Ambition doesn’t come easy for everyone. Sometimes it’s hard enough to muster enough energy to get out of bed, let alone blaze a new trail toward the success you’re looking for.
The great news is that ambition is something that can be learned and cultivated. It’s something you can nurture and grow within yourself as you are looking ahead to whatever goals you want to attain.
There is one small little secret that you may not realize about ambition and ambitious people. And that secret is that ambitious people are not ambitious 100% of the time.
They suffer heartbreaks, setbacks, and failures. Their plans don’t always turn out how they hoped, or success looks different than they imagined.
Ambitious people aren’t perfect, infallible machines that know exactly what they want and the ideal path to achieve it. In fact, many people only have an idea of where they want to be, but figure out the path on their way there.
In short, ambitious people are people just like you.
There’s no reason why you can’t adopt similar strategies to create and achieve the goals you want for your life. You just have to learn how to develop ambition to build the kind of life you want.
1. Find your motivation.
Why do you do what you do? Why do you want to be ambitious?
Do you want a better life? More money? Better relationships? Master a skill?
What is the big motivation that’s making you want to be more ambitious? Clearly define it.
You may find it helpful to write it down and put it somewhere that you can easily see it as a reminder of why you’re devoting your free time and energy to this goal.
That way, when you start to falter or don’t feel like working, you can have a clear reminder of why you need to.
2. Set goals.
A goal-oriented approach to life is a fantastic way to build ambition and find the success you’re looking for.
It generally starts with a large goal that may look like your motivation:
“I want to eat healthier and exercise more.”
“I want a better paying career.”
“I want to be happier.”
That large, overarching goal will help inform and fill out the smaller goals that will take you there. You can start at the problem and reverse-engineer the solutions to form these smaller goals.
You know you want to eat healthier and exercise more; what smaller goals help you do that? You can learn about nutrition, how to eat healthier, and develop a workout routine.
And if you can’t do those things on your own, it might be worthwhile to look into a nutritionist or a personal trainer that can provide that knowledge you don’t have.
Each small goal you set and achieve will bring you closer to fulfilling your big goal.
Small successes also help provide that little boost of feel-good chemicals you get when you succeed at something. It’s a virtuous circle that helps make you more ambitious one little bit at a time.
3. Take action.
There’s nothing wrong with doing some research and making plans before you set out to pursue your ambition.
It becomes a problem when you start devoting more energy to planning than actually working on your goal.
Some people also experience “analysis paralysis,” which is when a person is confronted with or finds so many choices that they can’t make a decision. They don’t know which one is the right one, so they avoid making any decision at all.
The way to break through this stalemate is to get to work. The thing is, you will never be able to know all the potential outcomes and problems you will run into. The only way that you will find that out is by actually doing the work, experiencing the problems, and looking for solutions.
Do your research, make a plan, and get to work. If you run into problems, look for solutions to those problems. If there doesn’t appear to be a solution, then you need to pivot and change your course to adapt to this new experience you’ve gained.
Setbacks, solutions, and workarounds are nothing to be afraid of. It’s how most things of worth get done.
Just remember that ambition is nothing without action.
4. Invest in yourself.
Investing in yourself is always a sound investment. That is, improving your knowledge or skills through media, taking classes, or mentorship.
Ambitious people will regularly spend money on these things safe in the knowledge that they will return a far greater amount further down the line.
Even if you find that the knowledge wasn’t immediately helpful to your current situation, it may prove to be valuable later or may highlight what you shouldn’t be doing.
Knowing what path to take can make it much easier to do the work that will help spark and fulfill your ambition.
Knowing the paths not to take is just as valuable because it can save you years of work that didn’t end up how you thought it would.
5. Cultivate patience and focus.
Patience is vital for creating and fulfilling an ambition. It takes time to work toward the goals you set.
Maybe you need a degree to go into the line of work you want to pursue. Maybe you want to lose a lot of weight and get into shape. Maybe you want to be at the top of your career field.
None of these grand ambitions happen overnight. And they are much harder to accomplish if you are not focused on that goal.
You can accomplish a lot of things by moving from goal to goal, ambition to ambition. But to reach those large goals, you need to maintain a degree of focus so you can continue to do the work and make the right decisions while you pursue it.
Patience and focus need to be developed as they are key ingredients in ambition.
6. Take calculated risks.
Ambitious people who want to accomplish big things often need to think outside of the box they find themselves in.
And make no mistake, we are all in boxes of some kind. It might be the box that your parents wanted to force you into as you grew up. It could be a box you put yourself in by telling yourself you’re not good enough at this or unworthy of that.
Ambitious people cannot afford to be contained by these boxes. They may experience moments of self-doubt, but they still pursue their ambitious goal anyway because that’s what they’ve decided they want for themselves.
Break free. Take risks, but take calculated risks.
What do you have to gain? What do you have to lose? Are you willing to pay the price for the success that you want to try to take for yourself? There is always a price associated with success.
7. Replace negative thoughts with positive.
Negative thoughts and emotions tend to be stronger than positive. It is really easy to get swamped by all of the problems, the associated costs, and the work that accompanies ambition.
Ambitious people feel those things, too; they just choose to re-frame them more positively.
It’s not, “This is going to cost me so much.” It’s “All I need to do is get through this, and I’m closer to my goal.”
It’s not, “I’m not good enough to do this.” It’s “I need to find some help to solve this problem.”
It’s not, “Other people are better than me.” It’s “I need to find what works for me.”
Problems are real for people. You don’t need to be fake positive, but you can’t be negative and expect to build on your ambition. It won’t outpace the negativity.
And do avoid negative people that want to just naysay your efforts and goals. They will undermine your ambition and success under the guise of “being helpful” and “being real.”
8. Embrace failing.
Failure is part of success. The key to surviving failure is to understand those five words and embrace them for all they are worth.
When you fail, it means you tried something, and it didn’t work out. Thus, you learned something that did not work and have new wisdom that you can now apply to your problem.
Everyone fails at things. It’s what you do with that failure that either fuels or derails ambition.
Embrace it, learn it, love your failure. You don’t have to like it, but you do have to love it because it’s yours.
What can you do with it? How can you pivot on the failure to bring you closer to your goal?
It may not be immediately apparent, but there is an excellent chance that slivers of your success will be interwoven with that failure.
Ambitious people use their failure to help fuel their success.
9. Keep doing the work, even when you don’t want to.
Ambitious people do the work. They do the work even when they really don’t want to.
Yeah, that bed is mighty comfortable, and a two-hour midday nap sounds fantastic, but you have goals to accomplish.
Nothing gets accomplished when you’re resting on your laurels, and the rest of the world is just blazing ahead without you.
That doesn’t mean work yourself to death or never take breaks. It does mean that you need to avoid wasting the limited amount of time you have in your day.
You’ll have to cut back on binge-watching Netflix, long naps, losing yourself in video games, or wherever it is that you waste your time.
Make sure you are healthily spending your time. Overindulging in rest and relaxation isn’t going to help you be more ambitious.
That also includes thinking and fantasizing too much about what you’re working toward. A little is okay. A lot is just a distraction and a waste of time on your road to ambition and success.
You may also like:
- An Open Letter To Those Who Have No Ambition, No Goals, And No Dreams
- 8 Ways To Be More Proactive In Life (+ Examples)
- The Real Reason You Have A Fear Of Failure (And What To Do About It)
- The 10 Types Of Motivation That You Can Use To Achieve Your Goals
- How To Overcome Your Fear Of Success: A No Nonsense 4-Step Approach
- 10 No Nonsense Ways To Be Consistent In Your Life