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Losing my ambition (that's me in the corner)
Old 07-08-2017, 01:39 PM   #1
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Losing my ambition (that's me in the corner)

Anyone else find that, as they get older, their drive and ambition diminishes?

What I mean is, I used to have lots of dreams and goals for myself. I read motivational books, strived to really do something with my life, dreamed big (not in conventional ways, but my own version), worked hard in my career, and was pretty goal-oriented. But as I've gotten older (55 now), I find a lot of that stuff has just dropped away.
  • I don't care about career success. I was never really one for "climbing the ladder," but I could not care less now.
  • I don't have any big dreams or passion projects. I have nothing in particular that I really feel driven to accomplish or achieve.
  • I'm not just talking in terms of career, but in terms of personal life, relationships, physical fitness, or spiritual growth. It's not that none of that matters at all. I just don't feel the urgency I used to. It's like, "Well, if it happens in the natural course of things, that's good, but I'm not going to make a special project out of it."
  • I used to be much more disciplined. I'd have goal sheets for myself every week about what I wanted to get done, to stay on track with my overall goals. I don't do any of that anymore. It seems like too much pressure and structure.
  • I used to want to be a writer. Don't care anymore. Other big dreams have also fallen to the wayside. Not as disappointments, but just as things I've shed.
  • At work (I still work part-time), I just come in and do the job, but that's about it. I don't strive to improve. I don't strive for excellence (lol). I keep my professional face intact, but underneath I'm not particularly motivated.

A number of factors are contributing, I think -- increased maturity (so a lot of what used to seem important, doesn't); decreased energy levels; overcoming narcissistic needs to be special; overcoming self-esteem issues that led to a need to prove myself and over-compensate; comfortable competence in my work so I can relax; unearthing more of who I really am, which honestly is sort of lazy and isn't all that interested in achieving, accomplishing, etc. Also, feeling like I've done a lot of hard work in my life, and I just want to take it easy.

Anyhow, just wondering if others have noticed this diminished drive or ambition, as they've gotten older or shifted into retirement or semi-retirement?
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Old 07-08-2017, 01:47 PM   #2
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Absolutely. I get very lazy. I used to like to do things but now I take my time. Even for food, I will eat lunch when I'm hungry, not when my husband eats it.
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Old 07-08-2017, 01:50 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by ER Eddie View Post
Anyone else find that, as they get older, their drive and ambition diminishes?

What I mean is, I used to have lots of dreams and goals for myself. I read motivational books, strived to really do something with my life, dreamed big (not in conventional ways, but my own version), worked hard in my career, and was pretty goal-oriented. But as I've gotten older (55 now), I find a lot of that stuff has just dropped away.
  • I don't care about career success. I was never really one for "climbing the ladder," but I could not care less now.
  • I don't have any big dreams or passion projects. I have nothing in particular that I really feel driven to accomplish or achieve.
  • I'm not just talking in terms of career, but in terms of personal life, relationships, physical fitness, or spiritual growth. It's not that none of that matters at all. I just don't feel the urgency I used to. It's like, "Well, if it happens in the natural course of things, that's good, but I'm not going to make a special project out of it."
  • I used to be much more disciplined. I'd have goal sheets for myself every week about what I wanted to get done, to stay on track with my overall goals. I don't do any of that anymore. It seems like too much pressure and structure.
  • I used to want to be a writer. Don't care anymore. Other big dreams have also fallen to the wayside. Not as disappointments, but just as things I've shed.
  • At work (I still work part-time), I just come in and do the job, but that's about it. I don't strive to improve. I don't strive for excellence (lol). I keep my professional face intact, but underneath I'm not particularly motivated.

A number of factors are contributing, I think -- increased maturity (so a lot of what used to seem important, doesn't); decreased energy levels; overcoming narcissistic needs to be special; overcoming self-esteem issues that led to a need to prove myself and over-compensate; comfortable competence in my work so I can relax; unearthing more of who I really am, which honestly is sort of lazy and isn't all that interested in achieving, accomplishing, etc. Also, feeling like I've done a lot of hard work in my life, and I just want to take it easy.

