For a Meaningful Life, Choose Fulfillment Over Achievement
Joy is the result of growing and giving
For as long as I can remember, I was alive with a pulse and blood running through my veins, but dead inside. There was no reason to wake up other than to make some money so I could afford a few beers on Saturday and try to drown out the pain of existing.
A subtle shift happened when someone explained to me a really simple concept. There are two ways to live your life:
- Endlessly achieving goals
- Being fulfilled through meaning
Goals don’t make you feel fulfilled. They give you a sense of achievement, but this feeling never lasts and it doesn’t give your life a sense of meaning.
Knocking off endless to-do lists of goals is what machines do and it’s not truly living. Your life needs meaning and that will never come from achieving.
Fulfillment Makes You Feel Joy
What’s better than achieving your goals is experiencing joy. How do you experience joy? I’m glad you asked.
Joy is the result of growing and giving.
Part one: growth
When we grow in life and become a better version of ourselves, we feel joy. Any of us can grow with a conscious choice to be uncomfortable and to learn something new every single day. Being comfortable and thinking you know everything are the enemies of growth. They are the handbrakes to happiness.
If you can look back on your life and see struggles that you had, and the resulting obstacles you have overcome, you can see the growth for yourself. Seeing growth in your life brings an immense feeling of fulfillment.
Through my life, I can see growth in the following ways:
- Having mental illness and then beating it
- Never writing a word to writing 1000+ articles
- Being afraid of public speaking to making it to competition level at Toastmasters
- Helping nobody to having strangers email me daily saying thank you
This is what growth can look like when you embrace it for yourself.
Part two: The art of giving
Joy also comes from giving. It’s the sort of giving where you expect nothing in return and attempt to impart some form of wisdom or experience on a complete stranger knowing that when you’re gone from this world, that is all that’s left.
Giving is a habit, not a one-off act.
Giving works best when your intent is completely selfless and you leave your ego at the front door. Giving is an art because its result often happens away from plain sight. All the giving you do often never shows any visible signs.
I decided to give everything I had through writing and not worry about tracking results too much.
When you focus on seeing the result of your giving, you get high off the fumes and start doing it for the wrong reasons.
Giving brings about an indescribable feeling of joy that you need to experience for yourself to understand. The feeling will wipe the floor with what you experience from achieving endless lists of goals.
They are lifelong pursuits
Growing and giving don’t stop either.
If you want to experience fulfillment regularly and have it be a driving force in your life, you are signing up to never-ending growth and the practice of giving for the rest of your life.
Success in One Area Makes You Bored, Eventually
That is why actors and athletes who make millions of dollars, win all the awards, and have a cult following, turn to drugs, sex, and money as an escape.
When you reach a certain level of success through achievement, if you stop growing, you get bored. If you’re not giving anything back, you question the meaning of it all and can’t find the answer.
Achievement is short-term; fulfillment is long-term.
Without Fulfillment, You Become Unhappy
If you have always wondered why you feel unhappy, it’s because you have achieved goals rather than focused on being fulfilled.
It explains why you are unhappy in business, or your relationship, or your life, or at work.
Goals produce pleasure, whereas fulfillment produces happiness in your mind. Your mind drives your life and helps you realize your meaning for existing.
Hopefully, now you can see why fulfillment is far more important than the pleasure of achieving goals. When you discover fulfillment, you feel alive the way I do right now as I type these words. No longer will you just exist—you’ll have something far more important to focus on.
Create a meaning for your life through growing and giving so you can experience the joy that comes from being fulfilled.