September 8 – Ambition 

Ambition is a good thing, until it’s not anymore. Life demands moderation. Too much of a good thing actually turns out to be bad. Ambition drives us to succeed, to excel in our careers. Ambition pushes us to go outside of our comfort zone, to do and achieve more, to see our dreams through to completion. Too much ambition, though, can leave us feeling dissatisfied. Taken too far, our ambition leads to burnout as we constantly push for more. We might neglect our health and sanity in the name of ambition. When it starts to negatively impact our life, we know we need to scale our ambition back. It’s ironic how you can spend your whole life striving to achieve something, only to find once you get there that your success is not what you thought it would be. How do we go back? 

scenic photo of lake surrounded by trees

On this topic, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:

“Ambition has been important to many of us. When we were little girls, we realized that it was important that we work hard and become somebody. We wanted to get ahead, and we were willing to go to any lengths to be competent and important. In the last few years, women have had many more options for our lives, and we wanted to take advantage of those opportunities. 

When did things change? When did we cross over the line from having ambition, which was good, to being had by our ambition, which is killing us?

Often, with addictions, the very skills which kept us alive when we were younger (like dishonesty, control, and manipulation) are now lethal and are draining the life from us. This may be true about our ambition. If it now is running our lives, it may be time to take another look.

What was good for us at one stage of our lives may now be lethal. We need to take stock and see where we are at with our lives.”

What has worked before may not work now. What works now is no guarantee of what will work in the future. Life is fluid; it changes, as do we. It helps to take stock every now and then of where we are at in life and whether or not our habits still serve us. More often than not, we may find that a change is in order. 

Too much of anything, even when it is a good thing, will kill us. Water, for example, is life giving. Our bodies comprise 98% water. It is in the air we breathe, the food we eat, and obviously, the beverages we drink. Too much of it, though, and we drown. The same is true for ambition. When we have too much, it can cause us to put our success and achievement ahead of, well, everything. Mental and physical health, happiness, relationships—all take a backburner to our incessant, ceaseless drive for success. Our desire to accomplish our goals surpasses all else, so that we can no longer enjoy our lives or lead a healthy, balanced existence. Every moment and spare thought is dedicated to the fulfillment of our ambition. 

As we grow and change, so too do our needs. The same patterns and routines that once worked for us may not be serving us anymore. We’d do well to remind ourselves of that and reevaluate every once in a while. It’s important that we find what works for us in the moment, rather than stick to what we know and what is comfortable. We are different now from who we were then, and it’s time our habits and behavior reflected that.

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