Sunday, May 09, 2010

“A man's worth is no greater than the worth of his ambitions” - Marcus Aurelius

“When ambition ends, happiness begins.” - Thomas Merton

I'd start with my usual apology about the lack of blogs recently, but I think everyone's sick and tired of that. Let's face it, life is busy, very busy, and my blogs are less frequent.

So skipping that (sort of), onto my main reason for actually sitting down to write a blog. I've been thinking a lot about ambition recently. A rambly waffly blog about to follow.

Ambition is a good thing. It drives people, it prevents people from becoming apathetic an pushes people through harder times and over obstacles. However I'm not always sure ambition is a good thing. Maybe it's possible to have too much ambition?

I actually wouldn't label myself as ambitious; I'm very easily content and don't feel the need to constantly better myself. Maybe I'm not particularly driven or maybe this stems from years of having to re-adjust my goalposts as my health declined - I'm not sure - but I get quite comfortable and don't often strive for change in my own life (although in external issues I am passionate about it's an entirely different story but that's another blog...)

Mind you, if I had no ambition at all, I wouldn't be where I am today; a graduate with a multi-faceted job and chairman of a charity, so maybe I am quite driven but only to a certain extent?

There are two very oposing quotes at the beginning of this blog, both of which I find extremely interesting. The first suggests that only those who reach for the stars really sparkle, the second suggests that whilst you are constantly striving for more you will never be happy with what you have.

Can both be true? Is there a middle ground?

I do see a lot of truth in the latter, but I believe there can be a balance. I dp think ambition is a good thing, but measured and with a solid ability to enjoy what you have here and now. If we didn't aim for more, we'd never move forwards, but if you're constantly pushing to progress today will pass you by before you've even had time to appreciate it.

I am very lucky in that I find it quite easy to adapt my goals and ambitions. This means I am quite easily pleased (anyone who knows me will know that this extends to things like a pink birthday card with googley eyes on it giving me joy for absolutely ages...) and also means that I can usually put something to the side when it is just too much of a struggle. I'm not saying this is a good or bad thing, but I know it's made my life easier over the years.

As well as aiming high and striving to better ourselves, I think we should be able to look at how far we've come, what we can do right here, right now, and be able to enjoy that. There are so many things I don't make the most of right now because I'm thinking too much about next week, I'd like to pull a bit of that balance back I think. After all today is here now, and tomorrow is only a possibility. Make the most of both.


Anonymous said...

Interesting. I read the Marcus Aurelius quotation differently - it's all about the worth of one's ambitions. So it's not about constantly striving to achieve more and more, but about focusing on the right things and using one's time and energy for the best possible cause.

One of my favourite quotations is the slightly trivial 'you've got to have a dream, if you don't have a dream, how are you going to have a dream come true?'. I take this to mean that you need to have some ambition, some plan, some sense of what you're striving for, so that you can get that feeling of achievement when you arrive.

lulu said...

For me this resonates strongly and I would say that I am fiercely ambitious to the point that I become a bit blinded and detatched from reality. I sometimes lose my role as a daughter, sister, friend, parther(when relevant) because I become so saturated with work which I give such terribly high status at times. Then I stop momentarily (usually when at brink of self destruction) and realise that for such a generally happy person, I am not happy at all...I am existing and not living which is bizarre for someone who fought so long her whole life, to live! Yeh this is defo something that I toy with often and hope to be in the happy place with a happy life more than anything! :-) Thanks hun for this reflective post! :-) xxxx

Anonymous said...

great post and completely agree ,while its good to strive to better yourself etc. etc. its also about appreciating what we have in the here and now,because none us know what tomorrow brings

socobabe said...

Emily, your blog is very humbling. I am going through the process to donate a kidney to a stranger. I do not feel special or big or clever for offering it, I just feel it is something very small I can do that might make a big difference to one person's life! I am on the organ donor register too, and would give more if I could. People moan about such trivial things, they should read your blog about just being grateful for being alive. You have made me more determined than ever to offer the one little bit of me that I can offer while I am still alive - ie my kidney! Luv Jenny

Lauren said...

really enjoyed this post!
the last paragraph especially criss-crosses a lot of the thinking i've been doing recently...
you seem to be keeping a good balance. and its always nice to read a post which properly makes you think. well done :)