Yes, it certainly is… Ambition is the fuel for the motivation, the fuel for achievement and the fuel to make us just get up and move about. But what the hell do you do when you feel like your ambition is missing… It can happen to the best of us, as I (Lilly Laudanum) am discovering…
Ambition is all I have ever known. When I was a nipper (and some of you have already heard this tale before!) it was my ambition to walk again after I was set on fire with petrol. The ambition was strong and I fell a few times while in hospital and supposedly resting the legs that had had skin grafts and operations on. But my ambition was to be like everyone else and get up and walk. So I did. That ambition drove me.
When I was about 10 years old, I told my granny I would be “famous”. And she said, ‘You will be infamous’. I didn’t really know the difference between the two, but I liked to think she was telling me the truth. I thought she had ‘super powers’ because she was psychic and the gypsy blood was strong in her. She regularly told me things that would happen (and they did). She would cast the future from crystal balls, that she kept wrapped up in a secret place in her flat (she also did some weird witchy, type things with sage and lavender and other stuff and spoke to her cats in tongues – would you argue with someone like that…).
At 14 or 15, me and some of my friends formed a band. Our ambition was to be the “female U2” as we liked U2 and I fancied myself a bit of a Larry Mullen (careful – I meant I played the drums). So that ambition drove us to write songs, get gigs (we blagged lots actually – even a free passes to Glastonbury festival with a certain indie band). We put on gigs ourselves, just so we could play (as admittedly not a lot of other promoters would book us.) We were young, and hungry. And not just to play live (we used to have slimfast shakes as it “gave us nutrients” when we couldn’t afford real food). The band morphed into our own sound (we sounded nothing at all like u2) and we played a lot of gigs – even Brixton Academy. I had another band where I sang – kind of like if the Cranes tried to do ministry – or a female led Godflesh but with a lot of blood – and the ambition took us into the pages of Melody Maker, NME and all that, as well as gigs on the London Circuit (including at the Astoria and Powerhaus)- which we thought was high profile at the time.
When all that folded, I used that ambition to try and become the best female music journalist I could. If I couldn’t make it making my own music, I would help other bands. I would bring the real stories that bands wanted to tell. Again, ambition drove me (with the added impetus – I wanted to be better than some of the male twats that actually said to my face I couldn’t possibly be a writer as I was a girl).
So fast forward a few years to now and my foray in burlesque. Initially, my ambition was for a troupe that DeeDee and I formed along with Lacey LaBasque to actually perform one show. and when we’d done that, we raised our bar – we needed to perform across the UK and London… and as a solo performer, to do the same. It was an ambition to be good at what I did and to be recognised for it (imagine how chuffed I was to win the British Crown of Burlesque and the World Burlesque Games, 2015!).
And it’s not just myself I have ambition for – I also want others to achieve their full potential (which includes anyone we teach and the ladies in my belly dance troupe the Lotus Sisters…)
I won’t go on about my dreams, etc anymore. But suffice to say, ambition is all I have known and ambition has been the driving force in my life. Ambition took me to London and ambition brought me to Wales (near Swansea, in fact, where there’s a strapline at the front of the station stating ‘ambition is critical’).
Yesterday, I felt I’d lost that ambition. The more I thought about it, the more morose I became. “I can’t believe it! My ambition is gone!” I thought (well actually wailed to the husbeuch and the cats). I couldn’t find it anywhere. It was as if I’d realised I had nothing to aim for. And I blamed it on the collapsed foot that I’m not supposed to be walking (let alone) dancing on. I lay about. I drank some wine and I went to bed.
Today, as they say, is another day. And if you have recognised yourself in any of the above (which is why I’ve written this rather lengthy piece), I’m not saying it’s easy, but you just have to get your head around things. I sat in the bath and had a good talk to myself. What do I want to do? What do I love to do? How can I make myself better at those things? I realised there is a lot to achieve – and more importantly, a lot I want to achieve (looking past the foot). There is always room for improvement in whatever I choose to do – and that is my motivator. I like to make people happy, so I started with myself this morning and danced to my cat. Just small steps can help when you feel you’ve hit an ambition slump…
- Realisation: often a break in ‘normal services’ is because you need a rest. You can’t have that drive all the time and you’ve probably had a mental or physical slump because you have too much going on. This is certainly true of my life. I’ve been trying to hold things together while a lot of other factors, including me and my husbeuch trying to care for his dad in sometimes overwhelming circumstances. And other things/worries connected with that (called “life” and “stuff that falls apart when others get old that you need to deal with ASAP”, I think) that have literally been dumped on us. And this might be why the motivation to do anything has waned.
- You need a rest: Don’t feel guilty about voicing how shitty you feel your day is. In fact, be vocal and tell people, don’t hold it in. AND don’t feel guilty about getting the blanket out and having a sofa day. Write off the day and start afresh tomorrow.
- Start small and think of the things you love that you have in your life and the things you love to do. These are the things that will inspire you. If you like loud music, put it on effing loud, for god’s sake! If you love singing (definitely not one for me!) do it at the top of your lungs (who gives a toss about the neighbours!). If you want to dance, do it, even if your cat is your only audience. Think about how good these things make you feel and feed from that good feeling.
- Look to the future: what goals or achievements have you got coming up? Perhaps you have a show? Perhaps it’s a class you really want to do. It might even be that it’s a goal you can now set for yourself – eg, ‘I want to be able to be at this skill level by this date and improve myself by this date – set yourself a series of goals and things to look forward to and work towards them. You can even put steps to achieving your goal as reminders in your phone calendar, so every day there’s a motivator.
- Allow yourself to feel unmotivated now and then. It’s normal (apparently!). But while you are in the mindset of motivate, do not sit down. Do it. Just do it.
- Reflection: start with a small reflection on your achievements throughout the day… Then build on this and pretty soon you will feel like your old self…
As I said, this loosing your ambition thing is new to me, and I feel a work in progress but realising all the above and planning exciting things to aim for is a good start.