“Why do I have no ambition?”: 14 reasons why and what to do about it

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Many people are driven by ambition (with some, a little bit too much.) After all, it motivates us to achieve what we want to achieve.

That said, there are some who lack this drive called ambition.

And, if you’re one of them, you don’t need to worry. Here, you’ll find out the 14 reasons why it happens – and what you could do about them.

1) You lack motivation

According to Psychology Today, motivation is “the desire to act in service of a goal. It’s the crucial element in setting and attaining our objectives.”

It could be extrinsic – which is motivated by rewards (or other people.) It could also be intrinsic, meaning something that comes from within.

According to experts, intrinsic motivation is better at pushing people to achieve what they wish to achieve.

Naturally, if you lack this motivation (even in the presence of the 120 motivational quotes here), your ambition will naturally follow.

What to do: Know the cause/s

The most important thing to do here is determine what causes your lack of motivation.

It could be your adaptive coping mechanism to deal with your parents who have uber-high expectations.

It could be a learning disability, perhaps attention deficit disorder.

It could be depression (more about this below) or other physical problems. The use of illegal substances may play a role as well.

Knowing what causes your lack of motivation may prod you to ‘wake up’ and do what you need to do!

2) You have low self-esteem

Having low self-esteem can affect the quality of your life. Not only can it get the way of your happiness, but it can also take a toll on your achievements.

As author Barrie Davenport explained in her MSNBC interview:

“Low confidence makes us doubt our abilities and judgment and prevents us from taking calculated risks, setting ambitious goals and acting on them.”

What to do: Explore your personal power

The most effective way to overcome your low self-esteem is to believe in yourself.

In other words, it’s time for you to tap into your personal power.

You see, we all have an incredible amount of power and potential within us, but most of us never tap into it. We become bogged down in self-doubt and limiting beliefs. We stop doing what brings us true happiness.

I learned this from the shaman Rudá Iandê. He’s helped thousands of people align work, family, spirituality, and love so they can unlock the door to their personal power.

He has a unique approach that combines traditional ancient shamanic techniques with a modern-day twist. It’s an approach that uses nothing but your own inner strength – no gimmicks or fake claims of empowerment.

Because true empowerment needs to come from within.

In his excellent free video, Rudá explains how you can create the life you’ve always dreamed of and increase attraction in your partners, and it’s easier than you might think.

So if you’re tired of living in frustration, dreaming but never achieving, and living in self-doubt, you need to check out his life-changing advice.
Click here to watch the free video.

3) You’re stuck in the past

“The past stands to simply feel more comfortable, safe, and predictable,” which is why many people remain stuck in it, explained life coach Gwen Dittmar in her interview.

And while living in the past does feel good, it can make you feel fearful about the present and the future.

You think it wouldn’t be as good as your past, so you lack the drive to achieve anything right now.

What to do: Be mindful

If you want to break free from your past and release your attachments, then you should consider the art of mindfulness. It’s all about letting go of stress – and living in the moment.

Explains Lachlan Brown, HackSpirit founder:

“Being mindful means giving your mind a break from rehashing the past or worrying about the future. Instead, we appreciate and accept the present.

“Being mindful means realizing that our lives consist of moments and that each present moment is what we have.”

The good news about mindfulness is that it’s easy to do. In fact, here are five techniques that you could quickly adopt today.

4) You’re afraid of rejection

“The desire for acceptance and the fear of rejection informs many of the actions in our lives and the way we live and interact,” explains psychotherapist Adele Wilde.

In other words, the possibility of rejection can affect your level of achievement and ambition, among many other things.

Because of your fear of being, say, ridiculed, you’ve managed to become an unassertive people-pleaser.

As a result, you have a hard time speaking up for yourself – and asking for what you need (or want.)

What to do: Stop the negative self-talk!

Don’t think that you’ll be rejected when you haven’t even tried doing something.

As Healthline writer Crystal Raypole explains it:

“If you believe someone will reject you because you aren’t good enough, this fear can move forward with you and become a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

So instead of dwelling on the negative side of things, look at the bright side. These eight tips should help you have a more optimistic outlook in life.

5) You have a fixed mindset

As the name suggests, a fixed mindset is one that is stable and unchangeable.

According to a Harvard Business School (HBS) report, someone with a fixed mindset believes that they “don’t already have the skills or intelligence to complete a task” and that “there’s no chance of improvement.”

What to do: Adopt a growth mindset

“When you have a growth mindset, you believe you can gain the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed, which makes every challenge a learning opportunity,” explains the report mentioned above.

And in order to achieve this, you can delve into opportunities such as networking and knowledge-sharing.

In addition, “reading articles and books on topics you’re interested in, and brainstorming and problem-solving with others (can help you) gain new perspectives.”

Want to do more? Here are six key steps that can help you cultivate a growth mindset, according to career coach Jeanette Brown.

6) You’re a procrastinator

Are you one who believes the mantra “Why do it today when you can do it tomorrow?”

