Imagine that you lived and breathed tennis from age two. You were self-centered and mistrustful, but you worked non-stop to become a professional by age 16. You were a fierce, take-no-prisoners competitor with little respect for your rivals or tennis tradition.
Over the next decade, you set new records, won three grand slams, became №1 in the world and won an Olympic gold medal. Now, how do you feel?
Andre Agassi achieved all of this by age 26 and yet felt only profound hollowness and disappointment. He attributes his drug use, lies, cover-ups and failed first marriage to his lack of purpose.
Even if you’re the best in the world, the rewards alone — wealth, fame, power, influence or material possessions — won’t bring you happiness or satisfy your fundamental needs.
Fortunately Agassi had the courage to reinvent himself. He reversed what might have been an all-too-familiar story of celebrity self-destruction. In 1998, he began a meteoric comeback.
He finished 1999 as the top player in the world, again, and won five more Grand Slam titles before retiring in 2006. Agassi eclipsed his previous accomplishments after deciding to become a nice guy and drop his win-at-all-costs persona.
Like Agassi, you’ll feel unsatisfied — no matter how big your achievements — if you have no purpose aside from scoring the wins. Purpose is rooted in your values, those moral competencies that you develop with dedication and long continuous practice.
According to Agassi, his transformation occurred only after he admitted that he had come to hate tennis, largely because his sacrifices were in pursuit of someone else’s goals.
His realization that being a man of compassion, generosity and humility mattered more to him than winning tennis matches, and gave him a life purpose that positioned him to achieve even more after his collapse than he had achieved before, both on and off the court. Agassi craved fulfillment in his life and realized that personal transformation was necessary towards this end.
Today, Agassi links his extrinsic accomplishments — money and fame — to his values. The reason he still seeks external challenges is to exercise and strengthen his character, and to gain the means to attain his most cherished purpose-centered goals, including a tennis school to give kids great, balanced training they couldn’t otherwise afford.
Like Agassi, to be fulfilled, you alone must define your life, work and goals to fit your purpose. And your purpose comes from your deepest values. To gain meaning and fulfillment, you need to adopt a values-driven approach to your life and work.
And I’m hearing you:
“How do I find fulfillment in my life?”
“What are the key steps to living a fulfilled life?”
“ What are the benefits of fulfillment?”
Let’s read on and explore what you need to know about finding fulfillment in life — and how to put into practice that well-known mantra that reads, “don’t dream your life, live your dreams.”
What is Fulfillment
Before we discuss sources of fulfillment, let’s first discuss what fulfillment is. Ultimately, it’s about feeling complete. Achieving your dreams and having a true sense of purpose.
Fulfillment is about being in the here and now and basking in the afterglow. You don’t just stop there though. You take that feeling with you into the next step of your journey in life. You feel different when you’re fulfilled.
You start to carry yourself differently, your shoulders are back, chest out, head held high, and you stand taller. You’re connected to your heart. You’re in touch with your purpose.
Happiness comes from within, and it’s a by-product of taking action. You have to take steps to tap into your happiness, and you have to take steps in the process of growth as a person to obtain fulfillment. People who are truly fulfilled are open-minded when it comes to new ideas and thoughts. You have to stay hungry in terms of knowledge and wisdom. This helps make you a better person, both in your professional and personal life.
True fulfillment stems from a contribution to others. There’s a reason that we feel so good after we perform charitable acts. When you donate canned goods or toys to a local drive, you get a slight buzz out of it. You feel great when you go out of your way to give a gift card to a person in need. It doesn’t just feel good, it also helps others. That’s part of what makes it feel so good.
When you contribute to your community it leaves you feeling more connected to others. We’re all on this earth trying to make it through in one piece. Understanding that, is what helps us in our attempts to connect to others. It opens our hearts and minds to change.
When are you truly present in a moment? Can you even remember the last time that you were simply still and quiet? Or do you immediately reach for a gadget to entertain you? Are you unable to quiet your negative self-talk? Let’s be honest, it’s difficult to be still.
Think about it like this. Your laptop is a little old, it still works, but deep down you know it’s probably time for a new one. When you attempt to run too many programs at once, your laptop slows down and it starts to stick and freeze. You are the laptop. Okay, so you don’t stick and freeze, but you do experience stress, anxiety, and frustration when you try to do too many things at once. Sometimes you just need to take a beat and be still.
Being present extends beyond taking a meditative moment for yourself. You should aim to be present and focus on the task at hand in every situation. You should always immerse yourself in the present. You’ll be more productive, happier, and ultimately, more fulfilled.
