Have you ever come to the abrupt and real realization that you're in a rut? Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly how to become more ambitious because you’re stuck in a set routine that works fairly well for you and gets you through the week and into the weekend. You wake up, put on the kettle for coffee, take a bus into work, shuffle around till five or six, and then unwind with a favorite TV show, a handful of blankets, and a steady supply of snacks. It’s not exactly a game plan, but it’s shuffling you along, right?
The trick to sparking your ambition is wanting to kick your life into a higher gear. If you don’t want a change of pace, it’s going to be hard to convince yourself to do the extra work. But say you do want to make some changes but just aren’t sure how to do it or how to convince yourself to be diligent. Staying at that new speed is the tricky part, but it’s completely doable with a little bit of discipline.
Here are seven tricks and tips on how to become more ambitious — follow them and you might start seeing some exciting changes.
1. Ask Yourself: Would I Recommend This Life To Someone Else?
Looking at your routine, your goals, your ambitions, and your experiences, would you recommend your life to someone else? If the answer is no, that's pretty telling and it'll motivate you to get to changing things. If you wouldn't wish your job or you Monday to Sunday on anyone else, you'll realize you don't have to experience it, either. You just have to up your game and make some changes. You have to create a bigger fire inside of you.
Bradley Gauthier, self-development blogger wrote on her blog, "Your life is going to change. But it is completely up to you which direction you will take your life when these inevitable changes approach. Will you choose to stay on your current melancholy life direction? Or will you rise up and pursue a life of fulfillment and happiness? The ball is in your court." The way your life shapes up is your complete doing: If you build your ambition, it'll only become more amazing.
2. Don't Be Scared Of Risks
If you want to become more ambitious, you have to become OK with taking risks — sometimes you're going to have to take a giant leap of faith or put all your chips on one bet, and it'll be worth it. In order to become more ambitious, you have to allow yourself the chance to experiment and explore; you just never know what amazing, bigger opportunities wait around the corner if only you'd try for them.
Neel Burton, psychiatrist and author of Heaven and Hell: The Psychology of the Emotions, told career-development site Fast Company, "Ambition takes a willingness to step into fear and anxiety...Some people are better able to tolerate this fear, perhaps because are more courageous, committed, or driven, and can minimize the fear." Let your drive to succeed nip any "what if" fears in the bud — the more you do that, the more ambitious you'll feel yourself grow.
3. Actively Expose Yourself To New Ways Of Thinking
Don't go the group think route — if you want to become more ambitious, you're going to have to break away from the pack and think for yourself. Think about it: Blending in with the crowd and not making waves is so limiting. If you decide to go your own route, the possibilities open up. Seek out different people with different dialogues as you and new ways of seeing the world and you'll become more ambitious because you'll realize there are so many amazing opportunities and ideas to tackle out there.
Jason Ma, author of Young Leaders 3.0: Stories, Insights, and Tips for Next-Generation Achievers, told Fast Company, "Talk with and learn from people different from you...Be open to dialogue with acquaintances and even select strangers, as you may uncover interesting opportunities." By breaking away from the group that feels safe and familiar for you, you realize just how much opportunity is out there and your ambition grows.
4. Stop Waiting For The Perfect Moment To Start
You have two options: You can either waste valuable days waiting till you have all your ducks in a row or you can roll up your sleeves and begin. Why waste time? In the end, how much more successful will a "perfect start" make you than an "OK start." Chances are, there won't be a difference.
Lifestyle writer David William said in an article for Life Hack, "Ambitious people never say they are waiting for the 'perfect moment' because the 'perfect moment' to do something is a myth. Moments are what you make of them. Ambitious people simply start and really focus." Stop giving yourself an excuse to put a goal off — if you want to be more ambitious, accept the fact that a start doesn't have to be polished and perfectly planned. It just needs to begin.
5. Be Willing To Put The Time In
If you want to become more ambitious, realize that the amount of time you put into a project is how much better that project will become. According to business development writer Jeff Haden at Inc, "Every extremely successful entrepreneur I know (personally) works more hours than the average person — a lot more. They have long lists of things they want to get done. So they have to put in lots of time."
So say you want to grow your blog, take your freelance career off the ground, graduate with great job offers already on the table: If you want to achieve your goal or dream, you have to be willing to put the work into it. Let yourself work long hours, feel tired when you go to bed at the end of the night. You won't have to do it forever, but you will need to do it in the beginning. Once you accept that, your ambition will kick itself up a notch.
6. Surround Yourself With Ambitious People
Want to stop letting yourself dip into slumps or want a motivator in your corner? Surround yourself by ambitious, energetic people that will make you want to keep working and working hard. Think of it this way: You know when you're running and you want to give up, but then an awesome, pump-up song comes on and you get your second wind? That's what your group of ambitious people are: They're your Pitbull song during mile five.
According to Ma, "[The late entrepreneur and author] Jim Rohn said: ‘You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Find role models. Befriend and learn from mentors. Make friends with people smarter than you and more successful in fields you are interested in." And these role models don't have to be in the flesh next to you, either. Seek them out on Twitter or Instagram and become social media buddies. Stalk what they're up to and become motivated by how much they accomplish on any given day, and how much awesome content they're creating and how much progress they're making. You'll want to follow suit.
7. Get Rid Of Your Back-Up Plan
This might sound rather risky, but by having a back up plan you're basically giving yourself permission to fail. It's a safety net — you don't need to succeed, because there will be a way out. You'll go to grad school if this writing thing doesn't work out, or you'll join a cubicle farm if your small business doesn't go as well as you want it to.
Haden points out, "Back-up plans can help you sleep easier at night. Back-up plans can also create an easy out when times get tough. You'll work a lot harder and a lot longer if your primary plan simply has to work because there is no other option." Get rid of the back up plan and now the only option is to make it work. The stakes are higher, and so is the ambition.
Images: Parks and Recreation/NBC