Mendoza School of Business

Emotional Fitness: Ambition might not be so good for you

Published: July 7, 2012 / Author: Barton Goldsmith

The following is an excerpt from a Ventura County Star article that discusses Management Professor Tim Judge’s research that ambitious people may not necessarily lead more successful lives. To read the entire article visit: Emotional Fitness: Ambition might not be so good for you

I have always been ambitious. It wasn’t a learned thing. I was just born that way. For whatever reason — I used to think it was happiness — I strive to be and do my best at about anything I attempt, as long as I don’t need to use power tools or develop a turnaround jump shot.

This is why I got a little nervous when I read about some recent research on how ambition affects people’s lives. The study by Notre Dame University Management Professor Tim Judge, and published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, found that while ambitious people may go to the best colleges and have success in their careers, they fall short in happiness and even health, and actually tend to live shorter lives.

My first thought was “Now you tell me!” But I truly do not want the ambitious part of myself to go away. It keeps me moving forward, and that forward motion is, for most people, where happiness comes from. Unfortunately, according to the study, people like me may not live as long as our less ambitious counterparts, or even enjoy ourselves as much along the way — especially if our ambition is unfulfilled.


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