The 3 Fundamentals to Feeling More Fulfilled
Updated: Feb 19, 2021
The other day, a friend who I know has been feeling unhappy at work but isn’t quite ready to accept that a change might be needed, said he was going to work on changing his mindset to see if it might change the way he feels about work or maybe even lead him down a new path.
Inside I did a crazy happy dance. (I tend to get ridiculously excited when people get serious about inner growth and personal development).
On the outside, I tried to act cool.
Part of me wanted to say:
“You know, the reason why you’re feeling unsatisfied at work is because there is a misalignment between what you do and the work culture and your values, passions and strengths. What you really need to do is quit and find something else!”
I also considered saying:
“Oh my god yes! This is exactly what you need. It’s going to be a lot of mental effort and you’ll have to train your mind to think in new ways. You will often want to give up and slide back into old mental habits because it’s easier but in the long run you will be so much happier! And I bet that after shifting your mindset and becoming more open, intentional and non-judgmental about the world and your life and you will see so many more opportunities and career paths to pursue than you ever thought possible. This will change your life!”
Instead I said, “Oh, that’s neat," because well, having an over-excited life coach for a friend that’s constantly going on about personal development would be really annoying.
And, because most people can be quite sensitive when someone else tells them a change is needed.
Being confronted with the fact that a change is needed means admitting you picked a path that wasn’t right for you. It means walking away from years of training, time and energy. It means letting go of the comfortable mentality of "settling" which has allowed you to put up with your lack of fulfillment because at least you’re making money and have a good life.
Change means more training, time and energy, which people generally aren’t interested in.
Until they are.
Like my friend.
So the excited, internally happy dancing, life coach me got to thinking:
What does my friend need to work on exactly if he wants to feel more fulfilled by his current job, or in life in general without having to make any major life changes just yet?
What are the actual skills he can work on?
And I came up with these 3 fundamentals you need to feel more fulfilled in life, no matter your circumstances:
In our fast paced culture, we are so used to running on autopilot in order to get by. We race through our days going from one thing to the next that we don’t even have time to take a deep breath.
If you were to stop and sit down and close your eyes and pay attention to your breath, you’d likely find it’s quick and coming from your chest. We aren’t even giving ourselves a chance to breathe properly.
Going at this pace also means we rarely stop and think about the big picture. We do things based on what needs to get done in the moment or immediate future or based on what we’re feeling in that moment.
I’m hungry - you eat.
The kitchen is a mess - you clean it.
I’m grumpy and tired - you put on a show.
The key to feeling more fulfilled in your life is to be more purposeful and conscious about what you think, say and do rather than reacting on default.
Slow down or find moments (ideally whole chunks of time - what a concept!) to reflect. What do you want for your life? What do you want your day to look like? How do you want to feel at the end of your day? What is your mind, heart and soul telling you it needs? What have you been putting off? What are some things on your to-do list that are shoulds that you could let go of?
When you slow down to do things with intention, you will always feel better about how they play out, no matter the outcome.
But, everything is always easier said than done. To live life with intentionality, you must be willing to:
-Slow down. This means saying no to things. Saying no to engagements, to podcasts, to the latest shows. Saying no to TV and other pleasures that soothe your frazzled nerves and give you that shot of dopamine.
-Take care of yourself. This means nurturing your wellbeing and honouring your true your needs so that you don’t spend your time operating on default, responding to the consequences of living life too fast.
2. Mindfulness & Non-Judgment
Mindfulness is all about being in the present moment and observing your thoughts rather than getting carried away in them.
This is really hard to do at first. Most people have a thought and they’re thinking the thought, not thinking about the fact that they’re having a thought.
But when you step back from a thought and observe it before following it, you have a chance to redirect it if you want to.
Getting control over your thoughts sounds like something from a science-fiction movie. Thoughts are automatic, aren’t they? That’s what a human brain does, isn’t it? It thinks?!
Of course that’s what our brains are busy doing all day long and if you were to watch those thoughts all day long, you’d be exhausted and bored.
You only have to pay attention to the thoughts that produce uncomfortable emotions. An uncomfortable emotion is your cue to pay attention: What’s really going on here? Is there an assumption I’m making here or a fear I have about this that’s producing this emotion? Is there a different way to look at this situation so I don’t feel this uncomfortable emotion?
Non-judgment is part of mindfulness. It means observing what’s going on and not judging it as bad or good.
The more you evaluate something as bad, the more it will bother you. So if you tend to get annoyed about things, the key is to stop internalizing them as bad or any other such judgment.
Simply observe it - it is what it is.
But it's important to differentiate between accepting something for what it is and settling for mediocrity.
Acceptance and settling have different undertones.
Acceptance involves moving forward - “Ok, this is what’s going on. What do I want to do about it,” where as settling is giving up. “Ok, this is just the way it’s going to be, I guess I”ll have to live with it.”
The semantics might not be important but the underlying tone is.
Learning to watch your thoughts and accept things for what they are rather than judging is hard and it takes a lot of practice. It means giving up:
-The comforting self-pity we indulge in when we’ve been wronged or feel unhappy. You can no longer wallow in self-pity and “poor me” when you know there is a new way to see a situation. Sometimes self-pity is a response we need to indulge in to heal, but not on a regular basis.
-Any reward we might get from entertaining negative thoughts and emotions like attention from others or feelings of superiority from judging. Many of us judge others’ situations because it makes us feel like we got things right. It’s less about them being wrong than it is about trying to justify to ourselves that we have life all figured out. When you remove the judgment you can instead simply focus more deeply on what you truly want and what things mean to you and the benefits they bring.
3. Honouring yourself.
You will always feel more fulfilled when you allow yourself and find opportunities to be your true self. This involves first understanding the key components that make up who you are. I like to look at values, passions and strengths.
What are your values and what opportunities do you have in your life to honour those? What changes do you need to make to live in closer alignment with your top values?
What are your curiosities, interests and passions? Do you have or make opportunities to engage in these?
What are you strengths? What are the things you’re naturally good at? Do you create opportunities to use your strengths. How can you let go of things that aren’t a fit with your strengths? Where are you under or overplaying your strengths?
These are the questions that often lead to a more clear realization that a job change is needed. But you can make small changes to live in closer alignment with your values, passions and strengths without huge changes. For a brainstorm try the Get unstuck and Find Your Purpose worksheet here or the Get Inspired Now worksheet here.
Only catch is, you must be willing to:
-Do the inner work. I sometimes forget, because I love it so much, that not everyone is as into self-exploration as I am. It can be scary to explore who we are because of what we’re worried we might find. Try some quizzes/tests here.
-Face the fact that it’s possible that much of your life isn’t set up to allow you to be yourself and that in order to be yourself and live your purpose, you might have to make a big change like change jobs or move.
-Upset some people. It’s easiest for people to understand others based on categories in their mind. For you to fully be yourself, it may mean that others will have to change which category you fit into or the definition they hold of who you are. It can feel scary to ask those who love you the most to be flexible as you fully step into who you’re meant to be and always were.
So there you have it. Are there any other skills, aspects or ingredients you believe are fundamental to feeling more fulfilled in life? Does this list excite you? Intimidate you?
Humans are ever evolving and ever growing and these fundamentals and your experience with them will evolve and grow over time too.
Mine do every day.
Honing these fundamentals is not a one and done process but a lifelong practice. Because I love personal development, I’m ok with that (and regularly do inner happy dances about it) but if you’re just dipping your toes in, heck If you are even just reading this blog post, I am doing a happy dance for you. Because living life to the fullest is my jam.
So good luck, may the force be with you, and if you want to learn more about how I can help you use these traits in your day-to-day life, book a free consult here.