There is a quote that I hate … “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it you will land among the stars.” Fuck that.
Don’t shoot for the moon. Whether you are highly ambitious or not, shoot for attainable goals and once you accomplish them, be at peace with where you are in life or set new attainable goals. This quote teaches people to shoot for lofty goals, and acts like the consequences of shooting too high is merely to be slightly short of those goals, but that isn’t the case, the consequences can be vastly more dire. In shooting for loft goals you will forgo many more reasonable opportunities, and few people will have the self-knowledge to make such a commitment without large consequences.
Being a very ambitious person, it is tempting to encourage my children to have the same amount of ambition, but I won’t. I am going to praise motherhood, relaxing employment, unspectacular lifestyles, and loving a commonly considered mediocre life.
The rewards I find in life are much more simple than I originally thought. I no longer desire to be a billionaire. I don’t want to write books, be a famous baseball player, win an Olympic medal or be remembered for thousands of years. I still want to make a lot of money, have nice things, and own businesses … but I see that now as more of a personality quirk.
We live in a culture that thinks building people up and giving them self-esteem is what leads them to greatness and happiness. I am much more inclined to think that it sets them up for failure, delusions, and cynicism. I think joy in life comes from acceptance of who we are while pushing for something just a little better than what we have … and this isn’t a lesson that is taught in school.
Mediocrity is admirable if you can be satisfied with it. I would much rather be a factory worker who is satisfied with their place in life rather than a millionaire who feels the need to keep pushing for more. I would be proud of my daughters being moms, or CEOs of large companies. I really feel no impulse to push them towards the more ambitious path.