What it Means to Live Your Life to the Fullest
A narrative for all who dare to dream big
When I was young, the world was my playground. I dreamed of traveling to outer space, of building a house in the middle of an enchanted forest, and, like many, I dreamed of becoming a Disney princess.
As a child, my ambitions were not limited to what’s possible, rather they came from what inspires me. We often hear the phrase “think outside the box”. But as a kid, we aren’t placed inside a box to being with. Our thoughts were not restricted to what’s right or wrong. We simply dared to dream big.
So, why is it that as we grow up, we lose that spark?
In high school, I assumed I wanted to enter the healthcare field. However, when I was no longer compelled by the career, I felt stuck.
The reality of growing up is it’s easy to conform to societal standards and become a replica of the world around us. I realized I wanted to enter healthcare because my mom works in health and it seemed like a viable career path at the time.
More importantly, that feeling of being stuck brought full clarity that my underlying urge to pursue healthcare was driven by my desire and purpose to serve and impact others. This point of clarity made it clear to me that I wasn’t stuck. There are many opportunities outside of healthcare that will allow me to create an impact.
The Key to a Fulfilling Life
Before you focus on the destination, it’s important to understand your why. Those who have a why to live can bear any circumstance. Treat this as your personal mission statement.
Identify and write out your dream, pain, and the one person you’re fighting for. This is a twist on the generic why statement. By including your dream, pain, and the person you’re fighting for, you why and reason to succeed is now driven by external motivators. You will go the extra mile to do the damn thing because the people you love or the pain you never want to experience again fuels your fire every day.
3 Steps to Clarify Your Why:
- Dream — what is that one thing you’ve always always wanted to do? Perhaps it’s becoming a professor at NYU, making it to the top of Mount Everest, or bringing your family on an all-inclusive trip to Australia.
- Pain — a feeling so strong you want to avoid at all costs. This can be an experience from the past or a futuristic scenario. For example, the feeling of loneliness and not having a support system or feeling irrelevant.
- The one person you’re fighting for — we all have someone who means the world to us. It can be a family member who’s sacrificed everything for your success or a mentor who’s passed their knowledge and wisdom to you.
Your why will drive everything that you do. When it comes to building out a fulfilling life, find the type of ‘work’ that you enjoy. Although you may not enjoy every aspect of your work, there may be a component that you love. For example, as a real estate agent, you may not enjoy sales, but you love networking and meeting new people. Sales is a skill and a tool that you develop to get the job done, but the main reason you love your job is because of the people.
Build your career around combining aspects of what you love and the rest will come. The key to living a fulfilling life is to start doing what you love. Within doing what you love, to achieve significance, success, and wealth.
The Feeling of Significance
It’s human nature to value the feeling of importance. We all want to be known for our work, to be featured in a major research report, or to be on the cover of Forbes magazine. The feeling of importance can also come from our loved ones for being an outstanding friend, partner, or coworker. We enjoy being acknowledged. These are external forces that validate our existence.
Simply put, at whatever scale, the feeling of significance is a byproduct of your ability to ensure that at least one life has breathed easier because you have lived. Significance is not imposed onto anyone, it is a choice that is made through your actions. We can achieve significance by continually pouring into relationships, adding value to every situation, and taking action on the things we say we’re going to do. It’s that feeling of being greater than ourselves.
Many of us have a skewed view of what success means. I don’t speak of success as making it to the top one percentile or winning the Nobel Peace Prize, I speak of success in parallel to pursuing our passions. Success should not be seen as an end product, otherwise, success will never be achieved. We succeed when our lives are fully in line with our greater spiritual self.
Sometimes we don’t recognize our greater self, because we’re stuck in our current self-image. We don’t know what’s on the other side of who we can become unless we challenge our boundaries. At any moment, we have the ability to take action toward discovering or pursuing our greater self.
Wealth as a Resource
Money is a resource that can make or break you. If your goal in life is to chase material things, you will never be fulfilled. That’s not to say you can’t or shouldn’t indulge in nice things when you have the capital to do so. But there is no material product that can sustain long-term satisfaction. The new sports car you bought will be outdated in a few years, the diamond earrings you splurged on may be misplaced one day, you get the point.
True wealth is not determined by the price tag of material goods you own. Being in a position of wealth allows you to provide for yourself and your loved ones so you no longer worry about being able to put food on the table missing the next payment. If you do great work, your wealth becomes a reflection of the impact that you’ve made, because you’ve earned it.
To that, I’ll leave you with a quote by Victor E. Frankl from his book A Man’s Search for Meaning. “Man does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become the next moment. By the same token, every human being has the freedom to change at any instant.”