Above & Beyond

Determination, the drive to succeed and motivation are necessities that everybody can control in order to reach their goals.

Setting goals, having determination, even waking up in the morning – all of these could be seen as ambition, depending on the person. Ambition is a commonly talked about trait, in fact, a lot of people think it is necessary to have it. However, ambition is different for everybody and shows itself in a variety of ways. Since ambition is not a concrete object that someone can hold in their hand, it is an idea or characteristic that can be manipulated to describe each person differently, oftentimes, it is hard to pinpoint exactly what it is and how it is expressed.

Drive is a necessity when doing anything, even something as simple as getting out of bed in the morning. Without some sort of reason to wake up, without a goal or end result in mind, there is not a point in taking a step forward and many just end up standing still. The whole tone of someone’s day is set simply by their motivation to get up and work towards their goals.

“It’s important to have ambition because that’s what drives you to do anything in your life,” senior Briana Pinto said. “If you don’t have ambition to do something then you’re just going to sit around and waste away.”

Self-determination is often demonstrated by the desire to be successful in the future. Many students are motivated by the idea of attending a college that not only pushes them, but fits their expectations. For Pinto, the drive to learn led her to take college level courses at Harvard University for seven weeks during the summer of her sophomore year.

“I took Law and Psychology and Intro to Biomedical Ethics,” Pinto said. “I think both classes really helped me realize that I was interested in those topics so I didn’t feel like I was picking the wrong thing that I wanted to do later on.”

Education is a big deciding factor for students who want to succeed. Everyday students are pushing themselves to get straight A’s or maintain a grade point average that will allow them to attend their dream college. Although this may seem stressful at times, achieving exceptional grades is one way students stay on track for the future. For students like senior Emily Luc, getting higher grades in high school is one step in the right direction towards going to a college that excels in her preferred major.

“[My grades] are super important because they can lead into higher education,” Luc said. “I just try to get high enough scores so that I can get into a good college for med-school.”

Ambition is expressed through the efforts of those students who work towards better grades in order to prepare themselves for the next step in their lives and ultimately set themselves up for success.

Another area that requires motivation, and a lot of it, is athletics. The desire to push oneself to be the best requires both focus and drive. The drive to succeed is necessary when doing anything, but becomes increasingly important when attempting to win a game whether it be individual or with a team. With the goal of winning a game in mind, the knowledge of knowing one might fail and being able to move from that failure is essential.

“If [something] didn’t go my way I just had to accept it and keep going,” Luc said.

This drive to succeed is a natural instinct for many people who are willing to do whatever it takes to reach their goals. Oftentimes, this desire to succeed stems from the values and beliefs of one’s family members and role models.

“My parents always push my brother and I to do our best so it’s never really been acceptable in my family to just not try,” Pinto said. “I’ve never really thought about it as an option to not have ambition because my parents would never just let me sit around and not work hard for what I wanted.”

Determination and focus impact more than just the individual who possesses it – it impacts everyone around them. Oftentimes, people will care more about the effort that someone puts in rather than how talented they actually are at what they are trying to do. Similarly, this effort and determination one puts in can rub off on others around them. Motivation and enthusiasm are contagious and if one person possesses those characteristics, a whole group could perform better.

Even though ambition may be contagious, it ultimately comes down to how far a person is willing to go to achieve their dreams. It is important to remember that every person is different and that it is not always necessary to live up to the expectations of others. A person must define their own goals and expectations for oneself before they can truly find the motivation to succeed.

Despite many students being brought up with ambition flowing through their veins, there are still many students that have to teach themselves how to go after what they want.

“In Elementary school when kids were like ‘oh I got A’s and everything,’ I was like ‘oh, I’m getting C’s over here,’” Luc said. “And then when it came to middle school I don’t know what happened but something snapped and I decided to push myself really hard.”

Though it may seem like a difficult task at first, motivation and the drive to succeed is something that can be taught. The whole process revolves around the idea of doing what one wants to do instead of what one believes they should do.

You can turn things around by taking responsibility for your fate, clarifying your goals, making the necessary changes and being honest about your feelings,” Linda Ray writes in an article for Career Trend.

Developing ambition first starts by believing in oneself; if someone is unable to believe in their ability to reach their goals, then they will never accomplish anything. It is also crucial for a person to set realistic goals so that they are not constantly setting themselves up for failure, ultimately leading to them wanting to give up instead of keep trying. Instead of deciding that it is necessary to become a professional chef, one could start by taking introductory courses or jobs that can build them up to their end goal.

Everyone feels a lack of motivation at times, but that is no reason to stop trying altogether. Ambition is not only the ability to get up and keep trying after one is knocked down – it is the desire to get back up and the drive to reach one’s goals. Without this determination, it would be difficult for many people to find a reason to go to work in the morning, let alone go to school.

“[Being determined] really pushes you to become the best that you can be and prove to others who you are,” Luc said.

One of the only guarantees in life is that not everything will come easily. There will always be an obstacle to overcome or something to be done – the real challenge is finding the motivation to move past it. Defining ambition for oneself is essential in discovering the need to succeed and pushing through obstacles that are thrown one’s way.