Why are some people too ambitious

Ambition - too much or too little?

Motivation and self management

A contribution by Gitte Härter

I don't know how you are: I regularly get a little dizzy when I hear how some people really want to achieve something and then work continuously and hard - sometimes over many years - until it is finally done. I think it's an admirable quality to follow your dreams so consistently. Often times, I have fun, mood and comfort in between ...


"Ambition" has many facets

Many people feel inadequate when it comes to careers and success: Others stick with it or have very specific ideas, subordinate a lot to these and do not give in until the goal is achieved. Do you have to feel guilty if you prefer to sit on the couch in the evening instead of doing something for your fitness? Shouldn't you be willing to work overtime or go to evening school like your colleague? Are you a loser if you don't want to get any further and are happy in your current job?

It's worth taking a look at how ambitious you think you are. Especially if you suffer from it or at least have a guilty conscience that you are not pursuing something with determination and dedication.


Why don't you start right away: What is your own personal definition of ambition?
It is not a question of whether this definition is "right or wrong".

For me, this term has something to do with rigor, for example: you absolutely want something and now you do everything possible to achieve it. Ideally, this ambition is born out of passion.

If ambition is implemented positively, then it is certainly a great thing. For example, someone really wants to become a German boxing champion and trains several hours a day to do so. - Another dreams of becoming a managing director and continues to educate himself and literally serve himself highly.

Sometimes, however, you are a driven person who rather doggedly wants to prove or achieve something. Either way, it also takes perseverance.

Write down your thoughts on the subject of "ambition" and take a little philosophizing: Think further when you find ambition to be positive, what other good qualities, learning effects and rewards it brings with it ... when will you find it it is not so desirable or recognize limits? Which type?


Are you ambitious?

Like all traits, ambition is of course relative: Certainly there is something in your life that you like to do consistently and with pleasure, because it gives you pleasure or because it is simply important to you. Then it may very well be that you have never dealt with the word "ambition" at all.

And then there are other aspects of life where you just let everything come your way or are only partially ready to make an effort. A classic is the desire to master a language but not want to learn vocabulary.

Much more important, however, is whether and to what extent you are making life difficult for yourself because you feel that you are not ambitious "enough" and are therefore somewhat angry or depressed ... or the other extreme: suffering from your ambition. For example, there are people who feel inferior if they do not achieve something all the time.
So take the opportunity to take a detailed look at how you assess yourself - what you think is good, whether there are areas where you feel bad and why exactly that is the case.


What would you like to achieve professionally - and what do you want to do to achieve it?

Is there something in your job that you would like to achieve? For example:

- be a good negotiator,
- hold small presentations,
- do a certain training,
- get more responsibility (what exactly?),
- Carry out projects independently (what specifically?),
- to work abroad,
- become self-employed,
- get a raise,
- to manage to organize oneself better in order to be able to finish work on time,
- ...


Deal with what your small and big goals are. Then determine what is really important to you and what "would be nice" (of course, you can expand that right away and think not only about your job, but also about general goals in life). Also ask where this goal comes from - what is your motivation and what do you hope for? This is how you find out if one of your goals does not fit (for example, "I would like more recognition. When I have a formal degree, I finally have to be more respected."), But something else is needed.

And please remember: It is not about becoming an "ambitious person" who does nothing else or sees anything other than his goal (unless you are someone who likes to do that and is completely absorbed in it, of course). It is about going your own way and consciously implementing what you really want ... and calmly shelving what your guilty conscience gives you, just because you think you should or need something.


Ambition doesn't have to be exhausting

You have a handle on how and in what "dosage" you approach your goals. For some, bigger-faster-further is the measure of all things, others prefer to take small steps that can be implemented without great effort. That, too, is wonderful and will move you forward.

Choose a definition that suits you. Then you'd better stick to the bar more continuously!



Read the next tip: »Give meaning to your own work

About the author:

(c) Gitte Härter
eMail: [email protected]

Gitte Härter was a manager herself and a coach and trainer for many years. She has also published over two dozen guides: www.schreibnudel.de.

Together with Christine Öttl, she has published numerous application guides, among other things.

Link to the book:


Written application: Success with a profile. Cover letter formulated perfectly. From short profiles to online applications. With application portfolio check


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