How to Be More Ambitious

Robert Moskowitz
3 min readNov 25, 2021

Ambition is good. Without it, most of us would sit around doing whatever’s easy, and thinking no farther ahead than our next meal.

But with enough ambition, we are usually able to improve our lives and the lives of others, conceive and execute truly remarkable tasks, projects, and goals, and generally make the world a better place.

As a productive and successful person, you probably have a certain amount of ambition already. However, there are forces that hold some people back from feeling and executing on the full extent of ambition they would like to exhibit.

In this post, I’m going to help you clear the decks so you can perform with as much ambition as you feel, want, and need. Here’s how:

Limit Your Downsides

One of the most powerful limitations on your level of ambition is your — often quite accurate — estimation of what happens if you can’t deliver on what you’re hoping to achieve.

We’re talking about feelings of failure, humiliation, loss of money and other resources, and worse.

Naturally, with these specters on the horizon, anyone would exercise caution.

So one of the best ways to have more ambition is to set things up to make the worst possible consequences less likely.

This generally involves:

  • Anticipating what might go wrong and taking appropriate, preventive steps.
  • Limiting the risks associated with your proposed task, project, or goal, perhaps by scaling back your plans or taking several small steps instead of one big one.
  • Creating some kind of a “safety net,” where possible, so falling short is not catastrophic.

When a task, project, or goal is less likely to result in total disaster, it’s easier to make a well-thought-out attempt to achieve it.

Make a Backup Plan

It’s far easier to push ahead ambitiously with all your hopes and dreams on the line when you know that falling short need not be the end of neither your effort, nor your potential to try again. That’s the beauty of a backup plan, and why it’s important to develop one at the same time as you work up your primary plan.

For example, if you’re hoping to live off the land in the wilderness for a week, that’s a pretty daunting ambition. But you might be willing to take a chance on such a plan if you know that you can park your car only a few miles away from your campsite, and that you can stock it with adequate provisions, in case you need them.

Preparing a backup plan doesn’t require that you execute it. But it does give you a more solid, more comfortable basis from which to stretch out more courageously toward your larger ambition.

Gear Up

Another key ingredient in nurturing your ambition is adequate preparation for whatever you propose to do.

This may involve:

  • Stockpiling enough resources — money, food, tools, supplies, or whatever — so you’ll have all you’ll need while you’re making your ambitious attempt.
  • Learning and getting comfortable with the specific knowledge, skills, and talents that will make accomplishing your ambitious task, project, or goal more likely.
  • Optimizing the timing of your ambitious attempt so that you’re mentally, physically, and emotionally ready to make a maximum effort.

Whether your extra ambition is aimed at your career, your relationships, your personal satisfaction, or any other aspect of your work or your life, taking these and other steps to make you more comfortable with your attempts will go a long way toward allowing your ambition the fullest possible expression you would like it to have.

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Robert Moskowitz

Robert Moskowitz is a successful, award-winning writer and consultant, and the author of “How to Organize Your Work and Your Life.”