Are you filled to the brim with ambitions for your work and life? Is Beyonce's "6 Inch Heels" (she grinds from Monday to Friday, grinds from Friday to Sunday) your anthem? Are you eagerly anticipating the day you get onto that 30 Under 30 List? Or are you a bit more laid back and wondering how the ambitious among us actually make it work, between being so driven they choose to work on holidays and putting off fun for extra projects? These are seven of the biggest habits shared by ambitious people, which you might consider picking up — or relate to a little too hard.
Ambition can get a bit of a bad rap for its effects on your mental health, particularly when it's tied to unmanageably high standards of achievement. But having goals and being successful in the ways that make you happy (which, BTW, is different for everyone) is also something to be celebrated. So remember to balance your ideas. There is a lot of contentment to be had in not being ambitious, or in being ambitious in ways that aren't necessarily codified around money (ambitious for experiences, seeing the world, developing better friendships and relationships, or having fun). But those people who shoot for the stars professionally have a few interesting quirks in common, and those are revealing for us to explore.
1. They Show Intense Self-Regulation
A 2016 study published in the Journal Of Process Management did personality studies on ambitious people and discovered that their psychology and the ways they relate to others reveal interesting habits. Their motivation is the key thing that distinguishes them from others, but they also score highly in the area of personality called "self-regulation": they take risks after calculating things precisely, are willing to plan their time down to the last minute, and can examine their own emotions and calm themselves down if situations get intense. The people behind the study noted, though, that being a self-regulator meant that they "don't play well": they're not exactly good at chilling out or adjusting their own plans to the needs of others.
2. They Surround Themselves With Other Ambitious People
Ambitious people tend to accrue other ambitious people who act as a kind of stimulating environment, pushing them and understanding their successes and failures. It's a tendency noted by leadership expert Jason Ma in writing about ambition for Fast Company: the social habits of the highly ambitious tend to only leave room for other people of a similar ilk. And they deliberately cultivate connections with people with ambitions of their own, both to further their own passions and have a support network.
3. They're Consistently On Time
Being ambitious seems to have an effect on time perception, and means that very ambitious people may be less likely to be late. A study from 2001 asked people who were identified either as ambitious and driven or laid-back and creative to judge how long a period of time comprised one minute, without the aid of a watch or clock. People with ambitious personality types averaged a guess of 58 seconds, while more relaxed people guessed around 77 seconds. This time perception matters: It means that ambitious people have a more accurate independent assessment of time periods and how long things take, and are therefore less likely to run around forty minutes late.
4. They Bounce Back From Failure
The observations of JD Meier, a leadership coach writing about ambitious personalities for TIME, indicate that ambitious people develop different habits around failure to others. Instead of being discouraged or put off, they prove capable of pushing forward, adapting, and taking on new lessons. This is an aspect of ambitious psychology known as "resilience", in which the capacity of an individual to recover from setbacks and view massive issues as challenges makes them more like a bouncy castle than a house of straw. Getting up, dusting yourself off and trying again is a key psychological habit of the ambitious.
5. They're Intentional
Ambitious people don't do things aimlessly or float around without an idea in mind. The popular Big Five model of understanding human personality, first developed in 1992 and now commonly used to understand psychology and human traits, has something in it called an Achievement Striving section, which ties ambition to "an inclination toward purposeful behavior": the propensity to act with purpose, to have plans and goals that they're always fulfilling. This can affect things as basic as their shopping styles: instead of window shopping and wandering around a mall, they'll be acting purposefully to fill a list and keep goals in mind.
6. They Take Responsibility For Their Own Sh*t
Psychologist Sherrie Campbell explains in Entrepreneur that if you want to be more ambitious, you should cultivate the habit of being intensely self-sufficient and responsible. People who are go-getters don't leave stuff up to others if they can help it; they're going to do it on their own to make sure that it's done on time and in the right way. This can mean they're incredibly annoying to have as coworkers or bosses, depending on how well collaborating serves their needs, but it does mean that they accept that the buck stops with them and that they're the one who takes the heat when things go wrong.
7. They Don't Get Involved In Drama
A 2014 study of 7,535 people looking at adaptiveness at work found that ambition is often closely tied to emotional stability. People who are ambitious won't cultivate habits that mean they get invested and emotionally drained by other peoples' drama, and they don't tend to be massively up-and-down themselves; their emotional habits may be more even and less prone to rapid rocketing up and down in response to stress or emotional pressure. Don't expect them to get involved in your workplace Snapchat drama; it's likely not going to appeal to them.