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Here's how you can harness your ambitions to achieve your goals

Use your ambition to achieve the big goals in your life, writes Rachel Bridge.

Rachel Bridge

WHEN YOU ARE  a child, adults are always asking you what you want to be when you grow up. Along with “What’s your favourite subject at school?” and “Haven’t you grown!” it is pretty much the standard question at any family gathering.

As you get older, however, people gradually stop asking you what you want to do, and by the time you are grown up no one ever asks at all. It is a real shame because no matter what you have already achieved and regardless of what stage you are at in life, having the ambition to achieve more can be a wonderful, life‐affirming force.

At its simplest, ambition is the desire to make the most of your potential to achieve something special, which would make a profound difference to your life and to those of others, whether that be through success, achievement or distinction. That might mean the desire to create something unique; reach the top of your field; start a business; become an expert in a particular area; or make a positive difference to the world.

So how can you harness your ambition to achieve the big goals in your life?

1. Stop worrying about what other people think

Myleene Klass has a postcard pinned to the mirror which was sent to her by a friend. It reads: Why the hell not? Myleene, who rose to fame after becoming a member of the pop group Hear’Say, says:

I see it whenever I am brushing my hair in the morning. Why the hell not give something a go? Because if you don’t then someone else will. I look back at my career and I could never have imagined what I have achieved already. So now I think, why the hell not?

Myleene says it is important not be intimidated or deterred by people who say you can’t do something. She says: “At school my maths teacher told me, when you leave these school gates, we are never going to hear from you again. At music college they told us there was more chance of someone winning the lottery than there was of making it as a pop star.

They were not great odds, but I wasn’t going to just sit down and give up. That is just not innately in me, I couldn’t do it. The drive is to keep on fulfilling and think wow, I achieved that.”

2. Commit wholeheartedly to achieving your goal

Commit is a powerful word. With good reason. If you are half‐hearted about achieving your ultimate goal, you are unlikely to achieve it, simply because you will give up at the first hurdle. If you are serious about being successful, you need to make a commitment to yourself to see your goal through to its conclusion.

3. Believe that this can work

If you don’t fundamentally believe that you will be successful, it will be really hard to persuade anyone else that you will be. This is not about jumping up and down shouting “I’m the greatest”. But it is about consciously starting each day with a real sense of hope, positivity and optimism. It is about backing yourself to win. It is about giving yourself a chance.

If you don’t feel confident, there is no need to tell everyone, or for it to hold you back. Believing you can do something certainly helps, but if you really find it too hard to do, let the facts do the talking.

You may not really believe you can become a bestselling fiction author. But if you write 500 words a day, then after 160 days you will have 80,000 words, more than enough for a book.

4. Stop comparing yourself to other people

So she did it faster and he did it at a younger age. So what? You don’t live their lives, you live yours. If you endlessly compare your achievements to those of other people you will feel terrible, and you will come unstuck.

That’s because there is ALWAYS someone who is going to be better at something than you. The great thing is, unless you are competing in the 400 metres race at the Olympic Games, then it doesn’t actually matter.

Myleene Klass has got this right. She says: “I have never ever compared myself to what everybody else is doing. I am inspired by other people’s fire, but have set my own crazy limit and I want to see what is the most that I can do, what is the furthest that I can push myself. I don’t look at what anyone else is doing, and I think that is actually the secret to it. Because then I would be a second rate version of them, just doing a lesser version of what they are doing and not really achieving it. They would already have done something and I would just be trying to catch up.”

5. Take it one day at a time

No matter how enthusiastic you are, it can be hard to focus on a goal that is many months, or years, away. So focus on the next 24 hours instead. It is short enough to manage and yet long enough to do something significant. Think about how you can use today in the most productive way possible to get closer to what you want to achieve.

Over to you:

  1. Get a piece of paper and write WHY THE HELL NOT on it in big bold letters. Now stick it up on your mirror.
  2. Buy a large paper calendar, pin it up in a prominent place at home and write down what you hope to achieve by the end of the week.
  3. What one thing can you do TODAY to take you closer to your goal? You have until midnight. The clock starts now.

This is an edited extract from Ambition: Why It’s Good to Want More and How to Get It by Rachel Bridge (Published by Capstone)

Ambition cover

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Rachel Bridge

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