Can Ambition Kill Your Success?

What did you want to be when you were younger? I wanted to be a Hair Hostess – combining my love of hairdressing with my love of wanting to travel the world. Therefore being an air hostess who did passengers hair for their arrival on holidays was the perfect solution! Needless to say that this didn’t pan out but mainly because my passions changed (I still think it’s an awesome idea!) Ambition was given to me by my parents, not because they were high achievers but they wanted me to be successful and I wanted to make them happy.


Moving forward a few years, to my late teens, early to mid 90s. My parent’s led me to believe that having a career, being independent and having a house was the way to go, it was ‘what was done’. In hindsight, although I enjoyed university I may have chosen the wrong degree (swayed by my parents again), but I was set on the course to success. And for a few years it truly felt like that, a good education behind me followed by 2 years living and working abroad. My independence grew, my parents were proud and I was seen to be the achiever. I returned at bagged myself a job at a very well-known international company. My success was surely sealed, I would work my way through the ranks. I would work hard and I would achieve. My continued independence would see me in sharp stilettoed heels, glasses perched on the end of my nose and lots of important meetings, some even involved a flight abroad! Because that’s what success looks like isn’t it?

Over time, the novelty wore off. The same daily commute, the same faces (some of whom I love dearly still), the same bland walls. But if I wanted the ambition I’d had when I was younger then I needed to persevere, after all if others could do it then so could I. My personal life changed, I became older and I began to consider giving it all up. Everything I had thought represented success since my teens, the drive to climb the ranks was dissipating. But what would people think? What if I couldn’t make it alone?

My ambition had changed, the corporate career wasn’t what I thought it was and I certainly didn’t want to spend my days taking on more and more responsibilities for a company where 90% of the employees didn’t know my name and the pay wasn’t reflected. My priorities had changed and happiness became key to my success.  And so I threw in the towel. I could hear the worry from my father seeping down the phone line. And do you know what? It was the best decision I ever made. I’m now living my life for myself. I measure my success annually based on what I’ve achieved and sometimes it’s not remotely related to work!

I still have a desire to travel and this ambition will probably always stay with me, and let’s be honest it’s one that can easily be achieved with a little forward planning and can be spread over many years. This ambition is one I want to instill in my son too.

It’s important to make sure your ambition is one that is making you happy, not one that you think you should have. If you have to analyse your life and the factors which will make you feel like you are succeeding I couldn’t advise it more strongly.

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