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Some people always seem to be striving for success, no matter how many times they trip and fall on the ladder of life.
They want to climb that mountain and bask in the view from the top, knowing that their insatiable hunger to achieve what they set their mind to got them to that point.
What makes them this way? What propels them toward their goals like a rocket ship on its way to Mars?
It’s ambition that tells them to buckle up, hit the gas pedal, and continue on until they’ve reached the place they want to go.
Ambition is a trait in itself, but it is also defined more precisely by a number of other qualities. So, if you want to know what makes a person ambitious, keep reading.
The secret highly ambitious people know that you don’t.
Ambition often gets a bad rap. When you think of an ambitious person, you usually think of someone who neglects other parts of their life in order to reach a goal. You might think of a person who is not afraid to stab other people in the back to get what they want. Or perhaps it’s someone who doesn’t have any friends in their life, just stepping stones to get to where they’re going.
While there are people like that, they are not necessarily accurate depictions of ambitious people.
Ambition can be defined as either “an ardent desire for rank, fame, or power,” or a “desire to achieve a particular end.” The first definition is what we usually think about in terms of ambition, and the second point is what gives ambition a bad rap.
But when you consider the second definition, you’ll realize that in order to accomplish anything in life, you’ll need a degree of ambition.
If you want to run a marathon, you’ll need to be ambitious. Running 26.2 miles is no joke. It’s an ambitious goal, especially if you have never run long distance (or any distance at all) before.
Maybe you want to change careers. If so, you’ll need ambition to help you leave your established career to venture off into unknown territory.
So, what’s the secret that highly ambitious people know that you don’t? The secret is that ambition isn’t a dirty word or a characteristic one needs to shy away from (so long as it’s good ambition, not bad ambition).
Rather, it’s a trait they needed to cultivate in order to achieve their goals. It’s the secret behind their success. Ambition, coupled with motivation, makes successful people an unstoppable force.
If you’re stuck in a frustrating cycle of making goals and never reaching them, or if you want to change something about your life but never seem to be able to commit to the change long enough to make it permanent, it might be time for you to embrace ambition and become more ambitious.
11 traits of a highly ambitious person:
To accomplish something new will require special skills you’ve never had before. There are certain traits that a highly ambitious person possesses that enables them to reach their goals no matter their current skill level or situation.
These traits ensure a highly ambitious person is always on an upward trajectory. They are why highly ambitious people seem to progress quickly, while it feels like you are stuck in a rut.
Cultivating and nurturing these traits ensures that highly ambitious people are always moving toward progress, promotion, and success. The traits of a highly ambitious person include the following:
1. They are goal-oriented.
Highly ambitious people are very goal-oriented. Whether in their personal or professional lives, there’s a goal they’re focused on and working toward. These goals are usually well-defined and leave no room for doubt as to what is required for them to be accomplished.
Often, the goals are challenging and stretch a highly ambitious person’s capabilities. Thus, they need a lot of dedication, time, and focus.
As a result, a highly ambitious person also has a structured plan concerning how they will achieve their goals. They know step-by-step, day-by-day, what they need to do to reach their goals.
If they share their goals with anyone at all, it’s with a select few who need to know or who can spur them on when their motivation is running low. That’s because highly ambitious people understand the psychological impact of telling people about their plans.
Psychologists have found that when you tell someone your goal and they acknowledge it, your mind is tricked into thinking you’ve already accomplished it. You then feel a sense of accomplishment which ends up making you less motivated to commit to doing the hard work required to reach your goals.
Another benefit of not sharing goals is that everyone keeps their opinions to themselves. When other people don’t know what you’re aiming for, they can’t project their negativity or fears into your headspace.
This allows highly ambitious people to have a positive mindset and remain focused on the work at hand. Their energy is not wasted conquering fears projected onto them by people who don’t understand their dreams.
Once they’ve set a goal and developed a structured plan to accomplish it, highly ambitious people go all out. Nothing and no one can dissuade them from their path. They stay committed to the end no matter what.
