Releasing Ambition

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My blog readership is growing. That’s good! I have a goal I know I will reach because I am writing in integrity, love and joy. However, I sometimes think of “get popular quick schemes” and that means I’m pushing the river again. Addiction happens in peculiar ways!

No matter how much one loves a project, the joy will disappear when racing to an arbitrary goal becomes more important than the process itself. The whole point of this blog was to create something in freedom and offer it to anyone who wanted it. It is supposed to be fun.

So what does that have to do with counting numbers? I’m not working on commission or earning brownie points to get into heaven. Once again, I am reminding myself to let go and let God. I don’t ever need to struggle.

After all these years, I know myself pretty well and I  know that one part of my personality part is accustomed and addicted to struggle.  I call her “The Strider”.  She says, “Not enough” or “It should be better,” quite often. The Strider can squeeze the fun out of any project if I am not aware of her tricks.

It is easy to slip into old ways if I am not watching. I struggled to get through college. I struggled to build a writing career. I struggled with alcohol and food and in many other things when I was younger. Truth is, I can use any goal as a piece of torture equipment if I’m not careful.

I have learned a lot about addiction and I have learned to watch out for the symptoms.  Writing, for me, is particularly addictive, but I need to remember that I undertook this blog as a service to others and as a retirement hobby. In this moment, I release the need to count readers and I simply return to writing for fun. I don’t have to prove anything.

I am not alone. Work addiction of one sort or another happens to wonderful people. It sneaks up on you, even in your retirement years. In fact, so many ministers “fail retirement” that is kind of a joke.

Addictive personalities will push themselves at work, at home, on the road or in the studio. I have a good friend who was practicing yoga at age 65. She was a marvel. She could do so much, so easily, that she constantly amazed us all. We were all proud of her and she never seemed to show off or be ego driven about her expertise. She did, however, really want to stand on her head. We prayed for that in church. When she got so she could do that well, she upped the ante and wanted to stand on her head longer.  One day her guru advised her, “Take the ambition out of your practice.”

When she shared that story with me, I thought, “I should take that advice myself.” Of course,  I failed exercise class in the 7th grade and it didn’t bother me. I can’t bend over too well and I certainly don’t plan to stand on my head ever – at least in this lifetime. However, I do try to remember and take her teacher’s excellent advice. I do not want to be a slave to ambition. Do you?

We all know people who seem to be in a frenzy about how they are using their time and what they are or are not accomplishing. The idea of living in a frenzy doesn’t appeal to me. Does it appeal to you? Does the idea of taking the ambition out of your pursuits appeal to you? Sounds good to me.

Of course, ambition can be fine as long as we are making decisions that create a healthy, well-balanced life. But if you feel as though you are struggling to get it all done, you may want to make changes. One of the greatest gifts of our Religious Science teaching is knowing we always have a choice.

The question of how hard to work is one that touches all of us at some time or another. In our youth, our ambition may get us where we think we want to go but if we don’t balance it with loving connections to others, we become unhappy and distorted.

In our middle years, ambition takes many forms including working hard to persuade others, to train our children into our beliefs and to forge ahead in the workplace. Again, we get out of balance if we don’t take care of our bodies and our spiritual lives.

Retirement years are the biggest temptation for many of us. We have choices about how to spend our time and can very well end up staying so busy we neglect our spiritual practice and our bodies and minds. Inaction leads to disuse. Too much action leads to fatigue.

Throughout our lives, we face many questions about our goals and exactly how ambitious we should be. Should I persevere? Should I delay gratification until I get my goal? Should I pile up more money for the future? Should I keep exercising until I “feel the burn”? Should I stay in the marriage and find some way to make it work?

When you look at life’s big questions in the framework of whether or not to live for today or tomorrow, it seems as though life really is an art or dance. We each have to find our own balance. We have to make our own decisions. We have to decide how much energy to put into this or that project.

I talk to people all the time who are in a quandary about how to spend their time and money. I try to help them see they are always at choice, one way or another. There is always something we can choose to do and since balance is constant movement, there is always a need for adjustment.

Making new choices is easier than it looks. We can choose whatever is the apparent step in this moment to move us in the direction of our dreams and let God do the rest. We don’t need to torture ourselves with the past or try to control the future. We just move ahead a step at a time and enjoy life. We can feel good about what we are doing because God is good all the time.

When I get out of balance and start rushing, I remind myself to release the ambition and enjoy the process. The future will take care of itself. I have learned to envision a goal and believe in it and then give it to God to do the work. It is not necessary to struggle or worry about making it happen.

As of now, I am back in balance. This day I am simply writing what I know and sending it out with love. I know the perfect right readers will find it.

Ask Yourself

Am I struggling to make something happen?

Do I need a new balance?

What immediate choice am I able to make?

Do I want to release the ambition?

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8 Comments on “Releasing Ambition”

  1. Sally Carroll says:

    Dear Dr. Jane,
    Thank you for your writing on ambition- I am giving myself permission to take hold of today and not project – this message was timely for me… I choose to enjoy the process and I have an interest in where my ambition lies… I have faith my God will allow me to make a difference in some way shape or form, Just for today I accept my self and choose to enjoy the process!

  2. GinaOgden says:

    So this post comes the week my book is being published. http://www.amazon.com/Expanding-Practice-Sex-Therapy-Integrative/dp/0415829550/ref=pd_sim_sbs_b_5 Have a look. Click YES on the customer review!

    I admit I am a failure at non-attachment.

    Will you still be my friend?

    I have also been a failure so far at selling our ABC—but have HIGH HOPES that June 5 I will meet the rightful editor—Allison at Health Communications, who is speaking at our Writing Sex for Success day in Miami. So if you can get just a teensy bit ambitious—please blow some energy toward Miami on the evening of June 5, OK.

    Big hugs to you—keep on being not ambitious and rolling out those terrific blogs!

    xoxoxo Gina—and Jo too

    Gina Ogden, PhD, LMFT

    Cambridge, MA, 02138

    617-491-0603

    Gina@GinaOgden.com

    http://www.GinaOgden.com

    Certified Sex Therapy Supervisor

    Author: Expanding the Practice of Sex Therapy

    The Return of Desire

    The Heart & Soul of Sex

    Women Who Love Sex

    • janeclaypool says:

      Hi Gina,
      Of course I will pray for the sale of our book. I love the book and am positive it will find the way to success. Why not? Between us we are a pair of positive, wise teachers of how to live joyous lifes!
      Love,
      Jane

  3. Lori McMacken says:

    Great Blog!!

  4. Very useful blog Jane. You’ve done it again. Thank you for reminding us all of something so importantly healthy in everyway posible. Love always, Mari

    • janeclaypool says:

      Mari,
      And I give thanks for your support and approval. I am anxious to see your new book in both the Spanish and in English editions. Is it coming in June? Love, Jane


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