Anyhow, just wondering if others have noticed this diminished drive or ambition, as they've gotten older or shifted into retirement or semi-retirement?
[/QUOTE] Absolutely. I get very lazy. I used to like to do things but now I take my time. Even for food, I will eat lunch when I'm hungry, not when my husband eats it.[/QUOTE]


Sounds like you two have entered a more relaxed stage of life. I'm right there with you - it suits me!
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Old 07-08-2017, 02:01 PM   #4
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Anyhow, just wondering if others have noticed this diminished drive or ambition, as they've gotten older or shifted into retirement or semi-retirement?
Do I detect a bit of nostalgia for your past life as a driven and ambitious person?

I no longer get up in the middle of the night, every night, to work on my own software development projects because the best hours of every day were spent running in the corporate hamster wheel. However, I have no nostalgia for those days. My current lifestyle is much more healthy - 6 hours of sleep at night with a 2 hour nap in the afternoon (try that in the corporate world! )

I'm mildly miffed that the aging process is eventually going to cause me to involuntarily scale back, but right now at age 54 I'm still progressing in my favorite areas.
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Old 07-08-2017, 02:05 PM   #5
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54? 55? Punk kids!!
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Old 07-08-2017, 02:21 PM   #6
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Yea but..
I think I thought I saw you try......

I guess you're right. I don't have the drive I did thirty years ago. I do like to think I'm more effective than thirty years ago though
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Losing my ambition (that's me in the corner)
Old 07-08-2017, 02:43 PM   #7
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Losing my ambition (that's me in the corner)

I have become more aware of certain things in my old age. I was brought up with a relentlessly hard work ethic and considerable fire in the belly, which ultimately allowed the world to easily deliver a sucker punch to my gut for most of my life. I felt that fire was part of who I am, and maybe it was, but as I grow older and more cynical I see that I was a fool. Somehow along the way my drive became directed at goals that meant nothing to me but meant lots to others who could not have cared less about me or about any betterment of the world or industry. So in that sense, I wasted 61.5 years.

HOWEVER, I am making up for that now in retirement. My ambition and drive have never vanished, but are now firmly engaged in the pursuit of my own interests and intense joie de vivre. Retirement is great, and several times each week I still find myself up at 3 AM heatedly/intensely researching whatever matters to me, on the internet. It's just that nobody else is profiting from the knowledge that I gain and the conclusions that I am able to finally see and formulate and refine for myself. I don't think that's necessarily a negative.

Sure beats TV....

P.S. - - guess my answer is no, I haven't lost my ambition and it is there as strong as ever. It is redirected and I do with it what I want. It is mine.
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Old 07-08-2017, 03:38 PM   #8
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I am more driven and disciplined than ever, although it's not for work (my part-time job is fairly easy). I am very aware there is not that much time left to accomplish things I kept putting off because I was working full-time.

Also I get tired quicker than I used to, and so does my husband. So we have to plan things out more carefully, because that burst of energy can't be counted on any more.
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Old 07-08-2017, 04:02 PM   #9
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Do I detect a bit of nostalgia for your past life as a driven and ambitious person?

I no longer get up in the middle of the night, every night, to work on my own software development projects because the best hours of every day were spent running in the corporate hamster wheel. However, I have no nostalgia for those days. My current lifestyle is much more healthy - 6 hours of sleep at night with a 2 hour nap in the afternoon (try that in the corporate world! )

I'm mildly miffed that the aging process is eventually going to cause me to involuntarily scale back, but right now at age 54 I'm still progressing in my favorite areas.
No, I don't feel nostalgia for the driven years. They wore me out, and like W2R said, a lot was in the service of purposes that were not really my own. A lot of mine were driven by insecurity and the need to be superior or special somehow, or else just an externalized focus. I'm glad to be rid of all that. It's nice to not have to try so hard all the time.

I do feel a little guilty, sometimes. There's a little voice in my head, saying, "You're lazy" or "You're wasting your time" or "You're not accomplishing much." It's not a loud voice, and I can talk back to it pretty effectively, but I do get a little uneasy about it, at times. It's probably why I made the thread, to reassure myself that others have gone through a similar process, or to hear others' perspective.