It’s easy to fall into an entitlement trap. You’ve been working so hard. That promotion is yours. Until it isn’t. When someone else gets the nod before you, you feel angry because it should have been you. This is a classic sense of entitlement. You might have a point about that promotion, but you have to let it go. The only thing it’s doing is trapping you in a prison of negative emotions.
You’ve set an expectation, you expect this to go a certain way. When it doesn’t, you’re left feeling depressed, frustrated, and anxious. You have to shift your focus and be grateful for what you do have. Look at what you can work on to put yourself in a better position for the next promotion.
Giving increases your empathy for others, and it makes you grateful for what you have. Sometimes, the most important thing you can do for yourself is connect to something greater than you. It helps you recognize just how small your problems are.
Immerse yourself in an activity that connects you to nature. Go for a hike in the mountains or take a swim in a lake. When you connect to something larger than you, it turns the volume down on problems.
Your environment can influence your happiness. Think about your environment for a moment. What kind of people do you surround yourself with? How do they make you feel? Do you walk away feeling in a low mood or depressed? Or do you feel uplifted and positive? Connect with people who make you feel positive. Surround yourself with people who make you laugh.
We mentioned entitlement but eliminating your sense of entitlement doesn’t mean that you should let go of setting goals. It’s important to have goals and visualize success. It could be anything from weight loss to pursuing a degree. You’re more likely to succeed if you set concrete goals for yourself.
When you achieve those goals, you have to celebrate them. It’s so important to pat yourself on the back and celebrate achievements. You deserve recognition for what you’ve achieved. Treat yourself!
It’s so easy to link your happiness to others. You believe your happiness should come from a romantic partner, family members or friends. But that’s a fallacy. The only person responsible for your fulfillment and happiness is you. If you aren’t happy, if you don’t feel fulfilled, then the only person to blame is you.
The good news though, is that you have the power to take charge of the situation. It doesn’t matter how people treat you, it doesn’t matter what life throws at you, you’re behind the wheel driving your destiny.
Yes, we should help others, but it’s equally important to look after yourself. You have needs, and if you don’t look after them, it’ll be difficult to look after anything or anyone else. Take care of you, and the rest will follow. It’ll make you much happier and more fulfilled overall.
As difficult as life can be, there’ll always be something good to embrace. When you face challenges in life, you’d do well to look for the silver lining. Look for people and situations that you’re grateful for and place your focus on these. By doing this you’ll feel a deeper sense of fulfillment. It’ll also give you the space to identify areas of your life in need of change.
Steps to Fulfillment
Part of finding fulfillment is discovering your passion. It’s all about having something to strive for. You shouldn’t survive life, you should thrive. If you want to find fulfillment, then there are steps you can take to do so.
Building the Foundation
Before you can find your passion, you have to get to know yourself. Who are you really? What makes you tick? Go beyond the superficial and dig deep. Don’t think about the role you play in life right now. Go beneath the surface. It isn’t about the corner you’ve been painted into or how others perceive you.
It’s all about taking a deep dive into yourself, as to why you act, behave, respond, and interact in the ways you do.
Your personal qualities develop over the course of your lifetime. You evolve as a human, and what you value will change as you grow and learn. Some qualities are innate, some are inherited, but the majority of them come from your experience and outside influences. Your qualities include abilities, skills, beliefs, values, frustrations, and joys.
What qualities do you possess that you count as the most important? Which of these will serve you as you aim to uncover your passion? It’s up to you to define how your qualities will help you be the person you want to be.
Create Purpose and Vision
Once you’ve taken that intensive course on yourself, it’s important to take a large step backward to view the big picture. When you do this, it provides you with the opportunity to find the themes running throughout that’ll help you find the direction necessary for decisions and actions.
There’s more to passion than just discovering something you love. There’ll be plenty of things you enjoy doing or feel excited about. Passion requires vision, purpose, and direction. It enriches your life. It’s rewarding and it fulfills you.
Passion is supported by purpose. It’s propelled by a vision. It’s literally what your dreams are made of. It takes life from something you get through, to something you enjoy. It provides you with meaning and allows you to define your life.
Just knowing what your passion is isn’t enough to ensure success though. You can identify your passion and still fall short. Why? Because there are always going be challenges. And sometimes people run into a challenge that they can’t overcome.
