10 Ways Driving Ambition May Help You Succeed

Medically reviewed by Karen Foster, LPC
Updated April 16, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Success has many definitions and may be subjective. However, many individuals want to know how to obtain success, and driving ambition is often listed as a factor. However, is ambition enough? Many people may feel ambitious but lack the motivation to take steps toward success.   

The debate of talent vs hard work can play a role in determining whether or not ambition helps you succeed, depending on your definition of success. If you are driven to succeed in your career, your ambition could take you far. However, if you have sacrificed other areas of your life and feel unhappy or lonely, you might not feel successful overall.

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Definition of ambition

What does ambition mean? Ambition is often referred to as a goal with driving energy behind it. It may be referred to when the stakes are high, or the rewards are often associated with success, such as a high-profile career or gaining a significant income.

If you have energy but do not have specific goals, you might not know where to put your force and effort. If you have goals but lack energy, you might remain stagnant and not take chances. Ambition can combine energy with goals to create constant forward motion.

Ways driving ambition may help you succeed

Driving ambition in healthy amounts may help you grow, learn more about your goals, and take chances. However, ambition alone does not necessarily guarantee success. 

Goal setting and achieving

Ambitious people might set goals and strive for excellence. They could set higher goals for themselves than others. Although they might not consistently achieve their lofty goals, they may come close to doing so. If they fail, ambition might drive them to keep trying or to take an alternative route. 

Personal development

People with ambition may experience personal development and growth stages. Because they are often driven to do their best, they might look for ways to improve their skills, talents, and behaviors. They could have a high level of self-awareness or possess many minor skills that combine for meaningful careers or situations. 

Financial stability

Ambitious people may be financially stable. Having a driving ambition and desire to succeed can mean they work hard, commit to a schedule, and try to go above and beyond at work. Due to long hours and dedication, they might earn more than people who work “just to get by.” 

Ambition does not necessarily mean financial stability, however. Ambitious people may still face roadblocks, such as discrimination, mental health conditions, or trauma. 

If you are experiencing trauma, support is available. Please see our Get Help Now page for more resources.


Work ethic 

Ambitious people may not feel afraid of hard work and effort. They could see hard work as a means to their end goal instead of a struggle and might avoid taking unnecessary breaks. However, work-life balance is suggested by many researchers, so working past your limit may not be healthy.

Courage to face challenges

Ambitious people might feel courageous. They may not shy away from challenges that arise along their path to their goals and might not back down when others suggest their goals are unobtainable or unrealistic. They often believe in themselves.  

Ambition to make up for challenges 

Driving ambition may make up for difficulties in specific skills. These types of people may put in the effort to learn a new skill or use charisma and confidence to their advantage in the workplace. They might not have natural talent, but their drive to succeed can make them competitive. 


Ambition may cause a person to be humble, as they may see room for improvement in several life areas. They might believe that they are striving for perfection instead of believing that they are already perfect. 

Willingness to make sacrifices

Ambitious people might feel willing to make sacrifices to meet their goals. For many career-minded, ambitious people, this could mean moving homes, sacrificing relationships, or focusing more on their careers than other aspects of life. 

Because they are willing to sacrifice anything that does not further their goals, they might receive opportunities not offered to those busy in other areas. 

Life purpose

Having ambition could give individuals something to look forward to and strive toward. They may feel that anything they want to achieve is possible and that they are on Earth for a reason. 

Recognizing there are no short cuts

Ambitious people might recognize that there could be no shortcuts to success. They may put in the time and effort to gain success, even if it takes some time. Ambitious people may be perfectionists, as well. 

When ambition gets in the way

A healthy amount of ambition may go a long way toward helping you become successful. However, ambition might block certain individuals in specific areas. 


A recent study showed that ambition is one of the leading traits of narcissism and may indicate personality issues. People with unhealthy ambition may put themselves above others or fail to notice how their actions impact others. They might be competitive, argumentative, or close-minded. If someone would do “literally anything” to succeed, they might partake in illegal or unhealthy acts to meet their goals. 

This type of ambition could be unhealthy and a roadblock to interpersonal relationships. While you may be successful in your career path, you might be disliked socially. If you have a management position, your employees may feel scared of you or dislike your personality. In these cases, you might feel lonely.

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
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Sacrificing happiness

A person with driving ambition may feel successful in their career or other areas of life but sacrifice happiness in the process. They may notice their relationships with family or partners struggling. Additionally, they might put off making friends or going on social outings. In other areas of life, they may spend so much time working that they don’t see new things or try new activities. 

When using ambition, consider what overall happiness and success look like to you. If you would be content working overtime for the rest of your life, you may enjoy using ambition in your career. If you want to have a family, see the world, and have a successful job simultaneously, you may need to sacrifice some of your ambition. 

When to get help

If you have an ambition that has caused problems in your life, you may seek to change your perspective of the world and yourself. If you feel lonely or miss out on relationships, your ambition could prevent you from having close connections. A therapist may help you analyze your current behaviors and level of ambition and help you make changes to succeed both professionally and personally.

For those that are currently busy with jobs or meeting goals, online therapy can be a plausible and flexible option. You can meet with a counselor from any location with a reliable internet connection. Additionally, you can choose whether to meet with your therapist through a video, phone, or live chat session. Studies prove that online therapy is effective in treating long-term stress and loneliness.

Connecting with a counselor can be done through an online platform like BetterHelp for individuals or Regain for couples. You can talk to your therapist about concerns, including ambition, relationships, loneliness, or mental health symptoms. 


A driving ambition can be healthy in specific amounts and situations, pushing you and your team to strive for excellence. However, if your ambition is causing you to lose relationships or feel lonely, it may be time to seek outside services and support. Inspired by this realization, consider visiting a website like BetterHelp to meet with a counselor for further guidance. By taking the time to address these issues, you can work towards maintaining a balance between your aspirations and personal well-being throughout the year.
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