You’re probably a procrastinator who’ll delay things as much as possible.

According to experts, delaying things is more than just a time management problem.

“The particular nature of our aversion depends on the given task or situation…It might also result from deeper feelings related to the task, such as self-doubt, low self-esteem, anxiety or insecurity,” cites a New York Times article.

In this case, it may be affecting your drive – which is why you don’t have any goals or dreams right now.

What to do: Do it now!

Instead of relegating your ambition to the wayside, experts believe it’s best to do it now.

Reminds the New York Times article above:

“Those feelings will still be there whenever we come back to it, along with increased stress and anxiety, feelings of low self-esteem and self-blame…

“Over time, chronic procrastination has not only productivity costs but measurably destructive effects on our mental and physical health. These include chronic stress, general psychological distress and low life satisfaction, symptoms of depression and anxiety, and poor health behaviors.”

I know it’s easier said than done. That’s why it’s essential to follow these 18 effective tips that will surely help you be more productive. This can help you reconnect with the ambition you’ve brushed to the wayside in the long run.

7) You feel overwhelmed

We all feel overwhelmed – but not all people can easily manage it. In some, it could lead to a total lack of ambition.

As to why this happens, Orlando Health experts point to ‘increased apathy’ resulting from intrusive thoughts or stress-related sleeping problems.

In simpler terms, when you feel overwhelmed, you’re no longer enthusiastic about doing things anymore.

Being overwhelmed can also lead to withdrawal, which may lead you to lose interest in the things you once loved doing.

What to do: Focus on one thing

According to this teaching from Zen Buddhist philosophy, “If you can commit to one doing one thing at a time, you’ll be more engaged in each and every moment and more focused.”

Research shows that humans are not adept at multi-tasking, anyhow.

By taking one small step at a time, you can avoid the overwhelming feeling that’s hindering you from achieving your dreams.

8) Significant changes are occurring in your life

Sometimes, people lose ambition because of the significant events that happen in their life.

According to a Forbes article by executive coach Kristi Hedges:

“A recent study by the Families and Work Institute found that workers begin losing their ambition to get promoted or seek out more responsibilities around age 35. Researchers attributed this decline in motivation to the demands of having children.”

A Help Guide article echoes this:

“Many people are juggling new work responsibilities as they enter midlife. If you don’t switch careers, you might reach more senior positions at your current job. But, even if those positions offer higher pay, they will come with new responsibilities that increase your stress.

“Other middle-aged adults find that their career is plateauing. Repetition in your daily tasks might contribute to a lack of fulfillment in the workplace.”

What to do: Find your sense of purpose

Getting over this ‘hump’ involves two key factors: accepting the change and maintaining a sense of purpose.

So let me ask you now: What is your purpose in life?

Well, I know it’s a tricky question to answer!

And there are far too many people trying to tell you it will just “come to you” and to focus on “raising your vibrations” or finding some vague kind of inner peace.

Self-help gurus are out there preying on people’s desires to make money and selling them techniques that really don’t work for achieving dreams.


Sage burning ceremonies with some vaguely indigenous chanting music in the background.

The truth is that visualization and positive vibes won’t always bring you closer to your dreams. If any, they can actually drag you back into wasting your life on a fantasy.

But it’s hard to deal with ambition when you’re being hit with so many different claims.

You can end up trying so hard and not finding the answers you need that your life and dreams begin to feel hopeless.

You want solutions, but all you’re being told is to create a perfect utopia inside your own mind. It doesn’t work.

So let’s go back to basics:

Before you can experience a fundamental change, you need to really know your purpose.

I learned about the power of finding your purpose from watching Ideapod co-founder Justin Brown’s video on the hidden trap of improving yourself.

Justin used to be addicted to the self-help industry and New Age gurus, just like me. They sold him on ineffective visualization and positive thinking techniques.

Four years ago, he traveled to Brazil to meet the renowned shaman Rudá Iandê for a different perspective.

Rudá taught him a life-changing new way to find your purpose and use it to transform your life.

After watching the video, I also discovered and understood my purpose in life, and it’s no exaggeration to say it was a turning point in my life.

I can honestly say that this new way of finding success by finding your purpose actually helped me to deal with my lack of ambition.

Watch the free video here.

9) You’re experiencing a mid-life crisis

“Research consistently shows that people peak in happiness at ages 18 and 82, and hit a nadir of unhappiness at age 46 (or what people call mid-life crisis). This life pattern is called the U-bend of life,” explained Hedges.

Just think: when you were a new worker, you got excited over the prospects that may come your way.

But, as you hit the middle ages, you weren’t as motivated as you once were.

What to do: Stay open and be flexible

The good news is your ambition will bounce back again once you get older. That’s because you’re wiser and more accomplished now.

Most importantly, you no longer give a rat’s a$$ about what people think of you.

This, however, doesn’t mean you have to wait to be older to have ambition.

