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Post No.: 0627ambition

 

Furrywisepuppy says:

 

If you feel stuck in life, then first of all ask yourself what success means to you? Success can be defined in a multitude of different ways and there’s no objective answer. You might be happier with a modest career that allows you time to pursue other life pursuits and priorities? Success career-wise and happiness aren’t the same things – they can even trade-off from each other. And money and fame aren’t everything.

 

Ask again – would achieving what you say you want really, really, really make you happy and fulfilled? Try the five whys questioning technique to uncover the root reason for your stated ambition. If it’s just a state of mind you seek, such as contentment, then can you achieve that in some other way? Your ambition may be borne out of a competitive streak against others – so you want something because others have or want it – yet your ambition must also be concordant with what you personally and intrinsically wish, in order to bring out the most energy and enthusiasm from you to strive for it.

 

If you still have an ambition to be successful in an occupational sense then you’ll likely need absolute focus – all you need to be is the best you can be at just one main thing, and the more narrow and in-demand that thing is in the marketplace, the better your prospects; so don’t spread yourself thin. If you have a niche then people interested in that niche will turn to you (and that’s where I flop!) You’ll need talent – but lots of other people have talent too. So you’ll need to work hard or at least harder than your competitors – but lots of other people work extremely hard too, plus your social life and relationships might suffer as a result, as well as your health. So you’ll also need some luck – because you can have and do all the above yet still not make it, so don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go as planned.

 

If you have a furry ambition to make the world a better place then understand that if the economics doesn’t add up then it won’t work. Whatever big thing we want to do in this modern world needs money to make happen, whether from customers or donations, investors or government support, or wherever. And on a personal level we all need at least some basic daily resources to survive.

 

If you have an ambition to make a shedload of money then understand that this comes with responsibilities for the impact you’ll have on everyone else and on the wider environment. For instance, whether you want it or not, if you become rich then you’ll become a role model to other people. And don’t be selfish – if you make tons of money then you’re by definition lucky, so give back to the world that made you and gave you your opportunities and wealth. No one ever made it alone.

 

You could follow a well-proven, well-trodden path and be fine. But if you have an ambition to push the boundaries of what’s (ethically) possible then don’t be afraid to do something differently to the way other people are doing it. To discover new things, you must logically try new things. There’s a huge risk of failure but you could gain a first-mover advantage if something works. If you’re the first at something then you’ll obviously be the best at it – at least for a moment!

 

You might want a change of career? This isn’t unusual – people typically change careers several times during their working lives, especially when there’s low job security. So if you want to switch up your life or start a fresh ambition then don’t be afraid to change paths. Something else might be more fulfilling.

 

Knowing that you can change paths also helps to give you the courage to make the first step because if that first step is later found to be the wrong step then it doesn’t matter because you can always change again. You should still ideally focus on one main ambition at a time, however, in case different objectives present a conflict of commitments, such as for your time.

 

It’s not so much about the jobs you do or the job titles you get but the skills you acquire. Whatever job you do (even if you think it’s ‘beneath you’, which you shouldn’t, but if you do) – do it with every ounce of your ability to do the best job you can. If you cannot do the small jobs, no one will give you the big jobs. And always maintain ethical standards from day one – never think for one moment that a shortcut will pay off because skeletons in the closet may eventually surface if you do become successful. And reputations are harder to build or rebuild than to dismantle.

 

Genuine experts in unpredictable domains (and the vast majority of predictions made for beyond a year into the future come with immense uncertainty) will be humble about their guesses regarding where the world will be in, say, 5 years time. Therefore if you make the right decisions based on the information you could gather at the time they had to be made, but then receive an undesirable outcome later – it doesn’t mean you therefore made a wrong decision. The benefit of hindsight makes everything appear ‘obvious’ but this isn’t a privilege we have until after it’s too late. And if you start beating yourself up over ostensibly ‘obvious’ things then you might start to make bad decisions because you might try to second-guess the unknown and go against a rational decision.

 

So hope for the best/success but prepare for the worst/failure, or more accurately – make your plan based on the evidence you’ve got, recognise what’s uncertain, be as hopeful as this evidence suggests, and if things don’t turn out as hoped then don’t blame yourself. In the long run, rational decisions should pay off.

