Ambition, Aspirations, and Obsession: Part One

Are you in a season of fresh aspirations?

WomanCliffWSSeveral years ago I had aspirations. (Or, perhaps it is more accurate to say, they had me.) I was obsessed. I’d stay up late at night, sadly, on my computer, surfing…dead relatives. That’s right, I had an Ancestry.com obsession. I aspired to know everything about all of the branches of my family tree. Soon I had more than 4000 strangers (and a few hundred names I actually knew) attached to my electronic tree, many with pictures and whole histories about their life. Fun and time consuming, but now it’s done.

After 20 years as an agent, I’ve seen literally thousands who have writing aspirations. It starts with an ambition, “Gee, I think I could write a book.” They give it legs by feeding their aspiration, “Wow, I really need to write this book, so I’d better learn how to do it—and then spend weeks doing it.” But oftentimes a good desire to write turns into an obsession, “I have to get this book done and in print if it’s the last thing I do.”

And oftentimes they throw God in the mix as Supreme Instigator.

“I’m so excited about this manuscript, it must be God’s will that I become a famous novelist. Therefore, I will do everything possible to make this God-given dream come true.”

Ambitions and aspirations can certainly be clues to God’s will for us, though ambition alone is not enough to discern God’s calling. My own history of aspirations has had mixed results, with joys and dangers along the way.

The Joys of Aspirations:

1. They Bring Energy.

I’ve got some aspirations about a new project/business I’m working on that will help my authors and, hopefully, help the Kingdom for years to come. As my wife Becky would attest, it’s brought me more energy and motivation about work than she’s seen in a long time. I love being an agent, but with the changes happening in publishing, I’ve been restless. I’ve seen too many great books go unpublished because some publishers are concerned about the lack of social networking tribes in an author’s portfolio. I aspire to do something about that (more on that in a later post).

2. They Bring Focus.

The Apostle Paul had ambitions and aspirations. “…This one thing I do, forgetting what is in the past, I press ahead to the goal of the upward call…”. He wanted to live in the moment and not be hamstrung by his past: a helpful goal that brought focus to his day-to-day life. One of his other aspirations was “…to see Rome…”. He eventually did, and was able to preach the Gospel to likely hundreds.

3. They Bring Fruit.

Aspirations to write books gave me hope that perhaps my life could count for something; that my words on paper could outlive me. That’s what books do. They allow God to use our stories and life lessons in ways that bless others. And with digital books, our stories could live forever on Amazon and other platforms. Granted, they might be ranked at four million, but at least our books are there!

4. They Bring Passion.

About 20 years ago when I was writing as a hobby and working a day job, my routines were to get up at 5 a.m. and write for two hours before work. Then after the kids were in bed, I’d write for another hour or two. That’s what aspirations do; they give us so much passion that we’d rather not sleep.

Next time I’ll discuss some of the dangers of aspirations. What about you? How does having dreams and aspirations affect you in a positive way?

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5 thoughts on “Ambition, Aspirations, and Obsession: Part One

  1. Dreams and aspirations bring a passion to life. like pepper and spices perk up what might otherwise taste so bland. They give it shape and direction. The problem is what we let drive us. I’ve had silly ones, too–like becoming a business bigwig and driving a race car. Did them both, and found them empty in the end. Lots of wasted time and money, unfortunately. My book, however–that’s different. That started with discontent regarding Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged’ and unrelenting internal nagging that would not let go. Finally, when I thought I knew what was wrong, I decided to write it. It’s in editing now, and I’m still convinced that this aspiration, at least, did not originate in a human ambition or desire for thrills. Years ago, when I told my father that I wanted to write a book, he challenged me to examine whether I truly had something to say that someone hadn’t said before me, perhaps better than I was able. In this case, I think I could tell him yes, I do. Time will tell.

  2. I’ve never thought about ambition and aspiration being different. Great food for thought, Greg. I believe God has gifted me with creativity to be expressed through writing (aspiration) and the drive to complete what I’ve started (ambition). The hardest thing for me is to keep God at the center of it all.

  3. Nice thoughts. Words bring me so much joy and make me who I am. Writing has also brought new understanding of God to my life, and it’s been touching to see my writing affect others. But I’ve seen the dark side too. It’s hard to be a writer with a balanced life. It takes a lot of effort to write and still find the time for family, work and “real life.”

  4. I’m excited to hear about your new idea, and very, very thankful that you represent me. I loved this post, Greg. And I’m sharing it on MY social media tribes. 🙂

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