They either don’t know how or just give up before making an attempt. Living a fulfilled life and pursuing passions sounds great. We paint ourselves a picture of living an engaged life, surrounded by people who are loving and supportive. We want to recapture the feelings we experienced in our youth when we were carefree.
Unfortunately though, through the years we experience difficulties and experiences. These build up and influence our emotions, beliefs, and fears. They lead us away from an understanding of ourselves and often stand in the way of us achieving fulfillment.
Uncover Your Mindset
You’ll start to notice changes within you as you walk the path to uncover your passion. It starts with an open and honest dialogue with yourself. As you look within yourself honestly, you recognize some of the fears and beliefs that have been limiting you.
Once upon a time, there were thoughts, people, behavior, and circumstances you’d simply tolerate or accept. As you uncover a new mindset though, you become less tolerant of bad behavior or treatment, from yourself and others. You address the issues that have held you back and have a clearer view of your priorities.
It’s not acceptable to put up with the people or things that waste your time. You now recognize that your needs, wants, and priorities don’t belong on the back-burner.
The final step, now that you’ve put all this self-discovery work in, is to take action. By now, the pieces have started falling into place. This process is different for everyone. Some people experience recognition gradually while others experience a more immediate change. The point is that you now need to take action. You have to make it all a reality.
This stage requires research, planning, and experimentation. And it involves patience and flexibility. It means nothing if you simply find your passion. You need to take action to make it a reality.
The Benefits of Fulfillment
The Difference It Makes
It’s much easier to give your talents and gifts away when you’re fully aware of what fulfills you. It’s this knowledge of yourself that allows you to give freely, knowing it always comes back around.
The Rewards It Brings
Fulfillment comes with rewards. It expands the potential for rewards. A great leader for instance, will be rewarded monetarily for the work that they do. Unfortunately, they pay a price for this. They put in long hours and experience higher levels of stress.
It’s not a great trade, because more money doesn’t mean more happiness. Fulfillment provides intrinsic rewards, as well as extrinsic rewards. You can still enjoy the traditional benefits that come from a job well done. More importantly, you’re receiving the inner rewards of joy, happiness, and satisfaction.
An Improved Quality of Life
When you follow the path to fulfillment, life is just better. Everything fits together. Knowing what fulfills you means that you can make an effort to organize your life around it. You can make sure your career works with your personal life, and vice versa.
It’s easier to find a healthy work-life balance when you know what fulfills you. It isn’t just about achieving success, it’s about finding success while also being at ease with the decisions you’ve made. You can have one without the other, but why would you want to?
Like Attracts Like
Living your passion and finding fulfillment attracts people who do the same. We mentioned earlier the importance of surrounding yourself with positive people. Well, by being that person, you’ll attract other people just like that.
With fulfillment comes peace. Fulfillment stems from living your values, from honoring your beliefs. It makes sense that peace comes with that. Yes, perfect peace.
A Happy Life
If you want to uncover the secret to leading a happy life, it’s simple. Fulfillment is the secret. The secret to that is knowing the sources of your fulfillment. It’s a beautiful reciprocal relationship that will fuel your productivity and happiness.
We often look to the wrong things in life to fulfill us. We expect our job to provide us with fulfillment, even though we work a job we don’t particularly care about. Or, we think our families will fulfill us even though we don’t spend enough time with them. We turn to substances to fill the void. We look in all of the wrong places for a fulfillment that’ll never come. Then we have the gall to wonder why we feel empty.
It’s one thing to recognize that you aren’t fulfilled, it’s quite another to recognize the role you’ve played in standing in your way. You are your own obstacle. Your worst enemy. Ultimately, it’s in your hands. The power is yours. You control the narrative. It’s up to you to make the life you want to live. Only you have the power to pursue what will make you feel happy and fulfilled.
If fulfillment is what makes life worthwhile, then problems need to be put in their proper place. Sadly, suffering is a natural aspect of the human condition. You won’t find happiness outside of you, it can only be found within.
We have to stop with our expectations and instead start appreciating what we have. Forget about what should be. Instead, focus on what is. That doesn’t mean goals aren’t important. It doesn’t mean you can’t strive to do or be better. It simply means recognizing the incredible things in your life that’ll help you on your path to fulfillment. The more you grow and learn, the happier you’ll be. Challenge yourself, contribute to society, be present, and you’ll find fulfillment.
Do you know the sources of your fulfillment or do you have some work to do on the subject? Are you fulfilled? What will you do to uncover your passion and pursue fulfillment?
Life is short, what are you waiting for?