Attention go-getters: Your ambition may land you the big job, the big house and the fancy car, but you’re also more likely to die sooner and have poorer health than your less-ambitious peers.
That’s the conclusion of a new study by researchers with the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. Reporting in the Journal of Applied Psychology, scientists said people who are considered ambitious attend the best colleges and universities, have prestigious careers and earn high salaries, but those perks come at a cost.
“Despite their many accomplishments, ambitious people are only slightly happier than their less-ambitious counterparts, and they actually live somewhat shorter lives,” said Timothy Judge, a management specialist and the study’s lead researcher, in a university release on the findings.
For the study, Judge and colleagues tracked 717 “high-ability individuals” over seven decades. Many attended the best universities — Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Columbia and Notre Dame — worked in more prestigious occupations and earned more money than less ambitious people.
“So, it would seem that they are poised to ‘have it all,’ ” Judge noted. “However, we determined that ambition has a much weaker effect on life satisfaction and actually a slightly negative impact on longevity (how long people lived). So, yes, ambitious people do achieve more successful careers, but that doesn’t seem to translate into leading happier or healthier lives.”
Judge speculated that go-getters may put career success above other priorities and that may compromise their health.
“Perhaps the investments they make in their careers come at the expense of the things we know affect longevity: healthy behaviors, stable relationships and deep social networks,” he said.