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Is it ambitious to aim to be completely unambitious? [I have no ambition.]

I have no ambition, or at least that’s my goal. My ambition’s to be completely without ambition.

When I was 21, back in 2004, one day after uni during rush hour, I stood on a crowded street corner in the Melbourne CBD, waiting for the lights to change, and thought to myself (and then wrote down) ‘I want to want no more’.

Well now, also: My ambition’s to have none.

Marcus Aurelius on ambition¹:

The man of ambition thinks to find his good in the operations of others; the man of pleasure in his own sensations; but the man of understanding in his own actions.

This was my day today:

  • Waking up without an alarm (which I haven’t needed to do for work in over 6 months).
  • Coffee in the backyard outside in the sun, first thing in the morning, while reading  (The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and then Marcus Aurelius Meditations), 
  • Beach with my dog Chunky, swimming in the ocean (here) and reading more (The Onion Book of Known Knowledge)
  • Exercise (Chopping wood)
  • Run back to the beach (a 2 min walk) for a 10 minute dip in the ocean to cool down after the woodchopping
  • 5 hours of teaching ESL in a well-paid job, 10 minutes drive from home, where I’m helping people try achieve their dreams of permanently moving to Australia, getting a good job or passing crucial aptitude exams
  • Helped someone at work out of a jam
  • One funny chat with my oldest friend and 2 funny ones with new ones.
  • Worked on personal development in my ‘Fundamentals of Hustling’ course with one of my mentors, Joshua Spodek
  • Writing (here, for the 182nd day straight). And journalling (which I do twice a day).
  • Learning a language (Spanish)
  • Coming up after this: Fire in the backyard (cooking dinner on it too) while listening to an album I just got (Example –Playing in the Shadows) under the amazing, infinity Sunshine Coast stars

So, if ambition’s the chase of a different state or thing you aren’t in or don’t have, then, for mine: fuck ambition.

There’s a saying by someone (I forget who, but doesn’t matter –it’s like the bible, you don’t need to believe in all the coming-back-from-the-dead and healing-the-blind shit, but the message and lessons are solid):

What is Happiness? It’s the moment right before you need more happiness.

So if by definition, ambition is chasing things in your future, and you remain ambitious your whole life, doesn’t that mean you never actually reach your goal? Because when you attain one goal that was an ambition, isn’t there another one you now want? And are you ever actually fully present and appreciative of this NOW?

Isn’t being ambitious your whole life –and chasing things you don’t have– kind of like this?

or doesn’t that make you this?

Chasing this?

until eventually

Whoops. Oh shit. You’re dead.

Is there such thing as partial ambition?

Okay, so maybe it’s not entirely true (about me having no ambition), because I do aim for personal improvement, and that’s a state that I haven’t reached (and never will – pobody’s nerfect). So that’s an ambition of mine.

And also, ambition also can help you reach a place where when things out of your control start to fuck up (ie. Illness, unexpected financial burdens, other people fucking you over), being ambitious can create some financial safety nets against going broke from those (But as I write that I’m still not sure about that last one).

And ambition doesn’t need to be about aiming for milestones or to succeed or obtaining things (especially if any of those are decided by other people), it can just be this:

Simply aim at making the attempt itself²

That’s an ambition that, no matter what, is attainable.


¹ From Meditations
² Ibid.