How To Overcome The Burden Of Ambition: Anxiety

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They call us “Generation Stress“. In studies with bold  headlines they outline how more than half of us stay awake at night because we’re worried about what the future holds. For many of us, anxiety is sort of a welcomed enemy. It’s almost as though if you are not anxious about your future, you lack ambition.

The anxiety of ambition is a plague that is upon many of us . Firstly we are constantly on social media  which leads us to comparing our achievements, followings and likes to that of others. Nothing can make you undercut your success of 1000 followers in a month like a friend’s 10 000 followers in less than a week. We’re also big victims of FOMO, always wanting to be the most relevant and getting the most shares/retweets on our opinions regarding viral discussions.

This  behavior is even with our dreams and goals. We’re constantly in search of the next high, the next accomplishment, the next slay. We have such high goals and expectations of ourselves that they often blind us from what we already have.

The anxiety of ambition, conversely, can stifle our ambitions when it comes to our financial futures. This is why:

It limits our abilities to earn more

Being overly anxious can lead you towards losing your focus on what’s important. This can cause you to make decisions that are short-sighted thus limiting your future prospects in your career. Ambition anxiety can lead you towards focusing on immediate rewards with a shorter lifespan than focusing on sustained long-term gains.

Additionally your productivity and creativity levels are affected when you are anxious. According to time management expert, Craig Jarrow, “When you are stressed you tend to “lock on” to the first solution that comes your way. Your mind has trouble opening up. Simply put, it limits your ability to come up with new ideas”. As a result, the less productive, focused and creative you are, the more you ability to increase your income is limited.

We consume-foolishly when we are anxiously ambitious

Since we’re constantly chasing after the next high, this constant pursuit of happiness can lead us to lose our financial sense. According to and article in Psychology Today, impulse buying is strongly related to anxiety.

Additionally, tying this anxiety to ambition makes matters worse as we can derive a false sense of success and achievement from the things we spend money on. According to the article “the impulse buyer may think that being seen with an expensive new purchase will bring them respect [they desire]”.

This also applies to spending money on travels and experiences we actually can’t afford, out of the fear of not being left behind.

We make poor investment decisions

A study by UC Berkeley revealed that anxious people are more likely to make bad decisions amid uncertainty. Since investing often involves uncertainty, the negative effect of anxiety on investment decisions is obvious. Furthermore, one of the traits of successful investors is emotional stability. This means they make their decisions based on  practical and calculated information, rather than emotions.

Being an emotional investor can be detrimental to investment success. This is because emotional investors are prone to being anxious about stock updates because they fear price decreases . Additionally they can panic about bad news instead of calculating the effects and making a decision accordingly.

Overcoming the enemy

Fortunately we’re not totally helpless against this enemy. Here are ways of combating ambition anxiety for your success:

Keep yourself focused

In his classic book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey provides a method for keeping focused. This is called “beginning with the end in mind”. Beginning with the end in mind is envisioning what you want out of life based on your values and deepest desires. Then, creating a personal mission statement which becomes the basis for making all  crucial decisions. From the major life-directing decisions, to the daily decisions during the events and emotions that affect our lives.

Remaining focused allows us to direct our lives from the inside out, not being affected or intimidated by the external actions, opinions or achievements of others. Leading our lives with focus lessens the anxiety of the uncertain, since we live in assurance towards something greater: our life’s vision.

Invest in good healthy habits

Our society’s made the hunger for success more important than our health. Practicing healthy habits such as getting enough sleep, working out, reducing  caffeine intake and meditating are great ways of reducing the anxiety that comes with the hustle.

Also talking to a close friend or family member is a great way of releasing anxiety. Feeling understood  and talking through our worries boosts our self-confidence, and inspires the courage we need to press on.

Celebrate & remain grateful for every milestone

There’s a difference between actually personally celebrating our achievements and just putting them out there on social media to accumulate likes. The attention from people can be great. But ultimately it’s our own perception of how successful we are that leads to happiness.

Gratitude is also a key component in obtaining success less anxiety.  In his book The Best Tennis of Your Life, psychologist Jeff Greenwald writes: “Play with gratitude. Before my first match, I thought to myself how grateful I was that I…

was able to play without injuries.

could play in such a magnificent setting at the historical Palm Springs Tennis Club.

could afford to take time off from work and treat myself to so much fun.

repeated these blessings throughout the match, was calm and focused, and won.”







Founding Editor of The Money Fam| Energy Enthusiast- Mastering Petroleum Engineering | Nerd Rocker-Fulbright Scholar

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