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Have you ever felt like you're in a rut? Confused by how you got to where you are now? Questioning whether what you are doing today is what you aspired to do? Struggling to see beyond today, this week, this month or this year?
I have. I think most have, yet it seems we fail to recognise this or discuss it enough. We speak of our mental health more openly now, of upset and traumas of the past and fears and anxieties of the present and future. However, I'm not sure we take on the idea of our ambition and our wants very openly.
What does ambition do for our mindset? What does it do to our friendships and relationships, be it with family, friends or colleagues? What does it do to our perception of a stranger on LinkedIn, seemingly flying through the slalom gates of their career and life?
What is the subject of this series?
Mindful ambition. First, take a moment to reflect on what this means to you. Perhaps write something down, or drop me a line in a message. I'm curious about how this makes you feel before I expand.
Now let me explain how I've landed on these two words.
In the last few years, I have become interested in mindful ambition, although only recently given it this name.
Mindful ambition by my definition is the act of giving attention to one's ambition and becoming more aware of both what it is that drives us in a positive sense but also what puts us out of balance as we strive to achieve each day.
Mindful, being conscious or aware of something. It's a well-worn word today and although perhaps misused at times, being mindful is core to our understanding of ourselves. It is the act of taking a moment to consider emotions as they arise and proactively respond to them rather than reacting on autopilot. One friend described his shift to becoming more mindful and aware as a switch from living life first person to third.
And ambition? We all have our own relationship with it, for good and for bad, yet all too often I feel we are its prisoner. Deriving from the Latin ambitio, striving for a favour, and ambio, the soliciting of votes, it quite literally means the desire and determination to achieve 'success'.
Now, I am ambitious and likewise am supportive of and admire those that are. I believe in the power of ambition to drive us towards a better life as individuals, and a better world for people as a collective. Yet, to truly embrace ambition and enjoy the journey that it can take you on it's crucial that we are cognizant of that which drives us.
We can have goals that are both momentous and visionary but the steps to get there don't always have to be superhuman. We can make choices that, on one hand, collectively create a strong current in the right direction yet simultaneously honour the ebb and flow of our human needs.
I care about this because I have experienced the discomfort, confusion and frustration that arises from a lack of attention given to the drivers behind my own ambition. I wouldn't write about this, or want to, had I not experienced something that I feel others have too.
In writing this series I want to help others to bring more attention to their ambition so they can live less in the future and the potential outcomes and more in the present and in action.
Who is this series for?
So what about the 'restless achievers' I write this for? Again, I'd encourage you to take a moment to think about what this means to you.
Through this term, I am suggesting a feeling of discomfort with where one is today. Those struggling to relax and enjoy the present experience whether in work or their personal lives as they focus too heavily on achievement and recognition for it. I write this for those who want to be more satisfied in where they are in their unique journey, more conscious of what gets them up in the morning and motivates them to get working, more aware of the truth behind what they desire, and more focused on action in the present to get there.
I've seen in myself an ambition which has felt like it's for ambition's sake - often not able to put my finger on the pulse of what that ambition is for, or who it's for.
Mindful Ambition for Restless Achievers.
I tried these four words out on a few friends. One suggested this is perhaps a contradiction or a paradox.
Can one be an achiever without being ambitious? Can one be ambitious without being restless? Is ambition innate, or is it inherently mindful - are we or can we be conscious of our ambition? If so, then is mindful ambition, in fact, a tautology? Can an achiever be lazy? Does the word achiever already imply a certain restlessness and rejection of the status quo? These are the sort of questions you might have too.
In the subsequent articles I'll look at the history of early achievement, the pressure of youthful success, the science of late-blooming, the power of patience, the invention of the 'mid-life and quarter-life crisis', the value of understanding life as non-linear and more.
I'm interested, what's next and how can I be kept in the loop?
I'll share the next part of this series Early blooming, the fetish for youth and a brief history of human evaluation next week. From then on I'll share the following articles through my newsletter every other week in between the Sprint update. If you'd like to follow along subscribe to receive each article first and join in the conversation at CollectingDots.club.
Thank you to the NessLabs Collector To Creator course for the guidance which has helped bring clarity to this series.
To sum up, my goal is to encourage restless achievers to bring more awareness and gain a greater understanding of their ambition.
To give up the search, by merely paying attention