avoiding or de-prioritizing interactions you’ve decided are somehow peripheral to your ambitions, you’re inevitably going to damage your relationships, be they personal or professional . 

Treating people like known quantities never works, because people are much more wonderfully complex than that, and that includes you, “you do yourself a disservice by thinking otherwise”.

Five Important ways to check and balance your ambition level

ARE YOU GOING TOO FAR BEHIND YOUR AMBITION? Understand 6 signs of overly ambitious person and 5 ways to handle your ambition level in life 4

While the above mentioned problems or signs impose serious mental and emotional health issues, there’s always a way to save yourself. So let’s discuss five ways you can stop yourself becoming more ambitious than you ought to be.

  1. Meditation: 

It helps you realise opportunities to slow down throughout the day. Meditation helps you strike a balance to a never- ending thought- provoking ambitious mind. It leads to a serene state of mind that is filled with calmness and peace which relaxes your mind and offers a better sleep.

  1. Experience simple pleasures:

Allow your body to relax with your favourite music. Enjoy your favourite movies and ice cream. Realise that all these simple pleasures are what you’re working so hard for. This not only rejuvenates you but also increases your productivity when you return to your work.

  1. Incorporating gratitude in your daily life:

Melody Beattie said: “gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow”.

It’s important to reflect on your current gifts that you’ve been taking for granted. Gratitude reminds us that even in the worst situations we have so much to be grateful for.

  1. Give time to your loved ones:

Your family deserves your time more than anything else in the world. They are the ones you go back every single day after the hectic work schedule. Giving time, love and care proves that they do matter to you.

  1. Dream big but scale down your goals:

Create goals that help you grow without sacrificing your mind, body and loved ones. Scale down your professional goals to a realistic approach which will help you grow both professionally as well as personally.

Taking the help of the above ways keeps your mind in check and balanced. So take some time and reflect on where you are heading towards. Make some notes or ask your loved ones. They are the best critics as well as motivators.

Bottom line: if you feel your ambition has morphed into a craze which is no longer in your best interest, it’s high time you dare yourself to remember your original aspirations. 

What were the ideals that led you to want to succeed? What were the qualities you wanted to possess and why? Who did you want to help? How did you want to feel? That last one can easily lead you back to yourself if you let it.

If I’ve learned one valuable lesson in my time on this planet so far, it’s this:- that which is done out of “love” is always more successful in the long term than that which is done out of “fear”—be it fear of loss, fear of failure or fear of lack. 

It’s not easy being human, but I would agree that we are currently living on an important opportunity to re-evaluate what’s most important and make the necessary changes.

Suggested Reads: How Ambitious Should You Be?

10 Signs You Are Too Ambitious & Why It Might Work Against You 

What Drives Ambition — and Are You Going Too Far?

Is Ambition Good or Bad?

The psychology and philosophy of ambition.

-Sowmya Hosabettu