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Are You Ambitious? 7 Simple Ways to Take Back Control of Your Life

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Have you ever been told off for being too ambitious? Have you ever been reprimanded for trying too hard? For working too hard? For not taking a break from something that you were really passionate about?

I have, and I’ll tell you that it doesn’t feel good. Ambition is defined as a strong desire to do or achieve something, or the desire and determination to achieve success. It is a state of being and a mindset that requires training to cultivate, and it is something that should be nurtured when it is found. While it comes naturally to some, others need to put in long hours to make ambition part of them.

The case for being ambitious is strong. Ambition has been key to human survival, and a strong sense of purpose and determination to achieve something is something that runs through each level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. If you are going hungry and you don’t have food or clothing, your life is at risk and your physiological needs are put into stark relief. The solution to these needs is also clear – find food or die. Find clothing to keep warm or die. This strong desire to get food and clothing is ambition, albeit basic ambition.

“All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work.” – Calvin Coolidge

So why has ambition become a bad word in recent years?

The importance of ambition has been brought into question in recent decades as the standard of living and the overall quality of life has increased. Most people in the west have brought themselves out of poverty and no longer live hand to mouth. The two base requirements as outlined in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (physiological and safety) have for the most part been taken care of. The world is now inundated with a variety of services and solutions to help people with the next two steps in the hierarchy (love / belonging and self esteem).

As an American living in London, I’ve experienced a wide range of thoughts and feelings about ambition and workaholic habits. In U.S. cities such as New York and Washington D.C., people tend to be more vocally ambitious than those I have met in London. At the same time, people in the UK seem to have a greater appreciation for work-life balance. I’ve also found that often times people will mirror the general sentiments of those around them in relation to their ambitions, and this will spill over from work into social lives and vice versa.

If you surround yourself with people at work that waste time, don’t make real efforts to progress, or constantly look for ways to avoid necessary tasks, you will find it nearly impossible to develop or grow an ambitious mindset. At the same time, if you surround yourself with people who are driven to succeed, who care about being recognized for their skills, and appreciate the value of hard work, you will be better positioned to succeed in your own search for ambition.

Here are 7 ways to support ambition in your life:

1. Conduct an audit of what is most important to you

Take a half an hour out of your life and sit down somewhere quiet where you can think and write. Take out a pen and paper and write down and rank the top 5 things that are most important to you in your life (i.e. your health, your career, your relationships, etc.). Once you’ve written down the top 5 things that are most important to you in a short sentence each, write 2 to 3 more sentences about why each is important to you.

2. Develop an ambition habit

Once you’ve written down and ranked your most important aspects of your life, consider what success means in each of these areas. Sure, you may not have the body you want right now, or the relationship with the perfect girl, so consider the steps that are required to reach those goals.

3. Create a system for taking regular action

A key part of this process is the development of a system for taking regular action. Write down a list of tasks that would help you get closer to achieving your ambitions for each of the 5 things that are important to you. Once you have a list of between 5 and 10 tasks listed per key area, choose 1 to complete per day. Break out one target area to focus on per day of the week, with one task to complete for that activity each day. The more closely you track these actions, the stronger your action habit will become.

4. Visualize success and clearly define a BHAG

BHAG stands for Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal. Pick one focus area (ideally your most important focus area) and define what your BHAG is for that area. What does the dream scenario look like for you? Break down that BHAG into smaller steps and start moving forward, using the action habits you’ve created.

“Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

5. Look for support from people that are smarter than you

Look for opportunities to develop a Mastermind Group or a network of mentors that can help you to achieve your goals. There is a saying that goes “your network is your net worth”. This means that your value increases based on the connections you make and the smart people you can ask for assistance.  

6. Focus on small successes

Not everything will go according to plan. In the Silicon Valley people see failure as a badge of honor and an opportunity for learning. But failure can be disheartening. Ambition can be cultivated by regularly attempting to see the small successes among the failures and finding ways to take insights away from those mistakes.

