When it comes to ambition, most of us wish we had a little more. We may look at our colleagues, our peers, or maybe random men and women on the street who just look like they have it all put together. But what makes up ambition? What are the habits of ambitious people? What are the secrets of how to be more ambitious? How can you get over this lack of ambition slump you may be in?
These are questions that aren’t the easiest to answer — especially when our day-to-day lives seem stressful enough as it is. How can adding more pressure to the mix do us any favors for success, in our careers or otherwise?
What is an ambitious person?
An ambitious person is someone always striving to reach a goal. Through hard work, dedication and perseverance — an ambitious person doesn’t give up. She pushes forward and is determined to succeed. While ambition and success aren't synonymous, ambitious people are always striving to be more and more successful, which often pushes them to work harder and be better—which in many cases leads them to become more successful overall.
Is ambition good or bad?
There are, of course, downsides to many traits that are generally considered positive. Overall, ambition can help someone succeed. It helps give us goals to reach and the passion to want to achieve them. It keeps us motivated and focused. It keeps us engaged with our goals, hopes, and dreams.
However, there are some cases in which being overly ambitious can have detrimental consequences. When people pursue their ambitions at a cost to others (read: Caesar), it can often harm not just those people, but the ambitious person herself, since people will come to regard her as greedy and self-involved.
Caesar may have been overly ambitious, but you probably don’t have to worry about meeting the same fate.
Can ambition be taught?
If someone doesn’t want to be ambitious, she won’t be. But that doesn’t mean that she will never change. We all have those moments — moments when we lack ambition, drive, and passion for things. We all need a little motivation, a little push from time to time. Some people just need a bit more of a push. Sometimes all it takes to help give someone a little boost of ambition is to be more outwardly ambitious yourself.
And if you’re the one struggling with ambition, don’t give up! Just keep pushing forward. That’s the best first step.
In reality, becoming more ambitious is a process that entails very small, very achievable steps. All it takes is focus, dedication, patience, and hard work. And once you master these six habits, you’ll be that ambitious person other people envy.
How to become more ambitious
Many ambitious people didn't necessarily start out that way. If you’re wondering how to be more ambitious in your personal life or career — or you’re just trying to find a semblance of ambition to get you going, use these habits of ambitious people to motivate yourself:
1. Set goals.
The first thing (and probably one of the most vital things) you need to do is set some SMART goals for yourself. Otherwise, how will you know when you’ve achieved something to be proud of? Maybe you want to get a book published. Set an ambitious goal for yourself to get there. Give yourself targets to hit — writing X amount of words a day, or sitting down for an hour just to get the creative juices flowing.
Maybe you want to slowly but surely start expanding your professional network. You could set a goal for yourself where you attend one networking event a month, and at each event talk to at least one person. These goals don’t have to be extravagant or grand. They just have to motivate you to keep moving forward, which is exactly what ambition is all about.
2. Take risks.
Another important step—one that may seem daunting—is taking risks. And no, we’re not talking about skydiving, unless that’s where your ambition lies. But an ambitious person isn’t afraid to take risks and make mistakes. At the end of the day, they might really pay off. Being ambitious means pursuing your desires and reaching your goals. It’s pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and doing what you weren’t doing before.
Being ambitious isn’t necessarily easy, and neither is taking risks — and that’s the point. But the more you push yourself, the happier you will be, and the closer you will be to achieving your ambitious goals.
3. Invest in yourself.
You are your most valuable investment, and it’s important that you know that you are, in fact, worth it. Buy yourself that new video editing software. Give yourself a wardrobe makeover. Pay for those photography courses. And investing in yourself isn’t just about spending money. Take time for yourself. Get eight hours of sleep. Work out five times a week. Make yourself a priority, and others will see you as one.
4. Eliminate negativity.
Negativity is your enemy — both from the outside world and from within. Negativity only holds you back; it only keeps you from seeing the positivity and the prospects on the horizon. Negativity casts a big, dark cloud on your ambitious goals. Expel it. Don’t tear yourself or your work apart. Don’t compare yourself to others. Work on yourself and your goals and what you want to accomplish, and keep that end in sight. Your biggest competitor is yourself and no one else. You should only strive to be better than you were yesterday.
5. Don’t wait.
If you keep waiting, you’ll never accomplish your goals. If you keep saying tomorrow, tomorrow will never really come. You can’t expect great things to happen when you’ve done nothing to work for them. Being ambitious means pushing yourself, fighting for what you want, and not taking no for an answer. You have your whole life ahead of you, and there’s no use waiting for it to happen. You have to make things happen. You can’t climb that corporate ladder if you never get in the game.
6. Surround yourself with ambitious people.
This doesn’t mean you have to drop your friends, so don’t worry. But it is important to surround yourself with people who will lift you up, people who will push you like they push themselves, and people who know what they want and are willing to fight for it. We often surround ourselves with people who share similar qualities and habits, and if you want to keep working towards your goals, you need people around you who are doing the same.
You can learn from these people, pick up their habits and learn from them. And they can do the same — a perfect, symbiotic ambitious relationship. If the people you are with understand the importance of hard work and constantly strive to do better, hard work will continue to be of importance to you, which is crucial because let’s face it, we can’t be ambitious all the time. Some days you’re just going to want to throw in the towel or spend the day vegging out. That’s ok, as long as the people you’re with can help build you back up again.
We all sometimes feel like we suffer from a lack of ambition, but these steps will get your ambitious plan in motion —and will leave you being that ambitious person you’ve spent the last few months envying.
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About the Career Expert:
Kristina Udice is a senior SEO analyst for Reprise and a copy and content creator for a wealth of publications and businesses, including Fairygodboss, Express Writers, Learn Language Hoboken, Insider, and more.