Many chairs on top of each other.

The Ambition Sweet Spot

The silent dialogue between myself and my conscience playing continuously inside my head. An incessant quest for a deeper meaning, once as clear as water, a bit fuzzier nowadays.

This isn’t the first time I wonder how much ambition is too much ambition. It is, however, the first time I’m finding about the tension between being an ambitious person and maintaining a sense of inner peace and calm. Too much ambition and our happiness is dependent on our wins or failures, too little and we can feel meaningless and regretful. Is there a sweet spot?


My life goals have changed a lot during the past few years. When I was actively pursuing a career in music, I was eager to be seen and put myself out there. I had this unsettling motivation to prove that I was capable and talented so that I could be what I wanted: a successful singer and songwriter. I’d go places I wouldn’t normally go. Talk to people I wouldn’t normally talk to if it wasn’t for that dream. It’s not that I quit—the dream along those lines just stopped making sense.

And desirelessness

These days my experience is quite the opposite. I have no pretension of becoming a performer, and feel no obsessive need to prove my musicality to others. I am more interested in developing personal style and expressing myself genuinely rather than fitting in a specific genre. But because I’m not as compelled to share or prove anything, I rarely force myself to sing or write songs.

The flip side is that tiny voice in the back of my head wondering “wouldn’t it be cool to leave some kind of fingerprint on Earth?” (perhaps a similar desire to those who want to have children).

I first heard of the term “desirelessness” when reading about Buddhism and The Four Noble Truths. At the time, it helped me tone down my exceeding ambition. Today perhaps I need to find a balance between too much and too little.

The sweet spot

The key to this balance could simply be the reasons why one should be ambitious enough to want to do something and desireless enough to not want it too much.

This may not be compatible with an athlete’s mindset for instance, whose purpose is to so clearly win or lose, but for any other human being it seems like a good spot to want to reach. Knowing when to grab a hold and when to let go shows maturity.

Using myself as an example, knowing the reasons why I want to make music will likely make me more motivated to do it. And once I get it done, I’ll hopefully feel more satisfied and less regretful of not having done it when I’m old.