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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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Life

5 Ways To Invest In Yourself and Change Your Life

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Warren Buffett once said, the best investment you can ever make is in yourself. Time and money spent on bettering yourself are never considered a waste. Whether it’s through learning how to make money online, exploring new ways to increase your financial security, or watching TED talks to expand your knowledge. Do not be stingy when it comes to self-improvement because it will definitely pay off in the end. 

Need some ideas to get started on your journey to becoming a better you? Here are 5 ways to invest in yourself and transform your life. 

1. Change Your Self-Concept

Having a negative self-concept can have a tremendous impact on your life. Limiting beliefs and self-doubt are some of the main reasons why many never achieve or attempt to pursue their dreams. Take a moment and think about all the negative thoughts you have repeated to yourself throughout your life. How have these thoughts impacted the way you live life? From now on, create a new self-image by turning these negative thoughts into positive ones and appreciate your good qualities. 

2. Sign Up For An Online Course

If you’ve been wanting to brush up on your Photoshop skills or learn how to code professionally, this is the perfect time to get started. As long as you have a stable internet connection, you can access an endless amount of valuable information online. For example, sites like Coursera and Youtube are both awesome resources for online learning. With a few search strings and clicks, you can find all the information you need. 

“Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make. It will not only improve your life, it will improve the lives of all those around you.” – Robin Sharma

3. Learn From a Mentor

No matter which stage of your life you are currently in, working with a mentor can help you stay motivated and focused on your goals. Not only can they guide you in the right direction, but also transform your vision, provide you with new insights, and connect you with amazing resources. If you’re feeling unmotivated or unsure about what you want to do in life, consider finding a mentor to help you navigate this process. 

4. Start A Side Hustle

The salary from a 9-5 job would rarely allow you to reach your maximum income potential. Why not achieve financial success while pursuing your passion by starting a side hustle? Whether it’s through starting an ecommerce business, freelance writing on the side, or starting a Youtube channel. There are infinite numbers of ways to make money, and there is bound to be one out there that fits your passion and skills. 

5. Nourish Your Body

As many may say, “health is the new wealth”. Without a healthy and functioning body, living a fulfilling and comfortable life becomes difficult. To take care of your body and prioritize your wellbeing, start with small habits such as eating healthier foods and exercising regularly. Bike or walk to work instead of taking the car, and opt for a healthy protein bowl instead of greasy burgers at Burger King. With time, these small habits can make an incredible difference.

Check out the infographic below, to see more ways you can invest in yourself:

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