7. Make your ambition about bringing others up with you

The best way to cultivate a lasting sense of ambition is to focus on bringing up those around you to your level of understanding. Help those less fortunate than you reach the next highest rung on the later to self fulfillment and self discovery, and you will never be at a loss for ambition.

Comment below and let us know how ambitious you are!

McVal is the founder of We Write For Growth, a platform for businesses to connect with talented writers and researchers and growth hackers. He is also the author of How to Make $2,000 a Month Online and Start Up your Life: Why we don’t know what we want, and how to set goals that really matter. McVal writes about motivation, decision making, and strategic thinking. He graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2011 with a degree in Spanish, and has since worked as a market researcher and business consultant in Washington D.C., New York City and London. You can reach him on Twitter @mcval or on IG @mcvaliant. 

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The 3 Most Important Things I Learned About Personal Growth

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When you look back on your life, what do you want to think about? Do you plan to reminisce on all of the good things that have happened and how they shaped who you are today? Or would you rather remember all of the bad decisions, challenging experiences, and mistakes made that hurt or wasted a portion of your life?

In my opinion, I think it is important to reflect on both. While it’s important to remember the hardships we’ve been through in our lives – without them we wouldn’t be where we are now. There are 3 very specific areas that I feel have helped me grow in a personal sense more than anything else in my life so far. 

These aren’t simple lessons in a book or a lecture that you can just absorb and apply to your life. These are things that I’ve learned through experience and reflection, and I’m still learning and growing today.

1. We determine how much we’re worth by what we think about ourselves, others, and life in general.

This might seem like a pretty obvious lesson in life but it’s actually one of the most important because we can determine our own worth by how we think about ourselves and the world around us. If you’re looking for success in any kind of business or social setting (dating), then I’ll tell you right now that it doesn’t matter if you have 10 billion dollars or not – people are still going to judge you based on your thoughts and beliefs alone.

What determines our value isn’t necessarily what we do with our lives (which is often based on luck) but whether or not we believe that ‘our work’ is worthy or not in some sort of grand scheme or universe. We may not always be able to control what happens in our lives, but we can always control how we value ourselves and others.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou

2. You don’t have to change your habits or personality just because someone else doesn’t like it – their opinions are THEIRS alone.

This is another one of those lessons that people tend to pick up on a little bit late in life, but if anything that makes its importance even worse! Basically, there’s going to come a time when you’re going to meet someone who has certain expectations of you as a person…but these expectations might not be realistic due to their motivations and personal beliefs. For example, sometimes parents might expect you to be a lawyer or doctor because that’s what they believe is best for their child.

However, this isn’t the case for everyone and so maybe your passion lies in music or writing novels. In this example, if you were also pressured into becoming a doctor – then there would obviously be some kind of conflict going on within yourself as a person. You should never have to give up something that you want to do just because someone else doesn’t like it! The reason why we’re put onto this Earth is to make our own choices and go after our OWN dreams instead of letting others determine what we can and cannot do with our lives .

3. You can’t change your life until you accept that you need to make a change.

When I was younger, I thought that this lesson would be pretty obvious – but as I got older, it really made me appreciate the fact that there are always different ways of perceiving our lives. For example, if someone wants to become rich and famous one day – their mind might simply overshadow any other possibility in their head because they feel like this is what they NEED to do right now.

However, this isn’t always true within our own lives because we think about things too literally instead of having an open mind. If you want to achieve success in any kind of business or social setting (dating) then you should be willing to try out different things instead of staying in your comfort zone. If you want something, then it’s up to YOU to actually go after it – nobody else is going to give it to you!

The three lessons above are some of the main things I want to pass on to everyone because they’ve come at an important time in my life where I need to start thinking about others instead of only myself. It’s great if we can learn to love ourselves first before anything else, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect everyone around you even though they might be your friends and family members!

If you enjoyed this article on the 3 most important things I learned about personal growth, then please share it with your friends and family! Also, check out my other articles on success & motivation as well as life lessons that could help people who are struggling with their life right now on lifengoal.com. Thanks for reading!

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