Achievement is great, but are you fulfilled?

In his interview on the Tim Ferriss Show podcast (Episode #178), the world-class performance coach Tony Robbins talks about the two things you must master to create a life on your own terms. These two things are the “science of achievement” and the “art of fulfillment”. While most people tend to focus on the achievement part of this equation, they often leave the fulfillment part to work itself out.

Most people know what they must do to find success in their careers. Fewer actually execute well enough to become high achievers. These high achievers are the ones that work hard to make the sale, close the deal, and complete the project under budget and ahead of the deadline. They achieve outstanding things and feel triumphant when they do.

Focusing on high achievement can lead to great things: breaking company sales records, becoming a self-made millionaire, inventing the iPhone, etc. While we should all wear our achievements like a badge of honor, a different type of work must be done for those of us also seeking fulfillment.

What does it mean to be fulfilled in the first place? My definition of fulfillment is doing things that honor your individual values. Fulfillment is answering “yes” to the question, “Is what I’m contributing meaningful to me?”

I believe that fulfillment is something that must be worked hard for, the same way we work hard for achievement. Both the paths to fulfillment and achievement require the equal amounts of dedication and hard work, but with one major difference. The work we have to do to create fulfillment is internal.

The first step in creating a fulfilling career, or life for that matter, is identifying your values. While it may seem simple to identify your values and act accordingly, the practice is not as easy as it sounds. You can start identifying your values by asking a few questions of yourself:

  1. “What brings fullness to my life or career?”
  2. “What is most important to me?”
  3. “What adds to my life or career in a meaningful way?”

Answering these questions honestly will help you understand what your core values are. Understanding your values, allows you to create a framework from which you can choose your actions. Act in a way that honors your values, and you will find yourself experiencing a more fulfilling life. You may also find some pleasant side effects including feeling less busy, more in control, and more confident in your decisions.

Fulfillment is not something that will just happen by its own doing, in the same way that you can’t just wake up one day 20lbs lighter and rich. You have to do the work, and there aren’t any shortcuts. If you believe fulfillment is equally important to achievement, make it a daily practice to ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing meaningful to me?”