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Is it ambition or delusion? – Part 1


Even as we continue making plans and setting targets and goals for this year, it is important for us to understand the difference in being ambitious, as opposed to being delusional. There is a very fine line between ambition and delusion.

Everyone wants to have a good life, but not everyone is willing to do what it takes to get the good life. Will Smith said once: “Every successful person has a certain delusional quality about them.” This may actually be the case, if we are to truly examine it. To be successful, one has to believe that he or she can be in a different place tomorrow than they are today. A delusion is a belief that is held with strong conviction despite superior evidence to the contrary. So, seeing yourself in a futuristic place that your present situation does not support, may easily lend yourself to be considered to be delusional…. Or are you just ambitious?

I would like to suggest that the foundation of great ambition is delusion at a functional level. But paradoxically, ambition and delusion don’t have a lot in common. Ambition is quite healthy and so is pursuing your dream. Perhaps your ambition may be a bit reckless or you may have doubts about the goals you have set. But ask yourself this question: is there a step you can take to come closer towards your goal? And does that step make sense? If so, then you’re still on the right track. So, simply put, delusions arise when there are no concrete steps in place to achieve the ambitious goals we have in our minds.

How to be ambitious?

Being ambitious is a skill you develop over time and requires hard work, persistence, and most importantly, a strategy. Follow these steps for successfully chasing down your dream.

Get in the right mindset:

o Tell yourself positive affirmations. Positive affirmations are statements that are almost like self-compliments. These aren’t just to boost your confidence; they can actually increase your problem solving skills under stress.

o Focus on what you can gain instead of what you might lose. Obsessing about all the things that can go wrong only increases anxiety and places your focus on what not to do, instead of what to do.

o Remove “I don’t feel like it” from your vocabulary. The idea of only being able to do something when you “feel like it” is toxic to success. Sure, inspiration often strikes us at random times, but don’t be reliant on inspiration to get things done.

o Think of failure as a process of elimination. Don’t think of it as an end result of your efforts, but as a crossed-out method for trying to achieve a goal.

o Enjoy your successes, but don’t dwell on them. This is known as “resting on your laurels,” and can cause you to become complacent about what you have already achieved, rather than focusing on your next achievement.

Setting goals:

o Set specific goals in terms that can be measured. Setting physically measurable goals gives your brain a concrete place to begin striving toward.

o Create a specific goal achievement strategy. Now that you’ve set a specific goal, map out detailed instructions for achieving that goal.

o Set difficult but realistic goals. It is reasonable to want to run a mile in under 10 minutes if you are healthy and have moderate experience jogging. Trying to run a mile in under 10 minutes with asthma or during physical rehabilitation may not be realistic, however.

o Have both short-term and long-term goals. Setting only long-term goals can cause you to lose sight of them down the road, making you less determined or simply unmotivated. Short-term goals help remind you of why you’re doing what you’re doing.

o Plan another goal immediately after you’ve achieved one. One notable characteristic of ambitious people is that they don’t stop striving to become better.

o Give yourself a concrete reward every time you meet a goal. For example, have a pedicure every time you run a mile in under 10 minutes. Rest and reward are just as crucial to success as hard work and perseverance.