A life of fulfillment is one of meaning. It is one of purpose. Where you wake up with a reason to start your day.
Over the last three and a half years, I’ve written over 200 articles on the topic. That’s not including interviews I’ve done or other sites I’ve guest written for. When you include those numbers, it’s closer to 250. I’ve written 133 articles this year alone.
Those articles take the form of productivity tips and time management strategies, lessons in resilience and lists of self-help books. Yet, underneath it all is one central theme: how to be deliberate with your time so as to create a fulfilling life.
I’ve uncovered powerful lessons in the process. Here are some of my favorites.
I read a lot. It helps me better understand the world. And thus, it helps me better explain the world to you. From all that reading, it’s clear that there is no one way to do things. Life is full of people going different routes yet finding meaning regardless. Take for instance the following Hindu proverb (source):
“There are hundreds of paths up the mountain, all leading in the same direction, so it doesn’t matter which path you take. The only one wasting time is the one who runs around and around the mountain, telling everyone that his or her path is wrong.”
There’s no one way to get to fulfillment. There is only the way that works for you. Experiment with different paths and decide which is the best fit. My preference is goal setting. I use goals to direct my life. To move towards or to maintain fulfillment across the various aspects of who I am.
Be a quitter.
Flexibility isn’t one of my natural strong suits, though I’m working on it. Rather, I’m better known for rigidity. Particularly in terms of the objectives I set for myself. With my first rounds of goals, I was unwilling to adjust. If I said I was going to do something, I was going to do it. This led me to stick with things far longer than necessary.
It wasn’t until I started writing about this topic in detail that I realized I was missing a key ingredient. The ability to change.
You may feel locked into whatever aim you set. You don’t have to though. Instead, see your pursuits as entirely changeable. If you elect to golf three times a week but realize you hate golf, stop golfing. Set a new goal in its place. Like a bad book, feel free to drop it for something better whenever you want.
January’s Too Late
You don’t need to wait until January 1st to change your life. Yes, I know January is a magical time. That it’s a period of new beginnings. Of resolutions and vows to do things differently. But you know what’s better than January 1st? Today.
I used to set goals for myself once a year.
If I wanted to embark on something new, I’d wait until January. Even if it was only February. I’d wait the entire year for January to come back around. You don’t need to wait for some special time to start being more intentional though. You can start right now. Today I set goals regardless of day, week, or year. It doesn’t matter. When I’m ready for a new goal, I add it into the mix.
You’re more than a job.
Fulfillment isn’t just about liking your work. It’s about living a meaningful life. And your life is comprised of a lot of things. Sure, there is you as the employee. But there is also you as the homeowner, spouse, parent, friend, athlete, money manager, and so on. Fulfillment can often be elusive because there are so many areas to address.
That’s not a reason to delay though. It’s just something to keep in mind. Fulfillment is more than just getting in shape or traveling more. It’s multifaceted. And thus it can be tricky to nail down.
At present, I have something like 15 goals for myself. Each addresses a different area of my life. Just last week I added a new goal. I had been feeling antsy and realized there was a part of me I wasn’t giving attention to. So I started giving it some attention. It’s still early days, but I’m optimistic about its impact.
I write about this topic every day and I’m still figuring it out. I’m in a much better place had I never embarked on the journey at all though. You will be too.
The Biggest Shadows First
Speaking of multifaceted, some areas of your life require more time than others. For instance, fulfillment in your work may be a much bigger deal than having a fulfilling home. Where the former potentially requires changing careers, the latter may only require a change of paint.
Focus on the big areas first. On fostering a fulfilling career, relationship, mental health, or whatever the major life categories are for you. Then, like climbing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, work your way up to the more niche, less-time intensive areas. Take care of the largest factors first. Then deal with smaller ones as they reveal themselves.
Until the major ones are handled, they will overshadow everything else.
A Case for Control
When it comes to implementing change, focus on what you can control. Especially with goal setting. A typical goal someone may set is, “I want to double my income by the end of the year.” The thing is, you have zero control over that. You can influence it, but even if you do your absolute best, you have no say over if someone chooses to buy your product.
You only have the things within your control. And those are the types of goals and aims you should pursue.
Set a goal to make 100 cold calls a day. Or to reach out to five new clients each week. Things you have total control over. When you make those calls, even if you don’t make a sale, you will have achieved your goal. You will have accomplished something. Maybe not the thing you wanted to achieve, but it’s still something to be proud of. And that pride will carry you forward into new goals. It will keep you in the game.
Move Forward with Intention
Over the course of 200 articles written on the topic of life fulfillment, I’ve learned a great deal. For your reference once again, some of the biggest lessons are:
- There’s no one way to get to where you want to go. Test out your options.
- Feel free to be flexible. If a pursuit isn’t serving you, change it.
- Don’t wait until some magical time to change things. Start now.
- Fulfillment requires addressing every area of your life. Not just work.
- Focus on the big areas of your life before tackling the smaller ones.
- Set goals within your control so as to stay in the game.