3 Decisions for Keeping Ambition Alive

The title of this article makes three assumptions:

  1. You have ambition.
  2.  Ambition can die.
  3. You can choose to keep it alive. 

I am going to trust that you have ambition to accomplish something worthwhile. Perhaps you want to become a doctor. Maybe you want to attend seminary. You might be focused on having a healthy dating relationship. Your ambitious pursuit of a goal, a purpose, a dream is going to face multiple moments that can potentially kill it. I promise.

Ambition is a God thing. Ambition is something that you really want to do that is tough and requires hard work. Ambition is technically neutral in meaning but when employed can demonstrate positive or negative behaviors.

If the leader is filled with high ambition and if he pursues his aims with audacity and strength of will, he will reach them in spite of all obstacles.
— Carl Von Clausewitz

What if you could know ahead of time what to do when your ambition begins to die? I have found three decisions that can help your keep ambition alive.

Purpose Decision

Answer this question: “Why am I alive?”

There will be many mornings that the only thing to get your feet to the floor will be why you feel you exist. God is the one who gives you a reason to live, a purpose to believe in, and a faith that develops and sustains.

Only God can take you where you were born to go.
— Erwin McManus

You will work hard and find out that not everything works like you think it should. When you believe that your life matters, you will discover that this thought alone can be fuel when you are running on fumes. You must avoid the pitfall of allowing your ambition to die. Once ambition dies, you become complacent and that never feels right.

Priority Decision

Answer this question: “How will I intentionally choose to spend time?”

You are busy. Sometimes just the thought of everything you have to do can be overwhelming and exhausting. If you value time, how can you filter what is worth doing and what you should not give focus to? Here are five questions to ask when deciding whether to put it on your calendar.

  1. Does this opportunity fit into what I am created to do?
  2.  Do I have the energy to give this opportunity my very best?
  3. Is this opportunity worth saying no to?
  4. Does this opportunity influence others?
  5.  Is this opportunity meaningful?

The priorities you intentionally choose will directly correlate to the distance you will travel. Why? Consider them your stepping stones. Oh, by the way, when you are not deliberate in your priorities, life has a funny way of choosing priorities for you and that is typically not enjoyable. Go further faster by aligning your priorities with your purpose.        

Listening Decision

Answer this question: “What voices will I trust?”

When you are met with big decisions in life, the influence of our family, friends, mentors, and fellow leaders make the most difference. That’s why you must continue to surround ourselves with people you respect and people who challenge you in all aspects of your development: mental, emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual. 

Surrounding yourself with the right voices will inevitably lead to making better decisions. Likewise, isolating yourself or surrounding yourself with people who are afraid to disagree will negatively affect your decisions. There is a tendency among some young people today to keep the best thinkers out of the conversation. Real leaders, however, understand they need insight and wisdom from others and don’t rely exclusively on their own intuition and experience. The best ideas often come in the middle of conversations with people who have already been where you are. They understand the pressure but are far enough removed to offer perspective—something you likely don’t have a lot of right now.

Let me be honest by saying there have been seasons in my life where I felt ambition dying. Each time God reminded me of my purpose, challenged me to choose the right priorities, and encouraged me with the right voices along the way. I have learned along the way that ambition may seem overrated until it’s the very thing that gets you through the I want to quit moments you will face. Fight with all your might. A life in God is never absent of ambition. Never underestimate God. Never underestimate ambition.