Aside from the little qualms, I like this kind of life much better than the driven, achieving one. I like taking it easy. I feel like I've earned it. It is less tense. My big "goals" right now are to 1) do what I feel like doing, and 2) do whatever interests me, even if it accomplishes nothing in particular.
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Old 07-08-2017, 04:55 PM   #10
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That is me. I started losing my ambition at about 45.
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Old 07-08-2017, 04:57 PM   #11
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Because of this thread I went and sort out one box of clothes from my daughter's pile. To be donated. Felt good about it.
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Old 07-08-2017, 05:11 PM   #12
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I started losing my ambition when I first reduced my weekly hours worked from 37.5 to 20 back in 2001, at age 38. I knew I wasn't going to be promoted at work any more, and I was beginning to take back my personal life. I was s burnt out from the commuting to work full-time.


In the next 7 years, my part-time work arrangements changed, and not always for the better. But in the middle of those 7 years (around age 43), my attention to retiring early became my driving force and ambition. Once I achieved that great goal and achievement, that was it. At 54, I'm at the top of my game as far as life achievements go.


I can think of only one more thing I would like to achieve for the rest of my life: I would like to own a house at some point. It isn't a huge priority, so if that never happens it's okay. Just being out of the daily rat race and having eliminated the hated and awful commute, even as little as 2 days a week (which is what I had in the last 17 months of my career), has been my greatest achievement.
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Old 07-08-2017, 05:13 PM   #13
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I think the OP is expressing the "out to pasture" syndrome. Kind of like my youngest daughters Quarter horse mare she was in events with years ago and won a lot. Now the old gal (the mare) just stands in the pasture eating grass and swatting flies.
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Old 07-08-2017, 05:41 PM   #14
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I think the OP is expressing the "out to pasture" syndrome. Kind of like my youngest daughters Quarter horse mare she was in events with years ago and won a lot. Now the old gal (the mare) just stands in the pasture eating grass and swatting flies.
Yeah, pretty much. The old grey mare, she ain't what she used to be.

One more factor that has contributed to my lack of ambition has been reading simplicity literature, which has helped to detach me from the modern drive to acquire, to define myself by my work or possessions, keep up with the Joneses, etc. I've also read some books extolling the virtues of leisure, taking it easy, etc. So all of that has helped to free me from social programming about what I "should" be doing or accomplishing.

To clarify a little, I still have some goals. I can't just drift without any sort of purpose. That wouldn't feel right. So I have some sense of where "north" is on my compass, and I think I'm headed in that general direction. But the things I set my mind on now are little things. The big goals, dreams, and ambitions, and all the drive/push behind them ... those seem to be a thing of the past.
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Old 07-08-2017, 05:53 PM   #15
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I was going to respond to this thread earlier but I just couldn't get motivated to think about it. Still haven't thought about it, just don't seem to care anymore.
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Old 07-08-2017, 05:56 PM   #16
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I have become more aware of certain things in my old age. I was brought up with a relentlessly hard work ethic and considerable fire in the belly, which ultimately allowed the world to easily deliver a sucker punch to my gut for most of my life. I felt that fire was part of who I am, and maybe it was, but as I grow older and more cynical I see that I was a fool. Somehow along the way my drive became directed at goals that meant nothing to me but meant lots to others who could not have cared less about me or about any betterment of the world or industry. So in that sense, I wasted 61.5 years.

HOWEVER, I am making up for that now in retirement. My ambition and drive have never vanished, but are now firmly engaged in the pursuit of my own interests and intense joie de vivre. Retirement is great, and several times each week I still find myself up at 3 AM heatedly/intensely researching whatever matters to me, on the internet. It's just that nobody else is profiting from the knowledge that I gain and the conclusions that I am able to finally see and formulate and refine for myself. I don't think that's necessarily a negative.

Sure beats TV....

P.S. - - guess my answer is no, I haven't lost my ambition and it is there as strong as ever. It is redirected and I do with it what I want. It is mine.
Right!! At age 74 coming back out of ER (24 years - can I give myself a gold watch? ) as a dirt farmer or shall I say a high class carbon sequester.

All over U Tube and the internet researching. Pestering the Missouri Conservation Dept.

heh heh heh - sometimes I think of past ER days Curmudgeon wise, watching paint dry and grass grow and wonder what lit my fire.

