Sunday, June 28, 2015


  1. a strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work.
    "her ambition was to become a model"
    "her ambition was to become a diplomat"
    • desire and determination to achieve success.

In a 2014 post, one of my favorite bloggers/authors/people, Ramit Sethi, talks about ambition, success, and the negative, unconscious beliefs ("invisible scripts") we have about it. Some of the common beliefs about successful people that he lists are, "He must not have a social life," "She must not spend any time with her family," "She got lucky," "He knows people."

This post + video really struck a nerve with me. I've heard a lot of similar stuff.

Examples of some negative beliefs about ambition and hard work that I have heard from other people:
  • When hearing about my fiance's career: "He's probably a workaholic."
  • After I said I always planned to work full-time: "So you hate kids?"
  • Same topic, from elsewhere: "If you didn't need the money, why would you want to go to work?"
  • On ambition and landing good jobs: "Having more things isn't important."
  • On discussing your dream job: "It's really hard to get a job right now."
  • When focusing on that dream job: "You shouldn't be so specific about the jobs you want. That's why you don't have one yet. Cast a wide. That's how I got a job."
  • And frequently, "Any job is great. Take what you can get."

None of these assumptions are necessarily true, but it's easier to believe that they are than it is to set ambitious goals and work towards them. At the time, I knew that people saying, "It's really hard to get a job right now," and "Anything is great," were trying to make me feel better. But I knew it wasn't true. There were people out there who were interviewing for and landing the jobs I wanted. The reason I didn't get them was not because of the economy or anything else: it was because I had not yet developed the skills I needed to land them. Other people had those skills, therefore, they were getting the jobs. Whilst thanking people for their sympathy, I went about developing those skills so that the next time (or in a few next times), I would get that job.

But aside from job searching, why is ambition in general sometimes thought of as a bad thing?

Ramit's theory is that your ambitions "reflect on them," because "they are not as ambitious as you are." (It's true, many people giving voice to these invisible scripts did not have a "dream job," or an idea of what a "dream job" would be for them.)

For those of us frustrated and tired of hearing these assumptions about ambition, Ramit just encourages us to keep working hard, because rather than discouraging you, eventually naysayers will admire what you've accomplished. Ramit also suggests that we start hanging around ambitious people.

Guess I need to make some more friends!

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