What Is Ambition? How Do You Measure Success?

Photo by mgkaya/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by mgkaya/iStock / Getty Images

Ever since I finished my Master's Degree in Journalism, I've been constantly knocking myself down for not doing everything it takes to nab a coveted spot as a daily journalist, relentlessly pursuing the next story and trying to navigate a profession whose landscape is shifting at the speed of light. While it's true that jobs are few and far between in the profession, I've known plenty of fellow graduates from the same program who've managed to make the "hustle" work and are now behind the camera, reporting or traveling the world covering feature stories. Throughout the years since graduation I've thought to myself:

1) Maybe you're just not good or dedicated enough to work a daily beat 

2) Maybe you lack the drive and ambition it takes to truly be a journalist

3) Maybe those who hold the coveted senior positions can sense you don't have what it takes

4) The longer you are out of the game, the less of a chance you'll ever be able to get in it

Much of this negative self-talk is so repetitive that lately it's actually become boring to me. I imagine that so many other creative professionals have probably experienced similar doubts, because who knows when you've truly made it? Is it when you hit the top of the corporate ladder? What if you're not on that sort of track? What if your paycheck and life's passion are totally separate entities? Can you ever fuse them together? 

Lately, I'm trying to blend more of my creativity into aspects of my day job.  If I am not working full-time in writing, I will "pencil in" as much of my passion into my career. My coworkers and friends are a huge inspiration for trying to make my side-hustle into a every day hustle. Hustling is such a weird word, right?

The fellow writers in my life often bounce their lifestyle essays off of me for editing as I do with them when I'm thinking of pitching something to one of the major newspapers or magazines. We are sounding boards for each others writing. I think having so many fresh perspectives has actually strengthened our work. We try not to compare ourselves to other writers who have written more in any given year, or who've been published in dream publications. Instead, we try to accept that everyone has their own pace and timeline.

The thing that's changed the most for me lately is how I measure success, because I've spent way too much effort thinking of myself as a professional failure. Success, to me, is never giving up on doing the things you love, even if you're doing them in a way that is different from the more beaten path. You might not get to where you're going as quickly, but what doesn't come easy for us often teaches us more than what does. 

So, if I can relay anything at all to you, it's that you're doing much better than you think. xo