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Ambition and the Pursuit of a Thriving Career

Ambition and higher education are key to advancing your career.

Most people have ambition or a strong desire to do or achieve something. However, there are different degrees of ambition, especially when it comes to careers. For every person working 15-hour days, there’s someone content to clock out after 8 hours. Some people are more comfortable following directions while others are born leaders; some people are happy to accept whatever life brings while others will stop at nothing to achieve their goals.

Over time, psychologists and researchers have attributed specific characteristics to people who experience a higher degree of ambition:*

Ambition and the Pursuit of a Thriving Career

Ability to set goals. Ambitious individuals use inherent motivators that excite and interest them to set goals. Identifying these motivators keeps ambitious people striving toward their goals.

Persistence, creativity, and discipline. When there’s excitement about an idea, ambitious people work harder and think more creatively to achieve their goals. When positively motivated, ambitious people are more persistent and focused on a task until it’s completed.

Continually setting a higher bar. After goals are achieved, there is still more work to be done for ambitious people, who continue to set the bar higher. When it comes to what they want to accomplish, there is a continual push to achieve more.

Self-confidence. Ambitious people believe they are capable of achieving success. This belief in their self-efficacy drives them toward their goals, motivating them to tackle challenges rather than yield to the possibility of failure. Self-confident people tend to be more successful in all areas of life—and successful people have a high level of self-confidence.

However, ambition does have some drawbacks, and different degrees of ambition can cause some unwanted outcomes. For example, ambition can cause higher amounts of stress for individuals and those around them—and stress is known to accelerate aging and lead to a high mortality rate.§ In addition, ambitious people can be uncompromising and unrelenting, and set impossibly high standards for themselves and others, which can lead to strained relationships with colleagues, family, and friends. Still, it’s apparent that maintaining a moderate level of ambition can add more meaning to one’s life.

Striving for a Successful Career Through Online Education

It’s important to keep in mind that ambition alone doesn’t guarantee success. When it comes to your career, ambition is a helpful tool, but so is education. Someone can be a born leader, but that doesn’t mean they know how to successfully manage a business or people. That’s where higher education—such as a business degree—can complement one’s ambition and provide the foundation for a flourishing career. The right degree program can provide practical skills, knowledge, and tools that can be applied in a variety of roles, functions, and industries.

For example, a bachelor of science in business administration can help professionals employ critical thinking skills to help solve real-world business problems setting. In addition, a BS in Business Administration can teach you how to analyze issues that impact business decisions from economic, political, legal, ethical, and social-change perspectives, which can positively impact a company’s bottom line.

Those with high ambition are likely to excel at earning a business degree online. An online business management degree program allows professionals to continue working while studying, enabling them to apply what they learn in class immediately to their jobs. Online degrees are also great for people who balance multiple responsibilities outside of work, such as family, friends, and other commitments. Learning online is increasingly popular for ambitious professionals who want to expand their career options while earning a degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits their busy lives.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering online bachelor’s degree programs, including the BS in Business Administration, along with a variety of master’s and doctoral programs.

*J. Kluger, Ambition: Why Some People Are Most Likely to Succeed, Time, on the Internet at,9171,1126746,00.html.

†T. William, Ambition: 10 Reasons Why Everyone Should be Ambitious, The Thought Spot, on the Internet at

‡College Foundation of North Carolina, Self-Confidence: A Key to Success, on the Internet at

§Anxiety and Depression Association of America, News and Research About Stress, on the Internet at

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,