Is Your Ambition Taking Over Your Life?

  • Published on:
    November 14, 2019
  • Reading time by:
    8 minutes

Why it matters and how to channel your ambition in the right ways, so you can enjoy life now and have sustainable success over the long term.

As driven women, we are motivated, high-achieving, and likely to reach our goals. But being ambitious can actually become so out of balance that it can sabotage your success. Read on to find out why, and how to fix it.

The Dark Side Of Ambition

As ambitious young women, it is so easy to take on too many projects, work 70+ hour weeks, drink coffee like water to stay awake, forever put off exercise until next week, and make takeout our dinner of choice… at our desks. 

It’s tempting to push yourself to always achieve more, isn’t it? But here’s the thing. When you push yourself so hard that you neglect self-care, fun, rest, relationships, and true down-time, you actually sabotage your ability to be creative and productive. 

When this happens, your brain isn’t functioning at full capacity, and those 70+ hours can actually be filled with zombie-like busy work (instead of actual productive time), or become adrenaline-charged marathons that put you at serious risk of burnout later. 

“It is possible to have too much of a good thing” 

-Aesop 

Don’t Let This Happen To You

In fact, being sedentary for most of the day has been shown to double your risk of dying a premature death, and working long hours has been shown to double your risk of developing depression.

So even though being ambitious will get you far in life, just like anything else, it is possible to have too much of it. In fact, according to research published in the Harvard Business Review, it’s actually possible to over-do your strengths, to the point where you become out of balance. When this is the case, being ambitious can actually become a weakness.

How To Make Sure Your Ambition Is A Strength, And Not Your Achilles Heel

If you want your ambition to be a strength instead of an Achilles Heel, the secret is introducing more balance into your life. Even just one hour of yoga per day, 15 minutes of meditation, regular 5-minute breaks at work, or some essential oils and calming music before bed can be enough to turn your life around. 

Research has shown that self-care reduces stress and increases your quality of life. So paradoxically enough, slowing down will supercharge your ability to be productive and effective at work, because your mind will feel calmer and clearer. 

How To Make Sure You Can Do The Work You Love Sustainably

If you want to prevent burnout, have happy workdays, and have sustainable success over the long term, here’s what you need to do. 

  1. Think of some things you either used to do or have always wanted to do for self-care. Try to have at least one in each holistic area, like mind, body, and spirit. Some examples for each could be reading, going to the gym, and meditating in the morning. 
  2. Consider how many times you can realistically do each of these things in a given week, and schedule them on your calendar. It may seem silly, but going a step beyond just intending to do them, and actually scheduling them, will make you more likely to do them.
  3. As you go through your week, give your scheduled self-care as much priority as you would an important interview or project. Don’t push it off or reschedule it.
  4. The next time you want to take on a new work project, pause. Take time to consider if it will fit into your schedule, including your self-care schedule. 

If you make a habit of this, you will reduce your chances of burnout, have happier days, and ensure you have sustainable success over the long-term. 

I specialize in helping ambitious young people slow down and connect to themselves so they can reach their highest potential without stress or overwhelm. Check out the links in my bio to get specialist advice and actionable tips to help you on your personal growth journey.

Emma Donovan

Emma Donovan knows inner peace and ambition are not mutually exclusive. She helps ambitious young people enjoy their lives and find sustainable success by connecting more deeply with themselves and their strengths.

As a coach, Emma loves helping driven millennials to overcome overwork, burnout, overwhelm, self-criticism, and stress so they can feel good about themselves inside and out. The result is a balanced, calm, and authentically self-confident life. 

An ambitious woman herself, Emma is an experienced psychotherapist, personal development educator, advanced yoga instructor, entrepreneur, and digital nomad. 

She has been around the world, even living at a mindfulness center in Thailand for 18 months where she went from Type A to Type Ahhhhhh. She now knows being successful doesn’t have to be stressful. She is now more successful and balanced than ever and wants you to be, too.

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