I’ve never thought of myself as ambitious.
It’s a word that always left a bad taste in my mouth.
And it’s not surprising that I found myself in this situation.
The research on the perception of ambitious women shows that culturally, ambition is seen as a positive trait in men yet criticised in women.
But I’ve come to rethink my relationship with ambition.
Because I have ambition.
The dictionary defines ambition as “a strong desire to do or achieve something.”
And I’ve wanted to achieve great things in my career.
And I’ve also wanted to create a great life outside of my work.
The two have sometimes felt painfully challenging to combine, especially after I had my children.
So I thought I was wrong for wanting them both.
I thought that my standards were perhaps too high or unrealistic.
Because, as one of my aunts used to sing to me when I was little, “Nicola, Nicola, ever so particular”, I’ve always had pretty high expectations.
So when I hit burnout trying to combine my career and life, I thought the answer was to want less.
I tried leaning out in my career to make life easier.
But it didn’t.
By shutting down the part of me that wanted to achieve great things in my career I became less of myself.
Fragmenting my ambition made me unhappy.
I realised that I needed to be whole. That I couldn’t just be the supporter of other people’s dreams – I needed to be a dreamer and a do-er in my own right.
So if ‘leaning in’ left me burned out and ‘leaning out’ left me unfulfilled, I had to reimagine the rulebook for my life.
Instead, I realised that my standards weren’t unrealistic and were an expression of my deepest needs and values.
So I started learning to stand grounded in my values and needs.
I accepted that it wasn’t always going to be easy.
I accepted that it wasn’t always going to live up to other people’s expectations.
But I had to tolerate that difficulty.
Because I want to find flow in my life – not to feel fragmented.
Instead, I had to stay committed to my values to create a rich, whole, meaningful life.
And I’m with Reece Witherspoon, who said:
Too often, ambitious women are viewed as pushy, selfish and unlikeable. It’s not the success that is so off-putting but the desire for something more that seems to inspire feelings of disdain. Oh, sure, it’s okay to say you were successful because of luck. You were in the right place at the right time. You got your foot in the door because you knew so-and-so. But once you imply, or better yet, state, that you actually deserved it because you worked so hard—it’s not socially acceptable. The implication is that women don’t deserve to want more. Women don’t deserve to dream big. Well, I have news for you—they do.
So if you, too, have the desire for something more.
If you, too, have the ambition to achieve great things in your career *and* your life, then let’s reimagine the rule book together.
Want to learn more about how to do this – get in touch for a free discovery call.
Here’s to us being unapologetic in our ambition to have a life that fulfils us.
We’re genuine, like-minded women, just like you!
We’re a community, reinventing how we combine work and motherhood without sacrificing our sanity and wellbeing.