There is a difference between ambition and dedication: the laziest person in the world can also be the most ambitious. Ambition describes an intention, an aspiration. Dedication describes commitment to that aspiration. Without action, ambition is irrelevant. It does not matter what you want to accomplish, it matters what you actually accomplish. To be successful is to be dedicated, and to be dedicated means to be active.
We all have things we want to achieve. However, how many of us are actively striving towards achieving it? How many of us are making time for our goals? And I don’t mean small goals, like losing ten pounds, I mean life-changing goals... goals that if accomplished, will leave a lasting imprint on our lives and the world. We all have them, even if they’re buried deep down within ourselves, nestled underneath doubt and fear. For one person, it may be to find the solution to world hunger. For another, it may be to start a vegan-friendly chain of restaurants. Each and every person on this Earth has a desire to do something amazing.
We have these desires embedded deep into our hearts, but we don’t have the passion needed for them to flourish. We want to make them a reality, but we don’t need to make them a reality. We don’t want food every day, we need food every day. It is our driving force, our sustenance. When we think of our goals, oftentimes we think of them with distant regard, as something that we will eventually accomplish.
But why not now?
Why don’t we see fulfilling our life goals as much of a necessity as eating three meals a day? We don’t hold off on feeding ourselves, we make it a priority. In our busy lives, we get sidetracked. We have to work, go to school, make time for our family and friends, and complete a multitude of other duties, which means we leave our most demanding goals on the backburner. We think to ourselves: "Developing that business plan can wait until the weekend, I have a paper due tonight” or “Finishing that novel can wait for a couple of months. I have to find a job.”
I get it. The majority of us don’t have the means to dedicate all of our time to focus on achieving our end goals. I surely don’t. My most important goal is to develop a non-profit organization, but I don’t believe I’ve even formed a plan for how I will accomplish that. Social activism is extremely important to me, but you won’t see me at any marches, protests, or volunteering with any organizations. I’m too busy with school, too busy trying to have an active social life, too busy trying to make money. I tell myself I’ll eventually start working on it… But when is it ever the right time?
The time is always right, but we will never act during this time until our desire transforms from a want to a need. In the famous words of Eric Thomas, “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you will be successful.”
I attended an event last week at the Douglass Student Center on the Rutgers New Brunswick campus. We watched the Kalief Browder documentary and later had a discussion about solutions that can be implemented in order to spurn prison reform and put an end to systemic racism in America. If I had to choose a single event that had the greatest effect on me, I’d have to choose watching that documentary with my peers and other members of the New Brunswick community (even if this event just happened recently.)
It was as if my eyes were opened. What the hell am I waiting for?
I see the injustice in my community, I see the injustice in the world, and the desire to fix it has been burning inside of me for years. My anger has grown, my pain has grown, my frustration with the world has grown… but I haven’t done a single thing to accomplish something that is so important to me. I haven’t done a single thing to banish this system which destroys lives and crushes the opportunity for all people to assert their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I haven’t done anything.
And that is not OK.
Yes, my grades are important. Yes, my social life is important. Yes, making sure my bank account doesn’t drop below -$5.50 is important, but so is saving my community from impending destruction. Honestly, it may be more important, and I can no longer be stagnant in my fight towards this.
None of us can afford to be stagnant anymore. None of us can afford to neglect what is important to us anymore. What social activism is to me, is what fashion is to someone else; or music; or acting, etc. You get the point. We all have something we want to accomplish that means so much to us that it determines our whole character, our whole sense of being, and we can’t allow this something to burn out and be diminished by our daily duties.
Our goals come first, not because we want to achieve them, but because we need to achieve them to live the fullest life possible. I don’t know about anyone else, but I cannot allow myself to live my whole life and never develop that non-profit. And I hope the girl that wants to be an actress doesn’t live her whole life without ever performing on broadway. And I hope the guy who wants to be a fashion designer doesn’t live his whole life without having his collection shown during Paris Fashion Week.
I no longer will allow myself to think of my social activism as something I eventually want to do. It will be something that is a part of my daily life because it matters, and nothing should stand in the way of that. Whatever it is that sets your heart on fire, that nourishes your spirit, I hope that you decide to make time for it from here on out. And don’t half-ass it. See your goal and go after it, even if you’re only taking baby steps. Dedication is not working to achieve something as quickly as possible. It’s just commitment to make sure you take every step needed to get there.Ask yourself: If I'm not working on achieving my life goals right now, then what am I doing?