A CONTRARIAN LOOK AT GRATITUDE AND AMBITION

It could be worse.  We’ve all heard it before, “it could be worse”.  You’re in a job that overworks you.  You’re at a company that doesn’t appreciate you.  You’re in a career in which you already know the ending, and it isn’t a fairy tale.  You want more, but how do you juggle between being grateful with what you have while satiating your ambition?

They’re right.  Life could be worse.  Yes, you could be in some third world country selling counterfeit clothes and cheap lager. Yes, you could be unemployed.   Yes, you could be dead. And all those are indeed worse, but you must remember: that wasn’t the hand you were dealt.  

If you’re reading this, then you’ve been given an opportunity.  Whether you’re an evolutionist who believes that only the fittest move on, or whether you’re a creationist who believes God created you for a special purpose.  Whatever hand you’ve been dealt, they both invoke a similar lesson: it’s not simply about survival, it’s about living with purpose.  So yes, it could be worse.  But it doesn’t have to be.

Gratefulness isn’t complacency and ambition isn’t discontent.  The trick is to appreciate the present and be purposeful in your ambition.  They’re not disparate ideas, but complementary.  Appreciate about how you got here, but look forward to the future and how much better it can be.  Indeed it’s difficult to balance both gratefulness and ambition, but here’s a start:

KNOW WHO YOU ARE

What do I enjoy doing?
What am I confident in?
What matters most in my life?

Knowing who you are and what you have will help you become aware of your current situation.  And once you’re aware of your current situation, then you can begin to be grateful with what you have.  The more you know about yourself and what gets you going everyday, the sooner you can more clearly identify what you want.

KNOW WHAT YOU WANT  

Who do I want to be?
What will I regret not doing or pursuing?
What do I want my future life to look like?

Once you know who you are and what you have in the present, then can you start focusing on what you want to achieve and how you can get there.  Take time and appreciate what you have, be grateful.  But don’t let the feeling of being grateful with your current state hinder your ambition.    

Grateful for what you have, that’s survival.  Grind for what you love, that’s ambition. They’re right.  Life could be worse.  But it shouldn’t be.  And it won’t.      

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