 

Hope is important for our well-being though, and being slightly or quietly more optimistic than the evidence warrants can spur us towards taking on a more challenging and perhaps satisfying ambition. The regret of not trying something, even if it has a low chance of success, might feel worse than trying but failing if the costs aren’t too high and we’re resilient enough to pick ourselves up again. So consider making your goals challenging yet still realistic.

 

All conscious behaviour is goal-directed, whether it’s to eat or to take over the world (bwahahaha – ahem). So goals, and beliefs, help guide behaviour – and this applies to both big and small ambitions. Be as clear and specific as possible in your goal wording because that’s what will happen i.e. who, how, what, why, when, where? What exactly do you want to happen? An ambition will less likely be met unless it has been put into words. This also creates clearer and more direct mental pictures of where you want to be so that you can visualise the target and how you might get there. (When it comes to something like an exercise target for an upcoming session, your body and mind will also automatically gradually gear itself up for whatever task it is expected to do, such as when you say, “Next Tuesday’s session, I’m going for a PB.” We seldom feel like exercising, or at least exercising hard, if it only comes as a sudden idea.) You also won’t know if, when or how you’ll reach the state of success if you don’t know what your precise conditions of success are.

 

So write your overarching affirmation down – make it personal, positive and present-tensed. Distant primary objectives are often too abstract so working out and setting smaller, concrete sub-goals or steps and timeframes is essential to help focus the mind on each current day’s tangible activities. Setting nearer subsidiary deadlines also helps to bring the future forwards and appear nearer and more manageable.

 

Break those large tasks down into manageable incremental steps that build up to what you want. Break them further down as much as you need to until each step is clear, concrete and achievable. Make those steps so easy that you feel no or virtually no resistance towards doing them. It’s like if you want to run 10km in three months time starting from zero fuzzy fitness then you might naturally go for a jog for 20 minutes… then give up. But if you just run for 1 minute on day one, then for 2 minutes on day two, and so on, you’ll get a sense of achievement, progress and positive feedback on each and every day, and you’ll build up to your ultimate target in a more enjoyable and sustainable way. With too many projects, we go hard and heavy at the beginning when we’re most enthusiastic, then it becomes what feels like a slog because the momentum appears to be slowing down, which is demoralising. But if we can manage to ride that out, we experience another surge of energy once we can see the finish line.

 

Provide what you need to accomplish your ambition. Make your environment conducive to carrying out what you need. And track your progress regularly – try to measure improvements with positive measures (e.g. performance gains) rather than in negatives (e.g. reducing things) if possible. Get other people involved to help motivate you. Make a desired habit a part of your identity. Immediately reward yourself for carrying out your actions, or even better is to build those rewards into the routine itself (e.g. if you want to exercise more and you enjoy being amongst nature then combine these two activities). And associate or combine this routine with any other routines, habits or schedules you have (e.g. jog or cycle to and from work).

 

Don’t mentally concentrate too much on that faraway goal – be mindfully in the present and on the tasks that must be completed today. Do keep it adaptable as necessary but once you’ve got a plan – focus on just what you need to do today. Every little activity you complete or milestone you pass is like another soldier added to your army that’ll eventually lead to victory! If you don’t know how to achieve a distant goal then work backwards and break the project up into smaller, nearer activities. Ask for assistance from those who’ve been on a similar road. The future is connected to the present by the things you do now – not on wishful thinking about the future. Big achievements are basically made up of lots of smaller and more manageable achievements. A rump steak is tackled one literal bite-sized bite at a time. Woof!

 

We can draw on our previous lessons and achievements to relate to a challenging situation today – for instance, by remembering the time when you learned to ride a bicycle from square one, got back on the saddle after a big fall and injury, or faced any challenge of the unknown or feared and were able to accomplish what you set out to do. This will provide a positive framework upon which you can further learn and grow. If you could do something challenging and succeed before then you can do something else challenging and succeed again! So remember those crucial times in your life.

 

Whatever your ambitions are – whether it’s to learn something new or to literally climb a particular mountain – they don’t all have to be grand or major. But I personally think that once you’ve stopped setting any kind of ambitions in your life, you’ve marked the beginning of the end. The only new thing to look forwards to then becomes death. Then again, contentment and acceptance are the opposite of desire and ambition.

 

Woof! Whatever you think about that – what ambition(s) do you have and look forwards to fulfilling? You can share them via the Twitter comment button below if you want.

 

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