My friend recently told me, “You’re so self-driven. It’s definitely one of your strengths. You just relentlessly go after what you want.”
This made me think. What is it about ambition and drive that’s truly observable? After all, they are both inner qualities other people don’t necessarily have to notice.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that there’s actually quite a lot to unpack.
Want to come along on the journey?
If a woman displays these 8 traits, she’s definitely ambitious and self-driven.
1) She isn’t satisfied with the bare minimum
I was never one to just… get by. I always wanted to achieve more, be it an A* on a test, an award in a competition, a well-crafted essay, or a published book.
I could feel that the limit some of my friends imposed on themselves simply wasn’t there for me. I saw opportunities upon opportunities where others saw obstacles, and deep within my bones, I knew I was up to the task of saying “yes” and creating a remarkable life for myself.
So I did. And now I’m a full-time writer who lives in the city of her dreams.
A woman who’s self-driven and ambitious simply knows she’s destined for more. This isn’t to say that an ordinary or simple life is bad by any means. But it’s just not for her.
2) She turns her dreams into actionable steps
To tell you the truth, far too many people give up on their potential out of fear or laziness.
It is one thing to know you’re meant for more. It is another thing entirely to actually go after it.
Here’s where drive differs from ambition. If you’re ambitious, you have big dreams you want to turn into a reality. But if you’re self-driven, you actually take action and make it happen.
Your dreams don’t stay dreams. They become achievable goals, which turn into actionable steps.
You work your way backward: “I want to be a published author. To do that, I have to sign a book deal. To do that, I have to get an agent. To do that, I have to write a whole manuscript and start pitching it. Therefore, I will write 5,000 words a week, which means I will have my first draft in about four months. To write 5,000 words a week, I will aim to complete 715 words a day.”
Before you know it, your dream has become something that’s actually within your reach – you just have to go and get it.
3) She is able to push herself when things get tough
715 words a day sounds easy enough when written down on paper. Reality is much more complicated, though.
Habits are very hard to maintain. While the first three or four days may fly by because your enthusiasm keeps you on track, there’s a large sinkhole between forming a new habit and cementing it into something sustainable –
And that sinkhole is where many people’s dreams meet their end.
Self-driven women are disciplined enough to keep their balance and get through that hurdle with minimal casualties. In other words, they push through those days when the last thing they want to do is work on themselves.
They know that if they fail, their achievable goals might quickly turn into abstract dreams again, and so they just…force themselves to show up even when they don’t feel like it.
4) She’s a realist, not a pessimist
I’m not naïve. I know that life is hard. I know that the journey to reach my goals will be riddled with challenges, setbacks, and moments of hopelessness.
But I also know that those obstacles shouldn’t discourage me.
Because the things that are worth having aren’t easy to obtain. And that’s not pessimism speaking – it’s just my experience of reality.
I’m not driven to go after my dreams because I’m delusional and think amazing opportunities will just fall into my lap. I’m driven because I can see the obstacles awaiting me and I’m actively choosing to face them, one step at a time.
I’m not a pessimist. But I’m also not trying to convince myself that success is a walk in the park. I’m a realistic optimist – I believe that I am able to get through every challenge and come out stronger on the other side.
5) She’s antifragile
This brings us to the next point – antifragility.
Did you know that humans are inherently antifragile? When we encounter a shock to the system, we don’t deteriorate. Instead, we adapt and thrive.
Some of us are more antifragile than others, of course. It all depends on how resilient you are.
Luckily, a self-driven and ambitious woman doesn’t lack in that department. When she encounters a challenge, she doesn’t shy away from it. And when she fails, it doesn’t make her want to give up and go live in a secluded cave for all of eternity.
Failure pushes her to try harder and find more creative ways of going after her dreams. It helps her grow and flourish.
She simply refuses to give up, so she adapts instead.
6) She won’t take “no” for an answer
This isn’t to say you ought to be persistent to the point of disrespect. What I mean by refusing to take “no” for an answer is that you shouldn’t let one rejection discourage you.
I’ve received plenty of rejections in the past, but did I let that stop me?
No. My ambition drove me to seek out other solutions. Instead of trying to do the same thing over and over again and hitting a wall, I found other paths that led to a similar destination.
You won’t always get everything you want in the exact way you imagine. But as long as you’re ambitious and self-driven, you don’t need reality to meet your precise expectations – you just need to get a little creative from time to time.
You need to open your mind to more possibilities.
If there’s a wall right in front of you, go around it, find a hidden door, or dig yourself a path underneath. You are more resourceful than you know.
7) She celebrates her achievements, no matter how small
Motivation often comes as a result of action and gratitude, not the other way around.
You won’t always feel automatically motivated to do something. But once you do it and celebrate that small accomplishment, you’ll be so much more motivated to keep going.
I celebrate when I manage to meditate for an hour, when I write 1,000 words in my novel, or when I complete a whole workout without cheating on the last few reps.
I don’t necessarily go buy myself a cake, but I do take a moment to acknowledge the accomplishment, soak in that good feeling, and feel proud of myself. And oftentimes, that’s all I need to keep my passion alive and pursue my goals day by day.
Remember: drive isn’t just something that comes from inside you. It’s also something you can activate by taking action and thanking yourself for it.
8) She surrounds herself with inspiring people
The people you talk to on a regular basis play a huge role in your own self-development journey. Oftentimes, your inner circle can literally make or break the deal.
Trust me, I know. Four years ago, I lived with two friends who spent a lot of their time watching TV, doing the bare minimum when it came to their university studies, and generally acting quite passively.
I quickly absorbed that energy and ended up procrastinating on my goals and doing nothing much.
Now that I live with flatmates who actually get a lot of stuff done, the difference in my behavior is insane. Their productivity keeps me accountable and my productivity inspires them to keep going, creating a positive feedback loop in which we all pursue our dreams with relentless drive.
And yes, it’s as amazing as it sounds.
So, on a final note: a woman who’s ambitious and self-driven surrounds herself with friends who are cut from the same cloth.
Find people who inspire you to be your highest self.