Aspiration isn’t a bad thing on its own. We all have things we want to do with our lives. However, I’m finding I have a problem with anyone declaring they are an aspiring anything. “Aspiring marketer” or “aspiring author” – you’re basically claiming an adjunct to something that you aren’t. I could say I’m an aspiring fighter pilot, never do anything about it, and never be forced to lose the title associating me with airplanes. It’s misleading, not just to people I tell, but to myself as well.
Aspiration is not the same as enthusiasm.
Being an enthusiast is different, and it’s worth mentioning because people so often misuse the idea of aspiration to describe their status as an enthusiast. Being a media enthusiast covers a very different set of expectations, for the claimant and for their audience, than does a claim to being an aspiring media professional. Yet, we misinterpret the use of aspiration as being simply an extension of enthusiasm.
Enthusiasm is a good thing – until it goes too far.
Fanatics and stalkers aren’t limited to sports teams and people. Stalking an aspiration happens more often than I think we’d like to admit; our ambitions usually push us to action, but in some cases, can become the cart before the horse, causing us to be led by our perceived calling.
Being In Love with a concept, position or personal trajectory, without recognizing the phenomenon, can be dangerous.
It’s off-putting. You’ve seen this happen – some of us have had it happen to ourselves, even. The pattern is always the same; someone begins to insinuate themselves in a situation, and eventually instigates some form of change. The aim, naturally, is to fix the problem, or arrive Just In Time to be the hero, and end up as a de facto thought leader.
Have you done this? I’ve done this. But I’ve stopped. You should too.
Being In Love with an idea – a process, a position, a job – is not a bad thing on its face, but to a certain extent, it’s limiting. This level of enthusiasm can be off-putting in some cases, or at least can serve to distract you from the real goal of producing meaningful work.
An aspiring novelist In Love with writing will never think anything’s good enough to ship out the door and call finished. An aspiring life coach who buys so thoroughly into their own message of personal worth that they can’t stand to be slighted in any way will never land prominent speaking gigs.
To a certain degree, falling out of love with your aspirations, and continuing to strive for them, is one of the major signs of real maturation and personal progress.
Love is good. Blinded love, not so much.
Image by Lawraa.