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Are you ambitious? I’m not.

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Move up the ranks. Earn more money. Get a better job title. Bask in your success.

That’s what I’m supposed to be doing, I suppose, but as an editor and writer, I’m happy to keep doing just that: editing and writing. I don’t want to become an editorial director and spend my days delegating tasks and parsing budgets instead of wrangling semicolons and enlightening a new generation of authors on the function of the en dash. As an online writer, I don’t want to oversee a team of underling writers, scheduling their posts and sprucing up their headlines, I want to WRITE. (Besides, I’m terrible at budgets AND headlines.)

This doesn’t mean I don’t want “better” jobs (I use quotation marks because “better” can mean a variety of things here), and I certainly wouldn’t balk at getting paid more, or even being recognized for what I do well with a plaque at a fancy-dress dinner. And yet…I’m also mostly okay with how things are going (and have been going for years). The status quo is a.o.k. by me.

So then why do I feel like my lack of ambition is a bad thing? Why do I think there must be something wrong with my wiring that I don’t want to move up the career ladder and take on more responsibilities and seek greater rewards and recognition? Am I selling myself short? Am I just scared?

The answers here are Yes and Yes, but there are other factors at work too. I DO have ambition–it’s just more for homelife instead of worklife. And in order to reach those personal goals, I’m perfectly happy to let my professional goals slide. Being a success at work is lovely, but what makes me happy is being a success at home, as a wife and mother and friend. But I have goals, I do! They’re just more often things like Sew Pillows for the Couch instead of Win a Pulitzer for excellence in journalism.

Are you ambitious? Where does it show up more–at work or at home?

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6 comments so far...

  • Me too. I have a personal to-do list a MILE long (also sewing pillows for the couch), and struggle to feel like I’m not a loser for not wanting more at work. I’ve had the same job for a decade and it’s mostly just fine by me. But other people in my position, with fancier degrees and backgrounds, want more and by comparison I look like a slacker. It usually takes me a few weeks to remember that my balance works for me and my ambitions are elsewhere.

    Sarah  |  April 4th, 2012 at 3:43 pm

  • My mom is always telling me I should be applying for manager jobs, that I should be making XX dollars per year, I think because she believes in me, that she wishes she had a college degree and still had her her youth, and that’s all very nice. But, I don’t really want that. Mo’ money almost always equals mo’ problems, or in this case, mo’ responsibilities, and frankly, I’m pretty happy that I get to come to work at a decent hour, that I get to leave at a decent hour, and that I rarely, if ever, have to take my work home with me. In addition, I make a pretty good living, I’ve been here long enough that I get three weeks paid vacation plus a week off at Christmas, and if I’m still here when I have another baby, I’ll get six weeks’ paid maternity leave. Why would I ever leave?

    I’ve wondered if maybe I’m lacking in ambition, to be more than OK with my status in my current place of employment. Maybe I am a little bit lazy, but I get to see my son off to daycare every day. I get to eat dinner with him every night. And give him a bath. And tuck him in. All the while maintaining a career. Sounds like a good gig to me.

    Jen  |  April 4th, 2012 at 3:49 pm

  • Well, I’m the youngest member of the management team at work*, hold a part-time job as a fitness instructor, and have my own small fine art photography business. This summer though I’m taking off seven weeks to stay home with my kids, so I’d like to think I’m not a total cutthroat, ignore-my-family career person.

    *Not that big a deal since management tends to be pretty old in my field.

    Shawna  |  April 4th, 2012 at 3:50 pm

  • I imagine it feels like your lack of ambition at work is a bad thing because your partner isn’t working, and you’re pregnant. I would be freaking out!! Hugs!!

    Jen  |  April 5th, 2012 at 6:22 am

  • How do you measure success at home? Other than seeing the kids and spending time with them where is the satisfaction?

    Elaine  |  April 6th, 2012 at 5:52 pm

  • “How do you measure success at home? Other than seeing the kids and spending time with them where is the satisfaction?”

    Success at home means you take the time to create a happy, warm, nurturing environment for you and your family; That your kids are healthy and well fed, as well as learning to follow through with their responsibilities; that you make the time to enjoy and evolve your relationship with your significant other; that you are able to follow through with the things that keep you personally centered and happy; that you spend time with your loved ones (immediate family and otherwise) as you never know how long you have with them; that you’re a good neighbor; the list goes on….
    We feel guilty because we are bombarded through media that success equals status and money. We struggle, like many, because we know that success has a relative meaning and to those like us, we see success as something more profound.

    Kami  |  June 20th, 2012 at 6:41 am