Thursday, 16 June 2011

Ambition, Contentment & Impact

There is this sweet spot of tension between what I want and what I have that I'm continually dancing around.

Right now, I have the gift of flexibility in my schedule and time. On so many drizzly 7am London bus rides into the office I salivated over this.

But because I thrive on change, there's a huge part of me that is desperate for something new, a challenge. I mean, I've lived in Seattle for one whole year already -- it almost feels like we should be thinking about moving again! (Don't worry, we're not.)  A huge part of me, instead of waking up grateful for this golden season -- this time to go to coffee shops and write my book, to meet up with friends during the middle of the day, to savor life on my own sweet time -- is ready for what's next. I don't know why I'm so quick to rush this season.  Self-sabotage? Ha!

I've had to keep myself in check lately, to remind myself not to swing too far to the ambition end of the pendulum, the what I want side. It almost feels un-American, because here, in general, we love the addiction of success. I'm certainly not immune. One of the things I LOVE about being home is that in the US, in Seattle in particular, there is this intangible drive for innovation and, well, success. I hear it in conversations and can just feel a sense of positivity and forward movement. I think it's fantastic, in moderation.

As a naturally ambitious person nurtured in a success-driven society, contentment is a skill I've had to learn. And re-learn. Right now, in the middle of this tension between what I have and what I don't, I'm practicing through the simple act of listing what I'm thankful for. Contentment takes a while to seep in and take over, but it's worth the fight.

I'm also keeping my priorities in check. What motivates me, beyond success and contentment, is impact. I've had to remember lately that what I want out of my time, my work, my creative pursuits and my relationships is to make a positive impact. It doesn't have to be earth-shattering, but in my own small way in the season I'm in, I want to make a difference. I want conversations that bring life and small acts that remind people to hope. I want to care more about stepping out of my comfort zone to encourage and love and less about what people think of me. I want prayer that moves the real mountains of confusion and isolation (among other first world mountains) that people around me face every day.

Here in this tension I want to be deliberate, and I'm starting with this post.

Does contentment come naturally for you? What are you secrets to enjoying what you have instead of always being ready for what's next? 

{photo from }


Joanna Roddy said...

I love your statements about Americana and finding your own path in it. I also love "I want prayer that moves the real mountains of confusion and isolation (among other first world mountains) that people around me face every day." Amen.

This reminds me of something else you once told me: Remember that wherever you are in life, you once dreamed about being there. Try not to be so focused on the next place you're trying to get.

Claire Carey said...

Beautiful, Alisha.

I really appreciate the distinction you made between ambition and impact. I think the two are often confused with one another because we want a formula that we can follow. (i.e., If I am busy, that means I am important, popular, productive, etc.) It takes much more humility and patience to wait and work for precision and impact.

It also takes more grace to express gratitude than disappointment--I have so far to go in this area! Thanks for the encouragement. :)

alisha said...

Thanks for the comments ladies. :)

Kristen said...

such a beautiful, thoughtful post, alisha. i appreciate your words, and even more than that, your heart. i see these qualities in you that you striving for, that you have named here!

i also really enjoyed reading joey's and claire's comments, too. great insights and reminders all around, ladies.

alisha said...

Thanks for the encouragement Kristen. :)

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