Are you ambitious with your career and life aspirations? Sometimes ‘ambition’ can be a bit of a dirty word. It is often used interchangeably with ‘pushiness’, and is sometimes depicted as a negative, unfeminine or selfish trait. In fact, many of us, (particularly women) are reluctant to openly admit that we have it – even if in the privacy of our own minds, we are fiercely striving to achieve.
But now’s the time to challenge all that. It’s time to reclaim the word ambition for what it really is – a positive vision of a successful future – and use its power to help us achieve our goals. Some of us naturally have that focused self-belief and drive of course, but many of us find it harder to sustain. So whether you’re struggling to find that inner motivation, or whether you’re humbly hiding your burning ambition under a bushel – here are 5 compelling reasons to stand up, be proud, and shout your ambition from the rooftops.
1 – Because ‘what if’ isn’t an option.
“The ‘what ifs’ and the ‘should haves’ will eat your brain – John O’Callaghan
Many of us are guilty of living our lives passively, accepting the status quo and feeling like we aren’t in control of what happens to us – only to feel disappointed and regretful when we fail to succeed. But how do we know what we are actually capable of, or what we could achieve unless we take ownership of our own destinies and are daring enough to try? It is only by being actively brave and ambitious that we will ever live the extraordinary lives that we all secretly dream of. Embracing ambition means having focus, trying hard, bouncing back from failure and exhausting all possibilities – you will never experience soul-destroying remorse and regret if you’ve given your all. Your life can be a candle flame or a blazing beacon. It’s your choice.
2 – Your subconscious mind will act on it.
Our subconscious mind is where our long-term thoughts, beliefs, feelings and memories are stored. It’s the machine that controls our attitudes and determines our behaviour, which makes it hugely powerful in shaping how we act and the results we get. The good news is our subconscious mind is like a sponge – it accepts without question whatever messages we repeatedly tell it. It then puts all of its energy into making that message come true. This is so empowering! It means you can feed your subconscious mind ambitious thoughts and images of a happy fulfilling work and family life, and your subconscious mind will get to work to make this happen without you even realising.
3 – The universe responds to ambition.
Have you ever thought about someone only for them to appear moments later? Have you ever just put something “out there” – voiced an idea, desire or want only to see an opportunity for that very idea crop up seemingly out of the blue? Ever heard the expression “Be careful what you wish for”? This is the universe doing its thing, responding to the electrical energy of your thoughts and beliefs in a way that can blow your mind. Sure it sounds a little hooey, but I’ve experienced it enough times to know that somehow the things I focus on are the things that have a habit of cropping up in my life, however ambitious and seemingly far fetched they may have seemed to start with. So if the universe is on your side, you can ambitiously reach for the stars!
4 – It will help you overcome imposter syndrome.
The Dunning-Kruger effect is the phenomenon whereby less competent people often overestimate how clever they are due to not having the ability to objectively evaluate their competence. The opposite is also true – people of high ability tend to underestimate their competence, often to the extent that they feel everyone else is more capable and more deserving of success than they are. This is imposter syndrome, a phenomenon first identified by psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in the 1970s, which typically affects high achievers. The implication is that our recurring doubts or worries about our ability to succeed despite a catalogue of previous successes, is an indicator that we are in fact highly capable! So instead of letting imposter syndrome hold you back, embrace it and see it for what it is: an indicator of how far you’ve come and an indicator of where your ambition can take you if only you’ll let it. (Check out my podcast on the topic here).
5 – It’s official – ambition keeps you happy.
When we achieve a goal, our bodies release the feel-good chemical dopamine into our brains. The uplifted mood helps to keep us motivated and focused on tasks (Mehta 2013) so the more we achieve, the better we are likely to perform. This means that breaking big long-term goals down into smaller short-term targets so that we can regularly tick off achievements, helps keep the positive chemicals flowing until we reach our long-term goals. It’s a fact – ambition is chemical – your brain wants it – don’t fight it!
If this blog post has whetted your appetite for ambition – then check out my latest podcast – “How to be ambitious”.