Today, let’s delve into two concepts that have the power to shape your life: ambition and aspiration.
Ambition is the talk of the town, while aspiration is commonly misconstrued as ambition. But what’s the difference?
Ambition is what you want to achieve. A strong desire to achieve things others can easily grasp, especially fame, power and career success. Once you cross the finish line, you come up with a new ambition.
On the other hand, aspiration is who you want to become. It’s about values you want to nurture and what you can offer to the world. When you aspire to become a caring parent or a trustworthy friend, there is no time-bound goal. There is no one life-changing event or decision that transforms you into that person. It’s an ongoing process of learning, self-creation and living by values that you hope to fully acquire one day. You are building a bridge between who you are now and who you’ll become.
For example, you have the ambition to publish a book, but you have the aspiration to be a person who shares what they know with others.
Ambition gives a temporary feeling of happiness, but after it disappears, you need to find it again. This “rinse, repeat” approach makes it easy to turn ambition into goal obsession. And since the goals you want to achieve are what most people want as well, you end up competing.
With aspiration, you want things that represent a greater good or are unique to your circumstances — no one can be a good parent to your kid except for you — which leads to collaboration, altruism and self-discovery.
All this is not to say that ambition is bad and aspiration good. It’s to say that for a fulfilled life, you need to let your ambitions serve your aspirations.