How To Cultivate A Healthy Level Of Ambition At Work

women talking at work
Source: unsplash

Oct. 5 2022, Published 8:00 a.m. ET

Share to XShare to FacebookShare via EmailShare to LinkedIn

In today’s world, ambition is a word that has mixed meanings. Many of us have our own meanings, but according to psychologist and philosopher Dr. Neel Burton, ambition is “a striving for some kind of achievement or distinction, and involves, first, the desire for achievement, and, second, the willingness to work towards it even in the face of adversity or failure.”

Some of us think of ambition as “working hard” or “always focused,” and we internalize this trait as the ultimate career goal to strive for. Other professionals might event think constantly “hustling” is more productive than taking free time for ourselves.

Although working hard is an important skill to cultivate, constantly overworking ourselves day and night brings more struggle for us and turns ambition into a toxic mentality.

So, how do we cultivate a level of ambition that’s healthy?

Don’t focus so much on the reward.

woman distracted by her phone
Source: unsplash

Ron Carucci, a business consultant and author, writes for Harvard Business Review that when leaders at work start to focus more on the immediate rewards, their own expectations for themselves and their team’s growth “can become unrealistic” and lead to coworker distrust.

To combat this, it’s a good idea to recognize that wanting achievement is normal. It is recommended that you remind yourself that attaining rewards is important, but it’s only a piece of your career journey. What matters most is the long-term growth and success you’ll achieve in the process.

Article continues below advertisement

Expect to encounter resistance.

Our culture, environment, and family origin can determine how we view ambition. Sometimes, resistance from our workplace, family members and the media is expected if we want to achieve a healthy balance of ambition. Dr. Sarah Carter, writes an executive with a background in health psychology, notes in Clinical Pharmacy Magazine that persistence in the face of adversity is key when nurturing healthy ambition.

When you encounter resistance, it’s good to avoid focusing on why it’s happening to you. Through struggle, you can cultivate a better, more stable sense of self in the future.

Find a purpose behind your work.

women of color socializing
Source: unsplash

Dr. Carter further discusses her experience, via theClinical Pharmacy article, noting that pharmacists with the most expertise in their career “do not work for the pursuit of money, admiration or a grandiose end goal.” Instead, they consider their work and the opportunity to work with “inspirational colleagues” a privilege.

A career that allows us to follow our passions and help others can give us a sense of direction to keep going even through the bad days.

Ambition Delivered.

Our weekly email newsletter is packed with stories that inspire, empower, and inform, all written by women for women. Sign up today and start your week off right with the insights and inspiration you need to succeed.

By: Karie Pinnix

Karie Pinnix is a public relations strategist and freelance journalist with experience writing content for print and broadcast platforms and creating branding development with start-up companies. She’s written about topics like college nightlife, community organizations in Mississippi, and the nurse shortage during the COVID-19 pandemic. Occasionally, she writes about climate change, burnout culture, career trends, and other topics about her generation in her newsletter, Gen Z Diary. When she’s not working, you can find her exploring nature, catching up on reading, or traveling to the nearest beach.

Latest Career News and Updates

    Link to InstagramLink to FacebookLink to XLinkedIn IconContact us by Email

    Opt-out of personalized ads

    Black OwnedFemale Founder