How to be Fulfilled: Whether it’s Wine or Widgets
Those who know our company, Bliss Wine Imports, know that we’re not just merely wine importers. We’re a company all about the pursuit of bliss. It wasn’t too long ago, before Bliss Wine Imports existed, that I realized my MBA and venture funded start-up life was not for me. It took some months to figure out what I truly did want to do (wine importing!) and get on the path toward where we are today.
We all start off on a new path by realizing we are not happy with something. Some of us then try to define what we want by defining the opposite of the thing that is making us unhappy. Then a smaller group of us actually pursue that new desire because we think we will feel better.
When I decided to change what I was doing, just by defining what I wanted and even without knowing how to get there, I felt extremely empowered. I started off with a meaningful goal and took one step at a time. I’m still just taking one step at a time.
(If you want to read more about the beginning process check out this post.)
On this path, I’ve discovered a very interesting phenomenon that can sometimes occur while you are manifesting your dreams. All of a sudden that exciting big picture that gave you meaning and energy starts to get cloudy. You get sucked in by the details and stressed and find yourself feeling overwhelmed and unhappy again.
I started this business knowing it’s a huge feat to wiggle your way into a saturated wine industry. But I also had a deep belief that success does not need to depend on being brilliant and having a big stack of advantages. After years of drinking the “law of attraction” kool-aid I knew that I could become successful even as a wine industry-outsider.
And we have become successful quickly! In only a year and a half of selling wholesale we have grown to 5 states with more on the way. We’ve established an incredible reputation for importing awesome wines and helping sommeliers get access to stuff they couldn’t otherwise have gotten. It’s really quite incredible.
But in the past few months I’ve found myself getting stressed. I realized I was spending more time dealing with small stressful details and less time on the exciting big picture mission of our company. So even though we have a very cool company that is growing and in a great spot — I still had to deal with myself.
That’s when I realized that regardless of dealing with wine or widgets — I couldn’t escape myself. If I wanted to have everlasting happiness changing an external factor (like finding a new career) wouldn’t be enough. I would have to change internal factors by focusing on and connecting to what gives me actual meaning in life. Things like connecting with people, finding great wines nobody else has found, providing value and helping people.
That can be difficult to remember when you have a billion logistical things to deal with or you’re trying to figure out cash flow while growing. But if you don’t intentionally keep focused on what gives you meaning then you can find yourself stuck in the weeds.
Fortunately I’ve been practicing self-awareness for years and was able to catch myself and put an action plan together right away. Thankfully my mental rut didn’t affect the business. But I experienced stress that I did not need to experience.
One thing that has recently been wonderful was my exposure to the new Netflix Original documentary that follows a 6-day Tony Robbins seminar. I knew that Robbins was a famous speaker — but I didn’t realize how amazing he is. I was immediately intrigued and wanted to hear more from him. I ended up downloading his free app called Breakthrough, scrolled down to the business section and watched the first few video clips. He so simply and powerfully describes the difference between Achievement vs. Fulfillment.
Honestly, everybody should take 20 minutes to watch those clips. Robbins talks about how what makes you a success doesn’t necessarily make you fulfilled. Many entrepreneurs who have built huge businesses have been left feeling unfulfilled. Robbins articulates so clearly that the only way you can actually feel fulfilled is by utilizing your gift. You could be good at lots of things, but you must find that one thing that makes you feel wonderful when you do it. He suggests some ways for you to discover this for yourself. But the main point is that you must have meaning behind what you do so you can experience fulfillment.
I think that as we live what gives us meaning can evolve, so constantly evaluating what gives you meaning is a healthy practice.
Doing this I was able to re-discover why I love Bliss Wine Imports. I love connecting with people and helping people achieve what they want in their own lives. I feel extreme fulfillment when sommeliers get excited about our geeky wines. I’m helping them offer their customers something cool. I’m helping them define themselves. I’m helping them differentiate theirs from other wine programs. I love spreading the word on clean farming and natural wine. I share the story of starting Bliss Wine Imports so I can help people realize they can do the same thing. I share this private and emotional journey I’ve been on so I can help people who find themselves in a similar situation realize it’s normal and there is a way to improve yourself. I truly love making a positive difference.
A month ago I would not have taken the time to write this article. I have a huge to-do list that I always feel behind on. But I realized that if I just try to chip away at this boring to-do list I lose energy and get even less done. I realized I love communicating and so communicating something of value became a priority even though I have days and days worth of admin work to do.
I’m very happy to be back on track. I still have a bunch of boring admin tasks but I have committed myself to do something that gives me fulfillment every day before I attempt those tasks. The result so far is that I start my days off in a great mood and the high from being fulfilled gives me energy. And those boring tasks? They aren’t a big deal anymore.
I hope you will take a moment to evaluate whether you are achieving with or without fulfillment. Then ponder what makes you the most fulfilled and make that a bigger part of your life. You’ll be amazed by the effect it will have.