By Anusha Asim
Ambition is an essential trait. It’s the fuel we need to keep driving towards our goals. It’s what keeps us motivated. It’s what holds up the bridge between where we are and where we want to be. However, the universal rule “too much of anything is a bad thing” can be applied here too. Too much of anything is unhealthy because we are complex beings and if we let one thing take over, we risk shrinking other parts of who we are or what we have. The focus that comes with ambition is great but we need to make sure that this focus isn’t clouding other parts of our life.
These are some of the key differences between healthy and unhealthy ambition.
- Perspective of the present
If your ambition makes you see the present as a mere transitory phase, if you largely view your present as a contribution or prelude to your future rather than what it actually is, your ambition is unhealthy. Healthy ambition is just enough to keep the future in focus and ensure that you’re actively contributing to it. It’s not supposed to overshadow your present. What you have and who you are right now is very important, perhaps more important than what you will have and who you will be in the future.
- Your moral values
Are you willing to sacrifice your moral values to get what you want? Are you willing to lie, cheat or do anything else you would be morally opposed to under normal circumstances? If the answer to this is yes, your ambition is unhealthy, even toxic. Healthy ambition does not make you selfish, it does not corrupt you. At some point, one will come across convenient but unethical paths to their goals. Healthy ambition makes people reject such shortcuts, it makes people pick the right way over the easy way. It recognizes that achieving your goals through righteous means is much more rewarding than gaining success after compromising your moral values.
- Your hobbies
Do you have trouble enjoying things or partaking in activities that are not driven by ambition? Do you feel guilty for having fun when it doesn’t feel productive? If so, your ambition is certainly unhealthy. Healthy ambition doesn’t disrupt the balance between having fun and working towards your goals. Interests that may seem meaningless but bring you joy are healthy, even essential to a fulfilling life.
- Your relationships
Do you value like-minded friends more than unlike-minded ones? This can often be indicative of how you view other people’s goals. Seeing them as less important or inferior to yours is a result of unhealthy ambition. Healthy ambition does not make you egoistic.
Or do you put your relationships on the backburner? Are you willing to sacrifice them to get where you want to be? Healthy ambition would never incite that. Valuing the achievement of your goals more than your relationships with the people in your life is not okay, even if it feels productive.
- Your sense of self worth
How much do you let your goals define you? Does the fear of failure incite feelings of worthlessness? Healthy ambition does not let you forget that your value as a person is intrinsic, unchanging and permanent. It does not fluctuate with the distance between you and your goals. This doesn’t mean that the fear of failure will be absent when your ambition is healthy, it just means that you won’t let that failure define your value. Healthy ambition keeps you open to alternative goals and recognizes that your potential is infinite.
Anusha is a content creator/curator, activist and writer. She hopes to pursue journalism and dismantle the status quo.