Friday, June 7, 2013

Random Thoughts: Ambition

Have it?  I used to think I did.  Now I'm not so sure anymore.  For D, he used to think it would just develop and now, he doesn't think he has enough.

He went to school with guys who have made it big time.  And he skis with guys who have sold business for many multi multi millions and are still looking for the next business idea and working.  Us?  Continuing to work wouldn't be high on the list should either of us "make it big".

This is a topic that comes up once in while when we talk about some of our "big" dreams.  If only we were ambitious enough to make more money (instead of talking about how much we can cut back)...

The potential is there but the desire has disappeared over the years.  I certainly feel as if my ship has sailed for that.  I peaked early.  Even the mere thought of ramping up again gives me a heavy feeling in my chest.  D is still in the position to climb should he suddenly decides he wants it but I'm afraid having me as an example doesn't help things. 

I don't sit on any advisory boards or publish research or seek a position outside of my area of work.  I just help people one on one.  Is that not enough?  When I read articles of what some of my colleagues are doing to advance our profession outside their office hours, I am amazed at their stamina.  What happened to mine?  Why don't I want to get involved?  Sometimes I do feel bad about it.

So are we just not ambitious?  Or did we never "have it" to begin with and have deluded ourselves for decades thinking we are just choosing not to exercise it?  And are all early retirement hopefuls out there in the same boat?  Is it something we ought to feel ashamed for not having ample of?


  1. I've often looked at the execs in my company and wondered why they continue to work as long as they do. If I had one of their jobs I would work one, two years tops and then quit. Given their level of compensation there is no need to keep working for much more than that.

    1. Me too. But I can't help admiring their drive and persistence especially when money may already be more than abundant. It is that something else I'm curious about.

  2. What a great post. I was discussing Mr. Four-Hour-Commute with my wife yesterday, and if that's what ambition looks like, we don't have it either. As a parent, I have to believe that helping people one-on-one is enough.

    In reality, it's not that we don't have ambition. We are both involved in organizations that seek to make a difference. We both try to influence decision-makers and even take on roles of leadership when to opportunity arises. It's just that the result isn't measured in money.

    1. Thanks Robert! First of all, Congratulations on your PB! And thank you for reminding me the importance of one-on-one. I lose sight of that when I wonder why it is I'm not doing more or being more or when I'm feeling guilty for not advancing my profession. Guess I'm more socially molded than I thought.

  3. Interesting comments MW.

    We've struggled with this for years but ultimately it comes down to choice... and we live with those choices we make/made.

    For us it was about balance... towards family, personal and work life.

    While one may look at the achievement/ambition of others what is it that we don't see? Were sacrifices made that caused imbalance in other areas of their lives? Perhaps.

    Looking back, I'd like to think we would make many of the same decisions... going forward, we'll attempt to achieve a full life (to us) allocating appropriate balance to those areas that are important to us. Because we choose to.

    1. Very true. I forget that I am where I am because of conscious choices even though I do question them and my motives when I want to be sure this is really what I want.

      I had a chance to meet some of D's ski buddies last year and it was about 50:50 in terms of being able to maintain family balance and career achievement. The most financially successful one does not speak of his marriage in a positive light. Now that they have plenty of time, hopefully it is not too late to rebuild their relationship.

      Good reminder that we all have the same number of hours in a day.