Professional ambition is an ambivalent feeling.
On the one hand, diligence and ambition are usually associated with positive things, as these qualities stand for the pursuit of “more”, create a special tension in life and we often associate them with successful people.
Especially in a professional context, it is rarely a good idea to make it known in a job interview that these attributes are not very pronounced in one’s own personality. After all, only the aspiring are promised a career path. Also, the extra mile for the bonus, which is supposedly hanging on the fishing line, only awaits the motivated.
On the other hand, ambition is also one of the main drivers of stress, anxiety and the psychological and physical illnesses that follow.
Sometimes ambition also leads us to want to reach our goal almost obstinately in any case, forgetting completely to ask ourselves whether this goal “still” belongs to us at all and is still relevant for us. We then possess a “do” energy within us, but sometimes we no longer know what we want to use it for or whether what we are currently doing continues to correspond to our life plan.
For many of us the choice of profession is certainly also about money and financial security, but not only. There are other factors, such as whether I can make a difference in the world, whether I want to create social change through my professional commitment or whether I enjoy the work I do.
If I look more closely at these questions, I find that this list of questions does not in fact only concern professional decisions, but all of life itself.
„Purpose”, the new buzzword, is a word that coaches, guidebooks and New Work devotees like to talk about in this context. A new buzzword that deals with topics like “What is the reason for your existence?” or “Why are you in this world?“.
When I once read about it in a book, I noted down the key question “What is my purpose in life?” in a huge piece of paper in front of me.
What talents do I have for the world and how can the world benefit from them? What do I want to make of them, what am I made for and how can I best align my life accordingly?
Difficult, big and broad questions. I became quite anxious about this list of questions while I continued to look at the piece of paper in front of me: “What is my purpose in life?”
Does this mean that I have not lived the past decades according to what is actually inside me?
I felt a discomfort in my stomach area and now I could hear my inner clock sounding in “tick-tock-tick-tock” mode while life goes on and I have less and less time for my Purpose life.
Without an answer, dissatisfied and strong in my mind, busy thinking, I immediately went to the sauna to sweat it out. That did not help either. Even hours later I had not found a convincing answer to my purpose in life, my right to be here.
Bad mood was spreading in me.
Really bad mood.
Before the industrial revolution there was the ideal of vocation. In the Romantic era, it was considered special to be called an artist.
At that time, being an artist was not considered a free choice, but would arise from an inner, or perhaps even divine, urge against which the artist could not really successfully defend himself.
This view still shapes our idea of “the” ideal profession or even of “the” ideal life today. It sounds promising that we are all looking for a job that gives us a meaning and thus also a justification in life, for which we are made and which makes us happy.
Who could not agree with that?
Meanwhile I think that one of the most difficult, complicated and exhausting tasks of our life is to find out what our “calling” in this life is.
If we were to take it seriously, we would have to focus all our attention on this one question. We would have to try things, experiment, fail, have a good cry and try something new.
For this we might have to withdraw from everyone and everything, because only then could we find out where our most personal inclinations lie. Quasi un-influenced by our environment. What are my strengths, what am I really good at? Conflicting interests have to be weighed up. How much risk am I willing to take? How much security do I need?
We would need peace of mind to think about it and to find out. We would have to understand that the pressure to please others is not getting us anywhere here.
This process costs not only energy, but above all valuable time.
But who of us really has, wants or can take that time for these questions? Who is even aware of the many alternatives that life has to offer and can live them out?
I, for one, am not.
In addition, the whole issue is dynamic. You actually have to ask yourself this question over and over again and probably get different answers depending on your life situation.
In any case, I did not open the book with the Purpose question. I have decided that I don’t care about Purpose because I simply can’t get any further with the question. Rather, I think I have come to understand that at the end of our lives we will have lived out only a small part of our great potential.
Therefore I am sure that my imagination of what I could be in this world will occasionally exceed my actual lived potential. There will simply always be more in us than what we could actually bring into the world and a large part of what we could be will remain undiscovered.
That sounds bad and also a little sad. Especially older people sometimes say that they regret not having done this or that in their lives.
Yes, this can happen and maybe one day it will be the same for me. But for that I must not grieve too much now in life. That is life, after all.
Perhaps there is no one in this world who can look back on a life that is fulfilled to the maximum and what if it is not even designed for that from above?
I have decided not only to imagine my dreams in my quiet chamber, but also to fill them with life and to realize them as best I can.
In addition, I have firmly resolved to continue to live out a lot in the future, to try myself, to grow constantly and above all to have fun in life and to celebrate the lightness of being as much as possible.
But I simply won’t succeed in enjoying all facets of life.
This is exactly why I have decided for me to see this delta as part of the general human destiny and our existence.
Since then, I can at least deal with the question of purpose in a more relaxed way.