The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Ambition

Hey there y’all! I hope you had a great week with lots of amazing things happening for you in life! And, if they weren’t “amazing”, I hope you found ways to celebrate even the smallest wins in your world! I know that is what keeps me motivated and on my journey to building a thriving new business!

This week, I have been thinking a lot about ambition…and more specifically, ambitious women. So many times society says it is OK for men to be go-getters, high achieving and it is almost expected that they are soaring to the top of whatever they put their mind to. But, for women, I believe that there is still this global mindset that women should take care of families, fulfill their duties in the home, and take directives from those in charge…and many times these are men. I am a very high achieving woman…very ambitious…and I have encountered times when this is a good thing…and a bad thing. And… unfortunately there have been times when I have been regarded as a “b–ch” because of it as well. In my experiences, there is definitely a good, bad and ugly side of ambition and this week, I want to share my thoughts on it!

I always knew that I would do big things in life. I wanted to have an impact on the world, and I wasn’t going to stop until I achieved it. I remember times when my own family, due to their lack of understanding of what I wanted to do, or may be capable of doing in life, questioned it. I remember my grandma asking me “why in the world would you want to go get your doctorate? You don’t really need it?” I remember family members questioning why we were leaving our small town and them to go pursue big things for my career. I remember friends questioning the same kinds of things after finishing college. I told myself then that it was because they just did not understand my ambitions in life and that they would eventually and support me in all of my endeavors…which I can say that at almost 52 years old, I think this has happened!

I experienced these same types of questions from even my own ex-husband. I believe that, at first, he was 100% on board with my goals and dreams. I even think he was excited to see what our future could be together. But I do think eventually, as we continued to grow and mature in our adult lives, we became two completely different people and as I continued to soar, he wanted to just stay comfortable…and that is when the questioning, the judgement, the resentment began.

Even as a woman who became a leader in education at a fairly young age (I was 34 when I secured my first principalship), I had people who embraced my ambition, and just as many who questioned my experience, my purpose, and ultimately, my ambition to continue to grow in my career. Now, don’t get me wrong, I got into my position because I had some amazing people (mainly women) backing me and promoting me in all of my endeavors, but as with all things, there were just as many who made it difficult to succeed and challenged so many things I said or did.

As a high achiever, you can imagine that this also meant I was quite a perfectionist. I worked until the job was done perfectly. I sacrificed time with friends and family to get my best work out in the world. I even remember times when I put my own daughter second to work activities. I always believed that I had to prove myself in the world, as so many women do, and I was going to do it perfectly no matter what.

As I say, ambition is a funny thing with so many pieces to it. The good…well, of course, it is always good when you are a go-getter, can secure the best career paths in life, and generate income that can easily take care of all of your financial needs. I also believe that ambitious women are those who understand that they need people to help them rise to the top, and that makes us take care of those who help us get there. We build relationships, we want to grow our teams, and understand the soft skills needed to make an impact on the world. For many, this ambition is just enough motivation to keep us doing amazing things in the world, which impacts so many in so many ways.

But ambition can get ugly as well. When you are so ambitious that you begin to put others aside and narrow your focus so tight, you tend to forget to live life. You get so caught up in what is happening with you and your goals and dreams that you let all other relationships and adventures in life go to the wayside. I can only speak to this, because I too have had to realign my passion and purpose in life at a point when I threw myself into my own career so that I could be the best…not necessarily do the best work. And I found myself miserable in the end.

So, how do I keep my ambition in check? Let me share with you three of my best strategies.

  • I have learned to plan my life. Not that I have to plan everything in life, but I find that if I plan my days, I can ensure that I include time to rest and relax, time to socialize with those around me, and stay on track with my own goals and dreams. I am a paper planner type of girl, so you can definitely see my daily to do lists, monthly plans, and yearly goals outlined in my planner. And, I do definitely live by the saying, if you don’t plan your day, it will plan you.
  • I have also had to step back and ensure that when I set goals, I set reasonable goals in life. I also have big, long term goals, but they must be attainable or I will make myself a bit crazy stressing over if I can achieve them and that is what puts me into that ugly side of ambition. I have a very specific process for reflection and goal setting at the end of each year, which includes times each month to review my yearly plans and make adjustments as needed. Again, this definitely keeps me on track to accomplish big things, while keeping myself in check with priorities in my own life.
  • Finally, I definitely have learned how to give myself grace and understand that progress is so much better than striving for perfection. Changing my mindset has truly helped me to let up on myself a bit, and not beat myself up when I don’t accomplish something they way I originally intended. It gives me permission to seek out help and support along the way if I need it. And, it helps me remember not to let myself get into that comparison trap…comparing myself to other women out in the world based on their progress in life, social media, or just what society expects of us.

I plan to continue on my path to doing big things in the world. I know that my purpose in life is to impact as many people as possible and make this world a better place. I plan to stay high achieving and definitely ambitious. But, keeping these things in mind also allows me to enjoy my life, build personal relationships that are just as important as my career goals, and show others that this can truly be done. Until next time! Cheri ❤️

2 responses to “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Ambition”

  1. Good message and tips to keep ambition in check and on track!

    Liked by 1 person

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