It feels like everyone else is moving forward but you’re just standing still.
You dread going to work.
You don’t have a strong network of friends.
Everyone else seems to have goals and dreams that they’re desperately hunting down but you just can’t find it in you to care that much.
One Reddit user described the feelings this way:
“There isn’t a single thing I’m passionate about. In my off time I play video games and waste time on reddit/youtube just to get through the day and go to bed, only to do it all over again the next day. I have no ambition because there isn’t anything I want. I don’t want money, a fancy house, a girlfriend, or even a job.”
Is this you? It might feel like you’re alone, but many, many people find themselves in this same state of mind. Whether you’re sad about it or you don’t care, you might be wondering: Is it wrong to feel this way? What should you do about it? Read on for some answers.
Society Is Obsessed With The “Follow Your Passion” Thing
Mike Rowe, the host of the popular TV show Dirty Jobs gives an eye-opening Ted Talk where he debunks the idea that people need to dedicate their lives to chasing ethereal ambitions and god-given missions. Certainly, having goals and striving for worthy causes can be a good thing, but is it possible we’ve taken it too far? Bruce Rowe thinks so. He says:
“I started to wonder what would happen if we challenged some of these sacred cows? Follow your passion — what could possibly be wrong with that? It’s probably the worst advice I ever got.”
He goes on to explain that you don’t need to have the job of your dreams to be happy in life. According to his experience, oftentimes those working in society’s least palatable jobs – castrating sheep, farming pigs, laying sewage lines – are some of the happiest people he’s ever had the pleasure of knowing. Our culture shines the spotlight on grandiose adventures and triumphs, when in reality, day-to-day, quiet contentedness is what weaves the fabric of a happy life.
Why Don’t I Naturally Have Ambition Like Other People?
Popular media and culture at large frequently describe your dreams and passions as things that you just need to discover. Treasures buried deep inside of you, that if you can uncover, will give your life purpose and meaning. This simply is not true.
Humans have only really been thinking and focusing on such things for the past 50 years or so – before that, work was just work, and as long as you weren’t actively dying, you were succeeding in life. There’s something refreshingly simple and foundational about the concept.
If you feel peaceful and working a job that’s ok but not great, if you’re not a celebrated expert or winner in any area, you don’t need to feel guilty or feel like you’re failing. That’s success! Remember that the value of your life is not measured in dollars earned, countries visited, or followers gained. Just focus on finding your own health and peace, make the world a little better place, and you’ve succeeded.
What Can I Do To Naturally Have Ambition And Goals?
If you don’t have ambition and you would like to have more of it, here are some suggestions.
Set Goals, Just Start
A lot of times the key to becoming a motivated, energetic, ambitious person is to start setting goals and just getting started. There’s no substitute. Remember: whatever you consistently do, you become. You are the composite of your habits. To change the person you are, start acting like the person you want to be. Work until that person’s attitudes and tendencies become your own. It’s hard and awkward at first but it really does work.
Consider setting up a rigorous schedule or set of goals for yourself in order to jump start your ambition. Downloading a goal and task-setting app like Todo Cloud can help get your life organized and get yourself on a set of tracks you want to be on. But also take measured steps – recognize that if you set too ambitious goals you’ll fail to hit them. Put the right number of items on your to-do list.
Develop friendships, join a community
This can sound unsavory to introverts, but even they benefit from positive human interaction. Meeting people and exchanging thoughts and ideas with them will open your eyes up to the world and what is possible. Plus, hearing other people talk about their passions is contagious. There are lots of great communities and groups to join if you just look. Especially if you feel like you lack purpose and you’re looking for kind people who will be happy to have you, you might consider joining a church or religion if you don’t have one. I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) and I can’t tell you how friendly congregation members usually are. Church meetings are all about how to find more purpose and happiness in life.
Overcome your fear of failure and rejection
Lots of people don’t ever journey outside of their comfort zone because they’re afraid of looking like a fool to others, they’re afraid of putting in effort into something that may not yield immediate returns, or they’re afraid that they just can’t do it. These fears are rooted in logical fallacies and harmful beliefs, however.
- “I don’t want to look like a fool to others.” No one ever got good at anything without logging in their “noob hours”. You just have to accept that you’re going to be bad at it for a while. If you wait until fate bestows a magical dose of expertise on you then you’ll never get started. Hard-earned experience is the only way to get good at something and you’ll be surprised at how forgiving people will be of the beginner mistakes you’ll doubtless commit.
- “I don’t want to waste effort on something that will fail.” If you’re new at something, whatever you do probably will fail. But don’t be afraid of this outcome. Rather, view it from the correct mindset that building skill and gaining experience is what you’re really after. That’s what really will create long-term, repeatable success. Start investing in your skill and experience.
You May Be Depressed
Another common reason that people lack motivation and ambition has its origins in psychological chemical imbalances and depression. Depression turns an average job into a horrible one, and it strips a person of all will power. When depression strikes, motivation shatters. Passion disappears. You just don’t care about anything.
If this is your situation, take steps to see a counselor or psychologist. Take prescribed drugs if necessary. Depression is a very deep pit to climb out of, and it requires a lot more than a periodic spurt of willpower to get out. You need an iron commitment to healthy habits of getting lots of exercise, getting sunlight, interactions with people who lift you up. You won’t feel like forcing yourself to get all these things, but it’s the only way. Just like feeding a fish or tending a potted plant, your brain needs daily basic ingredients in order to be happy.
Get out of your dark isolation scrolling on your phone and hiding from the world, get help with depression, join a group or community and you’ll be amazed at how your natural levels of ambition and motivation return to you. A religion or belief system can help you see the meaning in your suffering and feel encouraged to beat it.
Whatever the cause for your feelings of not having goals or ambitions in life, I hope that the points highlighted in this article will serve you in beating your challenges and finding inner peace with your situation.