"Without ambition we would have no progress, no inventions, no innovation and no change"
Ambition is the focus of this post, because it sums up how I've got to where I am now; my degree, setting up this site, being published, running fundraising events, being involved in many local, and national campaigns.
Alarm bells go off whenever I meet someone who has no ambitions in life. You have this one amazing world to explore, this life that you can build and do so much with, and yet they have no dream, no challenge, no passion they want to chase.
Maybe you don't know what it is you want to do yet, and you're stuck with this conflict of knowing you're not happy where you are now but you can't pin point where you want to be? The thing is, without ambition we have no growth. No change.We remain stuck believing we can amount to no more, maybe that we don't deserve better, or held back by fear and apprehension that we will fail.
So we just don't try at all. Whatever your situation; if you've hit a plateau in your life, be it health, work or relationship related, this post aims to outline some key points to help you make changes and reflect on where it is you actually want to be when you look forward to your future.
What is Ambition?
"Ambition; the desire and determination to achieve a goal"
Ambition is the fuel we need for action. It's that's craving you get to achieve something that feels a bit bigger, a bit riskier. The yearning for more. The desire to achieve a bit more, to try something new, and something unknown. Without ambition we lack direction.
Our ambitions change as we grow. They contain smaller stepping stones along the way to building the bigger picture. Therefore we can look at ambition as being this disjointed journey, a chain reaction of events, that aid you moving forward.
Personal Reflection: In 2012 I self-discharged from an adult inpatient ward in London. I was scared and fearful of change. I didn't know where I was headed, and having already dropped out of one university degree I was doubting my ability to bounce back and amount to anything. I had all these dreams and goals (I even made a motivational scrap book of them, but that's another post...). I was stuck in a cycle of frustration, held back by fear, preventing me making any moves forward. I have always wanted to achieve a lot. Live an extraordinary life. Meet people, travel places and build a bright future for myself.
Having a thirst for life and a vision in mind, was the ammunition that fuelled my recovery, because when all my anorexia wanted was for me to vanish, I was craving a wild existence. This meant change needed to happen: facing my dreaded fear of changing and breaking the routine safe cycles I had found to cope.
Creating Your Goals
"Ambition is the desire to make the most of your potential, to achieve something special, which would make a profound difference to your life, and the life of others"
Whether your goal is to run a 10km for charity next year, write your first book, go for that job promotion, begin a new treatment programme, up-sticks and move to a new country, change is inevitable.
Our dreams and visions, however big or small, often seem out of reach, and we can lack knowledge of what we want and need in order to get us there.
Begin by looking at what you've got now. Make a list of what you're happiest with; the people, places, routines, hobbies, are you a morning person? do you love reading? do you love learning? Things that sum up being you and give you that "buzz" of excitement; these are the things that will drive you forward. Then make a list of what is unsettling you: Be specific with your lists so you pin-point the exact things that are causing you conflict, the barriers that are in your way, things that need to be changed in order for you to reach your goals.
Whatdo you need? Do you need to do a course, or gain a qualification, maybe you just need to sit down with someone who has experience in that area. Resources may be external or internal, so don't neglect your wider social and personal networks.
Who do you need? Are there people who will support you with your goal, who have ideas or expertise? Creating your goal: Bringing it all together Building your ambition is a creative process, through which you'll begin to realise your potential to manage and achieve more. Once you've taken the time to look at the here and now and suss out the parts you want to build on, the things that really spark that buzz of passion into you, and those which don't, begin to get creative with visualisation (write it down, mind-map, draw it out, scrap book it...whatever!).
I have a massive white board I destroy with marker pens, just scribbling any old (odd?) idea and goal down, planning the ins-and-outs of it so that the board is filled and I feel slightly overwhelmed, but stupidly excited about the end result.
Spend time visualising what you look like in a year or two's time; where you want to be; what you want to be doing. Be specific (or SMART) with it.
- Where are you living?
- What are you doing in your spare time?
- What are your Hobbies/Interests?
- Who's included your friendship circles?
- What work are you involved with? Voluntary/Personal/Paid/Self-employed?
- Write out, or visualise, a day in the life of you then and compare it to now.
Your goals should make you feel slightly uncomfortable.But you will have smaller, easier stepping stones along the way to get to the end picture, but be risky, because it's through pushing the boundaries that we begin to see our potential unfold.This builds our self-esteem, it ignites new passions and creativity and before you know it a chain reaction is set off. Remember it is not a sprint, it's a marathon.
Top 4 Tips To Sum Up
Once you embark on the mission, you realise that it's not this steady journey, it becomes a 007 mission, filled with plot twists. Remember, it will require hard work and perseverance in the face of set backs.
1. Be Focused. Have a focused goal for what you want. Consider the steps you need to get to the end point. Know what you want it to look like - I used to use my big whiteboard and mind map loads of ideas and visions for projects, events, art projects, fundraising events etc...
2.Be ready to compromise. Embrace change. If you're working in a team you may have a focused idea but you need to accept that not everyone will have the same passion for the ideas and steps you see to get there. So be open minded.
3. Make it achievable. This may sound daft, and you're probably thinking - Joss, this is common sense, why on earth would I have a goal I cannot achieve. Well...have you seen some of the XFactor auditions?!
Sometimes you need to find a compromise between fantasy and reality. Make your goal realistically achievable by breaking it into smaller steps you need to take to make the goal a reality. e.g Going on the X Factor auditions but in two years time after doing singing lessons and getting feedback from open-mic nights.
An additional helping hand:
- Put a time scale on it.
- Pin-point the resources you need.
- Who are the people around you that will support you towards your goals? Make sure you surround yourself with positive energy, and that you're not bogged down with negativity and doubts? ..you may need to let some people go...
4. Make your ambitions BIG and personal to you:
When I say 'life changing' I bet you think I mean big, dramatic, heroic ...well deciding to not to watch so much T.V but instead start writing that autobiographical book you've always wanted to do can be life changing - it involves a change to your lifestyle as it is now, and the personal aspect will give you that drive to continue with it as it grows. ...who knows, maybe one day my dream of doing a half triathlon will happen...
A personal reflection to offer some insight; I never thought I could do aTough Mudder- I was ambitious and put myself out there for a new experience with one of my best mates by my side. The whole fundraising and training process changed me in ways I had never imagined. I learnt more about how to properly fuel my body, training became for strength and performance instead of compensating for calories. I was able to speak out about mental health for the charity I was fundraising for, and this sparked smaller goals along the way: larger fundraising targets, using the local press to raise awareness, speaking at events, and start this site...a bunch of stuff I just would have never attempted before. A chain reaction of achievements that ignited self belief.
Remember:We all build up our own walls, making excuses for why we can't do something or change situations.
Three years ago my goals were vague, small and simplistic; held back by a lack of self belief and self confidence. Today my goals are bigger and bolder because I have learnt that the value in taking risks and making changes that rebuild my identity and leave me fulfilled daily.
I hope this post has given you some useful tools to help you realise that no goal is impossible, ambition is crucial to growth, and how to now be curious as to what you are capable at achieving.