As entrepreneurs, we face a terrifying enemy (and most of us don't even know it exists).
I'm talking about ambition.
What do I mean by this?
We live in a day and age where every young entrepreneur has their head filled with visions of what it means to be successful. Instagram, Facebook, and "overnight success stories" on popular blogs and podcasts leave no doubt in our minds what we're destined for -- fast cars, loads of cash, and maybe a private jet or two.
But the problem is we're being fed unrealistic expectations about entrepreneurship.
This misconception leads to constant frustration, stress, and lack of self-esteem for the hustlers who aren't meeting the ambitious standards they believe are normal.
The very same ambition that leads them to pursue their career as an entrepreneur will be the thing that cripples their chances of success and deprives them of their happiness when they do reach their goals.
Deep thoughts, yeah, but important.
Let's say you're a 23 year-old college dropout who starts a blog teaching online marketing. If you really hustle, you can earn 6-figures within the first 18 months of blogging. No joke.
That's not bad at all.
Now think. How successful are you going to feel when everyone around you is making seven figures, and you're stuck at a paltry $100,000 a year?
Ambition is priceless. You need it.
But ambition is lethal if you don't know how to harness it to achieve your goals.
If your addiction to ambition is causing you unnecessary stress and headache, here are a couple of things you can do to overcome it and to succeed in life and business.
1. Focus on Lifestyle, Not Profit
People don't want to be millionaires -- they want to experience what they believe only millions can buy. - Tim Ferriss, The Four-Hour Workweek
A big problem that I see among many entrepreneurs is that they focus more on achieving a certain level of income than they do on achieving the lifestyle that caused them to pursue business in the first place!
No one wants to make money.
Like Tim Ferriss pointed, people simply want to enjoy the experiences that money provides.
The secret to "being happy" isn't really a secret at all. It's called dreamlining.
If you're starting a business, set goals for yourself based on what you truly want (deep down).
The goal is not a certain level of income or number of 0's in the bank account, but rather a lifestyle that you want to achieve through your business.
It could be traveling the world, having free time to spend with your family, having the disposable income to start your own charity, or it could be the lavish lifestyle of the rich and famous that includes racing Ferraris and gambling in Monte Carlo.
It doesn't matter.
Whatever it is, set your lifestyle goal and then research how much money it would take to make it happen.
Now you have your "number" and an income goal that is realistic and directly linked to your ideal lifestyle, not an arbitrary attitude of simply earning more.
2. Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
I know this is easier said than done, but it is also one of the most important things that any entrepreneur can do.
Whenever you play the comparison game, you are poisoning your success and opening your life to stress, feelings of unworthiness, and pain.
The simple fact is this: you have no right to compare yourself to anyone else.
So what another entrepreneur in your niche is doing 7-figures after 18 months and you're at 3 years in still stuck at $150,000/year?
You both come from different backgrounds with different skillsets, different networks, and different personalities.
If you are constantly comparing yourself to other people, you will never be happy and you will never be able to take your business where you want it to go.
Why not? Perspective. There are always bigger fish in the sea.
3. Never Forgo Good Relationships for Your Business
The emphasis here is on the word good.
You will most definitely have to cut ties and eliminate bad relationships on your path to success, but you must be strategic in which relationships you cut out.
Do not allow quality relationships in your life to atrophy and die out because you are too busy focusing on adding another 0 to your bottom line.
Success can and will be lonely, but it's a lot lonelier if you get to the top and have no one to share it with.
4. Make Time For #1
Possibly the biggest mistake that I see most entrepreneurs making is that they focus so much on their business that they forget to focus on themselves.
I know I have been guilty of this from time to time. I have always paid the price.
Whenever you are building your business, learning how to market yourself and your products, and developing a client base, it is easy to get so caught up in your business that you let your health, relationships, and personal growth slide.
Don't let this happen to you.
Carve out the time in your schedule every day to focus on yourself.
This can be an hour in the gym every morning, reading a novel for 45 minutes before you go to bed, or getting a massage every Friday after you finish your work.
It will be different for everybody, and the important thing is not what you do, but rather that you do it.
By taking time for yourself, you will inevitably perform better when you are building your company.
The hours you spend investing in yourself will be paid back one hundred fold in productivity and creativity.
5. Forget About Perfection
Perfectionism is one of the biggest dream-killers.
I know that you are ambitious. But watch closely how ambition is pushing you to perfectionism. You want to ensure that every blog post, ebook, and YouTube video you create is 100% perfect.
If you are constantly focused on perfection, you will never achieve success.
If you try and make every Facebook ad perfect, or write viral content every time you sit down, you will never get stuff published.
Always strive for excellence, but be willing to admit that you are not perfect. Your work will not be perfect either.
And you know what?
That is completely ok.
6. Get Help
Everyone seems obsessed with this idea of being a "solopreneur," as if there is something inherently heroic about not having any friends. Actually, going it alone sucks.
Whether it is arrogance or a misguided sense of pride, you will probably be tempted to go it alone when things are tough, but you don't have to.
Seek out support, whether it is in the form of a mentor, a friend, or an online community.
Online masterminds and groups like the Fastlane Forum, Dynamite Circle, and addiction support groups are welcoming communities that curtail the loneliness of entrepreneurship, and great places to find like-minded companions on your journey.
Ambition is invaluable. You need it.
It is what has driven humankind to build monuments, create cities, and live the lives we have today.
But if left unchecked -- if you cannot balance your ambition for future success and your need for present contentment -- you will never be fulfilled.
You may end up a wild success, but it will never be enough.
What problems has too much ambition caused in your life and business?