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How To Be Gratefully Ambitious

By Reginald Nash
Updated February 16, 2018

We hurry through life at a pace that is unsustainable. I admit it. On occasion, I rush through jobs, relationships, and anything else that I deem not particularly pleasurable.

As a result, I also rush through some important life lessons.

I commit to diminishing this behavior by a minimum of 50 percent this year. I know that sounds super specific. It’s just the way I am wired.

What Sparked This Revelation?

I learned a very valuable lesson this week. If I can be completely honest with you, I’ve learned the same lesson repeatedly for the past six years.

Call me a slow learner. I was too blind to recognize that what I was feeling was ok.

Like most, I do my best to thrive in an environment that is constantly pushing me to do better, know more and accomplish tasks faster.

Backhanded messages of ineptitude are hurled at us constantly.

I’m talking about the kind of messages that remind us “you’re doing a great job”, but also say “double it and you may get a two percent raise this year”.

Blindly, we try to meet unreasonable expectations and while trying to make room for our individual aspirations.

We need money to survive, obviously, and no one is standing in line to return their paycheck.

But What If You Aren’t Satisfied?

Are you a jerk because you have a decent job, making decent money, working decent hours and you still hate it?

Maybe you are, but that isn’t the reason why. It makes no sense but, we internalize messages of what gratitude looks like.

You have no reason to complain about the $90k that you make annually for sitting behind a desk clicking keys and doing the bare minimum when there are people who work 12-hour days six days a week just to make ends meet, right? Wrong.

Your picture of happiness/ contentment does not have to look like anyone else’s.

“I think it’s unfortunate that these two things — gratitude vs. feeling you have no right to voice concern about something — are coupled together.

It probably goes back to childhood and some misguided adult saying, “You need to count your blessings, young lady. You have no right to complain!”

Who’s Judging Whom?

Think about Carol, you remember Carol right? She’s the brunette with corner cubicle near the window.

You know, with the potted plants, framed family portraits, and divots in the carpet where she‘s’ rolled her chair back and forth in the same place a million times for the past 20 years.

She’s been in the same job the entire time and taken her incremental two percent raises like they were lotto winnings.

Everyone knows that she knows everything there is to know about the department, and they all wonder why she hasn’t left or been promoted.

They offered Carol a promotion, more than once, but she declined.

She is going to stay right where she is because her picture of success and happiness is complete. Carol makes enough money to go on trips with her husband, hang out with her grandkids on the weekend and buy a new car every three years.

You may call her an underachiever, but she thinks you are crazy to work absurd hours with the hopes of being able to one day sit in a bigger cubicle with a door.

She knows that at five o’clock, she is going home to “live” her real life because she has time and she can.

Carol is happy with her current job, but you want more than what your current job can offer.

You can have goals beyond what you do currently and it doesn’t mean you are any less grateful than Carol.

She found what she needed where she is, but you didn’t and that’s O.K.

You deserve to be fulfilled by your job too, even if your today does not look like the tomorrow you want.

Today, now, in this moment, remind yourself that gratitude for your now does not erase your future ambition.

Being Grateful, Does Not Equal Perpetual Happiness.

Sometimes, I think of people who have so much less than I do. I think of how I wished for the kind of job I have now.

These thoughts are accompanied by feelings of dread from working at a job I hated.

I begin to feel guilty because my current job isn’t awful (some of the people are), but it just isn’t my dream.

Eventually, we all have to progress towards goals that cooperate and further our individual images of self-worth.

Remember this the next time you struggle with feeling good about wanting more.

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Katherine Hurst
By Reginald Nash
Reginald Nash is a writer, educator, parent and corporate financial analyst. Though his experience is broad, writing and educating have always been his passions. He has a blog where he is producing content every week and he is also the editor and a contributor for another successful blog. He also is a college professor teaching Composition and Literature. While he currently holds an MA, he will soon pursue his Ph.D. and teach and write full-time.

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