Apr 14, 2022 | Most Popular, Your Self
Catherine A. Wood
Addicted to Your Ambitions
I was speaking with a client earlier this week who reminded me of a former version of myself.
Dontcha kind of love/hate when that happens? 🤷♀️
A version of myself I was once incredibly attached to but a version that who I am today would feel sad for.
Heck, I was pretty sad and lonely back then too, I just didn’t realize it at the time.
You see, I was addicted to my ambitions…
So what does that even mean?
In my experience, being addicted to ambition looks like living on a constant hamster wheel of achievement and goals. Being driven by a perpetual need to accomplish something, something more, something new, something bigger, something better.
In business, it may look like operating in perpetuity of needing to be busy, taking on bigger goals, finding reasons or excuses to constantly be in the day-to-day operations of your business, or always finding something new to reinvest your hard earned money back into.
In your home, it may look like living in a constant state of seeing problems to fix and home renovation projects everywhere you look. I’ll be the first one to admit that this is one I still struggle with!
Now don’t get me wrong, being ambitious is an incredibly desirable quality. It’s certainly one I look for in the friends and colleagues I associate with and the clients I partner with.
- often required to accomplish something new and innovative.
- necessary to powerfully step outside the confines of your comfort zone and achieve greatness.
- essential to being brave and courageous.
But the challenge lies in your ambitions being your primary motivator.
Think about it for a moment, if you constantly live inside of a feedback loop of what do you want to accomplish next or what’s your next business goal…
…Then you are constantly living inside of your head rather than in the present moment.
You are simultaneously robbing yourself of the experience of enjoying what you achieve.
If you are addicted to your ambitions, you are living inside of that “what’s next” mentality and stealing from yourself the opportunity of enjoying or savoring the present moment.
Speaking from experience, it’s an incredibly lonely and exhausting way to live.
It’s also an unconscious way of operating for many of us, which makes sense right? We wouldn’t treat ourselves in this way if we knew we were doing it, would we?
So why do we, you might ask?
In my experience, many of us achieve a sense of self-worth or self-esteem from what we accomplish.
For many of us, our lovability is conditional on what we are able to accomplish or produce. On the problems we can solve, the recognition we can bring to our households and families of origin. On the ways in which we can help and provide for others.
For highly sensitive empaths, this is a very common struggle. The idea of how we can help or be of service to others in order to feel deserving of being loved or cared for in return.
As you may be able to imagine then, if your lovability and inherent worthiness as a human being is conditional on your accomplishments, it creates an unwinnable game and never ending pattern of striving, hustling, and seeking.
Ultimately, we cannot obtain externally that which is only accessible to us internally.
Your lovability is not conditional on what you are able to accomplish, produce or earn.
It wasn’t true when you were an infant, it won’t be true when you’re retired and hopefully living large, and it’s certainly not true today.
This is an incredibly heartbreaking way of living our lives, robbing ourselves of the joy and contentment that is our birthright.
So how do we do course correct, you may wish to know next?
For me, that’s at the heart of what it means to be a conscious CEO.
In The Untethered Soul, Michael Singer explains that “Consciousness is the highest word you will ever utter. There is nothing higher or deeper than consciousness. Consciousness is pure awareness… What would it be like if your awareness didn’t exist? It’s actually pretty simple–you wouldn’t be there. There would be no sense of ‘me.’”
Those of us driven by our ambition often access that ‘sense of me’ from our achievements and accolades.
Strengthening your self-awareness is fundamental to accessing that ‘sense of me’ as an expression of who you be and who you are rather than what you do or what you produce.
You are, after all, a human being rather than a human doing.
If strengthening your self-awareness and consciousness is key to transforming this behavior and way of living, here are 6 practices to support you in strengthening this new muscle:
Begin asking yourself ‘what’s enough today’ rather than ‘what’s next?’ And then be honest with yourself, complete what’s enough and then stop for the moment, the hour, the day, or the week.
Enjoy and savor the present moment
Create opportunities to communicate your enjoyment of the present moment, whether it’s a gratitude practice each morning in your journal as I do or ending your day by sharing 3 things you appreciated from the day with your partner as one of my clients does every night in bed.
Focus on the experience of life you want to have rather than what you want to do
Ask yourself “what’s the experience of your business that you want to have?” then begin creating the conditions in which you allow for yourself to have that experience now.
Reflect on who you are in the process of becoming
Answer the question, “I am a woman who is in the process of becoming someone who…” Then think about the qualities you wish to nurture, the values you wish you to instill, the integrity you wish to regain, the memories you wish to make. This is a much more conscious way of living.
Grow your joy muscle
Allow yourself the experience of enjoying 1% more joy today and each day moving forward. It’s one of the most vulnerable and enriching gifts you can provide to yourself.
Get comfortable with spaciousness
I find that many of us are incredibly uncomfortable with creating spaciousness in our lives. Not for busying ourselves on social media or obtaining inbox zero, but in slowing down, gaining a sense of appreciation for the beauty that is all around us, and creating the environment in which we can grow our inner peace.
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Catherine is a Master Certified Coach and bestselling author of Belonging: Overcome Your Inner Critic and Reclaim Your Joy.
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