Of the 200+ articles I’ve written on the topic of time, the majority share one underlying theme: fulfillment. Living a life of purpose and meaning. It’s surprising how few people consider this theme in their own lives though. You spend time yearning for more money or better abs, but never put time towards understanding why.
It’s not like you outright say, “I’m unfulfilled.”
However, it’s not long into a conversation that it becomes obvious. You complain about your work. How your boss is an idiot and Mondays are the worst. You complain about your spouse. How they’re terrible with their money and cause more drama than they’re worth. You complain about your body. How your doctor says you should lose a few pounds… and has been saying that to you for years. In response, you tell her that the diet starts next week. Right.
Fulfillment is possible though. Living a meaningful life is within your reach. Here are three reasons you are unfulfilled and what to do about them.
1. You don’t know what you want.
You have all these areas of your life. Yet at any given time, some feel better than others. Your home is lovely, but the relationship with your son is cold. Your career is taking off, but you haven’t read a book in months. Some aspects are fulfilling while others are draining. And it’s that drain that can lead you down the road to unfulfillment. Because even if one part of who you are is meaningful, if the rest are a disaster it won’t do you much good.
The biggest factor is understanding what you want.
When you know what you want, you can move your life in that direction. When you don’t, you continue to experience lopsided situations. Situations where part of your life is great while the other isn’t. Instead of moving through life unbalanced and unhinged, list out the various parts of you. Then write down what fulfillment looks like for you in each of those areas. For instance:
- Home: A place I can return to after my many travels and feel happy, safe, and loved.
- Parent: A loving and wonderful relationship with my daughter.
- Mental health: Calm, peace, clarity.
2. You haven’t taken steps to make it happen.
Once you know what you want, you owe it to yourself to make that happen. Not to make excuses or to procrastinate. Rather, to create a system you can follow. For me, that’s through goal setting. For you, that may be habit development or affirmations. Regardless, you must do the work. This is where the talk becomes the walk and you show up for yourself.
One major reason people are unfulfilled is they don’t take action.
It’s easier to complain than to change, after all. However, fulfillment lives on the other side of the work. Here’s what I suggest: pick a category from your life. Which one doesn’t matter. Just choose one. Then set a goal in that direction. Take home for example. If a fulfilling home is one where you feel happy, safe, and loved, set a goal that encourages that. You can set one to:
- Purchase one new decor item for your house each month.
- Or, frame a new picture for your home office each week.
- Or, purchase a warmer shade of paint for the living room by the end of the quarter.
3. You haven’t given it enough time.
I wanted to run my own business for years. Nearly a decade, actually. But all my entrepreneurial ventures proved fruitless. So I was stuck working jobs I hated. I’d hear the classic sayings that “No one likes their job,” or “You need to learn to love the job you have,” but I knew that was wrong. Something deep within called to me. Like a painter pulled to the brush or an athlete pulled to the track. I was pulled to entrepreneurship. And no amount of hiding from that would change things. So, as hard as it was, I kept pushing. I kept starting (and closing) businesses.
Fast forward to today, I run my blog, QuickBooost full-time. It is every bit as fulfilling as I knew it would be all those years ago. It took a long time to get here. Way, way, way longer than I ever hoped it would. But the persistence was worth it.
On an episode of Armchair Expert, host Dax Shepard talks about his struggles to become a successful actor. Before “making it,” he was scared to fly. His reason: he was worried the plane would crash and he would die without ever having done what he wanted in life. Today, he says that fear is gone. It’s not that he wants to die. Rather, if he does, he will go down knowing he achieved what he wanted. He will die fulfilled. It took Dax years to finally break into the acting world.
The final reason for unfulfillment is that you haven’t given it enough time. Some pursuits can take years to realize. You need to be patient through it all. Take solace in the fact that you are actively gaining control of your life. That you are intentionally moving in a better direction. It will happen for you, so long as you keep going.
Moving Forward with Fulfillment
Fulfillment is elusive. What added meaning to your life yesterday may not necessarily add to it today. Like building a sandcastle at the beach, the waves may wash it away at any point. However, that’s part of the fun. Rebuilding that castle based on what you’ve learned. And rebuilding it even better than before.
That said, there are three reasons you may feel unfulfilled in life. For your reference once again, they are:
- You don’t know what you want.
- You haven’t taken steps to make it happen.
- You haven’t given it enough time.
Recognize what you want. Take steps in that direction. Be patient and allow it to materialize. Address those three steps and you will be well on your way to a meaningful life.