It can be argued that, despite your ambition being your ambition, that the last thing you really want to do is to fulfil your ambition.
Imagine you want to be a popstar. You win a national talent show, you get a recording contract, you become a popstar… you enjoy success and fame for a while… then …. you live recklessly, live dangerously, become self-destructive and destroy your career, reputation, health and relationships.
It is a common pattern. Not that I have it in for pop stars in particular. The same happens to actors, politicians – anyone in the public eye – and, probably, people of all professions that are not in the public eye. On anecdotal evidence, it can be argued that achieving our ambitions is not a good thing.
We lose our raison d’etre. If your ambition is fulfilled, then you don’t have an ambition. There is nowhere to go. Except down.
I find myself back at my “Success and Failure” epiphany. If the bar is too low, we all reach it and are ultimately unfulfilled. With an ambition, once it is reached, perhaps that is an indication that it was too low.
Take our popstar. Maybe they should have aimed higher. Higher? Than global fame and a cult following and a great income? Yes, higher. What about world peace? A cure for cancer? Making poverty history?
Having no targets beyond one’s current success means that one succeeds, gets off the treadmill of effort and stagnates in a pit of self-destruction.
Not that he was real, but in “The Great Gatsby”, the character suffers: he “paid a high price for living too long with a single dream”. He had a fixed dream, got as close to success with it as reality and time allowed, and then because he had not imagined or planned for the reality he was left with, he was then destined to be shot and left floating in his swimming pool, surrounded by all the symbols of worldly success, at his “incoherent failure of a house”.
I have a couple more angles on ambition to explore, but for today I will leave it with this: I suggest that ambitions do help people focus on achieving greatness, but success can result, ironically, in a life without ambition: a life without purpose. And a life without purpose is one that risks destroying itself.