What Are Your Long-Term Ambitions?

Someone asked me today what my long-term ambitions are. Like, not just in a conversational sense–they wanted to know, specifically, what my ambitions are. Here’s the closest answer I could come up with:

Let me begin with where I am now. I’m the Director of Operations at a Newman Center (a Catholic church on a secular college campus). I have a variety of responsibilities, few of which I’m truly passionate about, but there’s enough variety and autonomy that I enjoy coming to work every day (aside from the most stressful part of my job). I augment my reasonable paycheck with little side projects here and there.

I would say that my long-term ambition is autonomy. I’d love for writing/publishing/Blank Slate Press to be a part of that, as well as one or several of my own ventures (TypeTribe, others). These are the things that drive me.

What’s interesting to me–and maybe to you–is that I no longer have a specific long-term plan. Like, when I was a kid, I wanted to be a robot inventor or an architect. Specific careers. Specific goals. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that there are a variety of jobs that could satisfy me. For me, the key isn’t the job itself, it’s the autonomy that comes with certain jobs.

Malcolm Gladwell writes about this in his book Outliers. He says that the three things that make work satisfying are (1) autonomy, (2) complexity, and (3) the connection between effort and value. Do one of those stand out more than the others to you? Gladwell says that you need all three to be truly satisfied.

It’s also interesting to me that this person asked me what my long-term ambitions are, and I immediately thought about my career–not about my health or family. I don’t know what that means, but I’m not sure I like it.

What are your long-term ambitions?