How to Find Fulfillment In Life And Work
We’ve all had someone tell us at least once if we “love what we do, we’ll never work a day in our lives.” Yet, if it’s that simple how come so many people are dissatisfied with their jobs? Why can’t they find fulfillment in life?
Did you know that the number one reason people don’t recover after a heart attack is due to job dissatisfaction? Most people—doctors included—would have thought the number one reason was due to clogged arteries or an unhealthy diet. However, when someone is dissatisfied with their job, they experience a lack of purpose. With no purpose to go on, we won’t.
Many are unfulfilled or dissatisfied with their work because they lack a sense of higher purpose. People simply don’t know why they are working. If you are one of these people then consider you may be experiencing some or all of the following:
- You don’t know the purpose of your job aside from survival/security
- You are working because you have to, not because you want to
- Work isn’t fun or easy and you struggle to get results
These are all signs that one is not in touch with their true selves. They are living by a societal standard or readymade life, rather than through the purpose of their true self.
Finding Fulfillment in Life
Though a seemingly daunting task, the secret to fulfillment in life is actually quite simple. It is as simple as knowing your own core values. The trouble is most of us have been given a readymade purpose and not discovered our own.
In order to find fulfillment in life we need to spend a little—or a lot—of time in introspection, discovering what really matters to us. This might not be an overnight task, so be easy with yourself. Start small by keeping a journal and each morning answering these questions:
- Who am I?
- What do I love?
- What’s important to me?
- What are my unique talents and skills?
As you get to know yourself you can begin to shift your focus and where you spend your time. Once you know what matters most to you, you can distinguish between important and unimportant tasks. Knowing your values and unique skills, will also feel more valued at work. You will know that you are contributing to something larger than you from a place of abundance.
Where Are You Spending Your Time?
Whether you are stressed or fulfilled has everything to do with where you are spending your time. There are a few different dimensions of time we can find ourselves in:
- Urgency– Spending your time doing things that are just urgent and unimportant will greatly increase our stress and decrease our fulfillment. These are things like emails, phone calls, and spending time on social media. In our mind these activities seem urgent because they stimulate an emotional response. When we get a notification we get a short burst of feel-good hormones, telling our bodies “hey this is urgent!” In reality, these activities are more often than not completely unimportant in the spectrum of our core values and deepest desires. When we convince ourselves that urgent activities are of importance we find ourselves unfulfilled and emotionally drained.
- Importance- If you want to experience fulfillment in life then spend more doing what’s important. It is when we are busy but ineffective, that life becomes unfulfilling. We cater to a to-do list and yet at the end of the day we can’t sleep. Our minds chatter with all the things left to do. However, think of the nights you slept best. Was it not always the days you spent living in the dimension of importance—surrounded by loved ones, creating art, tending to hobbies and even facing our fears?
- Urgency and Importance- This dimension is not as common as the other two. These are the emergencies of our lives; health, deaths, and certain family matters can be both urgent and important. Other times they may be appointments we create around certain areas of importance such as a workshop, a wedding or meeting a deadline. Mostly, these events will be less common. We sometimes create these situations to help create leverage around doing what’s important where other times life brings them unexpectedly. In general, we just want to be aware of the frequency of these events so we are not making everything in our lives urgent and important, and therefore stressful.
Getting In The Zone: Using Leverage
In order to actually experience fulfillment in life, we have to now apply this information to our lives. It’s not enough to know what’s important and still not do it. You already know it’s important to have a fulfilling job, but doing it is a different story. Using leverage we can shift where we spend our time. To do this, take a moment to write out a list of all the things you do in each dimension of time.
- What activities are you doing that are urgent and how much time do you spend on them each day?
More times than not, if your life is overly urgent you just want to feel important. A to-do is a great way to feel important. Recognize this trait and with the new self-awareness figure out what’s truly important to you. It is not heroic to be busy. Make a decision to stop wasting time on activities that don’t serve you—that are false urgencies.
- What activities are you doing that are important and how much time do you spend on them each day?
Since no one is going to reward us for being busy, it’s time we focus more on the area of importance. Leaders, managers and people of importance do things of importance. You hopefully already decided to start journaling to get a better view of your core values, but for now; think about what is important to you currently. Maybe it’s spending time with friends or family, reading more, or learning something new.
It’s likely you’ll feel some guilt just thinking of doing something fun these days. After all, many of us are spending more time reacting to urgencies. However, I want to inspire you to reach into your heart and do what matters.
When you live through your heart, you live with fulfillment and purpose, you automatically benefit yourself and everyone that comes in contact with you.
These things are likely far from your to-do list. Maybe you’ve always wanted to go skydiving, travel to a new country, start a nonprofit or just bike across the city. It doesn’t matter how important it appears to others. What matters is that your soul comes alive. Let that be the motivation for you to spend finding what’s important to you, then living in that space more often.