Ambition refers to an individual's inner drive or desire to find success. Highly ambitious people may be motivated to take steps toward their goals, while those with lower ambition may struggle to believe in themselves and find motivation. The following articles discuss the different aspects of ambition one may experience and how to increase your ambition naturally.
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Medically Reviewed By: Melissa Guarnaccia, LCSW
What is Ambition?
People who achieve success are sometimes called ambitious. The word "ambition" derives from "ambitio," a Latin word meaning "an attempt to solicit votes." It can also refer to the desire to achieve honor and recognition.
Someone with ambition may have high motivation and effective time management strategies. They may set high goals for themselves and rely on their ambition to reach them. Additionally, ambitious people may sometimes want to stand out from the crowd and gain accolades for their hard work. However, regardless of recognition, ambition can also be a personal desire to achieve.
What Are The Traits Of An Ambitious Person?
Below are some of the potential traits of someone with ambition. However, note that ambition is a skill that can be built over time, even if you struggle with motivation.
Ambitious individuals often have goals they desire to achieve in life. Having these milestones readily available can be the first step to increasing motivation. For example, a goal could be running a triathlon or publishing a book. An ambitious person may set this goal and tell them it is possible to achieve it, even if it's complicated.
After an ambitious person reaches one step in getting closer to their overarching goal, they don't stop. Instead, they may continue to work toward their next target. These people may persist in adversity and believe that challenges are a stepping stone to growth.
Ambitious people are often willing to take risks without knowing if their plans will work out. They may recognize that trying for something is better than sitting still. Ambitious individuals may sometimes have losses due to the risks they take. However, they may continue to do so anyway, knowing that risks have led them to fulfillment in the past, and can do so again.
Those prone to risk aversion may struggle to meet their goals or live up to their potential. However, there can be a significant difference between healthy risks and risks that are a sign of a mental health challenge, such as constant excessive spending or unsafe sexual practices.
Rather than primarily talking about or brainstorming their ideas and goals, ambitious people make thoughtful decisions and take deliberate action. They see the value in their ideas and do what it takes to put them into motion, even if they start small. Eventually, these ideas may transform into businesses, movements, or works of art.
Feeling fear, worry, or stress occasionally can be expected. While these feelings can be challenging to cope with in some cases, they can also be motivating. For example, eustress is a form of stress that causes focus and motivation, often leading to positive outcomes.
Ambitious people can experience worry, stress, or fear. However, their ability to persevere, push through, and achieve meaningful results may set them apart. Ambitious individuals often recognize the power of their feelings and know how to use them as motivation rather than believing their emotions control them. Those who press on despite being scared may find that their fears weren't accurate or as terrible as they initially believed.
When attempting to achieve goals, failure is possible. An ambitious person may recognize that failure can occur and that acceptance is often a healthy strategy to cope with it. They might consider failing as an opportunity for growth instead of a reflection of their abilities or character.
When you fail, you have a chance to examine your actions and learn a lesson for the future. Failure doesn't have to be negative, as it can allow you to look at what you might do better next time. If you keep trying, you may be more likely to succeed than if you give up. In addition, your result may differ from what you expected, but that doesn't necessarily mean it isn't positive.
People with ambition often desire success, though their definitions of success may vary. They might be competitive with others—a quality that can serve them in different environments. Healthy competition can be highly motivating, pressing these individuals to achieve more and be the best, whether at work, in the classroom, or elsewhere. If a person's competitive spirit stems from the desire to achieve their goals without being at the detriment of others or to beat and have power over others, it is often considered healthy.
How To Grow Your Ambition
If you struggle to find ambition and can't determine why, speaking with a mental health professional may be helpful. In some cases, a lack of ambition may have a more serious underlying cause, such as depression. In this case, finding the energy to attend therapy in person may be difficult. Online therapy platforms like BetterHelp allow clients to participate in sessions from home. With the option to use phone calls, video chats, or in-app messaging to connect with a therapist, online therapy may offer a valuable alternative to in-person care.
Lack of ambition may be tied to mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. Research shows that online therapy can successfully manage and treat these conditions. In one study, individuals participating in a digital cognitive-behavioral therapy intervention experienced significant and clinically meaningful improvements in depression and anxiety scores relative to baseline. These outcomes were maintained 12 weeks post-intervention and sustained at a six-month follow-up.
Ambition is the driving force that can make the difference between someone reaching their goals or giving up. Individuals with high levels of ambition may persevere despite obstacles, take risks, and push forward even when unsure.
In some cases, lacking ambition could signal a more serious challenge, such as depression. Therefore, it can be crucial to assess someone's situation before labeling them as unmotivated or lazy. If you're experiencing low ambition or want to achieve more, consider connecting with a therapist online or in your area to get started.