What on earth does being fulfilled mean?
Does it mean having all the money you want? Does it mean being ‘famous’ in your sphere of influence? Does it mean having a big house or fancy computer or fancy … whatever?
It means none of those things.
Another word I like to use for fulfillment is contentment. The idea that wherever you are, you’re pretty okay with that. You’re happy with what’s going on around you and where you are.
Not that you don’t strive for more, but that getting more has no real bearing on your happiness.
Today I want to talk to you about the four steps I use to try and stay fulfilled/content with life and work.
First you need to accept yourself where you are and realize that you are accepted.
A birthday is you being accepted. You were never more a burden than on the day you were born. You couldn’t walk, you had your lowest IQ and on top of all that you were slimy.
Despite all of that we celebrate the fact that you simply exist. You are accepted.
Yes, I know that some of you had hard lives at home. Maybe your spouse/partner/parent doesn’t really ‘accept’ you and is continually trying to push you into something that they find acceptable.
Here, you need to remember that the lack of acceptance is quite possibly the problem of the parent/spouse/partner — not your problem.
You should be accepting of yourself, faults and all. Yes, work on improving your faults, but the fact that you have them has no bearing on your worth. It simply means you’re a human.
We all have faults despite what the sanitized social media accounts may indicate.
So much of your day is consumed with outputs. You have to decide what you’re going to wear, have for breakfast, work on….
What do you build into your day to feed you? What are your inputs? What prevents you from getting empty?
I am part of 2 mastermind groups that feed into me and my business. They are groups of friends that I can come to with business issues and they will not only have good advice, but frequently offer alternate perspectives on the situation which help me deal, in the best possible way, with the trials that come up in business.
Yes there are friends outside of the Internet and you should hang out with them. We regularly have friends over on Friday for our family pizza night.
This brings great conversation and laughs, and since many of our friends have kids, the kids get to run around and play.
When was the last time you stepped away from your computer to hang out with good friends?
Meditation (or prayer)
Doesn’t matter what you call it, moments of quiet in your day will feed you. I spend 5-10 minutes at the beginning of my day sitting in silence. This lets me set the pace for my day and allows me to feel centered.
No music on, just the sounds that happen in my office.
When was the last time you sat with just yourself, in silence, with no media inputs? It’s super hard at first since we’re so used to ‘something’ going on around us, but it pays off in a day that never feels as crazy when you start with some silence.
Feed your mind
Yes as Internet professionals, we learn something every day, but when was the last time you stepped outside and learned something totally unrelated to your regular work?
Maybe go to a cake making class (which is my next thing) or read a book about marriage or something on history.
Feed your mind good things that are totally outside your regular field.
We’re a big outdoorsy family. We get the kids out on hikes that challenge many adults, and we do it rain or shine. We head to spots with no cell reception regularly which lets us both totally disconnect.
At that point the only thing my phone is good for is a camera, and even that we’re looking at changing so we can leave the phones in the car while we’re out.
You don’t have to head for the rugged mountains; maybe you just leave your devices at home and go for a walk at the local park, or around a nice neighbourhood.
Most of us spend way too much time inside. Getting out feeds you in ways that relaxing inside never can.
Watch some kids
Nothing shows you joy like a child can. On a recent hike my 4-year-old decided that the holes under logs were ‘fairy houses’ and spent the remaining 90 minutes of our hike counting the fairy houses and delighting in telling us how each piece of the forest was a part of the fairy house.
Did you know that the mushrooms on the sides of trees are the balconies of the fairy houses? Well, now you do.
Watching her enjoy being outside and spend time with people that love her was something that fed me. The continual wonder that a child has for the world around them shows just how much we take for granted every single day.
Finally, let’s talk about being there for others. Helping those who don’t have the resources we have. That doesn’t mean just ‘helping the homeless’ either.
It can be bringing dinner to a friend that has sick kids or had a tough day.
We have friends that are helping us by providing a free place for us to live for six months. It’s a 4,000-square-foot house with an indoor pool, three offices, two yards, a climbing wall, and two garages. They know we’re selling our house, at a bit of a loss, and want to save more for a down payment on our next house. They’re going to New Zealand for six months with their kids and needed someone to house sit.
Oh, did I mention it’s literally 300 meters from the office I rent?
All we have to do is cover a few hundred dollars a month in utilities and we can stay there. Our friends simply looked at the resources they had and realized they could use those resources to bless us. We’re not going to be homeless. Business is fine, but they have something that they can use to benefit someone they know, so they’re doing it.
What resources do you have that you can use to benefit someone else?
Using your resources like that fills up your soul (or gives you good karma if you prefer that term) and makes your life more full.
We all long to do something ‘big’, to make a difference. Once you have the first two items in line in your life you’re finally ready to start working on your significance.
WHY do you work? What are you trying to accomplish with your life? How is what you’re doing right now contributing to that end goal for your life?
I’ve written about Why I Work and given you some questions to ask yourself to begin the journey of figuring out WHY you work.
The mistake so many people make is that they jump directly into trying to do that ‘big’ thing without having their sustenance and acceptance figured out.
That would be like me heading out on a 6-hour bike ride without food or water. The only way my body can handle that is if I bring the food/water I need.
That’s simply a recipe for burnout, which can mean you lose the passion for your big dream. Keep that dream alive even if it means working on it for a few extra months.
Start your quest for significance with acceptance, then build in routines that provide sustenance. Only once those two things are covered can you truly have significance.
If achievement to you simply means money, or power, or status then one of the other steps is actually out of line.
I view it as an achievement if a single person is helped by the content I produce. Knowing I helped one person run a successful business is an achievement for me, though it’s very easy to get caught up in the Internet hype of being ‘famous’ and making lots of money.
I need to continually watch myself so I don’t fall into that false thinking and forget to notice my actual achievements.
It’s not about setting a low bar either. I’m still working on turning a product into something wildly successful (heck I’d settle for having the site pay for the time I put into it with no profit), but I don’t make that bar the sole thing I measure my achievement against.
If I did, then I’d get to look at failure every day. But I don’t fail as long as one person is able to run a better business based on the content I put out.
Now I’ve shown you the four steps on the way to fulfillment, but they aren’t really steps. Each one of the ideas needs to be revisited and evaluated continually.
It’s so easy to move on to achievement and then realize that you are no longer sustaining yourself, or that in your quest for achievement you have forgotten what makes you significant.
It may take years for you to really get a handle on one of the steps (significance is a hard one to figure out) but the striving towards each one is what refines you into the type of person that can achieve great things.
The work of striving is what helps you build a life that is fulfilling.
photo credit: tehchix0r cc