Latest book ordered is Drawdown edited by Paul Hawkin. Grin - watching grass(CRP mind you) grow has a purpose. 3 to 4% organic matter and sequestering their little roots away.
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Old 07-08-2017, 06:25 PM   #17
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Yeah, pretty much. The old grey mare, she ain't what she used to be.

One more factor that has contributed to my lack of ambition has been reading simplicity literature, which has helped to detach me from the modern drive to acquire, to define myself by my work or possessions, keep up with the Joneses, etc. I've also read some books extolling the virtues of leisure, taking it easy, etc. So all of that has helped to free me from social programming about what I "should" be doing or accomplishing.

To clarify a little, I still have some goals. I can't just drift without any sort of purpose. That wouldn't feel right. So I have some sense of where "north" is on my compass, and I think I'm headed in that general direction. But the things I set my mind on now are little things. The big goals, dreams, and ambitions, and all the drive/push behind them ... those seem to be a thing of the past.
Great reference to R.E.M. in the title

Like that you (OP) continued to respond as other's posted, seems like an active topic in your mind. Hope the responses help you clarify your thoughts.

I was aggressive in the earlier parts of my career and accomplished many of the things I wanted, mostly through force of will. Now understand I often wasn't a nice guy, even though I always delivered - it was the latter that kept me employed, and there was often counseling about my "approach".

At about 45, realized I wasn't willing to do what it took to continue to climb the corporate ladder, found my niche, moderated my approach, and settled in. Fortunate to have worked for people who understood what I could do, let me do it and provided cover when my aggressive tendencies came to the fore.

I see myself in many of the OP's comments. Figured out what I could do well and calibrated my effort to produce results I was happy with, and my bosses found acceptable. Was it the absolute best I could do? No, but it was better than anyone else could do, enough to justify my pay, and I decided to be happy with that.

Not the compulsive list-maker I once was, and attribute that to having a better idea of what it takes to get the most important things done. The experience of caring for my terminally ill wife and our kids provided clarity on what those important things really are.

Still have much I would like to do, but if I don't get to it, I'll be fine. Focused now on a just a few things, and think often about making sure they are on the right path should it end earlier than I expect.

Love all the thoughtful people here and the ideas they raise
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Old 07-08-2017, 06:35 PM   #18
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54? 55? Punk kids!!
+1
And now my to do list has a single entry. NAP.
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Old 07-08-2017, 06:39 PM   #19
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No, I don't feel nostalgia for the driven years. They wore me out, and like W2R said, a lot was in the service of purposes that were not really my own. A lot of mine were driven by insecurity and the need to be superior or special somehow, or else just an externalized focus. I'm glad to be rid of all that. It's nice to not have to try so hard all the time.

I do feel a little guilty, sometimes. There's a little voice in my head, saying, "You're lazy" or "You're wasting your time" or "You're not accomplishing much." It's not a loud voice, and I can talk back to it pretty effectively, but I do get a little uneasy about it, at times. It's probably why I made the thread, to reassure myself that others have gone through a similar process, or to hear others' perspective.

Aside from the little qualms, I like this kind of life much better than the driven, achieving one. I like taking it easy. I feel like I've earned it. It is less tense. My big "goals" right now are to 1) do what I feel like doing, and 2) do whatever interests me, even if it accomplishes nothing in particular.


This bolded statement is what retirement is to me anyway. I've worked hard and saved to be able to do what I want, when I want (within reason!) and not feel guilty about any of it. If I want to putz in the garden for an hour or so, read a book, go for a hike, take a nap, or sit and do nothing, I can!
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Old 07-08-2017, 07:54 PM   #20
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I never suffered from ambition. My plan was to always do the least work possible to just get by. Once I had ambition thrust upon me and it didn't go well. I worked hard and took outside courses only to become unemployed.

I did my job well and the stuff I specified and started up always ran well. I sold millions for my Co. by dealing exclusively with engineers. I do not "schmooze".

I would start them up in the morning, take them out to lunch and drive home. Leave the phone in the car. Company car, company phone. They should be together.

My ambition has always been to do as much of what I wanted to do and the least possible of what other people wanted me to do.
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