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




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 Imbalanced Problem with Work/Life Balance

Balancing is for your checkbook, gymnastics, and nutrition; not for your people’s work/life ratio.



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Change is scary, but it’s a normal part of life.



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Failure is an integral part of life as life is incomplete without failures.



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5 Indicators of Unresolved Attachment Trauma



Emotional Attachment Trauma

Trauma caused during specific stages of a child’s development, known as attachment trauma, can have lasting effects on a person’s sense of safety, security, predictability, and trust. This type of trauma is often the result of abuse, neglect, or inconsistent care from a primary caregiver.

Individuals who have not fully processed attachment trauma may display similar patterns of behavior and physical or psychological symptoms that negatively impact their adult lives, including the choices they make in relationships and business.

Unfortunately, many people may not even be aware that they are struggling with trauma. Research estimates that 6% of the population will experience PTSD in their lifetime, with a majority of males and females having experienced significant trauma.

Unresolved attachment trauma can significantly impair the overall quality of a person’s life, including their ability to form healthy relationships and make positive choices for themselves. One well-known effect of unhealed attachment trauma is the compulsion to repeat past wounds by unconsciously selecting romantic partners who trigger their developmental trauma.

However, there are other less recognized but equally detrimental signs of unprocessed developmental trauma.


Five possible indications of unresolved attachment trauma are:


1.  Unconscious Sabotage

Self-sabotage is a common pattern among individuals with unprocessed attachment trauma. This cycle often begins with hurting others, which is then followed by hurting oneself. It is also common for those with attachment trauma to have heightened emotional sensitivity, which can trigger this cycle.

This pattern can manifest in lashing out, shutting down, or impulsive behavior that leads to feelings of guilt, shame, and self-loathing.

Many people with attachment trauma are not aware of their wounds and operate on survival mode, unconsciously testing or challenging the emotional investment of those around them, and pushing them away out of self-preservation and fear of abandonment.

This can lead to a pattern of making poor choices for themselves based on impulsivity.


2. Persistent Pain

Chronic pain is a common symptom that can stem from early trauma. Studies have shown a connection between physical conditions such as fibromyalgia, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, muscle aches, back pain, chest pain, and chronic fatigue with the aftermath of chronic developmental trauma, particularly physical abuse.
Research has found that individuals with insecure attachment styles, such as anxious, avoidant, or disorganized, have a higher incidence of somatic symptoms and a history of physical and emotional abuse in childhood compared to those with a secure attachment style.

3. Behaviors That Block Out Trauma

Trauma blocking practises are used to avoid the pain and memories connected with traumatic events.
Emotional numbing, avoidance, and escape via briefly pleasurable activities that distract from terrible memories or suffering are common examples. Unfortunately, this escape habit stops people from successfully processing and recovering from their trauma.
Furthermore, when the pain resurfaces, more and more diversions are necessary to continue ignoring it. This can be seen in compulsive behaviours such as drug or alcohol addiction, emotional eating, numbing oneself through relationships, workaholism, excessive or dangerous exercise routines, compulsive internet or technology use, or any other compulsive behaviour used to distract yoursef from intrusive thoughts and emotions.
These actions have the potential to prolong a cycle of avoidance and repression, preventing persons from healing and progressing.

4. A strong need for control

It’s understandable that some people may struggle with control issues in their adult lives, especially if they felt helpless or vulnerable during their childhood.
This can happen if someone had an overbearing caregiver who didn’t let them make their own choices, expected too much from them, or didn’t take care of them properly. As adults, they might try to control everything in their life to feel more in control and less anxious or scared. This might be because they didn’t feel like they had control over their life when they were a child.
It’s important to remember that everyone’s experiences are different and it’s okay to seek help if you’re struggling with control issues.

5. Psychological Symptoms That Are Not Explained

Individuals with a history of developmental trauma may experience a range of psychological symptoms, including obsessive-compulsive behavior, intense mood swings, irritability, anger, depression, emotional numbing, or severe anxiety.
These symptoms can vary in intensity and may occur intermittently throughout the day. People with this type of trauma may attempt to “distract” themselves from these symptoms by denying or rationalizing them, or may resort to substance abuse or behavioral addictions as coping mechanisms. This can be a maladaptive way of trying to numb their symptoms.

What to do next if you’re suffering from emotional attachment trauma?

Everyone’s experience of healing from trauma is unique. It’s important to be aware of whether you have experienced childhood developmental trauma and how it may be affecting your relationships as an adult. Sometimes, the effects of trauma can be overwhelming and we may try to push them away or avoid them.
If you notice that you’re engaging in these behaviors, it’s important to seek help from a trauma therapist who can support you on your healing journey. Remember, you’re not alone and it’s never too late to start healing.

There are several ways that people can work to overcome emotional attachment trauma:

  1. Therapy: One of the most effective ways to overcome emotional attachment trauma is through therapy. A therapist can help you process your experiences, understand the impact of your trauma on your life, and develop coping strategies to manage symptoms.
  2. Support groups: Joining a support group of people who have had similar experiences can be a great way to find validation, empathy, and a sense of community.
  3. Mindfulness practices: Mindfulness practices such as meditation, pilates, prayer time with God or journaling can help you become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, and develop a sense of spiritual connection and self-regulation.
  4. Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT): This is a type of therapy that is specifically designed to help individuals process and recover from traumatic events.
  5. Building a safety net: Building a support system of people you trust, who are there for you when you need them, can help you feel more secure and safe in your life.

It’s important to remember that healing from emotional attachment trauma is a process and it may take time. It’s also important to find a therapist who is experienced in treating trauma, who you feel comfortable talking with, and who can help you develop a personalized treatment plan.

If you desire to work with me on healing your wounds and unlocking the aspects of you that were never realized so you can achieve more success in your life then head over to and join my weekly LIVE online mentorship calls.
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