Six Paths to Fulfillment
My last couple of articles have been about focus and the importance of attaining a more simplistic life. Sure, we can recognize the value in this. We understand it in theory, but it’s often much more difficult to execute. How do we cut out annoying fluff in our lives? How can we achieve what we want for ourselves and for our families? How can we find more fulfillment and happiness in our daily lives?
Well, today you are in luck! Here are SIX paths you can take to fulfillment so that you can cut out the clutter and begin achieving something you are proud of:
1) Ask yourself, “Will this matter in a year? A month? A week? Tomorrow?”
We tend to get caught up in the littlest, minute things throughout our day. We run into a technical bug on our website, somebody cuts us off on our commute, our boss says something that is borderline offensive. Because we are emotional beings, we dramatize these occurrences and they send our whole day into a downward spiral. Before we know it, we go to bed that evening reflecting on how awful of a day it was.
While we are occasionally entitled to having a bad day, small situations like these aren’t worth getting our panties tied in a knot over. If we take a deep breathe, pause, and reflect as to whether or not this will matter down the road, we begin to realize that, most of the time, it won’t matter. Tomorrow will be another idea. We expend A LOT of our energy on pesky things. It’s important to take that step back and assess if what you are upset about deserves that much attention.
2) Ask yourself, “Am I putting off what I know I should be doing?”
I am all about relaxation. While gurus and the like may praise the 80-hour work weeks to attain some form of success, I believe that breaks, relaxation, and taking care of yourself are better recipes for fulfillment than sacrificing your health. But there is such a thing as too much relaxation. Relaxation, in excess, is no longer relaxation; it’s procrastination.
Steven Presfield, author of the incredible book, The War of Art, calls this resistance. We know when we should be working on something, but resistance allows us to put it off. Resistance allows us to sit on the couch all willy nilly and let the day or evening go by without having done much. As difficult as it is, if we ask ourselves truthfully if we are putting off meaningful work, we can guilt ourselves to get off our butts and start working towards something.
3) Just Do It.
Ah, yes…the classic Nike slogan. “Just Do It.” It’s true, indeed. This goes along with the last point. We make up A LOT of excuses to avoid doing something. “I don’t know how to eat healthier, so I won’t.” “I don’t know what to write about, so I will wait until next week.” “I don’t know how to speak in public, so I will avoid doing it.” “I can’t write the book yet because I still need to do all this research!” It can go on and on. At the end of the day, you will never do it if you make excuses.
The best way to get started is to just do it. Don’t know what to write about? Sit down at your computer or grab a notebook and just start writing. Don’t know how to market your work? Just start putting it out there! I would argue that 99.9% of the time we figure things out as we’re doing them. If we never get started, we will never figure it out. The best way to become an expert at something is by doing it.
4) Focus on one or two things you do really well and limit the rest.
This is something I’m trying to work out currently. It’s very easy to jump around across various interests and commitments. Because of this, the mind floats in a world of ambiguity regarding what your “purpose” is and what you “should” be pursuing. As I’m coming to discover, this, my friends, is a very dangerous place for your mind to be. While having varied interests makes us compelling to a certain degree, it’s important to distinguish what we see as hobbies and what we identify as our life’s work.
There is work that each of us has a talent for. Not only that, but there is work out there that we have the potential to enjoy. But, most importantly, the work we are good at AND enjoy must also be work that we want to continually improve. We must be hungry for more knowledge. Analyze what one or two things you have the most interest in, put them together, and you have one delicious recipe to concoct.
5) Play the long game
This is a nod to the first path on this list. If you are asking yourself, “Will this matter in a year? A month? A week?” you are priming yourself to work on only the most valuable task in front of you. Mark what drives your emotions. If you worked on something on a consistent basis, what would have the greatest return on yourself and the world in the long run? What can you work on a little bit each day that the world will thank you for five years, ten years, twenty years from now? If we play the long game, instead of the short game of instant gratification, we will be much happier and much more fulfilled over time.
6) Don’t overestimate the world and don’t underestimate yourself.
I’ve discussed this a bit in some of my past blog posts. We have a tendency to idolize those who have accomplished great success as deities. Many celebrities are seen as gods and some of the wealthiest entrepreneurs are seen as the rarest of exceptions when it comes to “average” people. But, at the end of the day, these successful people are still human, not much different than you. The only difference is that they took action on what was bubbling inside them. They worked when they didn’t feel like working and did not wait for perfection. They knew that perfection is an illusion.
We tend to believe that we can never, ever achieve the type of success that these great people have accomplished. It’s a shame many of us feel that way. While the media plays a big part in this, it’s our own comparison that gets in our way. We compare our infancy with an investor’s maturity. We compare our lack with another’s strength. We need to realize that our judgment of ourselves, while it seems justified, really isn’t. Albert Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” We become the lies that we tell ourselves and we end up fulfilling our own prophecy. If we see ourselves as equals, however, we will soon realize that our voice is just as important and just as powerful as anyone else’s.
While there are certainly more paths, these six paths will certainly take you in the direction of fulfillment. Most of this is just trusting the path we are on. If we can do the work we know we are supposedly to do, only good can come in time.