Operating as an active business professional in the age of social media is a tremendous challenge. As much as the Internet has aided in the streamlining of information and business processes, it has also exponentially increased the amount and intensity of competition. This is undoubtedly a high stakes arena where the ability to properly prioritize can become skewed. As a result, I notice a greater number of professionals delaying their immediate happiness or fiscal responsibility with remarks like:
If I break six figures this year, I’ll start paying off my debts/saving for the future.
I’ll be happy once we reach 1 million customers.
When I’ve made the Fortune 500 list, I’ll know I’ve made it.
It’s important to have goals, but the problem with the above statements is that they defer happiness and good habits away from the now and off into the future. This is an example of how goals can obstruct one’s daily sense of satisfaction and ability to be present and grateful.
Keep ambition as your friend and not your enemy by putting it in check. There are so many outside forces beyond your control that you cannot hedge your happiness or self-esteem upon. Despite how fantastic your product is, or how flawless your value proposition, or your communication and pitching skills, you might still be outshined by someone who has more experience, better connections, or who plays golf with the boss.
Here is what you can actively do to keep your ambition in check:
Celebrate the imperfect success of today.
Don’t fall into the trap of bemoaning how unfair business is or pushing your happiness to some pie-in-the-sky day. Find pride in the life you are living right now, even if your business is still in the red. As an adult, happiness is finding gratitude in spite of how imperfect everything is.
Ambition is crucial for success, but too much of it means that you become obsessed with the end result. Tenacity and grit allows you to focus moment by moment, so you maintain perspective. After all, once you get to the top of that mountain, the view unfolds before you with a vast valley of new mountains, which all need to be conquered. Refusing to be happy now in some ways means you’re refusing to be happy ever, as there will always be a new set of challenges, obstacles, and stresses to wrestle with in the future.
Take a break and enjoy the sunset (with or without a cocktail). Play with a pet or go on a walk in nature or an urban hike around your city center. Or do whatever truly makes you happy. Distancing yourself from your work for an hour in solitude can offer a wealth of perspective.
Exert control over what you actually have control over.
You have control over doing the best work that you are capable of.
I help my clients find the fun in every moment, and effect maximum change in their audiences to catapult their careers to a level of success beyond their wildest dreams. You also have control over whether or not you make fun, impactful choices in the course of your day, particularly ones that have a certain amount of calculated risk and potential danger.
Wherever you and your ambition aim to end up, be grateful for where you are at and what you have right now. The future doesn’t belong to any of us. All you have is this moment.
This article was originally posted on Inc.