...I didn't either. It's not as though I wasn't smart enough to have ambition. I was. And I 'looked' the type to be ambitious. And I went to a school that people assume is full of ambitious children. And I suppose it was to some extent. But there were exceptions. Like me.
School taught me that we are always looking ahead. To the Real World, passing the exams, to go to university to get a job and that will be What You Do. I thought that when I got to that point I would know What I Wanted To Do.
I tried to be ambitious. I tried to study hard but never really got enthused enough about any one subject to make me think: this is IT! This is what I want to be ambitious about. I tried to be ambitious and picture myself as a corporate, a lawyer or a banker, but secretly I thought, I don't really understand all the ins and outs of mortgages or shipping contracts and I don't want to spend the entirety of my life trying to figure it out. At a desk.
In trying to be ambitious (hint - trying (verb) becomes trying (noun) when you're doing it for someone other than yourself) I was selling myself something I didn't want. Don't get me wrong I liked bits of it. Or rather the idea of bits of it.
I liked the idea of lots of money to go wherever you want, have a nice house and spend on clothes. I liked the idea of being suited and booted and drinking Starbucks everyday. I thought I liked the corporate 'tickbox'.
Careers advice has largely been taught on a series of tickbox, based on a 'typical' role within an industry. From an early age, these 'boxes' became my general knowledge of the working world: 'This is a fireman. He wear a blue coat and yellow trousers. He is a big strong man' Or 'This is a lawyer. He wears pinstripe suit, plays squash and works very late.' We know what to expect out of this job because they drip fed it all the way from primary school. The resulting question, and one which gets ever pressing up to graduation, and at its peak just after is: Which box are you going to tick? Find the one you like best.
I only liked bits of it and because I didn't fancy all of it I thought I should probably try and find another box. One that fit me better. Believing you're somehow 'defunct' because you don't seem to have ambition is a horrible feeling. And then one day you get so fed up, you just have to do the thing with your eyes close, spinning on the spot and pointing your finger, eyes still closed at one. And that's what you become.
You're not made for that box.
You're probably not made for any box.
Find out what you do like. List the parts of the jobs you do like. Be specific. Be descriptive. And then go on a journey to create that work - work you have defined yourself to bring to life. Maybe it's a job that exists but you need to be a little more detective work to find it. Maybe you need to reinvent the role and bring that to market. Maybe you just need to create a whole new business doing exactly because you can't find it anywhere else.
Get out of the box.
Editor's note: I didn't mean to write about boxes. So much talk of thinking outside the box, back into the box, around box. Sorry for anyone who is sick of them - I am too. They just keep jack in the boxing back!