“What keeps you going? What is the end that you are working towards?” Two great questions that were recently asked of me. My answer: To continue doing what I’m doing. There is no end. There is growth, there is discovery, but my time is planned in a way that is self-sustaining in the most fulfilling of manners. Let me explain.
I don’t often look forward to the weekends. Instead, I look forward to Monday. Why? Because the workweek I’ve set up for myself is massively fulfilling. In a way that the spontaneity and relaxed state of my current Saturday/Sunday is hard to match.
Take my blog, QuickBooost, for instance. The business I run today is much different than the one I had envisioned at the start three years ago. Initially, I wanted the four-hour workweek model. I hired freelance writers to create the content, a virtual assistant to share it, and I simply edited the work and oversaw the rest. I wanted to get the business to a point where I could make great money without having to dedicate great amounts of time. That model is still appealing to me. But, something changed along the way.
What writing has become for me
After a few months, I realized that in order for my business to thrive, I needed to take over the writing reins. I stopped working with the writers (as well as the VA, for that matter) and began to rework all of the content into my own voice. Since then, I’ve written every article myself.
I didn’t create the blog because I wanted to write. Rather, I started writing in order to make the business succeed. In hindsight, I had writer-esque tendencies prior to QuickBooost, but I didn’t aspire to be a writer or write on a consistent basis. Yet, the more I wrote, the more I enjoyed writing. In fact, when considering every other facet of the business, writing was always my favorite.
Eventually, my focus turned more and more to the writing itself; all other tasks were slowly eliminated or unprioritized. At present, my day-to-day is, primarily, one of writing. And I love it. The work is self-sustaining. As in, I write because I get fulfillment in writing and thus, look forward to continued writing. What am I working towards? More writing.
A life based on fulfillment
That’s not to say that I’m locking myself into writing for the next century. Rather, in this moment, I get meaning out of the writing and thus make that the nexus of my working life. That could always change, but right now, my day-to-day is optimized for writing because that’s where I get fulfillment from. But that’s just my work-life. My schedule is fulfillment-based with everything I do. From the:
- Foods I eat (and when I eat them);
- Exercises I do (and when I do them);
- Meetings I take (and when I take them);
- Books I read (and when I read them);
- Everything is done intentionally.
My friend Tamara mentioned something powerfully insightful the other day. Describing how business can be challenging at times, with ups and downs, she said that her aim is to find the fun in it all. To set aside tasks that don’t give her joy and to instead focus on ones that do. To focus on fun because that’s how she wants her business and life to be – one of fun. *You can learn more about Tamara and her work here (it’s an episode of her podcast that I recently took part in).
Where Tamara’s focus is on fun, mine is on fulfillment. On meaning. On being deliberate. The end is the means. I write because I love to write. I read because I love to read. And so and so forth. The results of those efforts may not always be what I want, but that’s simply a matter of changing strategy. For instance, I may read a book on running technique. However, after testing it, I may find that it doesn’t work for me. I don’t quit reading though. I just find a new book.
Uncover what makes you fulfilled
The real question isn’t – what keeps me going? – it’s – what keeps you going? What are you working towards? And further, is your day set up to allow that to occur? Your day doesn’t need to be a self-sustaining loop like mine, but it should be leading you in a more fulfilling direction. So consider: what does fulfillment look like to you?
I’m not talking about happiness. Happiness is fleeting, like your friend telling a joke that makes you laugh in the moment. I’m talking about fulfillment. I’m talking about purpose. Like waking up in the morning ready to tackle the day knowing full well that there will be ups and downs but pushing forward anyway.
Ask yourself, what does a fulfilling:
- Physical state,
- Mental state,
- Community and more,
- Look like to you?
Set goals in that direction
Once you answer that for yourself, put goals into place to take you there. For instance, if a fulfilling physical state is one where you are strong and toned, what kind of goals can you set towards that end? 50 push ups a day? 100 crunches a day? Swimming a mile once a week? Decide for yourself.
Keep in mind, your goal should be within your control. This doesn’t get talked about very much, but it’s important. If you set a goal to do more push ups than your roommate each day, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Maybe she’s in better shape than you, maybe she doesn’t want to do push ups, or maybe she set the same goal as you in which case someone will be a loser each day by necessity. You don’t want that.
Set a goal within your control. That way you control the outcome. Don’t set a goal to swim a mile in the ocean each week. Because what happens when the ocean conditions are poor for a month? Instead, set a goal to swim a mile each week period. Then you have the option to jump in a pool if needed. Set goals based on fulfillment. Make sure they’re within your control.
Incorporate those goals into your day-to-day
From there, design your day to incorporate those goals. Goals which, again, are fulfillment-based. Meaning that each time you work on those goals, your life becomes that much more fulfilled. Don’t neglect this step. Where the first two steps were fun, this one requires a bit more effort. It’s the planning phase.
Look at your schedule and allocate time to work on your goals. Map out exactly when you will do them. If you want to read 20 pages a day, when will that happen? Write it down. If you also want to do 50 push ups a day, when will that occur? Write it down. Plan out your days in detail, noting which goals will be worked on and at what times.
Write everything down. When you’ll wake up, eat breakfast, have meeting one, meeting two, call with so-and-so, lunch, your three-mile run after lunch, etc. Plan out your days ahead of time to ensure that you make room in your schedule for your goals. Otherwise, they will be neglected. From there, with your days planned, it’s simply a matter of doing that specific activity when the time comes. Or, adjusting your schedule when things inevitably come up.
Design your day moving forward
Do the three things described above and create an amazing day-to-day for yourself.
- Consider what fulfillment looks like across the various aspects of your life.
- Set goals in that direction (making sure they’re within your control).
- Plan out your days in detail, incorporating those goals into your schedule.
Looking at my blog once again, my current goal is to publish one new article each day. As I mentioned, I love the writing and this goal ensures that I do that every day, five days a week. The writing serves itself. I get fulfillment out of it and, like a band making music, it allows me to grow and better connect with my audience.
This article isn’t a quick fix for a more meaningful life. Some offline effort is needed on your end. But if you’re looking for a life where both the means and ends are fulfilling, go through the steps of this article. If anything, it will help you better understand what you want.