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Why do we feel that we must become serious and ambitious about an activity that we like?

Why can’t we just enjoy it for what it is?

Why do we always have to aim for “the next level”?

Consider which is better…

Sport

Someone who no longer enjoys playing but still feels the constant desire to aim for “the next level” to “make the most of their talent”

OR

Someone who likes playing sport because of the fun, exercise, social interaction, and general enjoyment it gives them.

Music

Someone who has musical ability, but stops enjoying playing their instrument because they’re constantly pushed to play a certain style of music, or reach a certain “level”

OR

Someone who enjoys playing an instrument because they find it fun and it makes them feel good.

Work

An employee who likes their current position, but is pressured to enter “the next level” by taking a promotion and a job that they don’t actually enjoy, just to make a few more dollars and fulfill their “potential”. (Peter Principle, anyone?)

OR

An employee who likes their current position and feels no need to take a promotion just for the sake of it.

Business

A business that strives to grow bigger and bigger, and employ more and more people, just because that’s what a “successful business” does

OR

A business that is satisfied with a sustainable and simple existence, because the owner loves what he/she does.

Education

A student who is forced to study things they have no interest in simply because it would be a “shame to waste” their high school graduation scores

OR

A student who chooses to follow their passions, regardless of whether that involves studying at an educational institution or not.

Relationships

A couple that feels obligated to get married just to prove that their relationship has reached “the next level”

OR

A couple that is just happy to be together and doesn’t feel the need to complicate their lives further by mindlessly following irrelevant and outdated societal customs.

Life

A person who miserably strives to tick all the boxes expected of them by society, such as: having a career, climbing up the career ladder, buying lots of big shiny things, saving for their retirement, marrying someone, owning their own home, having kids, etc.

OR

A person who is happy being in the present, without feeling the need to constantly be further up the “ladder” of life.

Screw the next level

Of course, I’m not saying that ambition and competition should be avoided completely. If those things bring you genuine enjoyment, then go for it!

But ambition should never trump enjoyment. Otherwise, what’s the point of it all (other than showing off to others)?

Just because someone thinks you should be ambitious, doesn’t mean you have to be. After all, if we only ever focus on “the next level”, we’ll never enjoy the present to its full potential.