maintaining your ambition

Published on May 17, 2020

How ambitious were you when you were young? How does that align with how ambitious you are today?

One thing that I have noticed lately is that working for a company has made me less ambitious. While I am still learning a lot on the job, I have not been as ambitious as I used to be. What changed? What made me feel this way?

The initial source of my ambition was that I was looking to escape from the world that school taught me about. I did not want to go to college, and I was willing to work as hard as possible to show that the path I wanted to pursue was viable. My motivation for working on side projects was clear: to help get out of the system, and make an impact in the process.

When I joined a tech startup, my thoughts on ambition started to change. This was because I had already reached my goal, to break into a career in technology. My days were now spent in pursuit of an ambitious goal, although the goal was not mine. It was the one that was set by the company for which I worked.

This is something I think most young people go through at some point.

When you start college, it’s tempting to get sucked into “the path,” which causes you to lose your sense of ambition. When you start earning a stable paycheck, it is easy to lose sight of the purpose of doing more. If you get paid for working at a job, then technically all you need to do is your job. Then you can go home and continue to live your life as you want.

In an earlier post, I spoke about how in order to be successful, you need to really want something. Once you have identified what you want to achieve, you need to be willing to work as hard as possible to bring that goal to fruition.

Working for a company has been an educational experience, but the trouble is that when you start to feel the safety of working for a company, it can be easy to lose sight of the initial ambition that got you to where you are. I want to change that.

Every day, I want to remind myself of how important ambition is in my life. Big ideas are not just something that can stay in your mind: if you have the passion, you can bring them into reality, and make a real difference in the process.

I was talking with a friend yesterday about their ambitions, and they started to talk about their plans to build a company in their career. Hearing this made me ask: what happened to my plans to do the same thing? I managed to lose sight of the initial ambitions that helped me get into technology in the first place.

To maintain your ambition, you need to constantly remind yourself of the ideas that matter most to you, no matter how bold they are. You don’t even have to be working on them just yet: the very fact that you are thinking about ideas or goals that may be quite far out of reach encourages you to think bigger.

Earning a good salary and having a stable job does not mean that you have lost your ambition forever. You haven’t become a product of the system. You just need to make sure that, as you go down your path, you stay anchored to the individual qualities that make you who you are and who you want to be.

For many people, entering into “the system” is what they want to do -- a solid paycheck and a good job title is a noble goal, and one that is difficult to achieve. But if you want to be ambitious, you need to remember that there is more to life than just the system. You should continue to be your unique self. Test crazy ideas.

Last weekend, I started thinking about how I could start my own Internet Service Provider (ISP). I have no intentions of actually doing this, but in thinking about the idea I realized that life was too short for small ideas. I need to keep thinking bigger and bigger, every day. Even if I don’t end up doing anything with these ideas, thinking big is part of who I am.

Do you have any feedback on this blog post? Send me an email.
Do you want to hear more from me? Subscribe to my weekly Coffee with James newsletter.
Made by @jamesg_oca. Code on GitHub.