Self Improvement

The Fine Line Between Self-Ambition And Self-Destruction

10 min read

The Struggle Of Being An Ambitious Person

If you’re an ambitious person, like me, then you must be familiar with the destructive pressure that comes along with it.
Being an ambitious person is both a blessing and a curse. Ambitious people possess strong inner desires to grow and become better and be more successful. An ambitious person is usually willing to take more risks, and put more effort into achieving their goals.


At first sight, this ambitious personality trait can seem like a positive quality, and completely harmless -- What’s another way to make your dreams come true, if not by working your butt off? But in some cases, being an overly ambitious person can end up crushing your dreams, instead of building them.

Is Ambition Keeping You Up At Night?

More often than ever, we’re consumed by the ambition to create a successful life for ourselves. We are wired to think that living up to our full potential means exploiting ourselves - doing as much as we can, so we can succeed in as many things as possible. And therefore, we keep on pushing and pulling ourselves in different directions and forcing our skill sets to the extremes.

But seeking progress, just for the sake of ‘making progress’ can often leave you feeling deflated and unfulfilled. An overly ambitious person suffers from self-neglect, work overload, and never-ending, self-imposed pressure.

So where is the line? Is there a conflict between being an ambitious person and a happy person at the same time?

How To Uncover Your Full Potential Without Making Yourself Miserable In The Process

A study conducted at the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business that aimed at analyzing the behaviors of an ambitious person revealed that ambitious people tend to be more materialistically successful than non-ambitious individuals. However, the study also reveals that ambitious people lead only slightly happier lives than non-ambitious ones, and their life span appeared to be significantly shorter.
These results suggest that even though an ambitious person is more likely to achieve greater success levels, those accomplishments are achieved at the expense of their physical and mental well-being. 

Therefore, it is safe to say that ambition is a double-edged sword: it can provide you with the willpower needed to push through all the obstacles on the way to your success, but it can also harm your peace of mind. 

Obtaining a healthy dosage of ambition is not easy. Being an ambitious person on the run to achieve your dreams can feel like climbing some imaginary ladder of success.
Your deep-rooted desires to perform at your best, be more recognized for your achievements, and become more successful, all reflect your unique character. You just need to manage to create a healthy balance between them. 

A major factor that causes the imbalance between self-ambition and self-destruction is the fixation on the end goal. Every overly ambitious person tends to focus way too stubbornly on the end goal. But while you’re on the journey to your success, you have to disconnect from the end goal. Setting a certain goal for yourself, let’s say, I want to have 5 million dollars by the time I’m 30 years old, and keeping your mind fixed on that goal All-The-Time, makes it hard to progress past that goal, because you’re so focused on the final destination. And although you may eventually make it there, this makes you less satisfied with the entrepreneurship element of the journey itself, and less happy in general. 

Being an overly ambitious person can lead to moral self-destruction and leave you in a fully distracted state of mind. You can start with genuine goals in the beginning, but your aggressive ambition personality traits can cause you to lose sight of them in the long run. 

On the other hand, a well-balanced ambition leads to more creativity and innovation, higher levels of performance, and greater levels of happiness and satisfaction in your professional and personal life.
Easier said than done. I know. So what’s the catch in here? How can you uncover, and live up to your full potential, without making yourself miserable in the process? 

Well, it all comes down to how we measure our happiness. Right now, the danger of entrepreneurship it’s so predicated on money that we’re wired to measure our happiness by ambitious benchmarks. Getting that dream job, buying, and not renting, that spacious new apartment with high ceilings and big windows, buying that new fancy car, and so on. We measure our happiness as a state of mind that comes after reaching a certain goal.
We’re so focused on the end goal, that we are completely neglecting the moment we are living in. And that’s where we take the wrong turn, and start walking down the self-destruction path.
One sure way to deal with the side effects of being an overly ambitious person is to successfully distinguish between what our true values are, and those that peer pressure and society have imposed on us as meaningful and worthy.
Now, you may be wondering how do you constantly love the process, and all the micro and macro setbacks along the way? That can be achieved by obtaining a state of mindfulness.

Cultivating an attitude of active contentment can help you in this process. Being completely at peace with who you are and what you’re doing at the moment, while simultaneously maintaining a vision of your final destination, is a great way to start developing a healthy balance between being an ambitious person and a happy person.

Take a few deep breaths, and remind yourself to appreciate your efforts. With a steady and measured tempo, you can still manage to tick all boxes on your to-do list, without risking a potential burnout from extensive ambition.
Taking time to recharge is another important thing in developing healthy ambitious personality traits. Checking out from your daily routines for a while will help you become more receptive to new ideas and inspiration.

Finding The Balance

Apparently, a certain amount of ambition is good for you, and being an ambitious person would probably get you to many places in your life.
Ambition is an inevitable source of motivation. Without any ambition, you wouldn’t be able to start your own business, achieve any goals, or get very far in life. But if you get too attached to it, it can easily turn to work against you and your goals.
An excess of ambition can be dangerous, putting you at risk of burnout, depression, and even a shorter life. And that’s why it is important to learn how to tame our ambitions.


The balance between living a life that reflects your values, and satisfies your soul can be achieved by being Process-Driven, rather than Goal-Driven. There will always be someone more successful, someone fitter, or more famous. There will always be somebody who achieved a more abductious goal to compare yourself too. But that’s not where your focus should be. Your work is more about doing the thing itself and genuinely loving the process of becoming.
Stay present in the moment you’re living in, and measure yourself in the spirit of improving upon your last record, and not what an opponent has accomplished. 

To fully experience the entrepreneurial spirit, you’ll need to tap into that ambition, but remember to keep it well under your control using it as a way to fuel your accomplishments, but never letting it get the best of you.

The Bottom Line

Here’s a quick fact-check: With great aspiration comes great responsibility.
That long-awaited promotion might bring-in more money and new challenges, but the trade-off could be adding more pressure on yourself. If you let the sparks of your uncontrolled ambition personality traits spread around like wildfire, you risk burning your dreams to the ground. Instead, you should strive to create goals that enable you to progress and achieve without requiring a sacrifice of your heart, mind, and soul.

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Go on girl, do your thing and be the boss. Xx