Sunday, December 9, 2012

How much ambition is really necessary?

Sometimes people tell me I have to be more ambitious. But do I really always have to be best at everything?

It seems like society sees it as a sin if you don’t seize every opportunity you have, even if it concerns something that is not really important. Is it a sin to waste your talent, for example?
Are you not allowed to be happy unless you achieve more and more?
How ambitious does one really have to be? And how much ambition is too much? Can there ever be too much of it, in your opinion? I would definitely have to answer in the affirmative.

I can be pretty determined if I really want something and I do have dreams and aims in life. But this doesn’t relate to every activity in my life, I don’t feel the need to be more ambitious about certain things.
For instance, I have been doing judo for quite some time now, although I don’t do much lately, actually hardly any at all. Anyway, over the years, I participated in several competitions and I was somewhat successful, for my standards. However, I have always only done it as a hobby and refused every offer to go to a special school that would focus more on sports. Also, I didn’t want to practice every day or go to another more promising and successful club than the one in my town.
As a consequence, some people told me I’d wasted my talent. But have I really? I had a dream, I aimed to take part in the national championship just for once. When I qualified for it a few years ago, it was quite a big success for me. However, I have accomplished my goal, so afterwards I honestly lacked any ambition to achieve more than that.  And why do people think I should want that? Maybe I could have achieved more, but I never wanted to live for it and I knew that I would never be good enough to be really successful. I have always been told that I need to be more aggressive and more ambitious, but that’s just not how I am and I am not going to change with regard to this. So why waste my time, given that I want something else in life?
Moreover, my priorities have changed, they became simpler and more difficult at the same time. Although I still love doing judo just for fun, I don’t care about how successful I am concerning sports, I’d rather like to finish my studies, find a job, travel, have my own little family one day, just be happy. And if I know that living for a sport won't make me happy, I won't do it.
Is it really necessary to be ambitious in every area of life? Does it make you more successful, happier?
Is ambition the key to success? But what if you don’t want that success? What if you’re content with what you have already achieved?
Do you consider it as a waste not to seize every opportunity you have? Does it make a difference for you whether it is about a hobby or a job, for example?

I am not saying that having ambitions is bad. When I really want something, I fight for it, I don’t give up and I do everything I can to get where I want to be. But there are things I just don’t need to accomplish.
Besides, in my opinion, too much ambition can become harmful when it turns into an obsession.

15 comments:

  1. Ambition isn't completely necessary, but it makes life much easier to have goals and to strive for them. Phew, there's too many things I can say about this subject. One story:

    I was once promoted in a job, and I wasn't really ambitious about it. It turned out the responsibility wasn't worth the extra pay. Now if I would have been ambitious and wanted to climb the ladder, then it would have been a great stepping stone. In the end, that job got me fired, as I was a sitting duck when I hurt my back.

    Conversely, I have a friend who works at a grocery store, he is a night stocker. He has been since 1994, and has never taken a promotion. He is perfectly find sitting there in his job, with little to no responsibility, scraping by. But, he lives with his brother, doesn't date, probably still a virgin, has close to 300 dvds, 100 of which aren't open, and spends all his time playing xbox when not at work or asleep. He's happy, but is that the happiness YOU want?

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    1. It is good to have some goals in life, but I just think you don't have to be the best at everything.

      This is certainly not what I want, and it wouldn't be happiness for me.
      It's just that I am comfortable with reaching my goals, even if I am not the best. For example, I would like to graduate from university with a good grade point average, but I do not have to be the best student. And, despite of this, my grades were pretty fine last semester. I think it's good not to put too much pressure on yourself.
      Thank you for your comment!

      Delete
  2. Terrific post, Kleopatra...I think you've answered your own questions here. Good for you! It's perfectly fine, not to be ambitious, to be happy just the way you are. Ambition doesn't guarantee success or happiness, and because it implies "being driven," it's never satisfied with what it has. It sets impossible goals and keeps wanting more, more, more. Many of our wildest dreams come true without us even lifting a finger; that's one of the most magical mysteries in life. This quote of Lao Tsu's fits perfectly with your post: "When nothing is done, nothing is left undone."

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    1. Thank you!
      I totally agree, I know someone who is really ambitious and he really is very successful at university and so on. But, and he himself admitted this, he is never happy with what he has, he always wants more and more.

      Delete
  3. I've never been ambitious. Life only requires us to live, nothing more. We are under no obligation to prove ourselves. We can just be and live as we please.

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    1. Thanks for the comment, NP. Unfortunately, many people see this differently. And a lot of people do not understand when someone is happy with what he has.

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  4. I think a lot of my ambition comes not from my own desires for success, but a sense of obligation to the rest of society. I want to be great not for fame or fortune, but because I believe I have the potential to make a meaningful difference in the world. I owe it to everyone to at least give it my best shot.

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    1. That's interesting and I agree, a lot of this ambition comes from a sense of obligation to society, especially when you want to make a difference in the world.
      Thanks for commenting!

      Delete
  5. hmhm...... I think the best ambition one can have is to always be more happy than yesterday. Always enjoy life with more gusto than yesterday.

    And for this particular ambition-- there is no too much. :D What do you say??

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    1. Agree! I'm not sure how that would work though, being ambitious in order to be happy because it seems to me one can't really enjoy it when being extremely ambitious about it. (Okay, this does sound confusing.)

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  6. I think that sometimes people can see you have a talent but instead of encouraging you and allowing you to choose, they try to force you to do what they think you should be doing. If you refuse, they take offence and feel you are wasting your life, talent etc...

    I can fully understand that there are some people that need to be pushed in the right direction because they may be too shy or lack confidence in a certain area where they feel ambitious, but to make someone do what they don't want to do, is pushing things way too far.

    It reminds me of the parents who like to live their own lives through their children, making them do things that they inwardly did not have the chance to do themselves. They want their children to be famous but you can clearly see the child is exhausted, tired and not happy.

    I think it's good to be ambitious if you want to be successful in a career of your choice but when ambition takes over your entire life, causing calamity along the way, then something is wrong and you need to take a step back.

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    1. Yes, sometimes people need to be pushed a little. But if it becomes clear that someone really doesn't want something, you should accept that.

      I have seen both extremes, parents who don't support their children at all, although they obviously have a talent and enjoy doing it, and parents who make their children do things they just don't want to do and who live their own lives through their children, making them extremely unhappy. And this is clearly wrong.

      I totally agree with you last sentence.
      Thanks for your comment!

      Delete
  7. I think ambition is a great thing and needed for success, however your ambition should be based on your own goals, not those expected of you or put on your by others, great so you did good at Judo, that means your body is in fine working order, and maybe if you had continued on for years you might end up injured and ruin what was given to you. I have a very similar story I was #4 on the national kickboxing team at one time, but I did not want to do it anymore.

    I was very ambitious in my younger years, but found that succeeding in what I was doing, was not so great, so I left that job and went traveling. I have new ambitions now, ones that no one but me thought was a good idea, I do them because I live my life for me, it is much more fulfilling than conforming to societies norms.

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    1. Thanks for commenting! I totally agree, your ambitions should be based on your own goals.

      It's great and admiring that you are doing what you want to do, even though no one else thought it was a good idea. Those ambitions are probably the only really good ones.

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  8. ambition isn't simply overrated, it's also quite toxic. It doesn't lead to true success, it simply justifies bad motives/intentions/methods to achieve selfish goals.

    You can strive to do your job/work with excellence without having to damage others or stress induce yourself.

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