By: Kate Patulski
I’ve spent a lot of time recently reviewing the past, including the last 12 months and the years I’ve experienced the greatest sense of fulfillment. The older I get, the more focused I have become on living a fulfilled existence. I have realized the more fulfilled I feel, simultaneously, the more inspired I am to push the boundaries of mediocrity. In the pursuit of my best life, I have found that others in my presence feel driven to live their best life.
So how does one achieve fulfillment?
At one point in my life, I actually thought fulfillment was something I could only experience if I hit a goal, so I’d drive hard to hit the benchmark thinking at the end I would feel something more than I was feeling. Trust me, it was disappointing to hit a goal and never feel the fulfillment I thought I would. Instead, I felt exhausted and overwhelmed at the thought of hitting the next goal. Clearly, hitting goals does not guarantee fulfillment.
I’ve also attempted to feel fulfilled through others’ success. Having worked in the talent development field for nearly 25 years, too many times I have let others’ success (or lack thereof), determine how fulfilled I felt in my role. Bottom line, when they were winning, I felt more fulfilled. When they were challenged, struggling, or falling behind, I wasn’t fulfilled. If you’ve ever worked or led people to achieve more, you’ll clearly understand there is a lot of failure on the path to success.
It has taken me a long time to realize that fulfillment isn’t actually a destination, but rather a journey. Consider that fulfillment is a state of being. Fulfillment is a feeling of happiness and contentment. In order to achieve this state of being, it requires knowledge of self. As simple as that may sound, we have all been so influenced throughout our lifetime that it may be hard to identify the “real” you and what brings you a sense of fulfillment. Trust me, with some reflection and time, you can gain a relationship with yourself allowing you access to true fulfillment on a consistent basis.
Think about how invigorating life becomes when your fulfillment is no longer contingent on some external source. The moment you decide to act on these simple steps, you become the Director of Fulfillment of your life.
Use Your Past
Your past contains valuable information allowing you to identify what you value. When your values are met, you will find that you feel a greater sense of fulfillment.
Pull out a sheet of paper and write down your reflections on the following:
- Can you identify a period in the recent past when you felt absolutely fulfilled? What happened during that time?
- Was there something specific that you experienced? What was it? Write everything down that comes to mind.
- Can you identify everything that you felt? Make an exhaustive list.
- What was important about this period of your life?
- Can you identify another period in your past where you felt absolutely fulfilled? Take yourself through the same process for 2-3 more experiences
- Go back over what you wrote, circle words that stand out to you or resonate with you. . . These words start to identify what you value. Remember what you value, has nothing to do with what someone else values.
- Ask yourself, if I experienced this (whatever the word is), would I feel more fulfilled? Cross off any words that fail to provide a sense of fulfillment
- Narrow your value words down to 5 maximum
Set Intentions for your Future
Now that you have your values written down, let’s start creating a structure to experience your values more often. Keep in mind, when you live your values, you will also experience more fulfillment. The easiest way for your values to get more attention is to set intentions around them.
What is an intention?
An intention is a guiding principle about how to live your life. Intentions are broader than goals. Where goals have set timelines or something you arrive at, intentions are something you place continual focus on. To simplify it, think of goals as a noun and intent as a verb.
- Looking at your list of values, simply write out the following statement choosing the best word to represent the value: “I intend to experience/demonstrate/express more (value) (time frame)” or “My intention is to (value) during (time frame)”.
Example: “I intend to demonstrate more influence today in my work” or “My intention is to influence others during my work today”.
Although you may not be able to focus on all 5 intentions every day, it is possible to bring more of your values into each week of your life. Always start with the values that carry the most meaning for you. As you look at your intention statements, ask yourself, what can I do today that would create more (value (in this case influence))?
Replace Expectation with Appreciation
Expectation carries a heavy price called disappointment. Disappointment is always a byproduct of expectation. When you focus on a disappointment, you rob yourself of feeling fulfilled. Additionally, the more you focus on disappointment, the less motivated, inspired, and creative you become.
I’m not saying to stop setting goals or having personal preferences; I’m suggesting to change your relationship to the process.
Instead of living in expectation of a particular outcome, consider living in appreciation of the process. When we were doing our NLP work nearly two decades ago, we were introduced to the idea, “There is no failure, only feedback”. This one idea changed my relationship to the experience of achieving a result. Instead of looking at a circumstance or obstacle as bad, I began appreciating the experience I was going through knowing the growth it provided to me. Appreciation is the parent of growth.
Tim Wood was my coach from 2000-2004. Tim loved to say to me, “You’re either earning or learning”. Tim had a huge business in Big Bear, along with an enormous amount of success and fulfillment in his life. He learned that expectation was a weight that pulls people under the water. People often drown in their own expectations. When you replace expectation with appreciation, you will rise.
You have the opportunity in front of you to create a game-changing year. If you, like many, get in your own way some days sabotaging your own fulfillment, it may be worthwhile to explore a coaching relationship with YPP. We take an inside-out approach to coaching utilizing the neurosciences to increase individual and organizational performance. Our passion is your success. Set up an exploratory call with us today.