Life of Fulfillment
If I asked what kind of life you’d like to live, most would answer a life of fulfillment, not a life of discontentment. But the definition of life of fulfillment can change with life’s circumstances and events. If you look at previous generations, especially those that came through any part of the great depression of the 1930’s and 40’s, a life of fulfillment meant having the basic necessities of life.
They used what they had. In fact, they used some things so long that they actually broke! Then, they didn’t throw those items away because there had to be a way to fix them, someday. This is why my father stored eleven broken lawnmowers in a storage building. You may laugh at this, but when you had to build your first home from scrap wood you found at a dump, you may be also tempted to hang on to lawn mowers you thought could still have some value.
We live in a throw-away culture and gotta-have-it-now society. With the increase of shopping online, most industries have made items easy to order and even easier to return. Free, convenient and easy is the new mantra and people are ordering more than ever. The number of digital buyers has gone up from 1.32 billion in 2014 to 2.14 billion in 2021. But does all this ordering bring a life of fulfillment? Not really! We will look at three actions that will hopefully help you in your quest for fulfillment.
One: Take Stock of What You Have
How many times have you looked at an item on Amazon and seen the message right below, You might also like? Then a bit further you see, Others who bought this item also bought. Then there’s, Frequently bought with. You find yourself clicking on multiple items, spending much more than you planned as your cart is now full.
I recently purchased a pump online from Home Depot. We have a small fountain that desperately needed cleaned and emptied, so I found the perfect submersible pump to do the job. The instructions said it could be used with a garden hose, but I saw that others also bought universal check valves. Those check valves went in my cart. Then there was one more thing frequently bought with the pump, the pump hose kit. Since it wasn’t that expensive, the hose also went in the cart. Three items instead of one with just a click, even though I had a perfectly good garden hose I could use with the pump.
When my items arrived, none of the valves fit my pump and the hose kit also didn’t fit the pump or any of the included valves. This meant I’d have to return two of the items and our garden hose would be the best fit for the pump after all. This illustration reminded me of many entrepreneurs who bought extra tech items during the lockdowns for virtual presentations. The demonstrations of those items made everything look so easy as they worked together. But when those items arrived, the items were put aside until they had time to spend on a steep learning curve. For many, that time never came as they kept using what they had.
It’s amazing that they used what they had just like my grandparents and parents did. Presently, they are getting rid of their extra inventory, much that is still in the original box, for pennies on the dollar. This is a definite advantage for those of us still building out our tech studios, but it illustrates an important point to not only take stock of what you have with physical items, but also with your skills. There are certain items I will never purchase, such as a dentist chair or a surgeon’s scalpel. Why? Because I know they would sit, unused. Those examples may sound outlandish, but depending on your skills and area of focus, would not be ridiculous for a dentist or surgeon.
Two: Take Action
Many at mid-career, the halftime of life or during times of economic shifts are looking at life with a fresh perspective. After two years of uncertain health risks of a worldwide pandemic and an economy that brought shutdowns and devastation to many lives and businesses, this is especially relevant today.
The pool of skills, resources and experience is greater than ever from those entering this stage of their life and we need those resources now more than ever. At this point of time in a person’s life, more than any other time, is when the focus becomes more honed-in on a life of fulfillment or a life of significance. It is easy to let discontentment and disillusionment take over without that focus. A good question to ask oneself is What will you leave behind besides stuff?
After losing both sets of parents, I can tell you where a lot of stuff goes. Even if it’s good stuff, most stuff will not be needed or wanted. You can just imagine where all those lawnmowers went that my father had hung on to for so many years. What you can leave of much more significance is is your impact on an organization or people. Many wake up to see the needs around them when facing their own mortality. This is the time of life many non-profits are created or joined. Business for Business, or B4B had its inception when Joan DeSouza saw how many small businesses in her area were struggling to survive. She had come from twenty years of corporate experience and knew she could help. Those businesses didn’t only need her help but help from a community that would give input and support and she had the skills to facilitate what was truly needed.
FASDKids started by Marcia Grondahl helps parents and kids deal with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which is more prevalent than even Autism. (read how it’s affecting today’s kids) Her experience as a medical professional helped but even more than that, she had several adopted grandchildren with the syndrome. That drove her to take action from her discontentment with the amount of resources available. In applying this to my situation, I have no desire to leave a building full of stuff, but what I do want to leave are books, a vibrant podcast with impactful messages that help others, and published music scores that people can enjoy long after I’m gone. I know most of my other stuff will land in a large dumpster as our kids will have no use for it.
Three: Redirect Your Focus
Part of creating a life of fulfillment is deciding what you will pursue and how you will use your time. Discontentment compounds when you feel like you’re spinning your wheels in an unending roundabout. (see roundabout) Defining your core values is tantamount to not only creating but maintaining a life of fulfillment. If you’ve not defined or even re-defined your main core values in some time, take the time to do that now. Those basic core values, both personally and professionally, will help direct your future decisions. (see free download and Core Values article)
Your focus will tend to change slightly through each year, depending on a number of factors that could include health, finances or relationship status. However, your core values should be fairly consistent. When you decide what those values are, take the time to really focus your life as well as business on a purposeful goal. (see FREE goal worksheets) Goals don’t have to be grand and huge, but they do need to be measurable and attainable. Accomplishing them is possible when you instill the right habits in your life. There are great books on this such as Tiny Habits and Atomic Habits. (interview with Linda Fogg Phillips of Tiny Habits) Taking time with this process will give you greater control of your own life of fulfillment in contrast to confusion and fear with discontentment and even depression.
Contentment and Fulfillment
A life well-lived feels purposeful and fulfilling but getting there does take forethought and positive action and it’s not too early to act assertively to get there. Thankfulness, gratefulness and a giving spirit bring contentment and a great deal of fulfillment and are qualities we should all be proactively applying.
For some, giving of resources provides a great feeling of contentment. Not everyone is in the position to do so and some people can give more than others in the monetary sense. But everyone has the power to change an attitude and encourage others with actions, attitudes and focus. All of those will truly lead to a greater life of fulfillment and that is my wish for you.
A life well-lived feels purposeful & fulfilling, but getting there takes forethought & positive action.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
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