Ambition (alone) won’t guarantee your success — but these habits will.

In our early childhood, we were always asked what we wanted to become when we grew up. We were filled with hopes and dreams. Unfortunately, not all people realize their life goals. Often, it’s not because of external factors, but its because they limit themselves.

Based on my experience, I’ve grown to understand that while ambitions are instrumental to one’s growth, it will remain a stagnant dream if there is no corresponding action or game plan.

As Terry Leahy, Former CEO of Tesco once said, “If you have an idea, act on it. A dream is just a dream.”

So, is being an ambitious person a negative thing?

No, being ambitious is not a negative trait. It is in fact a good start you if are aiming to improve the quality of your life. But it is wrong in so many levels if you are ambitious but also indecisive, half-hearted, and passive; using your weaknesses as an excuse for not doing what is required of you to become successful. For instance, a newbie entrepreneur with bold ambitions lets their inner-self doubt get in the way of learning new skills that are essential to success.

Do not sabotage your way to success by making up excuses not to go above and beyond what is expected of you. Having this kind of mindset, and being unwilling to grow by learning and sacrifice, is counterproductive to all other efforts you are putting into chasing your ambitions.

Ask yourself, what will you ever achieve if you are always afraid to cross the borders of your comfort zone?

“In business, what’s dangerous is not to evolve.” — Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon

One more thing that can detract from being ambitious is simply having a negative mind. I always give emphasis on the fact that success starts in your mind. You already have that big ambition and if you believe in it, then you have to believe yourself. Once you let fear and negativity consume you, you also let opportunities walk out your door.

Instead, stay positive amidst struggles and adversities by having confidence in your strengths. Use these strengths to your advantage and do not let emotions interfere in your critical decision making.

Worried about failure? We are all terrified to make mistakes. We don’t want setbacks. We want to be perfect but we are not, hence we are bound to fail in life at one point. These things are inevitable but they happen to you because they will teach you a thing or two about what you need to work on the moment you bounce back, so just keep bouncing back.

“Do not worry about failure; you only have to be right once.” — Drew Houston, Co-Founder and CEO of Dropbox

Then, what does it really take for me to become successful? Try pairing these habits with your ambitions to make the leap you’ve always desired:

Be Fully Committed to Long Term Goals.

As the saying goes, “Go big or go home.”

If you cannot put your 100% commitment into your long term goals, then it’s safe to say that you will never achieve them. Once you have your plans set, you have to be flexible, but always go back to why you are doing this and for what reward. Because you will encounter a lot of temptations forcing you to change your mind or back-out halfway through, but if you are sure of where you are headed to, then your commitment to your goals will not falter.

“Everyone starts strong. Success comes to those with unwavering commitment to be at the end.” — Howard Shultz, CEO of Starbucks

Be Receptive of Change.

“If you change the way you see the world, you change the world that see you.” — Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft

Being open to change is a remarkable quality that will boost your morale and lead you to greater heights. There is also a saying that the only thing constant in this world is change. So you have to understand that you cannot control everything. Don’t even try to change the circumstances because you will only disappoint yourself. Instead, rise above unexpected turn of events but adjusting your attitude towards it, trying to be more positive, and shifting your perspective to more important things that you could deal with rather than dwelling on what you cannot fix.

One slice at a time.

“Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender, it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment” — Stephen Covey

Don’t try to learn everything at once. Instead, you should work at mastering one skill at a time to eventually get you to the bigger picture (and dang, will that whole thing be worth it).

Take your new venture on in segments — what do you need to learn first in able to move forward? Do you know how to read music to play that guitar you just bought? Have you learned how to stretch properly for the marathon you just signed up for? Keep doing this along the way and you will have a much more successful end result than if you try to take it all on at once.

Invest in a coach.

As children, we had a coach for everything — after school we stayed for swim lessons, on Saturdays we went to dance class, Mondays was soccer practice and Wednesday our violin teacher came to the house for private lessons. As adults we tend to try to do things on our own, which K. Anders Ericsson, the mind behind this school of thought, disagrees with.

If you are trying to become an expert at something the first thing you should do is find someone to learn from. A teacher can provide feedback and critique you in ways that you will not be able to do on your own. Having a coach will steer you in the right direction in regard to setting goals and expectations and will also help you know what to look for when you are eventually ready to train on your own.

Fail. A lot.

“Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way,” said J.K. Rowling.

In J.K. Rowling’s Harvard Commencement speech, she attributes deliberate practice to much of her success. From her choice of a Classics Degree to constantly pushing the envelope in her Harry Potter Books, “the fringe benefits of failure” are what took her to where she is today.

And outside the world of wizards and magic wands, the NY Times found that,“The best ice skaters spend more of their practice time trying jumps that they land less often, while lesser skaters work more on jumps they’ve already mastered.”

By redefining failure as something that makes you great, you can start deliberately practicing your task — honing in on tiny areas of failure instead of repeating the parts you’ve already mastered.

The Bottom-line

My point here is simple, ambitions are like binoculars, it enables you to see what you want to become and where you want to go. You can imagine it clearly but you need something to take you there. That’s where persistence, hard work, and sacrifice enter the picture. You don’t just achieve success in this world, you work for it regardless of what it takes. And don’t give up!

“If something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you should still do it.” — Elon Musk, Founder and CEO of SpaceX

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