According to Hedges, the best way to go about this is to “stay open to our own development and be flexible to set our own path might be what ambition looks like as we age.”

She adds:

“Ironically, this enhanced perspective may be one of the qualities that allow us to be better at what we do.”


What are your values in life?

When you know your values, you are in a better position to develop meaningful goals and move forward in life.

Download the free values checklist by the highly acclaimed career coach Jeanette Brown to instantly learn what your values really are.

Download the values exercise.


10) You’re highly dependent on others

Picture this: you’ve had family and friends to motivate you most of your life. Maybe they’re busy, or perhaps, some of them have gone.

Now that there’s nobody to push you, you can’t seem to push yourself.

It’s not surprising. A report has stated that “excessive dependence on an external power can make you a conformist. You give up your ambition. You stick with what life offers you, and you don’t try to get anything else.

What to do: Strive to be independent

While no man is an island, it will help to be a strong independent person. Doing so will help reduce your reliance on other people.

After all, the people you love can’t be around you always to motivate you.

To make things better, independence can help boost your confidence and self-esteem.

Explains a Dorset Council report:

“An increase in self-confidence means that you trust yourself to be competent in the situations you confront (the drive to pursue your ambition in this case. A boost in self-esteem, meanwhile, gives a positive outlook on yourself.”

Both of these are sure to give you the ambition boost you need!

11) It’s because of your parents

Your parents do more than just shape your past – they can help dictate your future ambition as well.

See, if you have successful parents, you will want to aspire to be just like them. And, even though this is not the case, they may drive your ambition by setting some high expectations.

In some cases, you may even get your ambition – as with most of your traits – from your parents.

“Ambitious parents have children who are genetically predisposed to be ambitious,” explains a report.

Without any of these growing up, you may not be as driven to pursue things once you’ve gotten older.

What to do: Cultivate your ambition

Although you’re way past the parent-rearing stage, you can still cultivate your ambition by yourself.

As Corinna Horne of Better Help explains:

“Ambition is not an inborn trait. It can be learned and cultivated, the same as any other positive trait.”

So if you want to change the tides and be full of ambition, here’s what Sherrie Campbell of Entrepreneur Magazine encourages you to do:

  • Be willing to make sacrifices.
  • Be eager to learn.
  • Be creative and passionate.
  • Be responsible and self-sufficient.

12) You may be depressed

Depression causes various parts of your brain – including those in charge of learning, memory, thinking, and planning – to shrink. The result? A lack of motivation.

To make things worse, this depression and lack of motivation may lead you to care about yourself less. Think about alcoholism and a lack of sleep. Both of these can affect your motivation. I’ll discuss them in detail below.

What to do: See a professional

Apart from the lack of ambition, you may also be experiencing subtle signs that you shouldn’t ignore. That includes irritability and a lack of sleep, among many other things.

Clearly, the best way to go about this is to seek professional help. They can provide the best course of treatment. Then, with the proper treatment, you can regain the ambition you once lost.

13) You lack sleep

Are you sleeping less than eight hours a night? Then it may be driving you to, well, having a lower ‘drive’ in life.

For one, sleeplessness can affect your motivation. As mentioned, it’s a significant factor behind your ambition.

“Along with a lack of focus and diminished creative capacities, participants also indicated a reduced motivation to learn and be less able to manage competing demands,” explained a Hult University report.

To make matters worse, “Feelings of withdrawal and a lack of optimism about the future were also frequently cited, further supporting the relationship between poor sleep and poor mental health.”

What to do: Get as much zzzz’s as possible!

And, if you often find yourself tossing and turning every night, following the CDC’s tips for better sleep should help:

  • Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool.
  • Avoid using electronic devices before sleeping.
  • Don’t eat large meals or drink caffeinated beverages before bedtime.
  • Exercise – it can help you fall asleep faster!
  • Have a consistent sleep routine.

14) You have an alcohol dependency

Alcohol is a depressant. It can affect your thoughts and feelings.

“It may stop you from finding ways to cope and maintain your self-esteem,” explains a Health Service Executive report.

As mentioned above, having low self-esteem can affect your drive in life.

Consequently, alcoholism can also lead to depression. Again, this can contribute to your lack of motivation and ambition.

What to do: Make a change

If you want to regain the ambition you’ve lost, then you need to say goodbye to your alcoholic ways. That means consulting with a professional, attending self-help programs, taking the proper medications, and undergoing therapy, among many other things.

Alcoholism treatment is not only good for your motivation – it’s good for your overall health as well.

Final thoughts

There are many reasons why you lack ambition. Intrinsically, it may be due to your diminished motivation, low self-esteem, and fear of rejection.

On the other hand, it may be caused by your depression, lack of sleep, or alcoholism.

Whatever the reason, you can do something about it.

It’s just a matter of finding your sense of purpose and tapping into your personal power.

Before you know it, you’ll be reaching heights unlike never before!

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