Life has a way of reminding us that the only thing we have any control over is what we choose to focus on and how we choose to act and react. Often, when the unexpected happens – a natural disaster, evil doings, war, sickness – it’s the universe’s way of reminding us to focus on the things that really do matter, to appreciate what we have, the people we love, and what brings us alive and gives us fulfillment.
So, while my girlfriend and I were hunkered down last week with our families in tow, waiting for Hurricane Mathew to strike, our focus and thoughts, and therefore our conversation, quite naturally turned towards the deep, meaningful stuff that really matters to us in life. From there, we started talking about the difference between “achievement” and “fulfillment” and why it even mattered.
What we realized, together, is that achievement and fulfillment are not necessarily synonymous. They often can, and do, go hand in hand – but not necessarily. Nor are they mutually exclusive. You can have and want both, as separate ideas.
Yes, having goals, and accomplishing certain milestones in life can be extremely fulfilling. Goals also help us define what it is we really want, and more importantly, empower and inspire us to take the necessary action and steps towards achieving them (which is often, if not always, a fulfilling process in and of itself – just working towards a goal, and making progress towards it).
BUT, it is quite normal and natural to get to a certain point in your life and realize that despite the fact that you have achieved all these goals and milestones that you set out to achieve, you can still feel unfulfilled even though you feel accomplished. It is a universal age-old issue to yearn for a greater sense of purpose, passion, fulfillment, and joy, regardless of how much or what you have achieved.
For most of us, that greater sense of fulfillment can not and will not come solely through our goals and achievements. It often comes from a simple reminder that we need to start living fuller and more meaningful lives by engaging in something or some things that very simply brings us alive, gives us joy, peace and the euphoric feeling (and it is euphoric) of being 100% connected to our true authentic selves – who we are, who we were meant to be, and who we want to become, everyday and all the time. And, sometimes that thing or things is not at all related to any end goal or “achievement.” Put simply, it’s a reminder to play more. For the sake of play.
So, I’m not saying throw away the goals. I’m not saying stop focusing on your achievements – past or future. I am saying, in addition to achievement and whatever fulfillment that brings you, fill in the complete circle of who you are and do stuff that makes you feel present and connected and engaged and happy, even if it has nothing to do with any sense of achievement or end goal. That for me is the true definition of “fulfillment.”
Rachel Ellner Lebensohn, Proud Creator & Founder of Seyopa
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