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What Happened To Ambition And Our Drive To Succeed As We Grew Up?

Updated: 5 days ago

by Melody Ong. |


As we grow into adults, we’re smothered beneath responsibilities upon responsibilities. We forget our curious, innocent ambitions and drive to succeed as we grow up. Some of us settle for ordinariness as we just want to be comfortable. 


Oftentimes, we lack a strong desire or drive to succeed, mostly because as we grow older, we get beaten down by the voices and opinions of others. Our perspective changes and thus, our ambitions are kept in a locked chest, nearly forgotten.  We get so busy fitting into society or our bubble of comfort, we just want to stay afloat with whatever we have— never pressing on for more success. Hence when we are in our comfort zones, our ambitions, and dreams change. We no longer dwell on what we desire but instead, we settle for mediocrity and comfort. That’s when we give up on ambitions.


Ask every 10-year-old what they want to be and they’ll give you very enthusiastic answers. 


“I want to be an astronaut!”


“I want to sew dolls!”



Think about us when we’re 10-years-old. For me, it was 15 years ago. What did I tell people when they asked me what I want to be when I grow up? I can’t remember anymore. As we grow older, things change, and we can have new ambitions. But how far are we straying away from making it happen?


Why do we lose our ambition and drive to succeed as we grow up?


1. We are afraid of commitment


Curiosity gets the better of us at most times and when we go all in. Just like in a game of poker, “all in” means that we give our best shot at winning. However, most people are afraid of going all in. Why? Because they are frightened by what they think they will lose. 


The same applies to life. We lose more than just money in life – loss of trust for the promises that we did not keep, loss of friendships, etc. What happens when you don’t hit your goals? You lose and this is what intimidates us. We are afraid to lose.  


When we are afraid to go all-in and give our best when we try to achieve our goals, chances are, they won’t happen at all because we are afraid! By definition, success means an accomplishment of your purpose or your goals. But what is success without failure? If you said you wanted to be a reputable lawyer, go ahead! If you wish to start a business selling cookies, go ahead! Whatever it is you have in mind, don’t be afraid to get going and make it happen. The train of opportunities waits for no coward.

2. We do not have a clear purpose.


Not having a purpose in life and just passing your days without a clear ambition in mind is lacklustre. When you have a purpose, knowing what you love and have passion for your ambitions, you get a clearer picture. A great example to find your purpose is to ask yourself “why”. In many instances, most people would ask why they are doing something. An example, why am I eating? Because I’m hungry.  Or why am I drawing? Because it ignites my passion.  “Why am I working?” Because I need money. The answers to your “why” is what fuels your drive to succeed.


When was the last time you asked yourself why you are doing something? Why are you in this current situation or place in life? And just because we forget to question ourselves, our purpose gets blurred. Our ambition seems foggy and as time passes, it gets forgotten.


3. We are lazy


There are many inconsistencies in life. As working adults, there are times where we are tempted to procrastinate at work. Oh, I know we all procrastinate at some things, but we are so good at it, we just never get caught. We work hard for a day or two, and later on, we tend to become lenient towards ourselves at work, procrastinating at every chance we get because we might feel that “we can do that later” or “we can do this tomorrow”. 


We promised to wash the dishes later - the next day came around and the dirty dishes are still in the sink. We promised to do it but we didn’t follow up on our promises sometime later. The same applies to our ambitions and drive to succeed. We keep thinking we can work on it the next day or the next. But to succeed in our ambitions, we need consistency. 


What should I do if I find myself losing my ambition and drive to succeed? 


1. Take a leap of faith


When you choose to go all-in, you give yourself towards what you want to achieve in life. Be it your ambition or your goal. Your vision is what can be, what you believe, or faith in. Because you believe in it, you decide to take the leap of faith not knowing what is down in the rabbit hole. Will there be water? Or will you just hit the rock bottom? Most of us are caged in what we are taught and what we were told. However, isn’t it more exciting to go out and experience the world for yourself? Take the leap of faith.


Don’t be afraid, belief in yourself or your prowess. Having faith in yourself that you can do it and not letting voices or opinions tell you otherwise. If you think you can do it, do it. Start by doing the simplest things— you take one thing, one day at a time. Failures are bound to happen yet it's what you choose to do with those failures makes you take the leap of faith. Are you going to let an inconvenience or fear beat you down and stay down? Or are you going to get up and leap again?


2. Start small; Set smaller goals


Set milestones of tiny goals for yourself. Tiny goals will lead you towards your success and ambition. Tiny goals do look less intimidating and are easily achievable. Imagine looking at a giant pile of clothes to wash versus a few shirts to clean. Which would look more intimidating?


Tiny goals such as waking up at 6.00 AM every day or read one book a month is a great way to get started. Make sure you look it through because if you don’t what is the point? Discipline yourself and chug away. Set disciplinary actions if you don’t follow through. No video games, no heading out for a movie if you are not able to complete your tiny goals of the day. Starting the first step in the right direction is better than to not do anything at all. To find your drive, you need to know why you are doing it.


3. Find your purpose


Introspection is one of the most common ways to understand yourself. Your goals, emotions, and thoughts. The same applies to this scenario. Ask yourself, what do you want to achieve or see yourself having – putting food on the table, working in reputable firms, start a life with your partner, afford better education for your children, etc. All these questions lead to asking yourself the big W-H-Y. To find your drive, you need to know why you are doing it.


You are working hard because you want to afford a new car next year. You’re burning the midnight oil to study hard because you want to enrol in your dream course at university. Every action is related to a “why”, so find yours. Ask yourself “why” you are doing whatever you are doing right now.


At the end of the day, finding out your purpose would help you to not only figure out why you would want to achieve a goal but consistently motivate you to continue working towards it.


4. Be consistent


If you hit the gym today, come home 20 minutes later, you look at yourself in the mirror, you will see - nothing. The next day you do it again - 20 minutes in the gym and you look in the mirror - nothing. However, if you do this every day, I promise you that you will get in shape— you will see results. 


The same principle applies to drive yourself to succeed in your ambitions. It's not about how big or how much you can do, it's about how long you keep doing it. A journey never stops, it will only stop when you stop. 


I do understand how tiring it is, to keep going but my ambition still seems so far. I feel like giving up. But if I take a quick look around, I’ll see how far I’ve come. Tough it out and continue, you’ll find that you’re closer and closer to the finishing line.


There are many things that we think we can’t do, and that happens when we stop believing and lose confidence in ourselves, thus not being able to put our hearts into making it happen. Most of us are lost, not knowing where to go from wherever we are— some of us are not even sure if we are on the right path in life. We get confused and intimidated by the people around us questioning us of our ambitions and future.


I’m here to remind you that you are not the first to go through this puzzling part of life and you will not be the last. As long as you remember that you used to have great, big ambitions, stay the course— no matter how big or how many things you dream of wanting in life. It is always our ambitions that drive us forward. Stop staying stagnant in your garden, water it, and watch it bloom. 

You can learn more about the writer on Instagram.

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