2. They are not afraid to take risks.
Highly ambitious people are not afraid of taking risks. This doesn’t mean that they take dangerous risks without thought or worry. Rather, when it comes to charting a path to success, they are not afraid to take the path less traveled.
They are the type of people who will build a business that is unlike any currently in the market. Or go into a career or industry not typically meant for people like them (e.g., a woman entering a male-dominated field).
They’re not afraid of trying something new or confronting the risks that come with it.
Highly ambitious people take calculated risks that promise to bring them closer to what they want in their career, business, or personal life. Once they’ve set their mind to a goal, they don’t let the fear of possible risks deter them. Instead, they attempt to identify any upcoming roadblocks and plan accordingly.
3. They are committed to developing themselves.
The only thing highly ambitious people are more committed to than their goals is their personal growth and development. They are constantly looking for ways to improve their skills and push past their personal best.
Highly ambitious people are passionate about their personal growth. They are well aware that they don’t know it all. Nor do they assume that they have all that’s required to achieve their goals. So, they invest heavily in their personal development.
They are curious and eager to learn anything that will help them be and get better. Because they’ve set lofty goals, or are taking an unchartered path, they know they need to increase their current skill level.
Their skill gaps do not embarrass them. They see them as opportunities to learn and reach their full potential.
4. They focus on taking action.
A highly ambitious person is an action-taker. They don’t just make plans and then forget about them. Nor do they set goals only to procrastinate on achieving them.
They take action!
They get up and get to work.
Once they have a goal, they develop a plan to achieve it. Once they have a structured plan, they don’t delay. They get to work.
Highly ambitious people respond promptly to opportunities. They don’t wait and roll it around in their heads a bit first. They recognize and seize the opportunity as soon as it presents itself.
Ambitious people are very driven and focused. They have a lot they want to accomplish and they know they won’t live or be young forever. So they take immediate action and get to work.
5. They surround themselves with other ambitious people.
Highly ambitious people surround themselves with other ambitious people. Their friends are people who are driven and focused. To be honest, a highly ambitious person really doesn’t have time to shoot the breeze with someone who has no plans or is going nowhere fast.
A highly ambitious person is busy working toward their goals. They usually spend what little free time they have trying to squeeze in extra work. So they don’t have time to maintain relationships with people who need coddling, constant attention, or have a lot of free time on their hands.
If you are someone who needs a lot of attention, a highly ambitious person won’t have the time to give it to you. As such, they surround themselves with independent people who get that.
Their friends are people who motivate them to do better and be better, people who understand their passion and drive.
6. They are open-minded.
As mentioned before, highly ambitious people are committed to personal growth and development. Part of that includes being open-minded and willing to learn from others.
They don’t think they know everything. In fact, they don’t shy away from learning from others who are different from them or are in a lower rank than they are.
Highly ambitious people are always looking to gain a different perspective on a challenge or problem. They continuously strive to improve and be better versions of themselves. If that means they need to learn from their junior team members and gain insights from the most unlikely people, then so be it.
They are open to learning from anyone or through any means that will help them improve and reach their goals.
7. They embrace failure.
It sucks to fail. Putting your energy into something, only to fall flat on your face, hurts the ego badly. It’s especially embarrassing when other people are around to witness your failure.
It’s no wonder we try our hardest to avoid failing. We stay in our comfort zone, where we know we can’t fail. Our comfort zone protects us from the hurt and embarrassment of failure. It keeps us safe and secure.
But you know what else the comfort zone does? It keeps us locked in mediocrity. Which is fine if that’s what you want. However, if you have ambitious goals, your comfort zone and fear of failure will prevent you from even trying anything that’s slightly uncomfortable.
Highly ambitious people know that failure is a part of life. They know that on the path to their dreams, failure will also be along the way. Instead of giving up or changing course, they keep trying anyway.
A highly ambitious person doesn’t run away from failure, rather, they embrace it.
While failure can be painful and embarrassing, it can also be a tool for learning. As we already know, highly ambitious people are suckers for learning and development.
When they’re confronted with failure, they don’t let it hinder them or their dreams. They learn from failure and bounce back stronger and wiser than before.
