Balancing Ambition and Contentment
By Dave Ramsey
Author, The Total Money Makeover
These days it pays to be smart about money. That's why it's important to take this wise counsel from financial expert Dave Ramsey.
Ambition vs. contentment
How do you balance ambition with contentment?
This is a really good question! To be honest, I don’t believe they require balance. You thought ambition was the opposite of contentment, didn’t you? I don’t look at it that way. It’s not like a teeter-totter. They don’t have to balance out, because they’re not on the same spectrum.
I’m content and ambitious. I’m content with what we have and what God has entrusted to us. On the other hand, I’m not content to sit around and do nothing just because we’ve been blessed. To me, that kind of attitude is not contentment, it’s apathy. I do what I do because I’m passionate about helping people. You can have peace and contentment and at the same time be a real go-getter—the kind of person who still moves stuff around and makes things happen. They’re not inconsistent concepts. I think problems are created when ambitious people are driven by a lack of contentment.
Let me ask you this: Do you think Jesus was content? Do you think He was ambitious? The answer to both questions is yes! You’d have to be pretty ambitious, I think, to take on the sins of the world. At the same time, do you know of anyone else who had more contentment than He did?
More than anything, I think it has to do with what’s driving your ambition. If discontentment or a quest for “stuff” is the motivating factor, then maybe they are on the same spectrum. But I think that’s a really bad way to live your life. You can get tons and tons of stuff, but no matter what you get or how much you get, you’re still not going to really be happy until you find contentment!
Debt freedom more important than marriage?
When does reaching the point of being debt-free become more important than marriage? We’re following your plan and doing the debt snowball, but my husband’s been working a second job, and it’s really cutting into our together-time at night and straining our relationship. I’m afraid we’re going to end up debt-free, but divorced. When does one outweigh the other?
When does one outweigh the other? Maybe when you stop whining?
Seriously, getting out of debt is never more important than your marriage. But families go through all kinds of stuff, and one of those things is cleaning up messes they’ve made. It’s not always fun, but there’s a price to pay if you want to win with your money or anything else.
It sounds to me like your husband has gone gazelle intense about getting out of debt, and in the process may have left you behind a little bit. I don’t recommend that! He probably needs to take some time to come back and emotionally re-connect with you. And I’m sure some good, old-fashioned back rubs and words of encouragement from you are in order. Your man could use them if he’s been working two jobs!
But there’s plenty of time for snuggling and stuff later. Right now, you’re trying to do something—something really important—for the good of your family. I know it can be difficult, but it won’t last forever. And I can promise you this: Once you’re done, you’ll be very glad you toughed it out!
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Dave Ramsey is a nationally-syndicated radio talk show host and author of the New York Times bestselling books, Financial Peace Revisited and The Total Money Makeover. His life-changing advice in the area of personal finance helps people get out of debt, stay out of debt and build wealth that will last a lifetime and beyond.
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