Importantly, they aren’t perfectionists. Perfectionists can’t stand failure. Instead, ambitious people strive for excellence and realize that learning from their failures is a big part of that.
8. They start now, not later.
You know how one of your goals every new year is to lose weight or train for a marathon or take an online course or something? Maybe you already have a plan set up to get you to your goal once the new year rolls around.
You’re probably pretty excited and can’t wait until January 1st to start.
A highly ambitious person wouldn’t wait until the new year to begin working on their goals. They would start now. Once they’ve got the goal and they’ve got the plan, what’s the point of waiting? Highly ambitious people get started immediately.
They don’t wait for later.
Highly ambitious people know that the best time to start is now. So they don’t procrastinate or let fear cause them to delay action.
Time is of the essence to get things done.
9. They don’t depend on luck.
Doesn’t it seem as if some people have all the luck in the world? Everything just falls into their lap easily with no effort… or so it seems. Because we’re not around these “lucky” people 24/7, we don’t know the amount of work they put in when no one is looking.
A highly ambitious person doesn’t depend on luck, they depend on focus, determination, and hard work. They take responsibility for their successes and failures and take ownership of their lives. If something goes right or wrong, it’s not the fault of an outside person, situation, or being.
The truth is, much of this is done behind the scenes, so when the fruits of their labor are revealed, it appears like luck.
But a highly ambitious person doesn’t believe in luck. They believe in hard work and preparation. This makes them ready for whenever opportunity shows up unexpectedly.
So, for those of us looking at them from the outside, it looks as if they’re the luckiest people in the world. When, in actuality, highly ambitious people make their own luck by always being prepared.
10. They avoid negativity and drama.
Who doesn’t love a good piece of gossip or drama? Is there a better way to spend your afternoon than being immersed in other people’s business? The highs. The lows. The epically bad decisions…it’s so addicting.
A highly ambitious person doesn’t have time or energy for all that mess. Their goals have them so preoccupied that there is no extra time to engage in petty dramas that benefit no one.
When they do have a bit of free time, a highly ambitious person will spend it with loved ones or friends, or on hobbies that reinvigorate them for the next stage of their journey.
A highly ambitious person recognizes that the energy spent on drama and negativity is a useless investment. It will take their attention away from what is infinitely more important to them and get them embroiled in something that is none of their business.
They eliminate drama and negativity from their lives as much as possible.
11. They have a strong work ethic.
The work ethic of a highly ambitious person is second to none. They will work themselves to the bone to reach their goals. There is no challenge big enough to stop them.
A highly ambitious person may be many things, but when it comes to their goals, one thing they are not is lazy. They push themselves to the limit and will squeeze in extra time whenever they can, either by waking early or staying up late. You will never hear them say they’re too tired or sick or not in the mood to work on their goals.
Unfortunately, their single-minded focus and work ethic tends to push them to neglect other important relationships and areas of their lives. But whatever they commit to, they do so with all of their heart and dedication.
What makes someone highly ambitious?
From what we can see, being a highly ambitious person does not require a special gene or ability. All it takes is a goal or mission that you are fully committed to and a plan to get you where you want to be.
As you set your goals, ask yourself if they are what you truly want and can fully commit to. If so, develop a plan that will help you achieve them.
If you have no ambition right now, but you’ve seen the results highly ambitious people have attained over the last year and you want the same for yourself, then you need to develop the traits mentioned above.
Luckily, many of the traits of a highly ambitious person are not impossible to cultivate. They require focus, dedication, and the ability to stop making and giving excuses.
At the end of the day, it is determination and focus that make someone highly ambitious.
Want to be more ambitious but are struggling to do it by yourself?
We really recommend you speak to a therapist to get you where you want to be. Why? Because they are trained to help people in situations like yours. They can help you to identify where your lack of ambition comes from and provide tailored advice to get your through those mental blocks.
A good place to get professional help is the website BetterHelp.com – here, you’ll be able to connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.
Many people lack ambition and most try to muddle through and force themselves to feel it – unsucessfully. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, therapy is 100% the best way forward.
Here’s that link again if you’d like to learn more about the service BetterHelp.com provide and the process of getting started.